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Restaurant Food Guides

Just because you have PKU it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a meal out with your family or friends. These quick guides contain helpful tips for protein free foods as well as foods that may fit into your protein allowance. Remember to always check the ingredients or ask the restaurant staff if you are unsure before ordering.

Eating out at an Italian Restaurant

If you are able to bring your own low protein pizza or pasta, Italian can be a good option for eating out on a PKU diet.

Possible menu choices:

Low protein or protein free foods

  • Salad
  • Vegetable toppings on low protein pizza
  • Tomato-based pasta sauces (see below)
  • Sorbet

Foods that need to be counted

  • Bread with oil
  • Garlic bread
  • Garlic mushrooms

Some pizza chains have salad bars which can be useful ifyou haven’t brought your low protein products.

Many pasta sauces are made from low protein ingredients. The list below shows some of the common choices that may be suitable.

Guide to pasta sauces

  • Napoletana – basic sauce with basil and garlic
  • Arrabiata – chilli and garlic
  • Basilico – basil
  • Puttanesca – black olives and capers WARNING: check that this does not contain fish (anchovies)
  • Pomarola – garlic and herbs
  • Norma – aubergine
  • Primavera – various vegetables

THIS IS A GUIDE ONLY: ALWAYS CHECK THE INGREDIENTS BEFORE ORDERING!

Eating out at an Indian Restaurant

Indian food can offer good choices for a low protein diet.  Most vegetable side dishes can be ordered as a main course.

Possible menu choices:

Low protein or protein free foods

  • Onion salad
  • Vegetable side dishes made from free vegetables e.g. aubergine, bhindi (okra)
  • Mango chutney
  • Mango pickle
  • Lime pickle

Foods which need to be counted

  • Boiled Rice
  • Papadums
  • Chapatis
  • Puri (deep fried chapatis)
  • Paratha
  • Naan bread

There are several different types of “curry” depending on the basic ingredients used and the method of cooking.  Some of these are made from free or very low protein foods; others will contain cream, yoghurt, coconut etc.  Below is a brief guide to the types of curry that are made from free or very low protein ingredients.  Remember that each restaurant can vary in what it uses, so always ask the waiter for a specific list of ingredients.

Guide to curry dishes

  • Dopiaza (medium spicy) – onion, pepper and tomato
  • Bhuna (medium spicy with thick sauce) – garlic, green pepper, tomato and onion
  • Rogan josh (medium spicy) – green pepper, tomato and garlic
  • Jalfrezi (hot) – onion, green chillies, peppers, coriander
  • Madras (hot) – lemon, chilli, tomato and garlic
  • Pathia (sweet and sour) – chilli, molasses, tomato puree

THIS IS A GUIDE ONLY: ALWAYS CHECK THE INGREDIENTS BEFORE ORDERING!

Eating out at a Greek Restaurant

Whilst there is meat, seafood and cheese in the Greek diet, there is also an emphasis on the salad and vegetable parts of the meal.

Possible menu choices:

Low protein or protein free foods

  • Salad
  • Vegetables e.g. vegetable kebab
  • Olives, marinated vegetables e.g. artichokes, eggplant, capsicum, sundried tomatoes

Foods that need to be counted

  • Bread with oil
  • Rice
  • Stuffed vegetables and vine leaves (choose those filled with rice and herbs not mince meat)
  • Cracked wheat (bulgur)
  • Hommus (chickpea dip)
  • Tzatziki (cucumber and yoghurt dip)

There are quite strong similarities between Greek food and that of some other middle-Eastern countries, such as Turkey.

THIS IS A GUIDE ONLY: ALWAYS CHECK INGREDIENTS BEFORE ORDERING!

Eating out at an Asian Restaurant

Traditional Asian food includes many vegetable-based dishes.  Whilst many of the dishes on the menu also contain meat, chicken, seafood or tofu, vegetable only dishes are usually also on the menu or available on request.

Possible menu choices:

Low protein or protein free foods

  • Stir-fried vegetables including water chestnuts, cabbage, spring onions, seaweed* and beansprouts*
  • Clear soups with vegetables and without egg, shellfish, chicken or meat

Food that needs to be counted

  • Rice
  • Noodles including wheat noodles and rice noodles, rice vermicelli
  • Rice paper
  • Vegetable dumplings
  • Vegetarian entrees e.g. vegetables spring rolls, vegetable dim sims, vegetable pancakes

Note: Be aware that sauces like soy sauce, fish sauce and oyster sauce contain protein so the amount needs to be limited

* Do not eat more than one serving of these foods in a day

THIS IS A GUIDE ONLY: ALWAYS CHECK INGREDIENTS BEFORE ORDERING!

Eating out at a European Restaurant (e.g French, Spanish)

Generally speaking, the food eaten in these countries includes a high intake of meat and cheese.  Options can be limited – be prepared!

Possible menu choices:

Low protein or protein free foods

  • Salad
  • Vegetable dishes such as ratatouille or soup
  • Olives
  • Specify that you don’t want egg/fish/meat on your salad as this may be added automatically
  • Avoid anything that is prepared “au gratin” – it means “with cheese and breadcrumbs”

Foods that need to be counted

  • Potatoes (watch out for creamed or duchess potatoes)
  • Bread
  • Rice

THIS IS A GUIDE ONLY: ALWAYS CHECK INGREDIENTS BEFORE ORDERING!

Please Note: The dietary treatment for PKU varies for each person so all information presented here is for guidance only. Your own dietitian and/or doctor will advise you on all aspects relating to management of PKU for you and your family.