All Posts In Dining Out

What To Order: The 5 Healthiest Restaurant Pasta Dinners

by in Dining Out, February 24, 2012
restaurant menu
Need help finding a healthy pasta dish?

Pasta is a popular choice for diners, but unfortunately sensible restaurant pasta dishes are hard to come by. We scanned popular restaurant menus to find some reasonable choices.

Pasta Problem
Most restaurants offer enormous mounds of pasta weighed down with high-fat sauces. We were able to spot a couple of smarter options; a few even came with lean protein and whole grains. Sodium will always be an issue when dining out. While these dishes were in no way “low sodium,” they were among the lowest in salt.

Olive Garden’s Linguine alla Marinara
Nutrition Info: 430 calories; 6 grams fat (1 saturated); 900 milligrams sodium

Simple is best at this popular pasta joint; enjoy with a salad and you’ve got yourself a meal.

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Buffet Dos and Don’ts

by in Dining Out, February 20, 2012
all-you-can-eat buffet
Don't feel pressured to eat all you can at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Tired of rolling home after an all-you-can-eat buffet? Use our tips to keep your waistline in check when you visit a buffet or salad bar.

DON’T: Skip all your meals and arrive famished.
DO: Eat well-balanced small meals before hitting the buffet.
Studies show that when you skip meals, you tend to overeat at your next meal. It’s best to eat your regularly scheduled small, balanced meals and arrive hungry but not out-of-control famished.

DON’T: Pile your plate with the first food your eyes land on.
DO: Take a stroll around the buffet to examine all of your choices.
Oftentimes, we start by eating the first thing we see but realize later that the “good stuff” is hidden at the other end of the buffet. Take the time to check everything out before you make your decisions.

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Order This, Not That: Papa John’s

by in Dining Out, February 2, 2012
papa johns pizza
Are there any healthy options at this popular pizza chain?

I frequently see commercials for this pizza chain but often wonder if there’s really is anything I can order that won’t bust my waistline. We’ll give you the cheesy facts so you’ll be prepared on your next visit.

Nutrition Info
It can get kind of tricky when reading the nutrition information for Papa John’s. The calories listed for most items will give you the per-serving information. This means that their “Pizza for One,” which serves 4 has the calories listed for a quarter of the pie. The same goes for their sides like chicken wings and breadsticks. The calories listed are for a serving size of 2 wings—though 10 are served in each order. So be sure to take a few minutes to decipher their nutrition breakdown when you sift through their website.

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High Calorie Restaurant-Menu Shockers

by in Dining Out, January 31, 2012
restaurant menu
This has HOW many calories?

You probably already know that many restaurant foods are higher in calories than their homemade counterparts but some establishments take the calorie counts to new heights. We’re not saying you should never eat at these places, just don’t order these belly-busting menu items.

Diet Danger Zone
We’ve sifted through countless restaurant menus and come across some pretty scary stuff. While 1800 to 2000 calories are enough to feed most folks for the entire day, some of these popular eateries top that in just one dish.

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Order This, Not That: IHOP

by in Dining Out, January 21, 2012

ihop
My college roommate worked at IHOP and I’ll never forget the stench of grease and syrup that followed her home after every shift. This breakfast-centered chain has been making a comeback – and while their menu offerings go beyond eggs and pancakes, is there anything sensible to order?

Order: “Simple” and Small
The nutrition guide for this restaurant will make you dizzy (and maybe a little nauseous). So many choices and virtually NO healthy ones!

In 2010, IHOP launched “Simple & Fit” menu items, which have under 600 calories per serving. Their website also offers calorie-saving tips like skipping butter, whipped cream and sugary sodas with your meal. Six hundred calories sure does seem high but when you see how many calories are in many of their other dishes, it’s the best you’re going to do.

Simple & Fit omelets are served with fresh fruit and weigh in at 320 to 420 calories and 10 to 20 grams of per serving. The Simple and Fit Whole Wheat French Toast is a decent option at 490 calories.

If you’re in this for the pancakes, your only option should be an Original Short Stack – but that’ll still stack up the calories and fat with 490 calories, 18 grams of fat, 1 gram of trans fat per serving (not including the 50-calorie-per-tablespoon syrup).

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Order This, Not That: Starbucks

by in Dining Out, December 13, 2011


Who doesn’t love Starbucks’ holiday drinks? They have such fancy names and delicious ingredients. But the hidden calories . . . you won’t believe your thighs! Get the skinny before you order your next grande or venti holiday brew.

ORDER: Reasonable portions of tasty delights
Many folks look forward to the seasonal offerings at Starbucks. There’s nothing wrong with tasty caffeinated beverages, but many of Starbucks dressed-up drinks contain as many calories as we should be eating in one meal. Luckily, Starbucks gives you the power to take control of your order. You choose the size of your drink, type of milk, and whether or not you want whipped cream. When ordering a fancy-shmancy drink, count it as a snack and aim for no more than 200 calories.

Just to get some perspective, a grande (16-fluid ounce) cup of brewed coffee without sugar or milk contains 5 calories and is free of fat and sugar. Add ¼ cup of skim milk for an additional 15 calories. Now take a look at the numbers on some of the more popular holiday drinks: Before you order one of those yummy drinks, choose one with a reasonable amount of calories.

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Order This, Not That: Mall Foods

by in Dining Out, November 26, 2011

mall food court
‘Tis the season for holiday shopping but don’t let a hectic trip to the mall lead to a Santa-like physique. Use our tips for more figure-friendly shopping snacks.

Order: Fresh and Light
When it comes to tackling the food court, most malls offer the usual suspects of the fast food world. Use our guides make the smartest choices at McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Subway and Wendy’s.

A salad with vinaigrette dressing (on the side) or a small cup of soup are usually the most sensible options. Check your local mall’s website ahead of time to see which chain restaurants they feature, then download the nutrition info from the company’s website.

Not: Buttery and Sugary
While the smell of butter-drenched pretzels and over-sized chocolate chip cookies are calling out to you, these classic mall goodies can pack in more than 350 calories each. That pretzel also contains more than 40% of the daily recommended amount of sodium, while the cookie boasts 17 grams of total fat and 8 grams of saturated fat. The show-stopper just might be the ooey-gooey cinnamon bun, coming it a holiday-wrecking 880 calories and 36 grams of fat each!

Think sipping on a smoothie or festive coffee drink is better? Think again. A medium-sized smoothie or whipped cream-topped gingerbread latte will also pack in more than 300 sugar-filled calories.

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Food News: McDonald’s Makes Changes to the Happy Meal

by in Dining Out, Food News, July 28, 2011
mcdonalds french fries
McDonald's is giving kids apples with their fries. Think it'll make a difference?

Are McDonald’s Happy Meals getting healthier? The fast food chain is making changes to the items in its kids’ meal as part of a long-term menu evolution. The company hopes to improve nutrition choices and awareness—starting with the new Happy Meal. Read more

What To Order: The 5 Healthiest Restaurant Chicken Dinners

by in Dining Out, June 27, 2011

restaurant menu

This new series focuses on finding the healthiest options when dining out. We’re starting out with one of the most popular items on the menu—chicken. Here are our top 5 picks.

Olive Garden: Venetian Apricot Chicken
Nutrition Info:
380 calories; 4 grams fat; 1.5 grams saturated fat; 1420 milligrams sodium; 8 grams fiber
This entrée consists of grilled chicken breasts in an apricot citrus sauce. It’s served with broccoli, asparagus and diced tomatoes. The calories and fat are well controlled while the veggies add a healthy dose of fiber. Our research revealed that almost all restaurant choices contained over 50 percent of the recommended daily amount of sodium. This entrée was no exception. Read more

Top 5 Label Tricks and How To Avoid Them

by in Dining Out, Food News, Healthy Tips, June 15, 2011
Sports Drinks Vs. Soda
Smoothies are better than milkshakes, right? Well, not always -- read on to learn about this and 4 more food naming tricks.

Food labels are carefully worded to entice shoppers to choose certain items. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found dieters often fall for simple labeling tricks that make them believe certain foods are healthier than they are. Find out the top 5 traps people fell into and how to avoid them.

How to beat top food label tricks »