Beyond Bread and Butter: Restaurants With Free Healthy Choices

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Bread and Butter Alternative #1: Olives

Marinated mixed olives are a delicious and healthy low-carb starter. A single olive includes monounsaturated fat, phytonutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, calcium, iron, and vitamins A, C, and E. This healthy appetizer has been spotted at Crabtree's Kittle House and Periyali in New York and at Peppy's in the Gables in Florida.

Bread and Butter Alternative #2: Millet puffs

Studies suggest that including “old-world” grains in your diet may help lower body mass index (BMI) as well as lower the risk of heart failure, chronic disease, cancer and diabetes. The whole-grain millet puffs served at Susan Feniger's Street in Los Angeles are described as "sweet and savory Rice Krispies treats accented with curry."

Bread and Butter Alternative #3: Edamame

These delicious soybeans are packed to the brim with flavor, protein, and tons of fiber. Eat about ½ cup of beans for 120 calories. Roy's Restaurant in Texas offers this free starter instead of bread.

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Bread and Butter Alternative #4: Boiled peanuts

This southern favorite is a delicious low-carb, bread and butter alternative. According to a Harvard University study, people who ate peanuts and peanut butter found it easier to stick to their diets. Gasparilla's in Florida serves boiled peanuts instead of bread as you wait for your entree.

Bread and Butter Alternative #5: Peanuts or mixed nuts

Almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, and cashews contain the healthy monounsaturated fats that lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Many Chinese restaurants offer peanuts instead of bread. More restaurants should follow suit or follow Continental Airline's first class service and offer warmed mixed nuts as a healthy bread alternative.

Bread and Butter Alternative #6: Popcorn

Popcorn is relatively inexpensive and it can be topped with a variety of toppings. Graham Elliot in Chicago serves truffle popcorn to its diners.

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Bread and Butter Alternative #7: Pickled radishes

It's no surprise that a restaurant called The Big Radish serves these tangy vegetables as a free starter. What is surprising is that more restaurants don't consider vegetables, pickled or otherwise, as a healthy and low-carb alternative to bread and butter.

Bread and Butter Alternative #8: Vegetables and pretzels

Kudos to Grub in Los Angeles. It serves vegetables with its unique offering of pretzels and ranch dressing as an alternative to bread. If you skip the pretzels this is a great low-carb choice.

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