To me, pub food is a treat that I indulge in only rarely. Even with the better gastro pub food offered in more expensive bars, you are still sure to ingest a lot of calories, especially from carbs and fat. And as I watch my diet pretty closely, I usually get a bit disheartened at the fact that my entire week has been messed up by a single meal. But if you’re like me and enjoy pub food (and sometimes crave it!), then you’ll be happy to know these few tips to enjoy the pub food you love, at home, with better-for-you alternatives.
Fish and chips
Fries and fried fish are a classic pub fare, especially in British pubs all around the world. The light batter and the golden fries are hard to beat. But have you looked closely at the freezer section of your grocery lately? They have thick and wide-cut fries that are just like those chips at the pub. If you cook them in the oven instead of the fryer, you save a lot of calories. Same goes for the fish: there are some excellent frozen fish in batter, or you can even make your own by using bread crumb and spices, dredging the fish through milk and coating it with the crumbs. Again, use the oven instead of the fryer. This will save you a lot of fat calories, and it will satisfy your craving for this classic.
Hamburger and fries
Fries come with everything in pubs, so again, follow the direction for the oven instead of the fryer. You can even cut your own fries from fresh potatoes, which saves you all the chemical additives and most importantly the sodium present in bagged frozen fries. As for the hamburger, choose a lighter alternative: chicken or turkey patties, or even a vegetarian patty. There are plenty of recipes on the web about how to make a burger patty with brown rice and black beans; I have tried a few, and there are some excellent recipes out there. You can choose your spices and even mix in a bit of homemade barbecue sauce. Try it, it’s delicious!
Popular in Irish pubs, the classic Irish stew hides a lot of fat, especially in the sauce. There are many, many variations of this recipe, some healthier than others. Avoid those that use a lot of oil, lard, or butter. Cut the portion of fat and add in another thickener such as corn starch; for flavour, a good homemade chicken stock will do the trick. Choose a lean cut of beef, and use sweet potatoes instead of white ones: their glycemic index is much better.
So, next time you have an irresistible urge to go to the sports bar for some fatty, caloric pub fare, just head to the grocery store and grad a few wholesome ingredients. Invite friends over and watch the game on TV, comfortable in your home: you’ll save money, calories, and cultivate your relationship with your friends and your family. Give it a try! You won’t want to spend another dollar on pub fare after that.