I live in NYC and started working at a new restaurant, which I am not realizing after my first two (free staff) meals there, is definitely not the healthiest.
It is a cuban style Tapas place, which has lots and lots of GREAT meat slections, and I can have them all for free, which means high savings on food, and a terrific opportunity to be eating more steak, lamb etc.
My biggest concern is that I am pretty sure they prepare everything in some kind of vegetable oil/canola oil...which is such a bummer because I really want to take advantage of eating for free at my new work, but after eating there twice, my stomach was in knots every time (even after ordering the cleanest Paleo options)...i think due to the oils.
What can i do? I have a great rapport with the cooks, and I have asked many times to make me a chicken salad with NO OILS AT ALL, put the chicken in a separate dish so it doesn't touch the grill etc... but still upset tummy... i believe they marinate the chicken in their oils (god knows why)
Anyway...what should I do? what is a way around this? Will it be a big set back if I continue to consume Canola oils during my staff meals (while cooking clean at home most of the other times)... Any ideas of how to politely ask the cooks, or what to order that won't have too much oil?
Here is the menu copy and pasted....any suggestions would be very helpful, as this would make a significant difference in my financial situation.
Ensalada Criolla tomato, avocado, red onion & herb vinaigrette 8.00
Ensalada De Palmitas avocado, hearts of palm & grapefruit 8.00
Yucca Fritta crispy batons with curry mustard 8.00
Plantain Chips With Avocado Puree fried green plantain chips with creamy avocado dip 8.00
Albondigas spanish style lamb and beef meatballs served in a roasted tomato & habanero sauce with field green plantains 10.00
Croquettas De Jamon ham & cheese with sofrito aioli 10.00
Empanadas De Vegetales mixed vegetable turnover with fresh avocado puree 12.00
Empanadas De Carne beef turnover with chimichurri sauce 12.00
Tamales corn masa and braised pork steamed in a banana leaf 12.00
Crab Gratin with saffron pickles & cuban roast 16.00
Drunken Shrimp shrimp in garlic and rum mojo on a bed of sweet mashed plantains & jalapeno shavings 15.00
Croquettas De Cangrejo Con Guava lump crabmeat over goat cheese, fondue, roasted red pepper & guava paste 14.00
Costillas pork ribs in habanero & guava glaze 15.00
Rack Of Lamb island spiced rack of lamb, grilled medium (unless specified) served with citrus salad, rice, black beans & avocado 25.00
Carne 10oz sirloin steak grilled medium rare (unless specified) with boniato puree & crispy vidalia onions 24.00
Ropa Vieja twice braised beef stewed with peppers, onions and tomato served with black beans, rice & tostones 19.00
Pollo A El Mojito mint and lime marinated chicken over crispy yucca fries & sauteed kale 21.00 Crispy Snapper Filet with mango salsa, coco rice & kale 21.00
Pulpo octopus with hearts of palm, grape tomato & avocado
Snapper with coconut, red and green peppers, cilantro, mint & lime
Shrimp marinated in citrus with toasted cumin, cilantro, cucumber and avocado
Huevos Asados two organic eggs baked in a homemade roasted tomato habañero sauce with peppers, onions, cheese and black beans. served with roasted potatoes, salad and cuban toast 13.00
Chickpea Hash chorizo, roast pork, sofrito and chickpeas, served with two eggs sunny side up 13.00
Torrejas cuban style french toast dipped in aged vanilla custard, served with caramelized apples 13.00
Panqueques De Coco coconut pancakes with fresh fruit & pineapple maple syrup 13.00
Mofongo De Tortilla De Huevo three organic egg omelette rolled in a crust of yucca & plantain mash, baked until crispy, served with roasted potatoes, salad and cuban toast 13.00
Tortilla De Huevo three organic egg omelette with a choice of two : mushroom, avocado, chorizo, ham, tomato, cheese or peppers, served with roasted potatoes, salad and cuban toast 13.00
Chorizo Benedicto two crispy chorizo and yucca cakes with soft poached organic eggs, chipotle hollandaise, pickled onion and baby field greens 13.00
Bistek Y Huevos eight ounce new york strip steak served with a roasted tomato habañero sauce, two eggs your way & a side of rice and black beans 15.00
Fritta our version of a seasoned hamburger with peppers, onions, garlic and cumin, served on a roll with avocado, sofrito aioli and pickled onion 15.00
Pollo Fritto crisp island spice rubbed fried chicken, with sweet plantain mash
Could it be that the meats are marinated in or topped with some gluten-containing sauce that's causing your stomach pains? Perhaps asking the cooks to keep your food free of the vegetable oils won't keep you free of discomfort if that's the case. And if so....I don't know how to help except to tell you to take your own food -- sorry!
Can you ask them to make you salads without the dressing and without chicken, even? Poach or steam stuff instead of grilling it? Poach or hardboil some eggs for you to put on the salad? Where I work, the cooks are totally happy to do make little changes like that as long as you're not asking for it during the middle of dinner service, and of course provided that you're friendly with them.
Also do you work back of house or front of house? Just wondering since if you're BOH you would be aware of pretty much every ingredient in the food already and might not be so keen to eat it at all. I work BOH in a restaurant too and have accepted that I won't be eating the food, even if it's super cheap, after seeing how much vegetable oil and other stuff goes into most dishes. It's not worth it to me, especially since I don't get it for free, just discounted. Most restaurant food is a minefield.
Depending on how sensitive your stomach is you might make the same decision. If this isn't a fairly high-end place that makes nearly everything, there can be questionable ingredients in everything from the broth/stock they use to the spice mixtures.
Edit: after actually reading the menu throughly, a lot of it looks seriously delicious, and not exactly paleo-unfriendly. Yes, there will be a small amount of canola oil on the surface of the food, but all in all it doesn't look so bad. I would think if you avoid stuff like salad dressings and anything deep-fried, it might be okay for you. Unless, of course, you find even small amounts of canola oil upset your stomach (like you said in your question).
The stomach pains are likely not related to the canola oil, which isn't really all that bad of a fat source, in my opinion. It's 61% monounsaturated, 21% omega 6, 11% omega 3 and the rest saturated. I think it would actually be worse to use a cooking fat that had a lower smoke point like butter or olive oil and that created carcinogens during the cooking process.
After 5 months on paleo I'm very sensitive to many spices as well as seed oils. I agree with Ruth and Travis that it might not be oil that's bothering you. That makes it hard--all you can do is try one dish per day and see if there are any with mild/neutral reactions.
I eat out with my co-workers a few times a week, so I'm probably eating canola oil 2-4 times a week. So far I have maintained all the positive health changes I got on a paleo diet despite this. I try not to eat anything fried though, since that gives you the most oil, and I avoid desserts and bread things. I would also try to angle for red meat, since it's usually higher quality in restaurants than fish or chicken. Ceviche is probably oil-free, but I doubt they'd serve that in staff meals. ALso salads might make you worse off since they are often dressed in oil.
All and all, canola is better than corn or sunflower oil and marginally better than soy oil. Take comfort in that fact that even if you eat at the restaurant 5 times a week, your diet is still better than 99% of the US population's diet.
latin american food is notorious for being fried in this type of oils, and probably not fresh oil either....my suggestion would be order things without the proteins if they are questionable (salads) and bring your own chicken and oil dressings.
the ensalada de palmitos should be oil free except the dressing, just hold the dressing. have the bistek cooked with the eggs in butter if you can.... sweet plantain mash should be oil free....
but you really do have to check.....anything fried forget...
now stop, your making me hungry!!!
How many meals a week do you plan eating at the restaurant? Do they have any type of good oils at the restaurant you may ask for them to use, like butter or olive oil? Can you ask them to grill it without oil?
One thing I do when I eat conventional meats and/or eat out where I know vegetable oil is used is take a couple servings of fish oil to try and balance out the Omega 3 ratio. Still doesn't help the fact that the vegetable oil is oxidized but in my mind it makes me feel better. However, I only eat out 2 times a week at most.
Although a bit more costly, avocado oil mayonnaise is outstanding for chicken, ham, egg, tuna etc salad. dAVO is excellent in place of evoo, and butter in some cases. Scrambled eggs, grilled cheese sand, as the oil in a non-fat greek yogurt dip, dipping oil w/parm. High temp stir frys. davoavocado oil.com
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