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Ethnic Food Without the Fat

We break down which exotic dishes are diet-friendly and which only leave you stuffed with extra calories.

Greek Salad


Rice is a staple, so remember to control your portions. Also watch out for items containing calorie-laden coconut milk.

Diet Killers: conchfritters, Jamaican patties (egg yolk–yellow fried pies filled with meat or cheese), fried plantains
Belly Friendly: noncream-based chicken, jerk chicken, pilau (similar to paella)


The Mediterranean diet is timeless and virtually fat-free, and all but the desserts are healthy. For the greatest benefits, go for plant- and seafood-based dishes—there are plenty!

Diet Killers: gyro, pastitsio (pasta and ground beef with béchamel), moussaka (layers of ground meat, tomato sauce, fried eggplant slices and béchamel), baklava
Belly Friendly: Greek salad with feta, chicken souvlaki, white bean stew, lentil soup, grilled whole fish or shellfish, appetizers (yogurt and garlic, smashed eggplant, fish roe, tomato salad, grilled sardines)


Although many dishes can be laden with fat (cheese, sour cream, and guacamole), there are some lean options.

Diet Killers: taco salad (so healthy the term ‘‘salad” doesn’t even apply), chips and nachos, quesadillas, chimichangas
Belly Friendly: salsa, pico de gallo, enchiladas without cheese, soft fish tacos (no cheese or sour cream), fajitas (again, avoid added fatty side dishes), grilled chicken entrées with salsa, whole wheat tortillas



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