Calories in Greek Food - Healthy Restaurant Choices, Chart

Greece lies in the heart of the Mediterranean region that has inspired the famously healthy Mediterranean diet. This diet is based on the traditional foods and meals of Greece, Spain, southern Italy, and specifically the Greek island of Crete, and parts of the Middle East.

This derived diet is based on high numbers of plant foods, fresh fruit eaten as desserts, olive oil as the principle source of fat - used for cooking and dressings, dairy products (mostly yogurt and cheese), both fish, seafood and poultry eaten in low to moderate quantities, small consumption of red meat, less than fours eggs eaten each week weekly, and wine with food in low to moderate amounts. The total amount of fat in this diet is about 25-35% of calories. Saturated fat is less than 8% calories.

While vegetables, herbs, grains, olives (and their oil), fish and seafood remain the fundamentals of Greek cuisine served at restaurants, diners should beware of the high calorie and high fat dishes that are included on many menus.

Serving sizes can be large and cheese such as feta and large quantities of olive oil can quickly inflate the calories and fat contents or otherwise healthy dishes.

This article will show you how to make healthy choices when eating out at Greek restaurants. There is also a comprehensive calorie chart for common Greek foods and dishes.

Healthy Food Choices for those on a Diet or Watching their Calories

Souvlaki - are kebobs made of lamb, chicken or pork. They can offer an excellent low- fat and low calorie option as they are loaded with healthy vegetables. However watch the portion size and be careful of the sauces. A Chicken souvlaki typically has about 260 calories per serve and 8 grams of fat. Lamb or pork souvlaki have slightly more calories and fat ( 310 calories;11 grams of fat). When eating these dishes avoid the trap of cheese and oil laden salads and the temptations of. large servings of pita bread or rice. Try to order steamed vegetables or a healthy side salad without cheese or oil-based dressings.

Greek salads -Salads, despite their general reputation, are not always a healthy option for the diet conscious diner, because the traditional salads are often laden with cheese and oil in the dressing that can inflate the calories dramatically. If you order a Greek salad, ask for no oily dressing and no feta, which is fully of calories and saturated fats. As an alternative, ask for a side of tzatziki sauce - healthy Greek yogurt that is flavored with garlic and cucumber. The addition of a little grilled chicken or seafood can boost your protein intake without adding too many extra calories.

Melit Janosalata - This is a dip of garlic, ground eggplant and olive oil, that provides a great source of healthy ingredients with minimal calories. Ask for extra vegetable pieces on the side for dipping rather than pita bread (or half and half).

Hummus - is a chickpea-based dip that includes garlic, tahini (sesame seed oil), olive oil, lemon juice and a mixture of various spices. Hummus comes in a variety of flavors, depending on the restaurant, including spinach, grilled red pepper, eggplant, artichoke and roasted garlic. Chickpeas are very rich in protein and are a good healthy choice, with a glycemic index of 12. This means hummus will satisfy your appetite for a good while without the need for extra calories. Order fresh vegetables for dipping rather than bread which reduces the calories. A tasty common menu item is hummus with warm pita bread, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Kakavia Soup - This traditional Greek fisherman’s soup is usually made with local fresh fish (catch of the day), and a range of other seafood items such as lobsters, shellfish and shrimp for added flavor. This soup is generally pack with a variety of healthy chopped vegetables and herbs. This soup is a low calorie and low fat source of vitamins and antioxidants.

Seafood Dishes - Since Greek food is founded on the shores of the Mediterranean, many Greek restaurants offer a variety of seafood meals and dishes. Look for dishes that is grilled, broiled, pan seared BUT not fried. Request side serves of fresh vegetables, healthy salad and dips with small bread servings. Avoid the sauces which can be laden with unwanted calories and fat ( order tzatziki sauce instead). Avoid eating large servings of bread or rice with your fish, which can double the number of calories to your meal.

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Foods to CHOOSE and Foods to AVOID

The following list provides a guide for making healthy choices from the menus.

Dips (with vegetable sticks rather than bread)

  • CHOOSE: Just 2 Tablespoons of Hummus, 50 calories
  • AVOID: 1/2 Cup of Hummus, 500 calories

Starters and accompaniments

  • CHOOSE: Tzatziki Dip with Pita (220 calories, 5 g of fat, 3 g of saturated fat, 430 mg of sodium). Choose the version made from yogurt, garlic and mint, not sour cream, which can easily double the fat and calories.
  • CHOOSE: Sliced Vegetables with the dip, 100 calories
  • CHOOSE: Whole-Wheat Pita Bread, 180 calories, 5 g of fiber; rather than the white variety.
  • AVOID: White Pita Bread, 180 calories, 1 g of fiber
  • AVOID: Greek Salad with feta and heavy dressing (215 calories, 15 g of fat,4 g of saturated fat, 557 mg of sodium).
  • AVOID: Dolmades (with are grape leaves stuffed with ground meat and rice) (540 calories, 32 g of fat, 15 g of saturated fat, 1,470 mg of sodium).The ground lamb or beef stuffing has lots of saturated fat, the rice adds calories and brine has a high sodium content.

Salads as Main Course

  • CHOOSE: Grilled Calamari or Grilled Shrimp Salad, with no feta, light dressing - 35 calories an ounce
  • AVOID: Tradition Greek Salad, with feta and heavy dressing - 600 calories, 30 g of fat

Main Courses

  • CHOOSE: Chicken Souvlaki (260 calories, 8 g of fat, 2 g of saturated fat, 370 mg of sodium). Pieces of chicken, pork, beef and lamb are marinated - grilled and usually served with grilled vegetables and rice.
  • AVOID: Lamb Meatballs, 500 calories and 50 g of fat
  • AVOID: Spinach Pie, 600 calories and 30 g of fat
  • CHOOSE: Share two traditional dishes between four people and add healthy side salads and small bread servings to cut down on the calories.
  • CHOOSE: Sea Bass, 100 calories; and other seafood dishes
  • AVOID: Spanakopita (410 calories, 24 g of fat, 12 g of saturated fat, 730 mg of sodium). This dish consists of sheets of phyllo dough that are coated with butter and filled with a mixture of spinach, oil, feta and eggs. Very tasty but very heavy and unhealthy.
  • AVOID: Gyro (760 calories, 44 g of fat, 20 g of saturated fat, 2,390 mg of sodium).This is pita bead filled with a mixture of ground meat (roasted and seasoned beef and lamb), bread crumbs, tzatziki, feta, lettuce, onion, garlic and tomatoes. Generally OK but comes in huge serving sizes and the meat has too much fat and too many calories. OK to share with a friend.

Desserts

  • AVOID: Baklava, 400 calories and 20 g of fat
  • CHOOSE: Fresh or dried fruit dishes with yogurt - generally about 100 calories per serve.

Food and Dish
Calories
Food and Dish
Calories
Artichokes with Vegetables 1 serve
350
Hummus, 1 level tbsp
40
Baked fish with tomatoes and garlic 1 serve
300
Kataïfi
375
Baklava (1 piece)
397
Keftethes (meatballs), each
50
Baklava (honey and walnut pastry) 1 serve
320
Keftethes (meatballs, two normal sized)
210
Bandit's Lamb (Kleftiko) 1 serve
740
Kolokythopita (pumpkin pie)
280
Barley rusk
90
Kourabiethes (1)
115
Beet & Garlic Salad 1 serve
200
Kreatopita 120g
227
Beet Salad with Yogurt, low fat 1 serve
147
Lamb and pepper kebabs
320
Broad Beans and Artichoke Hearts 1 serve
370
Lamb and Potatoes, Roasted
718
Chicken Kabob 1 serve
150
Lamb and Potatoes, Roasted
718
Chicken soup and rice 1 serve
100
Lamb Greek Tzatziki Salad 300 g
300
Chicken Souvlaki 1 piece
90
Lamb Kofta With Almond and Apricot Couscous and Eta Greek Style Yogurt Dressing 2 Koftas
420
Chopped Greek Salad With Chicken 1 serve
420
Lamb with Artichokes
660
Dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) 1 serve
200
Lamb with Artichokes
660
Fassolakia (green bean casserole) 1 serve
389
Lamb, Bandit's (Kleftiko)
740
Fassolakia, reduced fat 1 serve
217
Lamb, Bandit's (Kleftiko)
740
Fassolatha (bean soup) 1 serve
464
Lamb, Roasted, 5 1/4 oz (150g)
347
Fava (1 tablesoon)
76
Lamb, Roasted, 5 1/4 oz (150g)
347
Fresh Greek Salad 9 oz
160
Lentil Soup
424
Fried Liver Morsels 1 serve
390
Lentil Soup
424
Galaktoboureko (custard-filled phyllo) 1 serve
365
Loukoumathes (honey puffs) per piece
40
Galatopita (milk custard pie) 1 serve
280
Loukoumathes (honey puffs) per piece
40
Garbanzo Salad 3/4 cup
130
Marinated calamari
200
Greek Chicken and Vegetables 1 cup
250
Marithes (main course serving)
330
Greek Chicken Roulades 1 chicken breast
342
Marithes (main course serving)
330
Greek Chicken Salad 6oz
320,
Meatballs
580
Greek Grilled Chicken Breast 1 serve
308
Meatballs on skewers
445
Greek Hummus 1 oz
80
Melitzanes Papoutsakia (eggplant with meat filling)
585
Greek Island Dressing, Tahini 2 tablespoons
60
Melitzanes Papoutsakia (eggplant with meat filling)
585
Greek Kalamata Olives - Pitted 3 olives
25
Melitzanosalata (aubergine purée salad), 1 level tbsp
30
Greek Lamb & Orzo Pasta 300g
320
Melitzanosalata eggplant dip (1 tbsp.)
98
Greek Lamb With Orzo 1 portion
696
Melitzanosalata eggplant dip (1 tbsp.)
98
Greek Lasagna 1 tray
460
Melomakarona honeyed spice cookies (1)
145
Greek Lemon and Chicken Rice Soup 1 cup
250
Melomakarona honeyed spice cookies (1)
145
Greek Lowfat Yogurt 1 cup
130
Moussaka
700
Greek Nonfat Yogurt Plain 6 oz
100
Moussaka (eggplant, ground meat, béchamel)
648
Greek Orzo Salad 1 cup
228
Moussaka (eggplant, ground meat, béchamel)
648
Greek Pasta and Beef Casserole 1 serve
390
Multigrain Pita Bread 1 pita
190
Greek Pita Wraps 1 piece
260
Olives, each
3
Greek Pizzas 1 pizza
320
Ouzo (shot, 1.5 oz.)
150
Greek Pork Patties With Radish Tzatziki & Tomato Salad 1 serve
279
Ouzo (shot, 1.5 oz.)
150
Greek Salad - Baby Spinach, Artichoke Hearts, Kalamata Olives 1 serve
280
Pastitsio (pasta, ground meat, béchamel)
688
Greek Salad Tortillas 1 large
297
Pastitsio (pasta, ground meat, béchamel)
688
Greek Salad W/ Grilled Chicken 1 serve
655
Petimezi (grape dessert syrup), 1/3 cup
273
Greek Salad without dressing
260
Petimezi (grape dessert syrup), 1/3 cup
273
Greek salad without dressing
280
Pita Bread
157
Greek Style Plain Feta 30g
81
Pita Bread
157
Greek Style Yoghurt With Forest Fruits 1 pot
359
Pitta bread, 1/2 pitta
75
Greek Tomato and Cucumber Salad 1 1/4 cups
130
Pork Chop
382
Greek Tomato Salad With Feta Cheese & Olives 6 oz
200
Pork Chop
382
Greek Yoghurt with Bananas 1 cup
286
Potato Salad
293
Greek Yoghurt With Stewed Fruit 1 tub
125
Potato Salad
293
Greek Yogurt- Plain 6 oz
100
Potatoes, Roasted
432
Greek-Style Chicken With Pickled Onions, Tomatoes, and Tzatziki 1 serving
300
Potatoes, Roasted
432
Greek-Style Lemon Roast Chicken 1/2 chicken breast
390
Potatoes, Roasted, low fat
160
Greek-Style Lemon Roast Chicken 11 oz
390
Potatoes, Roasted, low fat
160
Greek-Style Stuffed Peppers 1 stuffed half pepper
200
Quince Preserves (1 tsp.)
80
Halva (sweetmeat made with honey and sesame seed)
260
Quince Preserves (1 tsp.)
80
Halvas(1 tbsp)
90
Small portion of marinated calamari (squid)
50
Homemade Greek-Style Veggie Burgers 1 serve
540
Spanakopitta (spinach and cheese pie)
700
Honey, 1 tablespoon
60
Stifado (meat stew)
550
Horiatiki Salad (Greek Villager's Salad) 1 serve
295
Taramasalata, 1 level tbsp
60
Hummus with Tahini, 1/4 cup
120
Tzatziki, 1 level tbsp
20

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson

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Comments 4 comments

HowToLoveOne profile image

HowToLoveOne 4 years ago from San Francisco

Greek salad with no feta!? You're crazy! Either way this hub was mouthwatering


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

I will have to check out Greek food now. I love healthy alternatives in eating. Great food photography too by the way. My salivary glands are running amok!


miakouna profile image

miakouna 4 years ago

Great hub. I am Greek and grew up on everything that you listed. I found this article very interesting and it made me hungry!

I never realized how many calories were in the foods. I guess I will just have to share my next meal and cut the calories.

Good reading!


mts1098 profile image

mts1098 4 years ago from InsideTheManCave

I think the next time I go to a Greek restaurant, I will stop by here first for the calorie check...cheers and thanks

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