All Entries For chain restaurants

Food on the Run: Wendy's New Salad Sensations


Wendy's was the fast-food salad leader in the 1980's with their expansive salad bar. After nearly two decades, the company removed the salad bars. Pre-portioned Garden Sensation salads were introduced in 2002 and have remained popular. The Mandarin Chicken salad was my personal favorite. Last week four new salads took center stage in the Garden Sensation category. Marketing officials hope the focus on wholesome ingredients will appeal to the nutrition conscious when they eat away from home. So how do these new salads measure up?

Posted 7/22/2010  6:13:12 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 263 comments   30,695 views
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Have Restaurants Gone Too Far with the Unhealthy Offerings?


When it comes to the healthfulness of menu items and information shared by restaurants, just think about how far we've come in just the last decade. Nutrition facts for most restaurant foods are available not just online, but on menu boards in many states. Happy Meals can be bought with apples and milk instead of fries and soda. And we're no longer limited to greasy burgers when we stop at a fast food joint: salads, yogurt parfaits, and even oatmeal are standard these days. Healthful options abound where once there were none!

Sometimes it seems like restaurants are listening to consumers who want healthier options. But are they taking two step backwards when they release items like the KFC's Double Down or promote the inclusion of a "fourth meal" in their commercials (as if we really need to eat more than we already do)?

This week I read about a new menu item from Friendly's, a burger that replaces the bun with TWO GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICHES for a reported 1,500 calories and 79 grams of fat. Have they gone completely mad?
Posted 6/25/2010  11:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 187 comments   22,268 views
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Poll: Do Calorie Counts on Menus Affect Your Order?


Both California and New York City have led the way with health-promoting laws that require certain chain restaurants to post calorie counts (and other nutrition information) on their menu boards. And coming soon, thanks to the recent passage of the healthcare bill, chain restaurants will have to follow suit nationwide.

Here in Ohio, I have yet to see calorie counts posted on menu boards, but I admit that I am scarcely in a restaurant that actually has a menu on the wall (I prefer "sit down" restaurants or simply cooking at home). I was in Panera the other day and noticed calorie counts posted with three new smoothies they offered and much to my surprise, they had fewer calories than I would have guessed.

Whether these nutritional facts really make a difference has been up for debate. Some research shows that they do not promote changes in ordering behavior, especially in low-income areas where people want more (food, calories) for their money. More recently, I read about a newer study that showed calorie counts on menus do affect people's choices for the better, although the demographic researched (Starbucks patrons) was quite different than the aforementioned study (fast food goers in poor neighborhoods).

This led me to wonder: Have posted nutrition facts on a menu board affected your order?
Posted 5/12/2010  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 466 comments   18,312 views
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And the Award for Worst New Food Product of the Year Goes to…


It’s conventional to wait until the end of the year to decide which new food product deserves the award for worst of the year. But once in a while, a product comes along that's such an obvious choice there’s no need to hold off giving the award until all the entries are in.

Next week, KFC is introducing just such a product: their new Double Down sandwich.

It’s not entirely clear how this product actually qualifies as a “sandwich,” since there’s no bread involved. It’s two pieces of bacon and two pieces of cheese served between two pieces of fried chicken. There’s nothing even remotely resembling a vegetable—not even ketchup.

Given all the public concern lately about eating balanced meals and reducing the health risks associated with a high-fat, low fiber diet, you have to wonder: What was KFC thinking? And the answer to that question might just be more disturbing than the Double Down itself.
Posted 4/8/2010  5:53:03 PM By: Dean Anderson : 539 comments   43,692 views
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Panera is Leading the Way with Calorie Facts on Menus


The Panera Bread Company announced last Wednesday they will introduce new calorie containing menu boards.

Panera has willingly shared full nutrition information on their web site for a while. We used their information to share our Panera Bread Food on the Run review. Now in addition to complete product nutrition information, you can also find an online nutrition calculator to evaluate and customize choices before your next visit. So with their existing commitment to complete disclosure, why the need to change the menu boards?

Posted 3/15/2010  12:41:38 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 228 comments   29,856 views
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Diet Friendly Dining: IHOP Restaurant


Since the first A-frame style restaurant opened in California, the International House of Pancakes has been an American favorite for generations. Although the restaurant construction style and name have been updated, you can still expect to find a delectable stack of pancakes when you visit one of over 1,400 restaurants across the U.S.

In 2007, IHOP Corp acquired Applebee's International Inc and brought two leading restaurant brands together. With a combined restaurant reach of more than 3,300, the IHOP Corporation has become the largest full service restaurant company in the world.

A few months ago we provided a review of Applebee's as part of our ongoing Diet Friendly Dining series. Although a complete nutrition guide is not readily available for most of the pancakes, omelettes or burgers, a new IHOP For Me section on the menu provides nutrition information to help you find a meal under 500 calories with 15-20 grams of fat or less.

Posted 3/4/2010  12:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 208 comments   47,417 views
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Diet Friendly Dining: Mimi's Café


This French-cottage themed restaurant first opened in 1978 as a comfortable place to relax and enjoy a freshly prepared meal. The Simms family started the Café in Anaheim, California and introduced a new combination of ambience and service with convenience and value.

Today you can find Mimi's Cafés operating in 22 states across the U.S. and you will still find warm hospitality and delicious fresh cooked meals. My family recently enjoyed a wonderful lunch at a Mimi's in our community and their menu really caught my eye. I thought it would be helpful to review the healthier menu items as part of our ongoing Diet Friendly Dining series.

The varied Fit and Fresh menu can allow you enjoy an evening away from home while also keeping a meal intake under 500 calories and 15-20 grams of fat or less.

Posted 2/4/2010  6:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 104 comments   20,121 views
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Diet Friendly Dining: Applebee's


The world's largest casual dining chain has started the New Year with items that are 'unbelievably great tasting & under 550 calories'.

Since Applebee's does 'not provide nutritional information on items, except where required by law', it has been difficult to fully review and highlight healthier menu items as part of our ongoing Diet Friendly Dining series.

For several years, the best we have been able to use as a guide at Applebee's has been those entrees highlighted with Weight Watcher POINTS values. For those of us that do not use the POINTS program, it has not been extremely helpful and many times, I simply avoid eating at this restaurant chain. While the new menu items only provide guidance related to calories and doesn't provide other helpful nutrient info such as fat, carbohydrates and sodium, it is better than nothing at all. In our ongoing attempt to arm you with healthier options before you dine away from home, here are some new menu items that may help you keep your meal intake under 500 calories and 15-20 grams of fat or less when you visit Applebee's.

Posted 1/25/2010  6:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 271 comments   65,368 views
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If the Calorie Information Isn't Accurate, What Should You Do?




Researchers at Tufts University recently looked at 29 restaurant meals from casual dining establishments such as Wendy's and Ruby Tuesday and 10 frozen supermarket meals like Lean Cuisine, Weight Watchers, and Healthy Choices. The study findings regarding the accuracy of the stated energy content have been published in this month's The Journal of the American Dietetic Association. What did they reveal?

Posted 1/14/2010  5:53:42 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 92 comments   13,898 views
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Food on the Run: Mixt Greens




Mixt Greens was established in San Francisco in 2005. Several weeks ago, QSR magazine.com announced this green initiative driven restaurant will be expanding with four new locations in the Washington D.C. area. So exactly what is an eco-gourmet restaurant?

Posted 12/28/2009  1:05:23 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 85 comments   14,579 views
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Diet Friendly Dining: Ted's Montana Grill


A few weeks ago in my Buffalo Meat is No Bull blog I mentioned having had a delicious Buffalo burger at a Ted's Montana Grill restaurant. I thought it would be good to look at this unique restaurant chain named for the renowned media entrepreneur and environmentalist in our ongoing Diet Friendly Dining series. The chain started in 2002 with one restaurant in Columbus, Ohio and has now grown to over 50 restaurants throughout 19 states.

In addition to a great tasting and nutrition conscience menu, Ted's Montana Grill also boasts a deep commitment to the environment. One of their environmentally focused goals is to be 99% plastic free and they re-introduced the paper straw that has not been used in the United States since 1970 to help them work toward goal achievement. If you want a to-go cup or food to go, those come in Bio-Plus Earth Containers and cornstarch based cups that bio-degrade quickly. Reuse is also a part of their environmental plan as well since menus are printed on recycled paper. They also look at non-food related ways to be sustainable by using water-efficient toilets and solar panels for energy and water conservation where possible as well as making all of their restaurants smoke free. At the same time, you find authentic early 20th century craftsmen-style architecture and natural materials used for a classic look and feel and a relaxing dining experience. With all this attention to so many details, is there any food that meets our criteria?

Posted 11/19/2009  6:10:45 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 64 comments   15,638 views
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12 of the Worst Restaurant Sandwiches


A thick, juicy burger is almost as American as apple pie and many of us grew up eating a Whopper or Big Mac. With the Whopper offering 670 calories and a Big Mac providing 540 calories, would you be surprised to hear the apple pie might be the better choice since it contributes only half the calories. With a calorie contribution that large, this certainly must be why we have a weight problem in America right? Unfortunately, there are many worse offenders out there.

Here are 12 of the worst sandwiches currently on popular American restaurant menus that make the Whopper and the Big Mac look low calorie.

Posted 11/9/2009  6:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 174 comments   23,744 views
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Would You Like a Muffin Top With that Coffee?


The mid-afternoon coffee break. For some, it's enjoyment. For others, it's a necessity in order to function until the end of the day. A plain cup of coffee or tea won't break the bank when it comes to calories (less than 10 calories per cup). But the more "fancy" your order becomes, the faster the calories and fat can skyrocket. A recent study looked at what kinds of drinks people opt for during their afternoon visit to the local Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts.
Posted 10/30/2009  11:12:57 AM By: Jen Mueller : 115 comments   18,123 views
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Make Over Your Favorite Restaurant Meal, Win a Vita-Mix


Last week, we unveiled the first-ever SparkRecipes contest: The SparkRecipes Un-Chained Recipe Contest.

The contest is easy: Pick a favorite unhealthy food from a chain restaurant (fast food or casual dining), and make it over, using healthy ingredients.

So why haven't you entered? Get out there and get cooking!

We've already received plenty of great entries, so you can start making and voting on your favorites now.

Still haven't made up your mind? You've got plenty of time left. We've extended the deadline to enter!

Posted 10/28/2009  12:01:40 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 17 comments   10,114 views
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Food on the Run: Penn Station


A fresh-grilled sub sandwich made your way is the basis of this upscale, quick-casual restaurant chain. There are currently 173 Penn Station Restaurants in 12 U.S. states.

Hand-cut French fries (with vinegar!), fresh-squeezed lemonade, and the trademark Philadelphia Cheesesteak sub on signature fresh-baked French bread are several customer favorites. This past baseball season several of these favorites debuted at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park. How many calories would that great Philly Cheesesteak contain?

Posted 10/26/2009  6:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 60 comments   16,112 views
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