Dining Out Guide

Eating Healthy at California Pizza Kitchen

From SparkPeople’s Editors

California Pizza Kitchen is known for pizzas that think outside of the take-out box. Beyond pepperoni and double cheese, this chain invented the BBQ chicken pizza and made vegetables on pizza status quo. However, their forward-thinking creations are often high in calories and, we can only guess, fat and sodium.

  • If you came here for the pizza, get the pizza--and skip the appetizers. Only the Sesame Ginger Chicken Dumplings clock in below 500 calories (326). Many others have more than 1,000 calories.

  • Don't let names fool you. The Lettuce Wraps appetizer can have about 900 calories, thanks to the "crispy noodles" upon which they're served. Skip those, and get the sauce on the side to save calories.

  • Soup, especially broth-based soup, is usually a great way to start a meal. Here, the vegetarian, creamless Asparagus Soup (213 calories a bowl) and the Dakota Smashed Pea & Barley Soup (368 calories a bowl and 184 calories a cup) are good choices.

  • Salads are supposed to be low in calories, but restaurants like to use lettuce as a blank canvas for high-calorie and fatty toppings. The lowest calorie salad here is the Classic Caesar with 799 calories, which has just Romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, croutons and dressing. The Thai Crunch salad is the worst: 2,112 calories--the worst in America! Most of the rest of the salads, which are available in half portions, are at or above 1,000 calories!

  • The calorie counts for pizzas are slightly tricky: the info listed is just 1/6 of a pizza. Some of the best: Italian Tomato & Basil (158 calories a slice), BBQ Chicken Pizza (175), White Pizza (177), and Pear & Gorgonzola (188) . Some of the worst: The Greek (234), the Meat Cravers (239), California Club (246) and Cheeseburger Pizza (236) .

  • CPK has a honey-wheat crust but doesn’t provide nutrition info about it.

  • If you're in the mood for pasta, the Spaghetti Bolognese is a good choice, at 850 calories. Even better but still pretty high is the Broccoli Sun-Dried Tomato Fusilli (742 calories). Still pretty high, but far lower than the rest of the pasta dishes, which all have at least 1,000 calories.

  • Chicken Milanese is a good choice from the entrée portion of the menu. It has 781 calories. If you opt for the vegetables rather than the spaghettini, the Pan-Sauteed Salmon is a good choice, too, at 780 calories. (1,310 with the pasta)

  • Do yourself a favor and skip dessert. All options except one have more than 500 calories. (The Sticky Toffee Cake has 311 calories without ice cream.)

  • California Pizza Kitchen provides limited nutritional info (calories only) on its website.

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