Unhealthy key words on the menu:
Fried is probably the most obvious red-flag when you are trying to eat healthy. Fried means that the food has been covered and cooked in oil, and this cooking process adds a lot of extra, bad fat to the food.
2. Crumbed, battered or breaded
Crumbed, battered or breaded mean that the food has had a coating added to it. Usually, these foods are also fried. For example, battered fish is covered in a batter and then deep fried. Through this process, these foods have extra carbohydrates and fats added to them.
The degree of unhealthiness of marinated food depends on the type of marinade. There can be perfectly harmless marinades of herbs, spices and vinegars, or there can be marinades full of sugar and oils. I tend to avoid foods that have been marinated because usually restaurants use marinades full of sugar and fats because they taste better.
Smothered is an instant red-flag for me. Smothered usually means covered in some type of sauce, cheese or other topping. Depending on the food, this can add a lot of unwanted carbohydrates and bad fats to a meal.
Healthy key words on the menu:
Grilling food usually means that the food has been cooked in minimal oil on a hot surface. Grilling cooks the food without adding any extra fat or carbohydrates to the food.
Blackened is basically the same as grilled, except before the food is placed on the hot surface it is covered in herbs and spices. Blackened food is delicious and full of flavor, without the added nasties.
Baked foods, especially fish, are delicious. The food is cooked in an oven. Because it is baked in an oven, oil is not necessary and is minimally used. Baked foods have time to develop rich flavors in the oven and often get a crisp and delicious outer layer.
Roasting is basically the same as baking. Roasting is generally the term used for meats such as beef, turkey and pork that have been cooked for a long period in an oven. Roasting develops rich flavors in the food and the fat cooks and drains out of the meat.
Steamed is a method of cooking most often used for fish and vegetables. It involves putting the vegetables or fish above a boiling pot of water and using the steam to cook the food. This process cooks the food without any oil or other nasties. Steaming also keeps vegetables tasting fresher than other cooking methods.
Seared foods are foods that have been cooked on a very hot surface for a short period. The food is cooked with minimal or no oil and has a very short cooking time so that it does not absorb as much oil as other cooking methods.
Raw is probably the most obvious term and does not require much explanation. Raw foods are in the natural state and haven’t been cooked.