15 Surprisingly Healthy Restaurant Dishes

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Just because you're trying to eat healthier doesn't mean you can never go out to eat with your friends or family. Instead of getting frustrated and throwing caution to the wind, just do a little research ahead of time to identify healthy restaurants near you and menu options that fit in with your nutrition goals.
We've scoured popular restaurant menus to give you a head start with 15 healthy dishes that will fit into most eating plans. And don't worry, even if you do make a less-than-ideal choice at one meal, that doesn't mean you have to give up on healthy eating. Just go right back to your plan at the very next meal and don't waste time feeling guilty!

15 Healthy Restaurant Choices

1. Applebee's: Cedar Grilled Salmon 
(340 calories/22 g fat/2 g carbs/1 g fiber/0 g sugar/35 g protein)
Salmon is a delicious way to boost your intake of protein, omega-3s and healthy fats. This satisfying dish comes with a side of veggies and multigrain rice.

2. Subway: 6" Oven-Roasted Chicken 
(320 calories/5 g fat/46 g carbs/5 g fiber/8 g sugar/23 g protein)
Stick to the veggie toppings and skip the cheese and mayo to keep this tasty sub within the healthy range.

3. Panda Express: Broccoli Beef
(150 calories/7 g fat/13 g carbs/2 g fiber/9 g protein)
Satisfy your Chinese food cravings with tender beef and fresh broccoli in a ginger soy sauce, without sending your calorie intake skyrocketing.

4. Wendy's: Small Chili and Side Salad
(Combined 430 calories/23 g fat/35 g carbs/6 g fiber/22 g protein)
This protein-packed combo is the perfect mix of warm comfort food and crisp, fresh greens. 

5. First Watch: Healthy Turkey Omelet
(580 calories/13 g fat/71 g carbs/7 g fiber/50 g protein)
This egg white delight is served with tasty turkey, fresh tomatoes, spinach, feta and roasted onions. Ask for an English Muffin instead of the nine-grain bread they now serve with it.
6. Arby's: Roast Turkey Farmhouse Salad
(230 calories/13 g fat/8 g carbs/2 g fiber/22 g protein)
This quick-serve restaurant salad option offers a nice variation with the roasted turkey. Limit the cheese and bacon to reduce the sodium and fat content.

7. Jimmy John's: Turkey Tom with Tomato, Cucumber, Jimmy's Mustard and Sprouts
(365 calories/2.5 g fat/56 g carbs/4 g fiber/26 g protein)
This satisfying lunch will give you the protein boost you need to power through the afternoon. To cut the carb content, ditch the French bread and choose the "unwich" lettuce wrap option.
8. Chili's: Classic 6 oz. Sirloin with Grilled Avocado
(420 calories/20 g fat/23 g carbs/39 g protein)
Order this steak without the steak seasoning or butter and ask for a double portion of steamed broccoli in place of the standard sides and you'll have a delicious steak dinner for less than 500 calories.

9. IHOP: Egg White Vegetable Omelet with Mixed Fruit
(380 calories/20 g fat/29 g carbs/29 g protein)
When you're invited out for breakfast and need a low-calorie option, consider this protein-packed omelet with fresh fruit.
10. Outback Steakhouse: Grilled Chicken on the Barbie
(312 calories/3.6 g fat/11 g carbs/56 g protein)
Here's proof that you can enjoy dinner at a steakhouse without busting your calorie budget. Seasoned, wood-fired chicken breast is paired with BBQ sauce and seasonal veggies.
11. P.F. Chang's: Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps
(470 calories/21 g fat/39 g carbs/3 g fiber/34 g protein)
This tasty vegetarian option combines seared tofu, green option, mint and water chestnuts over crispy rice sticks.

12. Starbucks: Hearty Blueberry Oatmeal
(220 calories/2.5 g fat/43 g carbs/5 g protein)
This blend of rolled and steel-cut oats is flavored with blueberries and agave syrup. This very low-sodium, nutrient-rich cereal can be a healthy option any time of the day.

13. Chick-fil-A: Grilled Market Salad
(200 calories/6 g fat/15 g carbs/25 g protein)
Who says a salad can't be satisfying? Topped with grilled chicken and a medley of fresh veggies, this sensible choice pairs nicely with their light balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

14. Panera: Tomato Mozzarella Flatbread
(350 calories/18 g fat/55 g carbs/6 g protein)
When you have to have bread, choose this healthier sandwich. Fresh mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, baby arugula and basil pesto sauce are served on whole-grain flatbread.

15. Bob Evans: Broasted Two Piece White Chicken Dinner
(479 calories/19 g fat/8 g carbs/57 g protein)
This protein-packed, low-carb dinner will keep you satisfied for less than 500 calories.

What are your favorite healthier restaurant options?

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WILDKAT781 1/12/2021
thank you Report
ELRIDDICK 12/5/2020
Thanks for sharing Report
ERIN_POSCH 9/30/2020
thanks for sharing Report
MILPAM3 9/4/2020
So many of these dishes are easily prepared at home, and for much less money. Report
Thank You............. Report
Thanks Report
Good info! Report
Interesting Report
Our family likes a lot of these options -- but as at least one person commented, the sodium is always high - and for my hubby's heart concerns it is frustrating. We like Subway, CFA, Wendys, Panera, Starbucks as you listed. I have chol concerns and like egg white breakfast ideas and more of these are available than they used to be. Report
Greatr information with which toi be armed when easting out Report
PF Chang's site lists the calories for the lettuce wraps at 600 calories. I always order them without the crispy noodles (or whatever they are). Love this dish! Report
This article is one that I am going to save!!! Report
Good info! Report
Tough to find healthy food at most restaurants! Report
good Report
You can usually find something on a restaurants menu that is fairly low calorie, the trick is to find something without 2 days worth of salt Report
I wish I liked poultry more than I do, makes these options so unappetizing! Report
Good choices. Thank you for the better option at restaurants. Report
As someone who has high blood pressure, I find the comments about how awful this article is due to sodium content highly amusing. No duh, welcome to eating out a restaurants. I always check nutrition charts on a restaurants page before we go out to eat so I can make the best choices I can. Lower calorie options are often loaded with sodium, just like EVERYTHING else at a restaurant. If you want very low sodium, don't eat out. Easy. Otherwise eat low sodium the rest of the day and plan for a sodium bomb at that meal. Report
Thanks for an informative article! Report
We eat at some of these places, so there are some good choices here Report
when I go out will look at these selections again great advice
love Subway!!! Report
thanks Report
Thanks! This is just what I need. Report
Thanks! Report
good information
Thanks for the info! Report
I am concerned that SP offers these suggestions for eating out without checking the sodium content. Anyone who is eating for a health heart definitely should look at it! Report
Excellent, a really useful article. Some of us mere humans occasionally need to eat at a chain. Report
Do it again and include the sodium. Be a way shorter list.

This week I did have a side salad with a Wendy's small chili, no dressing needed. It was delicious and filling. Not bad. Probably can cook even healthier at home, but when I'm out, this is not a bad choice. Report
I like to order a turkey burger from Carl's Jr., hold the condiments and the bun; wrap in lettuce with extra tomato, red onion, lettuce and dill pickles, please!

I also LOVE the hot and sour vegan soup at Long Life Vegi House, the grilled Portobello mushroom "burger" with all the veggie toppings and no bun at Pluto's and the thin crust pizza Marguerite at the Cheese Board! Report
The sodium levels are way too high on many of these foods! Shame on you,Sparkpeople , for allowing this article for what is "acceptable" in good food choices!!! Report
Wow lot's of super high sodium choices here. Report
It's never my first choice to eat at these restaurants, but sometimes I travel for work and my only options are chain restaurants. So it's helpful to know what the less unhealthy options are. Thank you. Report
Most of the restaurants listed are far away...IHOP, Arby's and Outback are in the area... Report
The pic for the Tim Horton Egg White & Cheese Pannini shows a yellow egg & bacon? Report
ANYONE who thinks ANY of these foods are anywhere near healthy are just fooling themselves stupid....just think of all the sprays and pesticides (part of the reason your fat) used to even get these suppose to be healthy foods to you much less all that salt to cover the taste...anyone hear of meat glue, well those chicken nugget are full of it.....remember "fast" food means (and yes sit down restaurants are still fast food) have food come in pre cooked pre salted pre packed and ready to microwave on the spot...leftovers anyone...because that's what your really eating...I think someone was paid a bunch of money to "SAY" these are anywhere near healthy and leave it at that Report
OMG, it's all garbage and UN-HEALTHY! Report
The problem is the sodium that is what kills it for me in trying to eat out healthy. Report
Good blog. I needed to see this today. I will know what is really good for me on making my choices. Report
The item pictured for the Burger King entry is actually a biscuit sandwich, not a muffin sandwich. The sandwich on the biscuit is 150 more calories and 13 more grams of fat than the muffin sandwich. Sometimes one makes the choice to eat out, for valid reasons, and it's helpful to know that there are choices that will actually fit my goals! Report
I think that the point is that if one is generally careful about their nutrition, a splurge to eat out is okay and can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Okay, so maybe some of these foods are a bit high in fat or calories but if one eats healthy most of the time, these foods aren't going to wreck you. I wish that I could cook at home more but my lifestyle dictates that I eat out quite a bit, and it is nice to know that there are some options that will work. Report
I was surprised to see most of those meals listed as "healthy". A quick look at the nutritional values for most indicate a high percentage of calories coming from fat and amazingly high sodium content. While they may be lower calorie choices, I prefer to look at the whole picture and wouldn't make those my "healthy" choices. Report