Eating to Live on the Outside: Old Man Rafferty's

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m a Jersey guy; born and breed. An Italian from New Jersey—go figure! Now, all kidding aside, Jersey is a great place for food. But, in my experience doing Eating to Live on the Outside I can tell you New Jersey is not unlike other states. Sure, we got healthy eateries, like Mesob and Fresh Food Kitchen, but there’s also plenty of IHOP’s, Panera Breads, and Friday’s to go around. This week’s restaurant certainly falls towards the latter.

One of my Jersey stomping grounds is the town of New Brunswick—home of Rutgers University—and, Old Man Rafferty’s is a local favorite. Not of mine, I’ve never been—and thank goodness for that! Because I’m looking at the menu right now and it doesn't look good. It’s positively loaded with all the trappings of the standard American diet; cheese, bacon, beef, bread, chips, etc, etc. But, I’m dedicated to my craft, so, I’m going in. To the Eat to Live mobile boy wonder!

First off, Old Man Rafferty’s has two menus—lunch/dinner and dessert—I’m nixing the dessert menu. I hardly think ice cream, cake, and fudge are Fuhrman-friendly. Onto the lunch/dinner menu! Alright, what do we have here?

I see a few salads I like—I know what you’re thinking, “What a shock!” Hardly, but I’m a big salad guy, so I don’t mind. I’m digging the Italian Country Salad—for obvious reasons—it’s prepared with mesclun greens, poached pears, gorgonzola cheese, candied walnuts, and sherry wine vinaigrette. Ciao cheese and candied walnuts! After you say goodbye to those two unsavory characters, you’re left with a pretty basic salad.

If this is too boring for you, give Rafferty’s House Salad a whirl; made with romaine lettuce, baby lettuce, fresh vegetables, tomatoes, cucumbers, and your choice of dressing. I love cucumbers! Not as much as I love avocado, but they’re great. I’d probably just drizzle some balsamic vinegar over all this which makes it a pretty tasty pile of veggies if you ask me.

Another option is the Tuna Nicoise. Now, I know tuna isn’t the safest fish to eat, considering it high mercury content, but, if I were to order this it would be the first time in long time that I’ve eaten tuna, and, I certainly wouldn’t be in any rush to eat it again! It’s prepared with Boston Bibb lettuce, radicchio lettuce, plum tomatoes, red bliss potatoes, red onion, hard boiled egg, black olives, hearts of palm, grilled tuna, and a lemon & roasted garlic vinaigrette. Lots of stuff! Well, I’m ditching the egg and the olives, and, keeping the dressing to a minimum. Sounds goods, don’t you agree?

Okay, outside of the salads, things get dicey—don’t they always? Maybe the Stir Fry is an option. I say maybe because I’m really not into fried food, but for veggies, I sometimes make an allowance—sometimes. Its prepared white meat chicken or shrimp, assorted vegetables, sesame oil, stir fry sauce, sticky rice, and lo mein noodles. Yeah, it’s a little rough. Well, if you ditch the chicken or shrimp and the noodles. The only things you’re stuck contending with are the noodles and the sesame oil. Now, this isn’t my first choice, but, if the mood struck me, I might consider ordering. Might being the key word—what do you think?

The Grilled Salmon Filet is cool. I like it because it’s served with red bliss potatoes and asparagus—asparagus rocks! In fact, I’ve regularly seen Dr. Fuhrman himself munching on some. Quite a sight, the man is ravenous for his veggies. In addition to the vegetables and the salmon filet, the dish is topped off with a lemon black pepper vinaigrette. Honestly, I can live with the whole shebang. Especially since Dr. Fuhrman considers salmon to be a low mercury risk.

Old Man Rafferty’s also serves up a Veggie Burger. Now, I’m not really into veggie burgers, but this one has intrigued me. It’s made with whole grains, chopped vegetables, and soy beans—very cool! Here’s the problem, it’s served on a hard roll, with fries, coleslaw, and a pickle. I dig the pickle, but everything else makes me gag! So, I’d take the bread hit and keep the roll, but instead of the fries and coleslaw I’d order a salad to go along with it. I think that works.

Now, even though I hangout in New Brunswick fairly often, I can’t say I’ll be dropping by Old Man Rafferty’s anytime soon. Outside of the dishes I mentioned the rest of the menu is no man’s land for an Eat to Liver. But maybe I’m crazy—my mother says I am—so, it’s your turn. Check out Old Man Rafferty’s menu and tell me how you handle Eating to Live on the Outside. Make a comment or send an email to Until then, eat well!
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Sara - October 5, 2007 11:40 AM

I'm a vegetarian as well as ETL, so I would get: The Portabello Melt without the cheese and a salad on the side instead of the fries.

The mushrooms are less processed than the veggie burger.

sara - October 6, 2007 8:30 PM

This Sara feom NJ THERE SEEM TO BE TWO OF US. hi. Do not go to this restaurant if you are the slightest bit likely to be tempted by sweets. I used to eat there sometimes pre ETL. Granted that was a long time ago and there some changes. There more deserts than other dishes and they are prominently displayed where you pass them going in, a huge case full of every rich cake and pie imaginable. Pre- ETL there were not that many things for avegetarian to eat and I would not order any of them today. I've had the veggie burger and I would not consider it ETL appropiate and the mushroom seems greasy even withou cheese.

Shauna - October 6, 2007 9:30 PM

I apologize if this is too off-topic, but I have a question about the nutrient-per-calorie formula: Different groups advocate different definitions of what is meant by terms like "nutrient density" and "nutrients per calorie". What specific method does Dr. Fuhrman advocate for calculating foods' nutrient-per-calorie ratios? Is it one of the methods described in this article?

Thanks so much.

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