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How to eat healthy at the Taste

July 05, 2012|Amanda Boleman | For RedEye

The Taste of Chicago can often turn into the Splurge of Chicago for many.

And even though the Taste is down to 36 vendors this year (from 57 in 2011), that doesn’t mean it won't still tempt you into breaking your diet.

RedEye talked with Chicago nutritionist Ruth Collins, 26, of Roscoe Village, to get the skinny (or not so much) on some of the dishes at the 2012 Taste. (Numbers are Collins' estimates).

Pazzo's
Chicken Vesuvio open-faced on crostini
Calories: 710
Collins says: "This rich, delicious dish might be a little high in calories, but using one piece of bread for this sandwich is a calorie saver."

Carbon Live Fire Mexican Grill
Tortilla-encrusted tilapia taco
Calories: 340

Vee Vee's
Fried plantain with Jollof rice
Calories: 350
Collins says: "Depending on the serving size, ounce for ounce this dish will have very high calories because it made out of a fried carbohydrate food."

Kasia's
Potato pierogi
Calories: 210
Collins says: "Polish food is just amazing. My favorite Polish dish is pierogies for sure especially with onions and sour cream. Pierogies are usually fried or boiled. If fried they will be very high in calories and fat. Enjoy with caution."

Iyanze
Bissap (hibiscus) aorbet
Calories: 210

Sabor Latino
Pork-filled banana dumpling
Calories: 752/6 dumplings
Collins says: "This dish is very high in calories at 6 dumplings per serving. Bring a friend and share to reduce the impact on your waistline."

Harold's Chicken
Fried green beans
Calories: 250
Collins says: "Healthy vegetables? Think again. Frying any vegetable can turn an 80-calorie dream snack into a 250-calorie diet-busting nightmare. Don't be fooled just because it's green."

Tuscany
Toasted cheese ravioli
320 /6 raviolis
Collins says: "Again, an amazing dish but share those raviolis to save yourself some calories."

Abbey Pub
Irish egg rolls
Calories: 260/1 eggroll

Eli's Cheesecake
Turtle cheesecake smoosh w/ vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce
Calories: 400 calories
Collins says: "The Taste of Chicago is an amazing food journey that everyone should take once if not multiple times over. While some of these foods may be packed with flavor, they are also packed with calories. Just remember the word 'taste.' The small servings will be the key to keeping your diet on track. Enjoy."

Humana Healthier Choices, a five-year sponsor of the Taste, also is making it easier to stay on track with 27 appetizers, main courses and desserts that fit nutritional standards outlined by top Chicago physicians with expertise in nutrition and diet. To see the full list of Humana Healthier Choices, visit: http://www.explorechicago.org/etc/medialib/explore_chicago/mose/taste_of_chicago_2012.Par.0025.File.dat/HumanaHealthierChoicesGuide.pdf

As a Chicago native and veteran to the Taste, balanced eating guru David Grotto of Hershey's Moderation Nation understands how difficult it can be to fight the urge to splurge at an event like the Taste. He has some tips for keeping your consumption in check. 

>> "Enjoy your favorite foods. Get a taste of them, lick your lips and move on."

>> Have a plan and a budget before you go. "Especially in these economically challenging times, it can cost a pretty penny to go through the Taste. Having a plan will help you to save money and allow you to allot food tickets to make them last."

>> Drink plenty of water.

>> Engage in physical activity (like the Humana Race to Taste) before the festival. "I like to get in my physical activity because it allows me to indulge in some of the more decadent treats. It’s all about balance.

>> Take small bites and chew slowly. "A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who take smaller bites and chew their food longer actually end up eating less."

>> Make it an inner- and outer-body experience. "Use all of the senses. Breathe in the aroma of what you’re eating—smell really helps to slow the eating process."

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