All Posts In Dining Out

Low-Calorie Fast-Food Menu Items

by in Dining Out, February 12, 2013

chicken sandwich
You’re stuck on the road, or didn’t have a chance to eat and end up in some fast-food joint that’s all too conveniently placed in your neighborhood. What should you choose? Your best line of defense is to be prepared. I checked out popular fast-food restaurants and found options that can fit any calorie requirements; whether you’re looking for a quick snack or a sensibly-sized meal, I’ve got you covered.

Meals
A reasonable lunch or dinner has about 400 or 500 calories, depending on your overall calorie needs.

500 Calories

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The Most Extreme Restaurant Meals in America

by in Dining Out, Food News, January 16, 2013

restaurant menu
The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) just released the “winners” of its annual Xtreme Eating Award, which tracks the calorie, saturated fat, sodium and sugar content of meals served at chain restaurants across the US. Amongst such expected “dis-honorees” as double-bacon cheeseburgers (that’s the 1,770-calorie Bacon Cheddar Double at Johnny Rocket’s) and heavy, sugar-laden chocolate cake (the Chocolate Zuccotto Cake at Maggiano’s Little Italy, which has over 1,800 calories) were some unexpectedly healthy-sounding foods. Who would have thought that a large Peanut Power Plus Grape smoothie from Smoothie King would weigh in at 1,460 calories – three-quarters of the generally recommended 2,000 daily calories? The smoothie also contains 22 teaspoons of added sugar  — enough for three and a half days! Could you have guessed that The Cheesecake Factory’s seemingly nutritious Bistro Shrimp Pasta – with its shrimp and fresh arugula, tomato, and mushrooms – would in fact have the highest calorie count (3,120 calories!) of any entrée on the menu?  The 89 grams of saturated fat in the pasta is four and a half times the recommended daily maximum of 20 grams.

With options like this out there, it would be easy to inadvertently sabotage your New Year’s resolutions by picking such virtuous-sounding dishes. Make sure you check the calorie count, as well at the fat, sodium, and added sugar content, of food that you consume while out; also, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on portion size. Or even better, make restaurant-style meals at home so you control the ingredients and thus the fat, calories and portion size.

Check out the full list of CSPI’s annual “winners.”

Surviving Football Sunday: Bars and Restaurants

by in Dining Out, November 4, 2012

 football
If you’re like me, Sunday football is a must-do activity during the fall and early winter. While rooting for your favorite team won’t cost you any calories, some football festivities have major penalties, especially when the game heads out to restaurants and bars.

Piling Up
Spending the afternoon at a local bar and grill can get you into more trouble than you might think. Let’s crunch the numbers…

Let’s say you meet up with friends to watch a couple of games. You arrive around 1pm and plan on leaving by 6pm, in time to make it home for the night game.

Let’s assume you consume 2 beers an hour, plus munch on chicken wings (5 pieces), some nachos (1/4 order), plus a cheeseburger (no fries, you’re being “good”).

Hold on to your helmet! That comes out to 3150 calories in 5 hours. That’s over 150% of the calories most folks need in an entire day. Eat like this for 16 regular season weeks and you’ll tackle over 50,000 calories (14.5 pounds), and that’s not counting the Super Bowl party!

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5 Scary High-Calorie Menu Items

by in Dining Out, October 29, 2012

restaurant menu
Like many of you, I check the nutrition facts on menus when I’m out to eat. Every so often I come across such high-calorie menu items that it makes me shake in my boots! Check out these 5 menu items with frighteningly high calorie counts plus see which restaurant wins our scariest calorie award.

#1: IHop: Country Fried Steak & Eggs with Sausage Gravy
Nutrition Info: 1650 calories; 45 grams total fat; 14 grams saturated fat

This breakfast combo includes 8 ounces of fried beef steak smothered in sausage gravy, two eggs, hash browns and two buttermilk pancakes. Order this and you’ll eat almost all your recommended daily calories before your day has begun. I love steak and eggs, but there’s a healthier way to serve them up.

#2: California Pizza Kitchen: Pesto Cream Penne with Chicken and Shrimp
Nutrition Info: 1620 calories; 105 grams total fat; 58 grams saturated fat

This dish has chicken, shrimp and pasta drenched in freshly made basil pesto cream sauce. Although the freshly made cream sauce sounds appetizing, drowning food in cream sauces racks up the calories and hides the flavor of all the other foods.

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Ordering Food Online Might Mean Consuming More Calories

by in Dining Out, Food News, October 18, 2012

pizza on a computer screen
Ordering food online is as easy as a click of a button. Plus you avoid the long lines and there’s no human interaction. But a recent study found that ordering your meals online isn’t so good for your waistline.

The Study
A 2012 study by Ryan McDevitt, an assistant professor at the University of Rochester’s Simon Graduate School of Business, examined the patterns of people who ordered food by phone or at the counter from a franchised pizza establishment compared with those who ordered online. They looked at over 160,000 orders made by over 56,000 unique customers over 4 years. The most notable differences between those who ordered online compared to those who ordered over the phone or in person included:

  • Customers ordering online spent $0.61 more (4%), on average, though they ordered fewer items. The increase in cost was due to increased toppings.
  • The items ordered online were 15% more complex and had 6.1% more calories.

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The Healthiest Options at Frozen Yogurt Chains

by in Dining Out, August 25, 2012

frozen yogurt
It seems like fro-yo joints are popping up on every corner – there are 3 in my neighborhood! While cold and creamy soft-serve yogurt is a delicious concoction, it’s not automatically health food. Wherever you happen to order up frozen yogurt, keep the portions modest (order the smallest size) and the toppings minimal. We scanned popular menus for the healthiest offerings. Here are our top picks for sensible, yet tasty treats.

TCBY
Choose protein-packed Greek Honey Vanilla or 90-calorie Classic Tart topped with bananas, cherries or chocolate sprinkles.

Pinkberry
Fun and lower calorie options include Green Tea, Coconut or Watermelon. Top a small portion off with toasted almonds, dark chocolate crisps or kiwi.

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Burning Off High-Calorie Foods: Fair Foods

by in Dining Out, Fitness, July 20, 2012

fair food
Is your family hitting the local fair circuit this summer? Carnival concessions are famously fattening. We’re not saying to boycott fair foods all together but since these treats don’t come with a food label, we’ll fill you in on just how many calories you’re gobbling down, and what it would take to burn them off. As always, moderation is key!

Crunching the Numbers
Everyone burns calories a little differently, the values below are averages based on a 155-pound person.

1 Corn Dog  = 375 calories = 1 hour, 30 minutes walking the boardwalk

Funnel Cake = 760 calories = 1 hour, 20 minutes of singles tennis

Fried Twinkie = 420 calories = 1 hour water skiing

Cotton Candy =175 calories = 30 minutes whitewater kayaking

Candy Apple = 375 calories = 40 minutes running (8 mph)

Chili Fries = 700 calories = 3.5 hours playing frisbee

Nachos With Cheese Sauce = 850 calories = 1 hour, 15 minutes of vigorous swimming

Turkey leg = 1140 calories = 1 hour of beach volleyball

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Healthiest Fast-Food Menu Items

by in Dining Out, July 10, 2012

wendy's chicken wrap
Car trips are a fun way to spend time with your family, but with most rest stops fronting fast food joints, healthy eating can seem impossible. If you’re tired of continually saying NO to fast food—ease up, there are healthier choices you can make. Check out our list so you’re prepared on your next trip.

Wendy’s
It was refreshing to see several healthy options provided on the Wendy’s website including the Grilled Chicken Go Wrap (pictured above) with a side of small chili (totaling 470 calories for the meal). The problem is, I’m not sure I’d want to be in a car with someone who just had chili! Luckily, you can opt for the baked potato instead or even the wrap with a small side salad (also for 470 calories). Looking to cut calories down? Wendy’s allows you to hold ingredients (like cheese or sour cream) so you tailor the meal to your liking.

Check out more healthy Wendy’s options.

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Can You Get Healthy Food from a Food Truck?

by in Dining Out, May 18, 2012
food truck
Food trucks aren't just for ice cream anymore.

From dim sum to crepes to gourmet burgers, food trucks are selling way more than hot dogs these days, and they’re popping up all over.

But gourmet food still comes with both health and safety concerns: Can you find healthy food on a truck? Where do the vendors go to the restroom while they’re on duty? I got the privilege to speak with the folks who run the Rouge Tomate food cart in New York City and let me tell you—food trucks are definitely not what they used to be!

Q: What makes the Rouge Tomate cart different from other food carts in NYC?

The Rouge Tomate Cart maintains the same philosophy as the Rouge Tomate restaurant and uses local, seasonable and sustainable high-quality food products. We visit local markets and farmers markets to find our ingredients and prepare our food using specific cooking techniques that preserve the integrity and the nutritional qualities of the ingredients.

We are also dedicated to proactively address environmental issues. The Rouge Tomate Cart is certified from the Green Restaurant Association. It uses solar panels for electricity and runs on a gas stove. The cart was made from recycled materials and uses biodegradable paper products.

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Restaurant Dishes vs. Homemade Dishes

by in Dining Out, May 11, 2012
restaurant meal
Thinking of dining out? Consider staying in to save loads of calories.

Want to save money and eat healthier? We’re taking your favorite restaurant dishes and pitting them head-to-head with healthy make-at-home alternatives. Who do you think the winners are?

Dining Out:  P.F. Chang’s Beef with Broccoli
Although the nutrition facts lists this dish as 290 calories, 12 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat and 1,573 milligrams of sodium, each dish put in front of you contains three portions. It’s less likely you’ll keep portions in check when they’re all served in one big plate. If you down the entire dish, that’s 870 calories, 36 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat and a whopping 4,719 milligrams of sodium – more than double your daily recommended sodium intake.

Dining In: Ellie Krieger’s Emerald Stir-Fry With Beef
Ellie’s lightened-up dish made with lean beef, fresh broccoli, edamame and snow peas has 400 calories, 15 grams of fat, 2 grams saturated fat and 625 milligrams of sodium.

By making your own at home, you control the portions and the high salt ingredients. Here’s what you’ll save:

  • Calories: 54%
  • Fat: 58%
  • Saturated Fat: 78%
  • Sodium: 87%

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