John Procaccini ’00 has operated the Gretalia Hospitality Group with brother Tito ’01 since 2012. Gretalia operates Dolceria, a gelateria and pastry shop; Porta Via, an Italian takeout and catering company; Osteria Procaccini and Trattoria Procaccini, both full-service restaurants; and the beloved Princeton, N.J., mainstay PJ’s Pancake House, which has recently expanded to four new locations throughout the state. Each of Greta’s restaurants aims to provide great food and great service, but Procaccini knows that doesn’t have to come at the expense of one’s health.
These are his five tips on eating healthy while dining out:
Eat more fruits and vegetables
The trend of local, sustainable and organic ingredients in restaurants means the quality of vegetables is often dramatically better than it once was. Take advantage of this wonderful trend!
Eat less red and processed meat
Eat more chicken! Red meat is often thought of as a treat, but so many great chicken dishes are out there. At PJ’s Pancake House, we make a Mediterranean Shakshuka (with onions, peppers, plum tomato sauce, spinach, poached eggs and grilled chicken topped with Feta) that is so satisfying you won’t miss passing on red meat.
Skip soft drinks and sugary foods
A soft drink is virtually a whole day’s worth of added sugar. A great alternative to soft drinks, if you don’t want to drink water, is iced tea with fresh lemon.
Eat healthy and sustainable seafood
The omega 3 fatty acids found in seafood lowers blood cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease. I lost close to 11 pounds by focusing my diet on healthy fish like our rosemary marinated Branzino, which we serve with Mediterranean herbs, sea salt and sautéed escarole and beans.
Beware of processed foods with harmful chemicals
Our restaurants are sensitive to preparing food free of artificial preservatives, colors, sweeteners and flavors, and it’s not impossible for others to be as well. With dietary needs on the rise, don’t be ashamed to ask your server to customize a healthy simple dish. No restaurant should have an issue with this.