Diet Friendly Dining: Bob Evans

By , SparkPeople Blogger

Since the response to our Food on the Run series has been so positive, we thought it would be nice to sit down and relax a bit.

Casual dining restaurants are not as good about sharing their nutrition information as the fast food folks. However, there is still guideline information that can help you make diet friendly choices when sitting down to dine. So, our new series will take a look at specific restaurants and provide information that we hope will help the next time you go out for a casual meal.

Welcome to our new series – Diet Friendly Dining!

We have previously established in the Food on the Run series that we are trying to select entrees that are around 250 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving or less. For Diet Friendly Dining guidelines, we encourage you to aim for a complete meal that is 500 calories and 15-20 grams of fat or less. For many people that will be about one third of their daily calorie allowance. While this is not unreasonable, it can be challenging and may require some adjustments with other meals and snacks throughout the day depending on your typical eating pattern. Remember that adjustments can always be made if you plan ahead so one of the best tips for diet friendly dining is to make your dining out plans ahead of time. Not only will this allow you to be smart with your meal selection planning for the day, it will also allow you to make exercise plans as well. Fitting in an extra 10-15 minutes or splitting a workout into a morning and evening session can be beneficial on dining out days and helpful tools for success while enjoying dining away from home.

Today we will start our new series by providing some guidelines to consider when dining at Bob Evans Restaurants. Please keep in mind that sodium intake will always be on the high side when dining away from home. One of reasons we are starting this series with Bob Evans is because they are great about sharing their nutritional information. So, if sodium content is of special concern because of a health condition, be sure to plan ahead and review the nutrition information closely before heading to the restaurant.

It is possible to select a healthy breakfast without blowing your calorie and fat budget for the rest of the day but it starts with smart choices. Some of the healthier choices include hot cereals like grits and oatmeal, yogurt and fruit combinations and the new Fit from the Farm Breakfast combinations. If omelets are your thing, ordering your own with a focus on vegetables like a 4 oz omelet with peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and onions instead of a menu highlight that includes cheese and other sauces would be the way to go. If cholesterol is a concern, be sure to ask for egg substitute for your omelet when ordering.

Many of the salads provide good nutrition. At the same time, they also provide many calories and grams of fat because of their large portion size. The Cobb salad for instance provides just under 600 calories and 37 grams of fat without dressing. While this is a nutrient rich choice compared to french fries or hash browns, when you are trying to watch your weight - calories are calories. Your best choice will be a Savor size salad with a side of dressing such as vinegar & oil, Lite Ranch or Hot Bacon.

Most sandwiches provide over 500 calories and 20 grams of fat. When selecting a sandwich choose a half sandwich like the Half Chicken Salad, Half Turkey Bacon Melt, Grilled Cheese or Grilled Chicken sandwiches.

Dinner selections can get quite high in calories, fat and sodium. Selecting items a la carte instead of featured meal can save you calorie wise but may cost a bit more. Remember to avoid the fried entree options, ask for sauces or gravies to be left off or served on the side. There are many healthy side items to make your meal complete. Some of the best side choices to select include a plain baked potato, fruit cup, applesauce, green beans, carrots, or broccoli florets. Select a dinner roll instead of a biscuit and take one home with you if you are served more than one.

A cup or bowl of soup can be a filling and lower calorie selection so be sure to check on the soup of the day. Most are less than 300 calories and less than 10 grams of fat. The exception to that would be the Cheddar Baked Potato and the Sausage Chili and these would not be your better choices since they are higher in both calories and fat.

Finally, for smaller serving sizes for young and old alike, be sure to check out the Kids Menu as well as the Senior Menu. Many restaurants do not stick to the age limit as printed so be sure to ask your server if you can select from these menu options letting them know you are interested in the smaller serving sizes they provide.

What are some of your diet friendly choices at Bob Evans? What restaurants would you like us to look at for Diet Friendly Dining?

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Interesting Report
Luckily, Wichita has never had a Bob Evans. But there was one in Missouri that my relatives liked to go to at family reunions for breakfast. It is the most Kosher-hostile restaurant I had ever been to! I think my breakfast I ended up with that day was like a bowl of oatmeal and maybe a scrambled egg on the side? So when we are traveling and we see a Bob Evans and a Cracker Barrel, we will go to Cracker Barrel... because we know we can get turkey sausage as a meat selection for breakfast. Maybe Bob Evans has changed in that regard, but in the early 1990's when I last ate there, they had NO accommodations for non-pig meat selections for breakfast! So, I never went back. Report
The local Bob Evans has age requirements, but have carry out boxes. I guess I should check to see if their policy has changed. Report
I've been avoiding going out & eating at restaurants 'cause I have a hard time picking the right I have stocked my fridge & pantry am enjoying cooking for myself again but on those weekend days when I really don't want to, this may give me little bit of freedom as there's a BE right around the corner from where I live so an occasional Sunday lunch or dinner might be easier. Thanks for sharing. Report
I LOVE Bob Evans. I have been checking their nutrition info for years. I really feel they have so much to offer for the whole family with reasonable prices. Report
I, too, love the Wildfire chicken salad. I order the lunch size, and eat half then, and take half home. It is so good. And easy on the dressing.

I would like to see info. on Texas Roadhouse, and Eat and Park. Report
LOVE Bob Evans! After years of filling out comment cards, while traveling, asking for one where we live it finally happened. We eat breakfast there a couple times a month. The oatmeal & fruit cup combo is so good!

Would like to have nutrition info for Olive Garden, Lonestar & Cracker Barrel. Report
Nope. Definitely don't have Bod Evans in Canada. I can't think of any restaurant that is diet friendly, unfortunately. Report
My favorite meal at Bob Evans is a vegetable plate. You pick the 4 vegetable servings of your choice. I usually get a baked potatoe, 2 servings of green beans and a serving of carrots with a dinner roll. , or leave out the roll and have some sour cream on your potatoe. Report
Oh, man, Olive Garden is killer. Literally. Their meals can easily have 1,000 calories in them. Sadly, I don't do well with pasta so I avoid it.

When I go out to eat at a sit down restaurant, I know it's going to be a cheat meal. Report
There is NO Bob Evans Restaurant on the West Coast...Maybe SP can find a way to suggest to them to bring Bob Evans to Oregon... Report
There are several restaurants I would like to see you check out but here are two of my favorites: IHOP and Texas Roadhouse. Hopefully you will find the time to check out these venues in the future. It has been about a year since I last dined at Bob Evans, but will keep them in mind for the future. Report
Don't have a Bob Evans. How about Smitty's or Denny's or any asian type food Report
I went to a Bob Evans in Battle Creek, MI about 10 or 12 years ago...not bad. Much like Denny's.
I would like to see El Torrito featured. They have such yummy food! Report
Never heard of Bob Evans- How about Pat and Oscar's or Olive Garden or Outback Report
Great segment. I'll be looking forward to more installments of this. Like others have stated, I would like to see Cracker Barrel, Steak N Shake, IHOP, Red Lobster and Olive Garden on the list of reviews. Thank you. Report
Bob Evans does offer healthy options for eating out. Thank you for highlighting such great things like this.

How about something on Cracker Barrel and IHOP? Like Bob Evans, you can find these in most places when you travel. Report
Bob Evans is a restraunt we go to often, they are very accomidating. The will cook just about anything you want the way you want. I dont even look at the menu I just tell them what I want to eat and how I want it cooked if they have the food the do it. Cant ask for anything more from a place that even does the dishes for you! Report
Food on the Run is a favorite of mine, and I look forward to all of the upcoming Diet Friendly Dining blogs. Great idea!!! As my day job had me on the road 45 percent of the time last year, the information you provide in these series is a life saver. I've taken to buying my groceries and eating in my hotel room as much as possible, but there are times when this is not possible. The company I work for pays for all of our expenses when we travel, so it is very easy to fall into the "restaurant trap". When I eat in any restaurant I avoid anything that is beaded or fried or smothered in mystery sauce. Salads are a favorite, but I never thought that a healthy sounding salad could contain almost 600 calories and 37 grams of fat! I agree that it would be nice if we could get all of the restaurants to post nutritional information! Report
The Olive Garden, O'Charlies, Red Lobster, and Steak and Shake. Report
We don't have Bob Evans in our area. But thank you for this feature. I agree with those who would like to see Cracker Barrel featured. Also, how about Macaroni Grill? Report
I like there seasonal, chicken salad with fresh fruit plate. It's large, so I save part of it for the next meal, even if it's the next day. I also like there grilled chicken, fresh broccoli. These are my favorites, but don't eat at Bob Evans very often. I've thought about the kids menus before, now I know how that works after reading this. Report
I was pleasantly surprised by having lunch at Bob Evans a couple months ago. I can't remember what I ordered, but I do remember that I liked it and thought it was reasonably healthy. This is a change from the last time I ate there, some years ago, when they served a lot of greasy, high-fat food; and I thought then that maybe I should choose other restaurants. I am glad they changed, and I will happily return again. Report
I really love this. I think this is a great idea. I can't wait to see what other restaurants SP will do. I know that there is no way to do locally owned restaurants but I would love to know a website I can use. We mostly have locally owned Italian. I love them, but I don't know what to get now. Report
I have enjoyed these articles. It helps when you order out or go out for lunch or dinner. Our Bob Evans restuarant closed. Report
I'd like to see an article about Cracker Barrel. Report
I like the idea of SP members banning together and getting some more resturants to post their nutritionals. I hate the chains that don't do this. I boycott them personally, but I would like to know the information so that I can make healthy choices. Report
Thanks so much SP for this series. It is great. For me, knowledge is power. I really desire to choose the healthier meal. We don't have Bob Evans in AK, but the article was good for comparisons. There are a lot of restaurants, such as IHOP and Denny's that I feel ill when I have eaten there and I think it is because of the greasiness of the food. i would like to know about Olive Garden, Chilis, Red Robin, and steak restaurants in general. Report
I go to Bob Evans usually when we are on the road. I usually stick to the oatmeal and yogurt for breakfast,,,although I have to TALK myself out of the pretty french toast with the strawberries and whipped cream!
We go to a Chinese buffet quite a bit...more than we should, really! I would like to see some info on those items. Report
We go to Bob Evans about once a month because it is close by, has a nice kids menu and there is rarely a line for dinner. For dinner I really like the potato-crusted fish which is good both in taste and calories. I usually skip the potato with it and get veggies instead. The chicken and noodles is also good. I looked on-line at their menu and ever since have steered clear of the salad because their really isn't a safe dressing choice. Report
El Sarape, Denny's, IHOP, and Olive Garden Report
I think we need a push to Cracker Barrel. They're one of the few restaurants that do not post nutrition info. I think, as big as SP is, we could blitz them via Facebook and Twitter and force them start posting their nutrtion info! Report
Really enjoyed the article. I would like to see anything to do with Japanese/Korean/Thai restaurants (Chinese restaurants are North Americanized so they are no longer authentic). I realize you would be mainly dealing with USA restaurants(I live in Canada), so a general view of the above would at least give me to go on. Report
I would like to see Del Rio's on there. We like Mexican food and go there quite a bit. What exactly is good for you there? Report
Hi, I really enjoyed this article as we eat out quite a bit and I look for healthier options where ever we go. Bob Evan's is a favorite here. For Lunch or dinner I usually get the single baked chicken (Boneless and skinless), steamed brocolli and baked potato. I always order dressings and sauces on the side and use just a touch for flavor. And usually take half the baked potato home for later.
Would like to see more info on IHOP and Cracker Barrel and Ruby Tuesdays.
Recently at Cracker Barrel I got a veggie skillet with egg beaters scrambled on top and a side of Turkey sausage. It was very tasty and filling. I didn't eat the biscuit or add salt- just some pepper. Report
never heard of Bob Evans except on spark. what part of the country is it in? Report
I've done a lot of research on eating out places. A lot of times, you can go to the restaurant's website and find their nutritional information on there. If not, you can use their 'CONTACT US' feature and email them about their nutritional information. The only bad thing is that the mom and pop shops don't have their nutritional facts posted. Good luck! Report
I live up north near the Fargo, ND border. We have no Bob Evans. We do have TGIF and Applebees and Bennigans. When we travel we always stop at Cracker Barrel. Every little bit of information arms me for food battle!! Thanks so much! Report
Great review, though I don't eat at Bob Evans. We have it here, but I don't go there. I also don't patronize Denny's or IHOP. I just don't like the quality of food. We usually go to Olive Garden, Outback, Longhorn Steakhouse, Joe's American Bar & Grill, Uno's Chicago Bar & Grill, Friendly's, or a local Chinese place. I always have a hard time figuring out the nutrition information for a Chinese meal. I guess that would be my first request for you to review one of those places. Report
My husband and I eat at BOB Evans often and I have made a new dish that is not on their menu. I order a baked potato and a cup of the vegetable beef soup 7oz and a empty bowl. I take the potato and put it in the larger bowl and cut up the potato, I order sour cream on the side and put half of the sour cream on the potato along with a small amount of margarine and spoon the Vegetable soup over the potato. You get vegetables a little beef from the soup and it is very good. You don't get all the calories and fat of the knife and fork meals. Report
We don't have Bob Evans here, but I have eaten there in the past. I'm really happy that you do this series. I think that it is great when restaurants (chain or otherwise) have an online nutrition list or provide one at the restaurant. I just like to know what I'm eating. If I really want to eat Popcorn chicken at KFC, for example and I know the calorie, fat, sodium numbers it is nice to be able to plan the rest of the day (or maybe the week!) accordingly. Report
I eat at BEs occasionally and I make sure to check the nutritional info they provide on their website to choose my meal before I go. Some of their information is hard to decipher (for example, their grilled chicken breast has the same calories as the grilled chicken breast with garlic butter sauce... huh?) But usually I get broccoli and a lean meat or fish with another side, like a salad or maybe a baked potato. The hard part is resisting the rolls/banana bread/biscuits that my family gets with their meal! However, if I am careful about the other stuff I am eating, I can usually sneak in about 1/4 or 1/2 of a dinner roll without blowing my calories for the meal.

I'd like to see a segment on Applebee's, O'Charley's, or Max 'n Erma's. Report
defianatly IHOP also Old Country Buffet. Report
I live in the mountains, 17 miles to the nearest town. So when we go somewhere to shop, it takes at least half a day and means eating out. This series is a BIG help. Even if you don't have a Bob Evans (and we don't), you can use the menu selections for help at other restaurants. (My tip- always ask for a box when you place your order if you're concerned about calorie-content and put at least half the meal in it before you start eating.) Report
Would like to see comparisons of meals generally available at better restaurants rather than just fast-food and chain restaurants. Report
Good to see SP venturing into casual dining as an extension of Food on the Run! I read these with interest but rarely eat at any of these places - too much processed food for my taste, and I can usually make all the items more cheaply and much healthier from scratch at home. Report
Thank you for doing this! This is a great help. It is empowering to be armed with good information. Report
Bob Evans also has a "Pick 2" Option that I like - I'll get a baked potato and a plain salad, but you can choose soup or a half sandwich. It also comes with dinner rools. Reasonable nutrition. Report
We don't have Bob Evans In Canada that I know of But Smitty's is really good about offering healthy options in fact they are listed on their menus Report
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