Travelers' Menu Leans Toward Healthy Dishes

United Press International

In the mood for about 298 calories, 1.9 grams of saturated fat, 78 milligrams of cholesterol and 128 milligrams of sodium? Try the chicken breast baked in yogurt sauce.

Perhaps your palate prefers something along the lines of 785 calories, 7.2 grams of saturated fat, 128 milligrams of cholesterol and 82 milligrams sodium? Then try the petite filet mignon with whole wheat fettucine.

Both dishes, along with a series of others, are being offered for breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott Hotel's Lobby Bistro restaurant.

The menu, called "California Lite," was designed for health-conscious diners who want to make their meal selections based on the amount of calories, fat and cholesterol in the dishes.

The average American female consumes 2,000 calories a day, while the average male consumes 2,700. When traveling, though, most people tend to eat more than usual, throwing caloric caution to the wind.

And busy business travelers, often fueled by expense accounts, tend to eat with abandon.

"We wanted to let our diners know that they can eat delicious, fresh and innovative cuisine, and still watch their waistlines," said Hans Mock, Marriott's executive chef.

"This way, they can see the content levels listed under each item and put their minds to rest," said Mock, who helped design the menu.

Marriott retained a team of dietitians to prepare the menu. The team is headed by Patricia Sullivan from the nutritional services department of Centinela Hospital.

The dinner menu is not bland. It features such items as escallop of veal, salmon en papillote, peach glazed Cornish hen, fresh seafood Oriental and filet mignon.

Nor is it inexpensive. Entrees range from $14.50 to $16.65.

Also featured on the extensive dinner menu is mesquite-broiled fresh fish. Although relatively low in calories--the swordfish runs 330 calories and the halibut 299--diners are also made aware of the fat content.

Tartar sauce, for example, has 29 calories and no saturated fat. Lemon sauce, though, appears to be the least fattening condiment with three calories per serving.

George Scudder, the hotel's general manager, said the lean and light menu is geared toward guests who have an "extra-special need to watch the waistline and feel his or her best when away from home."

Although the hotel offers all the standard fare--those high-cholesterol and high-fat delights--diners have a choice.

For breakfast, the hotel offers the "aerobic breakfast" of crunchy granola with yogurt and strawberries, half a grapefruit and a glass of milk.

Total calories? 463. Total saturated fat? 7.2 milligrams. Cholesterol? 2.4 milligrams. And 286 milligrams of sodium.

Now faced with their exact caloric intake for a full meal, diners may feel guilty and try to sneak from their tables to their rooms.

The trip isn't that easy. The hotel boasts a health club with weights and sauna to sweat the calories away.

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