All Posts In Dining Out

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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5 Healthiest Restaurant Kids’ Meals

by in Dining Out, April 3, 2012
kids menu
Think beyond grilled cheese when dining out with your kids.

Trying to feed your kids healthy options when dining out can be stressful. Most restaurants offer the usual chicken fingers, mac and cheese, hamburger with fries or grilled cheese, but the calories, fat and sodium on these items is through the roof. Here are the healthiest options we found at popular restaurants.

Chili’s
The grilled chicken is the way to go at Chili’s. You can order the Grilled Chicken Platter, which has 160 calories, 3.5 grams of fat and 170 milligrams of sodium or the Grilled Chicken Sandwich with 230 calories, 5 grams of fat and 230 milligrams of sodium. Add a side of celery sticks with ranch dressing for an additional 80 calories, steamed broccoli for 30 calories or mandarin oranges or pineapple for 35 calories.

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Order This, Not That: Panera Bread

by in Dining Out, March 29, 2012
panera bread sandwich
Panera's Breakfast Power With Ham on Whole Grain is one of the healthier options on their menu.

It seems like Panera Bread is a healthy restaurant choice — they serve mostly soups, salads and sandwiches. But with so many options available, it can get confusing. Let us help you navigate the menu, with an easy-to-understand list of what to order at this chain, and what to avoid.

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Are Free Foods Sabotaging Your Diet?

by in Dining Out, March 20, 2012
bread basket
How much does free bread cost your diet?

Going out to eat almost always means bigger portions and more calories, but those meals may also contain hundreds of unwanted extras from “free” items that find their way to your plate. Here are 8 pitfalls to avoid.

1.    Bread  
We all know to watch out for the bread basket but it’s often hard to resist. It might help to know that each roll or slice averages 100 calories; then add another 120 for every tablespoon of olive oil. Butter only has 100 calories per tablespoon but is also higher in unhealthy fat.

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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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