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Healthy Menu Navigator: Japanese

What should you steer clear of besides white rice? Nutritionist Heather Bauer explains how to order healthy dishes off any restaurant menu. This week, Japanese!
Salmon teriyaki (Photo:
Salmon teriyaki is one of Bauer’s top picks. (Photo:


Even if you know to steer clear of the bread basket (or white rice), it turns out the average restaurant meal clocks in at a whopping 1,128 calories—yep, 1,128—making it easy for even the most health-savvy among us to think we’re eating well while eating out, when we’re not.

HealthyMenuNavigatorFinalEnter nutritionist-author Heather Bauer, of Bread is the Devil and Bestowed fame—and our culinary compass. Each week, Bauer steers us toward the healthiest choices on restaurant menus of any type.

Last week, it was BBQ. This week, Japanese food! Kampai (that’s “cheers!”), everyone.

Heather Bauer’s Japanese menu navigational nugget

Heads-up, sushi roll fans: Opting for brown rice instead of white may give you a bit more fiber, but there’s no real difference in terms of calories, Bauer says. Instead, look for rolls wrapped in cucumber, known as “naruto” style. And if you haven’t already mastered them, learn to use chopsticks! They help slow you down, Bauer says, giving you time to digest and recognize when you’re full.



1. Miso soup—which is warm, filling, and relatively light, calories-wise. It’s not for you if you’re salt sensitive, however.

2. A mixed green salad with half a serving of ginger dressing.


1. Chicken or salmon teriyaki—which means it has been marinated and grilled—with a double order of nutritious steamed veggies. And skip the rice!

2. Four pieces of sashimi or one six-piece maki rollAKA plain and delicious raw fish. Or, one six-piece roll (more on making smart choices below) with a side order of oshitashi—a spinach salad that’s one of Bauer’s personal faves.


1. Any maki roll with a fried component. That includes Spider and Dynamite, or any roll with “tempura” in its description. Also steer clear of dishes described as “agemono” or “agedashi,” both of which mean that deep frying has been involved, Bauer warns.

2. Spicy rolls. Tasty, sure, but they also tend to be packed with mayo.

3. Philadelphia rolls, or any roll that contains cream cheese. You steer clear of it at the bagel shop (don’t you?), so why eat it here?

Other no-nos: Don’t overdo it on the avocado—small servings of this healthy fat are best, Bauer says. Try to order just one roll that contains avocado. And watch the sake, Bauer warns. People tend to think it’s lower in calories, because it’s rice-based. But a 6-ounce serving has 240 calories, compared to 150 calories for wine. “No sake bombs!” she says.

Hungry for more? Next week, Bauer’s spilling her secrets to ordering healthy Indian food. Or check out last week’s guide to ordering BBQ.

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