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Several Spokane Restaurants Join `Lite ‘N Hearty’ Program

So, like other New Year’s resolution dieters, you’ve spent January becoming an expert on cutting calories and calculating fat percentages. But it’s paid off since you dropped those 13 ounces. Why not celebrate by eating out?

Hang on. Not so fast.

Most restaurants are dedicated to making diners feel satisfied. (Meaning stuffed.) Dining out can be a challenge for the most devoted calorie counter. Even at seafood restaurants, a seemingly safe haven for weight watchers, fish often comes swimming in butter or bathed in batter.

However, a program offered through The Heart Institute of Spokane is dedicated to working with restaurants to provide diners with some healthful options.

Since it began last year, 10 Spokane restaurants have signed on with the “Lite ‘n Hearty” program, each offering several entree selections that derive 30 percent or less of their calories from fat.

The program’s director, Patty Seebeck, works with chefs to ensure the recipes stay within the guidelines.

“You have to make sure when it says olive oil on the menu, they aren’t using butter in the kitchen,” she said.

Participating restaurants are Cyrus O’Leary’s, Percy’s Eating and Drinking Establishment in the Valley, Kenny Rogers’ Roasters, Patsy Clark’s, Cafe Roma, The Onion, Windows of the Seasons at Cavanaugh’s Inn at the Park, Au Croissant, City Lights at the Shilo Inn and Hobart’s at Cavanaugh’s Fourth Avenue.

Even if a restaurant is not a member of the “Lite ‘n Hearty” club, Seebeck offered a few suggestions on how to cut back on fat when eating at restaurants.

Look for tomato-based sauces. Choose the marinara over Alfredo.

Ask for fish to be broiled or baked with little or no butter.

Request sauces and dressings on the side and then use them sparingly.

Think of meat as a condiment rather than the main course. Fill up on veggies and rice or pasta.

Wait until dinner for that glass of wine or a cocktail. Seebeck said drinking before a meal can weaken your resolve and you might eat more than you really need.

Plan on taking home leftovers. “Most people will just keep eating because they want to get their money’s worth, so they overeat,” Seebeck said.

Finally, when a restaurant makes a special effort to trim the fat, let it know how much you appreciate it.

Eating right at Eat Rite

While we’re on the subject of healthy eating, I recently enjoyed lunch at the new location of Spokane’s lone vegan restaurant, Eat Rite.

All dishes at Eat Rite are prepared without using any animal products. Cream soups are made with cashew milk, for instance.

In addition to a salad bar and soup, different ethnic foods are featured every weekday. Monday is Mexican, Tuesday is Oriental, Wednesday is Italian, Thursday is Slovak and Friday is a mixed bag of international favorites.

I went with a friend, who’s a vegetarian, and she was impressed with the cabbage rolls and a mushroom stroganoff served over brown rice. We were there on Thursday, Slovak day, and the recipes reflect the owners’ heritage. Boris and Rahela Vrbeta, natives of the former Yugoslavia, have been in Spokane since 1979.

What makes their wholesome food even more appealing is the prices. The salad bar is $4.75, the featured entree with salad bar is $5.89. A large bowl of soup is $3; a cup is $1.95.

Desserts include cakes, pies and cookies, all made from scratch, and a homemade frozen concoction they call “Supreme Delight.” This nondairy ice cream comes in various flavors such as butterscotch, huckleberry and almond.

Eat Rite is open from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. weekdays and for full-service dinner on Thursdays. It’s located at W402 Montgomery, though the building faces Washington. For takeout orders, phone 325-1957.

Me-oh-my-oh, down on the bayou

If you can’t make it down to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras, Salty’s promises the next best thing.

During Crawdaddy Days - from Wednesday through Feb. 28 - the restaurant will showcase cuisine from down on the bayou. Featured dishes will include smoked salmon and alligator jambalaya, mustard-fried catfish with red bean sauce and andouille sausage gumbo.

For reservations, call 327-8888.

More on the menu

Several area restaurants have recently updated their menus.

Cafe Roma has added a bunch of appetizers, including imported caviar, prosciutto with melon and scampi sauteed with artichoke bottoms and mushrooms.

New entrees include a grilled king salmon served with an avocadocilantro sauce and a lamb kebab. Cafe Roma, located in Lincoln Heights, also has beefed up its wine list.

In the Valley, the Lotus Garden has streamlined its menu, making it less confusing. The restaurant serves Korean, Thai and Vietnamese selections and is owned by the same people who run the Lotus Seed near Gonzaga University.

The Lotus Garden, which is located at E14415 Sprague in the old Shogun restaurant, also has recently been granted a liquor license and now serves beer, wine and cocktails. For reservations, call 891-5786.

With the original owner back in the kitchen at the Cupboard Cafe, that Sandpoint eatery is once again offering a variety of hearty fare at reasonable prices.

Entrees range from trout and vegetarian ravioli to Dijon chicken and steak. Most meals are around $8 and that includes soup or salad and fresh-baked bread. Nightly specials showcase fresh seafood.

One section of the menu is dedicated to lighter fare such as soup and sandwiches and salads.

The Cupboard is located at N116 Second. The phone number is (208) 263-9012.

Birkebeiner Brewery, home of Spokane’s best pub grub, has added some choice items to the rotating selection of daily specials. Among the featured items are curry-Cajun chicken, buffalo burrito, Jamaican jerk chicken, blackened redfish and orange-curry scallops.

The waiter we had during a recent dinner at Birkebeiner deserves a badge of honor for his candor. He said the veggie burger was a bit on the bland side, as was the Ballard Bitter.

xxxx Hot off the grill A reader wants Behind the Menu to troll area menus for the finest chicken livers. So, we’re putting out an innards alert. Let us know where to find livers, gizzards or any other edible entrails and we’ll print a list of establishments that serve such delicacies. Drop us a line at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210. Or fax your find to (509) 459-5098.

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