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5 HEALTHY RESTAURANTS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION |

Sure, you can probably manage to order a healthy menu item at most restaurants, but it may take some creativity and frustration. Some restaurants stand out above the rest by offering special sections where healthy menu items are listed along with nutrition information.

We picked our favorite 5 restaurants based on creativity, variety, and calorie, fat, and sodium content. Remember, most chain restaurants offer their menus and nutrition information online, so be prepared and check before you head out the door!

Support healthier menu choices in your area by supporting local bills that call for menu labeling in table-service chain restaurants and fast food restaurants. There is something powerful about being informed about what you’re putting in your mouth before you order! You will be amazed at the calorie, fat, saturated fat, and sodium count of many popular menu items.

Feel free to post your reviews of any of the menu items listed below in the Rate My Plate board. After all, taste and satisfaction matter and Diet.com members and staff would be delighted to hear your opinions! Let us know of any restaurants in your area that offer healthy menu items in addition to these 5 healthy dining out options:

1. Applebee’s Weight Watchers Menu – Offers a variety of dishes, all under 500 calories! The only drawback is there are no vegetarian choices. It would also be nice if they listed complete nutrition info, especially sodium. Choose from:

-Tortilla Chicken Melt (480 calories, 13 g fat, 6 g fiber)
Teriyaki Steak ‘N Shrimp Skewers (370 calories, 7 g fat, 7 g fiber)
-Cajun Lime Tilapia (310 calories, 6 g fat, 9 g fiber)
-Southwest Cobb Salad (440 calories, 8 g fat, 13 g fiber)
-Confetti Chicken (370 calories, 7 g protein, 9 g fiber)
-Grilled Shrimp Skewer Salad (210 calories, 2 g fat, 7 g fiber)
-Tango Chicken Sandwich (370 calories, 9 g fat, 8 g fiber)

2. El Torito Healthy Menu Items – El Torito offers a variety of lightened up traditional Mexican favorites. Unfortunately, they do not have compete nutrition information available at this time, but some nutrition information was provided by the Los Angeles Healthy Dining Guide, who work with restaurants to offer healthy dishes and display nutrition information. Compared to most restaurant Mexican dishes, these are much lower in calories and fat (as many Mexican dishes top off at over 1,000 calories!); however, sodium remains high, so balance the rest of your day with low sodium foods. Or, spilt and entrée and add a side salad. A star quality – reduced fat cheese and fresh fruit are available with any dish upon request! Choose from:

-Grilled Chicken Quesadilla Lite (585 calories, 22 g fat, 50 g protein, 48 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 1195 mg sodium)
-Sonora Burrito Lite – order with frijoles de olla la instead of Sonora beans (700 calories, 21 g fat, 64 g protein, 63 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 1665 mg sodium)
-Special Request – Spinach Enchiladas with frijoles de la olla (470 calories, 25 g fat, 16 g protein, 44 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 1665 mg sodium)
-Special Request – Soft Chicken Tacos with frijoles de la olla (675 calories, 24 g fat, 63 g protein, 51 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 1555 mg sodium)
-Ala Carte – Frijoles de la Olla (155 calories, 1 g fat, 9 g protein, 29 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 400 mg sodium)
-Ala Carte – Mexican Style Rice (150 calories, 1 g fat, 3 g protein, 32 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 540 mg sodium)
Add a side of tortillas or salad with the above ala carte items and you have a tasty make-your-own meal!

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3. Ruby Tuesday Smart Eating Choices – Ruby Tuesday was one of the first chain restaurants to work with nutrition advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest to eliminate trans fat in their cooking oil. They offer a variety of choices (although, they do lack in vegetarian choices) and a salad bar where you can create your own healthy superstar! Choose from:

-Skinny Chicken Salad (283 calories, 10 g fat, 3 g fiber)
-Garden Vegetable Soup (167 calories, 5 g fat, 7 g fiber)
-White Bean Chicken Chili (218 calories, 8 g fat, 6 g fiber)
-Healthy Side items include baby green beans, garden salad, baked potato or fresh steamed broccoli without buttery sauce.
-Smart Eating Petite Sirloin (222 calories, 8 g fat)
-Smart Eating Turkey Burger Wrap (406 calories, 17 g fat, 10 g fiber)
**Not all items on the Smart Eating menu are decent choices - some are okay in calorie wise but too high in fat. These items are most likely meant to appeal to high protein diet fans. However, you can modify them by asking for light oil, no butter, no bacon or no cheese. This will help lower the fat and saturated fat content.

4. Au Bon Pain Healthy Menu Items – You can rest assured there are no trans fats in their muffins – hooray! Their website offers nutrition information in an easy to read format and menu choices by category such as lower in calories, lower in carbohydrates, lower in sodium, lower in saturated fat, etc. There is bound to be a choice to suit your lifestyle! Remember to choose fat-free or low-fat salad dressings. Choose from:

-Garden Vegetable Soup (75 calories, 1.5 g fat, 14 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 1005 mg sodium, 3 g fiber)
-Southwest Vegetable Soup (105 calories, 3 g fat, 17 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 375 mg sodium)
-Mediterranean Pepper Soup (105 calories, 3 g fat, 18 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein, 585 mg sodium, 6 g fiber)
-French Moroccan Tomato Lentil Soup (180 calories, 2 g fat, 31 g carbohydrate, 11 g protein, 1050 mg sodium, 8 g fiber)
-Southern Black-Eyed Pea Soup (180 calories, 2 g fat, 31 g carbohydrate, 12 g protein, 945 mg sodium, 12 g fiber)
-Jamaican Black Bean Soup (180 calories, 2 g fat, 45 g carbohydrate, 17 g protein, 465 mg sodium, 26 g fiber)
-Old Fashioned Tomato and Rice Soup (120 calories, 1 g fat, 24 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein, 345 mg sodium, 3 g fiber)
-Vegetarian Chili (180 calories, 3 g fat, 44 g carbohydrate, 14 g protein, 1305 mg sodium, 23 g fiber)
-Large Garden Salad (110 calories, 2 g fat, 19 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein, 300 mg sodium, 5 g fiber)
-Riviera Chopped Salad (200 calories, 5 g fat, 39 g carbohydrate, 6 g protein, 190 mg sodium, 9 g fiber)
-Steak Salad with Cranberries and Oranges (290 calories, 7 g fat, 46 g carbohydrate, 20 g protein, 400 mg sodium, 7 g fiber)
-Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups (210 calories, 9 g fat, 20 g carbohydrate, 15 g protein, 750 mg sodium, 3 g fiber)
-Fresh Fruit and Yogurt Salad (120 calories 0.5 g fat, 26 g carbohydrate, 6 g protein, 85 mg sodium, 1 g fiber)
-Chicken Salsa Wrap (440 calories, 8 g fat, 68 g carbohydrate, 29 g protein, 1440 mg sodium, 8 g fiber)
-Mediterranean Vegetable Panini (506 calories, 18 g fat, 68 g carbohydrate, 21 g protein, 884 mg sodium, 6 g fiber)
-Low-fat Triple Berry Muffin (290 calories, 2 g fat, 61 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein, 310 mg sodium, 2 g fiber)
Or, choose muesli or oatmeal for breakfast with a side of fruit.

5. Olive Garden Garden Fare – Opt for the low-fat selections and, if you’re dining for dinner, ask for a lunch-sized portion to keep calories just right! Now you can enjoy low-fat, flavorful pasta that’s a reasonable portion. Again, sodium isn’t listed so choose wisely the rest of the day. Choose from:

-Capellini Pomodoro (409 calories, 9 g fat, 6 g fiber)
-Chicken Giardino (408 calories, 12 g fat, 4 g fiber)
-Linguine alla Marinara (340 calories, 6 g fat, 5 g fiber)
-Shrimp Primavera (483 calories, 11 g fat, 6 g fiber)
-Minestrone Soup (164 calories, 1 g fat, 5 g fiber) and a salad with low-fat dressing is always good!

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