NourishWise Q&A: Decoding Health

On Monday, March 2, Puckett’s is proud to be partnering with NourishWise–a Nashville-based startup that aims to offer diners online nutrition data from participating restaurants. Basically, their dietitians remove the guesswork from local eateries’ menus and help diners choose the healthiest options when outside the home.

We asked founder Jason Denenberg–and lead Dietitian Nan Allison MS, RD, LDN–to answer a few Q&As for us, so that we could get a handle on what it means to choose healthier items when dining. Read on to find out the single best question to ask your server, decoder words, and his favorite at-home recipes.

Pssst: don’t forget to sign up for NourishWise here to get the Puckett’s edition in your mailbox on March 2!

Hanger Steak at Puckett's

We know NourishWise is all about not having to decode your food, but what are some keywords you should generally look for on menus when you’re wanting to choose the healthier option?  
Lean, baked, broiled, roasted, steamed, poached, low-fat, grilled, broth-based (soups), tomato-based sauce, reduced-fat and fresh.   

Beyond that, you must ask questions about how something is prepared, for example: Is the primavera mostly pasta with flecks of vegetables or does it have about half of the ingredients as vegetables? I wish there were keywords that would indicate that you are getting a balanced meal; Oftentimes, using the terms mentioned above in conjunction with “platter” or “plate” or “meat-and-three,” will get you closer.

If you’re feeling particularly healthy on any given day, what is the single best question to ask your server?
Can you double the vegetable serving?

Why does NourishWise include the total fat, carbs and protein numbers? Some people think it’s the calories that we should pay attention to–what would you say to them?
NourishWise aims to help you identify nutritionally dense meals. We don’t necessarily count calories or chase diets. More specifically to your question, calories are not an indicator of overall nutritional value. You could have a 500 calorie sandwich and it could be all white bread, tomatoes and mayonnaise, or you could have a 500 calorie sandwich from whole grain bread, lean roast beef, a slice of cheddar, light mayo, tomato, pickles, onions and low-fat slaw; or a whole wheat pasta dish with lean chicken, tomatoes onions and snap peas, sautéed in a small amount of olive oil and topped with Parmesan. Also, we know that people are more likely to be satisfied for longer with a balance of the calories from whole grain, fruit and/or vegetable, adequate protein and fat. They are less likely to over eat a meal like this, and they are also more likely to do less snacking later.

It’s no secret we love BBQ here at Puckett’s–what are a couple options when ordering the meat ‘n’ three to keep the calorie count down?
Order the BBQ Chicken, Hanger Steak or Pulled Pork BBQ with smashed sweet potatoes and any two of the following sides: Cole Slaw, Green Beans, Steamed Vegetables–or a Side Salad with 1/2 the amount of dressing.

Is there are particular wine, cocktail or other beverage that you doesn’t make a huge impact on your calorie count or sugar intake?
Almost any average pour of wine or beer  or regular (non-diet) soda or juice will provide about 100-150 calories. Most cocktails without juices or syrups added will provide about 100 -150 calories. The best option is to have a juice or wine mixed with club soda or sparkling water or one shot of a cocktail mixed with dilute fruit juice and splash of lemon or lime. Of course, you can mix cocktails with diet sodas and diet tonic.

Are gluten-free options better for everyone–even those who don’t have a wheat allergy?
No. However, there may be some people who are sensitive, but not have a classic allergy, to wheat or proteins in wheat and other gluten-containing grains who may benefit from opting for gluten free carbohydrate foods. These individuals will know this because they will generally feel better when they do not eat products with wheat or high in gluten. Genetic testing and food sensitivity testing is now available to individuals to help determine who would best be served by avoiding wheat.

When cooking at home, what is your favorite substitute for a high-caloric ingredient?
In lieu of Alfredo sauce, use low-fat cottage cheese blended with Mrs. Dash or McCormick’s fat-free seasoning. I may blend in a bit of reduced-fat sour cream depending on the texture. I also use this for dips and spreads or potato topping.

Personally, what is your favorite meal to make at home?
Dreamfield’s–lower carb–(or other) pasta tossed with oodles of stir fry vegetables, lean meat or chicken or shrimp or ham and my own ginger peanut lime sauce, finished with topped with chopped peanuts and cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime. It takes about 15 minutes to assemble if I have all the ingredients prepped and the sauce made.

In winter, I like to make a white bean and spinach soup with a little bit of chicken or vegetarian sausage…maybe a few carrots and a good grainy cornbread.


And there you have it, folks! Advice from the experts. We hope to see y’all orderin’ up some of their recommended goodness soon!