Food & Nutrition

Let’s Go Out For…German

What to Know    What to Eat    Menu Decoder

Think beyond Oktoberfest, beer, and pretzels. Follow these menu tips to enjoy a delicious, hearty German meal without going off plan.

Plan your carbs carefully
“Before you take your first bite, pick your poison,” says Sarah Krieger, MPH, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (and former resident of Germany). “There are pretzels, bread, dumplings, and dough coming at you. If you’d rather have the dessert, you need to focus on the prize and pass on the earlier temptations,” she says.

Go for whole-grain rye
While all varieties of bread have about 2 SmartPoints value per slice, they’re not nutritional equals. Opt for the whole-grain rye breads, including dark, dense pumpernickel. Unlike nutritionally void white bread, these breads offer about 2 grams of fiber per slice, helping you feel full. And, recent studies suggest that grain fiber may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Choose cold over hot
Many German sides, including potato salad, sauerkraut, and red cabbage, are served in both hot and cold versions. Always opt for the cold, advises Krieger. “Anything hot will have oil, bacon grease, or other fat,” she says. This is harder to pull off with cold sides because cold grease and oil are much more apparent and much less appetizing.

Spread some love
When it comes to toppings for your bread, potato pancakes, or sandwich, choose mustard. “Whether it’s spicy, smooth, or grainy, take advantage of mustard,” says Krieger. With 0 SmartPoints value, mustard blows away butter (5 SmartPoints value per tablespoon) and sour cream (1 SmartPoints value per tablespoon).

Banish the salt shaker
“With cured vegetables and meats, you can pretty much bank on a high-sodium meal,” says Krieger. You can’t eliminate the high sodium of sauerkraut or sausages, but you certainly should not be adding any yourself. It can be frightfully easy to hit your recommended daily max of sodium (2,300 milligram) halfway through your meal, without any help the salt shaker.