This neighborhood grill and bar is a convenient spot to take the family any night of the week. But does it offer the healthy choices you and your family deserve?
You’re feeling hungry and hankering for some comfort food, so you slip into your local diner and scan the menu, looking for healthy options. You know they’re in there, hidden among the burgers and fries, shakes and floats, waffles and three-egg omelets loaded with cheese. A spinach salad? A fresh fruit plate? A low-cal veggie soup, not too heavy on the sodium? The trick is to find them.
They simmer in stocks, accentuate pot roast and stand in as a crunchy, good-for-you snack between meals. But in the hands of deft chefs, taken-for-granted carrots are fast becoming the highlight of the dinner table.
“Carrots have a nice bright flavor, sweet, with the slightest bit of bitterness and astringency,” says Rob Marzinsky, executive chef of Fitler Dining Room, in Philadelphia. At the restaurant he combines a melange of carrots — yellow, white, Purple Haze and Kyoto red among them. The baby ones are roasted with whole spices and coffee beans, while the larger varieties are sauteed in shallot, ginger, jalapeno and the North African spice mixture, ras el hanout. Marzinsky then pairs them with farro from nearby Castle Valley Mill that’s dressed in ginger-carrot vinaigrette, a “pesto” made with carrot leaves and tangy yogurt.
A recent survey found that Americans eat 4.8 meals a week at restaurants instead of at home — which means we all have several opportunities to get duped into eating too much and making poor choices. And many times, the restaurants themselves are conspiring against our diet and our health. Here are five tricks to try to avoid.
This chain has been popping up all everywhere — there are over 1,000 locations nationwide. Find out what you should order when you stop by this booming burger and fry joint.
ORDER: Simple and “Little”
It’s tough to navigate this predominately high-calorie and high-sodium menu if you’re trying to stick to a healthy eating plan but it is possible.
If you’re itching for the Five Guys famous burger, the Bunless Little Hamburger is your best bet with 220 calories, 17 grams of fat, and 50 milligrams of sodium. Ask for veggie toppings like mushrooms, green peppers, onions, jalapeno, lettuce and tomatoes for between 3 to 10 calories each per serving.
If you’re more of a hot dog fan, the Bunless Hot Dog weighs in at 285 calories, 26 grams of fat and 800 milligrams sodium. Again, add veggies to add bulk to your meal with minimal calories.
Looking for a meatless dish? The Veggie Sandwich has 440 calories, 15 grams fat, and 1040 mg sodium.
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.
A reasonable lunch or dinner has about 400 or 500 calories, depending on your overall calorie needs.
- Subway’s 6″ Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich: This pretty tasty sandwich is a perfectly portioned for lunch or dinner. Order with a small bag of baked chips and bottle of water. CALORIES: 500
- Arby’s Roast Turkey and Swiss Wrap: Order with a bottle of water or small unsweetened brewed iced tea. CALORIES: 495
- Panera’s Chopped Chicken Cobb Salad with Avocado: Swap the standard Greek dressing with for reduced fat balsamic vinaigrette. CALORIES: 490
- Pizza Hut’s Veggie Lover’s Pizza (2 slices): Enjoy ¼ of a 14” Large Thin ‘N Crispy Veggie Lover’s Pizza with a tall glass of water. CALORIES: 480
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.
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%
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.
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.
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