Healthy Restaurant Finds

It’s almost impossible to drive down the street today without being ambushed by a few themed restaurants and fast-food joints ready to throw a burger down your throat and ruin your best nutritional intentions. But in this ruthless wilderness, you can still discover some hidden healthy treasures. Here are some that we’ve dug up. If you find ones you like, share them with others by  adding a comment to this article!

  • Low-POINT appetizers, desserts and entrees for dieters
Burger King
  • Chicken baguette sandwiches have just 350 cals and 5g fat.
  • • "Guiltless Grill" selections are lower in fat and list nutritional information right on the menu.
  • Instead of Chicken Burrito (1179 calories, 47g fat), try a Burrito Bol w/chicken, minus the rice, cheese, and sour cream (369 calories, 12g fat).
  • You make your own pasta bowl, controlling the ingredients you want to include or eliminate.
  • You can also substitute whole wheat pasta.
Jack in the Box
  • Chicken Fajita Pita is filling with only 10 grams of fat. Leave the shredded cheese out and make it 3 grams.
  • Skipping the mayonnaise or mayonnaise-based sauces can skim 100 or more calories and 12 grams of fat. Or use the Low Fat Herb Mayonnaise, with only 4 grams of fat.
Olive Garden
  • Restaurant encourages you to choose whole wheat linguine with your pasta selection. Whole wheat pasta has three times more fiber and roughly 17% fewer carbohydrates than traditional pasta.

  • Order Grilled Shrimp on the Barbie without butter and seasonings and with cocktail or BBQ sauce.
  • Try Tangy Tomato (fat free), Mustard Vinaigrette, Olive Oil & Red Wine Vinegar dressings.
  • Order Grillers without butter or glaze during preparation.
  • Order Outback Lamb without sauce.
  • Order Chicken on the Barbie without butter. Request BBQ sauce to be used during preparation.
  • For Botany Fish of the Day and Salmon, order with cocktail sauce or fresh lemon instead of Remoulade Sauce.
  • For Barbie Chook ‘n Bacon , order prepared without butter or bbq sauce, and without the bacon and cheese.
Panera Bread
  • The Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad is a seasonal favorite.
Pei Wei
  • Edemame (2 servings per dish) 156 calories, 8 grams fat
  • Wonton Soup (cup, multiply by 2 for a bowl) 110 calories, 1.5 grams fat
  • Hot & Sour Soup (cup, multiply by 2 for a bowl) 150 calories, 9 grams fat
  • Vietnamese Chicken Salad Rolls (3 servings per dish) 80 calories, 4 grams fat
Pizza Hut
  • Fit N Delicious Pizza (less cheese, more sauce) as little as 3.5 g fat per slice.
Red Lobster
  • When ordering a baked potato, try pico de gallo sauce instead of butter and sour cream.
  • Low fat, low calorie and low carb diners can find options in the Light House Selections menu.
  • Zesty Albacore Tuna Wrap has only 311 calories and 7g fat.
  • Chinese Chicken Salad has only 127 calories and 3g fat.
  • Fresh Fruit Salad has only 123 calories and 1g fat.
Sweet Tomatoes
  • Several vegetarian menu options, including salads, soups, pastas.
  • Low-fat menu items and fresh fruit desserts are also available.
Taco Bell
  • Order entrée “fresco style” meaning salsa instead of cheese and sauce, saving about 25% of calories and fat.
  • A host of healthy menu options are available from this restaurant chain, with complete nutritional information available online.
  • Grilled chicken without mayo has just 310 calories 8 grams of fat.
Zoe’s Kitchen
  • Grilled Chicken Pita No.1 (chicken and Zoe's slaw on pita bread) and a side of fresh fruit. Only about 400 calories.
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Member Comments

some good ideas bet is to go online and look prior to going somewhere...most restaurant food has way too many calories and I think all places should have to list the nutritional is nice that some restaurants have lighter options but unfortunately you pay the same price for half the food...guess take some good with the bad Report
this article was almost perfect timing. going to buffalo wild wings tonight so i was hoping to see them listed. i've never been before so i'm trying to see what the best options are. i found what may be an outdated nutrition list online, but not having a lot of luck with a sure bet. Report
this article was almost perfect timing. going to buffalo wild wings tonight so i was hoping to see them listed. i've never been before so i'm trying to see what the best options are. i found what may be an outdated nutrition list online, but not having a lot of luck with a sure bet. Report
Black Eyed Pea has a great grilled chicken spinach salad. If you can resist the fresh rolls and corn bread that they bring to the table (if dining w/others) then it's a great healthy meal! Report
The Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich at McDonald's comes in at 300 calories IF you have them leave off the mayo dressing and substitute a bit of mustard.

I've also had good luck at Chipotle (Veggie Burrito Bowl with black beans, no rice, vegetables, salsa, and a 1/2 order of guacamole) and Panera in the past month. The trick is to visit the company's website BEFORE you go and look at the nutrition information online; then figure out what option is best for you so that it's not a guessing game when you're hungry and standing at the counter to order.

Finally, last month during a business trip I ended up eating at Applebee's and observed that many of the entrees that it labels as "healthy" are unreasonably expensive. I settled for the salad and soup, but I wasn't very happy with the company and hope I don't have to go back!

Why can't there be a restaurant that serves healthy food, in a reasonable portion size, for a reasonable price?

I also agree with the reader who said that sodium levels are often too high at all of these restaurants. Report
The article talks about Fat and Calories, but here is my problem when eating out, SODIUM!!
The Grilled Chicken Sandwich from Wendy's has 810 mg of sodium. I have had Items that are very good calorie and fat wise, to only find out they have a lot, more than 700 mg per serving., of sodium. Report
Also, I don't know if I can post this here, but I've found to be a really helpful site to look up reasonable restaurant choices:

d.asp Report
Hardee's Lowcarb options (sandwiches wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun) are a pretty good option, as well as their turkey burgers. We currently offer four kinds all under 500 cal. And if you lowcarb those as well, you'd save even more! :) (I've worked there for nearly seven years now, and I can vouch that we have good food -- and if you are careful, it can even be reasonably healthy.) We also have a side salad that you can add to combos instead of fries. And at the time of this post, we offer coleslaw as a side option too. (Limited time though.) Just some suggestions. Hope it helps. :) Report
Carl's Jr. and Hardee's have turkey burgers & salads and you can have your sandwich wrapped in lettuce rather than served on a bun. Report
I would love to know Texas Roadhouse's nutrition facts for their menu. I think if other restaurants can provide this information, they can too. Report
Good stuff in here! I like the low fat chicken noodle soup and half BBQ chicken salad for lunch at Panera. Only 370 calories for a filling meal with 12g of fat and 24g of protein. Report
I ask for corn tortillas instead of flour. At Don Pablos 3 six inch flour tortillas is almost 400 calories but 4 only slightly smaller corn tortillas is 60 cals! Report
Olive Garden has a "Garden Fare" menu with tons of healthy options including Venetian Apricot Chicken and Shrimp Primavera (yum!!). I also love the Ruby Tuesday's salad bar. My favorite Panera sandwich is Mediterranean Veggie and it's one of the healthier ones there, too :-) And while it's not healthy -- when I crave take-out pizza I get a personal pan veggie pizza with light cheese from Pizza Hut -- less than 550 calories for the whole thing and it can usually last me two meals if I eat a big salad with it. I get the personal pan to help me control portions because if I get a medium pizza there's no way I will let it last for many meals!!! Report
Ruby Tuesday has a healthy salad bar to choose from and everything is fresh. Report
Does anyone know the calories & fat content in a dish called shrimp mozambique? Report


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