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13 Foods Worth Trying at a Greek Restaurant

Are there other healthy and delicious options you are missing out on at your neighborhood Greek restaurant? Here are some other menu items to consider.

Baked eggplants plum salsa greek yogurt tahini sauce.Spring song/Shutterstock

 Papoutsakia

You know what a gyro is and the delicious yogurt sauce that tops it, which you can neither pronounce nor spell (it’s tzatziki, by the way). But are there other healthy and delicious options you are missing out on at your neighborhood Greek restaurant? Here are some other Greek foods to consider, starting with papoutsakia.

According to the Greek cooking and hospitality blog kopiaste.org, papoutsakia means “little shoes,” which this dish resembles.

Is it healthy? Featuring eggplant stuffed with ground beef, this recipe is reasonably healthy as long as the chef takes it easy on the béchamel sauce and the cheese. But there are healthier options on a Greek menu. These are the worst foods you can order at restaurants.

Grill pan with delicious grilled sausages, close upAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

 Loucanico

Loucanico (or loukaniko) is the Greek word for sausage, which is much like Spanish chorizo sausage in that it tends to be pretty spicy. Learn more about these delicious Greek foods from souvlakiforthesoul.com.

Is it healthy? This sausage can be on the fatty side, so try to share it with others as a simple appetizer. Make sure you follow these dining etiquette rules when eating out, too.

Traditional georgian dolma in grape leaves on rustic wooden table with copyspaceAnna Bogush/Shutterstock

 Dolmades

They sound exotic but you’ve probably had these stuffed grape leaves in your Greek salad at many diners. Most people either adore them or they push them to the side along with the ubiquitous peperoncini.

Is it healthy? Absolutely. Typically stuffed with rice and spices then simmered in broth, these little appetizers are a very healthful choice. Even a little lean ground lamb won’t hurt the calorie count too much. Eat your peperoncini too—they’re good for you!

Mashed potatoes with spices and olive oil in white bowl on dark concrete background. Top view or flat lay. Copy space.Fascinadora/Shutterstock

 Skordalia

A traditional dip made from mashed potatoes and garlic served with pita or vegetables.

Is it healthy? Dipping bread in mashed potatoes is a deluge of simple carbs that your body doesn’t need. You’re better off dipping cucumbers, or other veggies, rather than the pita.

Greek traditional food. Oven backed prawns with feta, tomato, paprika, thyme in a traditional ceramic form on a abstract background. Healthy eating concept. Mediterranean lifestyle.Bvlena/Shutterstock

 Shrimp Saganaki vs. Saganaki

Despite their names, these two Greek foods are actually nothing alike. The reason for the confusion is because both are cooked in a sagani—a traditional Greek cooking pan—and anything cooked in a sagani gets the name “saganaki” added on to it. Thus just plain “saganaki” is commonly fried cheese, while “shrimp saganaki” is a dish of shrimp, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and feta.

Are they healthy? Stick with shrimp saganaki for a healthy, vegetable-filled appetizer. Fried cheese, while delicious, is not a healthy low-fat appetizer. Don’t miss these ways to make your diet more Mediterranean.

Eggplant,zucchini and tomato with mozzarella in CasseroleDani Vincek/Shutterstock

 Pastitsio vs. Mousaka

Both of these are casseroles. Pastitsio is often referred to as Greek lasagna; it’s a layered pasta dish with either beef or lamb in tomato sauce, and creamy béchamel. Mousaka combines vegetables and meat with a cream sauce.

Are they healthy? The béchamel in both adds a good dose of fat and calories. You may want to skip appetizers, and dessert, if you care to indulge in these dishes. Here are the things you should never eat at a restaurant.

Kebabs - grilled meat and vegetables on white backgroundJacek Chabraszewski/Shutterstock

Souvlaki

Grilled skewers of meat are on every Greek menu. Choose chicken, pork, lamb, or beef, and get them as a platter or as a sandwich.

Is it healthy? Low-fat protein, veggies, and pita, plus a touch of yogurt sauce, equals a very healthy choice.

Traditional Greek Souvlaki with Feta and Pita Bread as top view on an old burnt cutting board hlphoto/Shutterstock

Pikilla

Pikilla is a Greek foods appetizer sampler of grilled or fried meats and/or fish. As the blog organicallycooked.com notes, the healthiness of this dish depends on the location. Some restaurants “use ready-to-cook, mass-produced food to serve in a pikilia, while others cook everything from scratch.”

Is it healthy? It depends on the place. You have to ask. Skip one that is heavy on the fried foods and creamy dips. Here’s what nutritionists usually skip ordering when they go out to eat.

Bowl of red caviar on vintage metal tray with ice over turquoise texture background. Top view, spaceNatasha Breen/Shutterstock

 Taramosalata

Hmm, sounds exotic should you try it? Well if you like roe—aka fish eggs—give it a go. This dip is a traditional carp roe mousse.

Is it healthy? Yes, if eaten sparingly. It is mostly fat in many cases, yet it’s full of the healthy fats found in fish.

Grilled vegetables on cutting board on dark stone table. Top viewEvgeny Karandaev/Shutterstock

 Briam (Tourlou)

A mixture of Mediterranean vegetables roasted together, the perfect Greek foods!

Is it healthy? Yes, go for it!

White beans in tomato sauce in a bowl on rustic table backgrounddenio109/Shutterstock

Gigandes

This dish is basically Greek baked beans.

Is it healthy? Gigandes are packed with fiber, and as long as they’re not too sweet they are a nice side dish. Don’t miss these 57 secrets your restaurant server isn’t telling you.

Avgolemono, chicken soup with egg-lemon sauce, rice and fresh parsley leaves in white bowl on black stone background. Top view.Magrig/Shutterstock

 Avgolemono

A simple lemony chicken-orzo soup thickened with eggs.

Is it healthy? Yes, this dish is a perfect choice for a filling appetizer. Don’t miss these tasty recipes for a Mediterranean diet.

Greek style filo pastry pie round overhead comfort foodcasanisa/Shutterstock

Baklava, Galaktoboureko, Kataifi Ekmek, and Bougatsa

All of these Greek desserts are towering pastry combinations of honey, phyllo, nuts, and sometimes rich custard.

Is it healthy? Is dessert ever healthy? Skip these Greek foods if you are concerned about calories. All of these are heavy and sweet.

Next, check out these sneaky menu tricks that could influence your order.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest