Healthy Dinner Choices

Perhaps you don’t need the speed of a fast-food restaurant, but you want the convenience of not having to cook. Or maybe you just want a sit-down family dinner where everyone can choose their own dinner. These restaurant favorites all offer very different types of foods, and each has a wide spectrum of healthy to less healthy options. At any restaurant, a salad with no dressing is the healthiest dish you can order – but why go to a restaurant for something you can buy in a bag? If you want to dine on something these restaurants specialize in, you may not be able to choose the healthiest option, but some choices are better than others.

Olive Garden
In the mood for pasta? Take a look at the less healthy and healthier options.

Less Healthy Options:

  • Tour of Italy: with an impressive 1450 calories, 74 fat and 3830 sodium, this may be a tour to avoid.
  • Fettuccine Alfredo:  calories (1220) and sodium (1350) aren’t that bad, but the 75 grams of fat are a concern.
  • Spaghetti and Italian Sausage: another less healthy option, especially for those watching their sodium intake at 1270 calories, 67 fat, and 3090 sodium.

Healthier Choices:

  • Cappelini Pomodoro (840 cal, 17 fat, 1250 sodium
  • Ravioli di Portobello (670 cal, 30 fat, 1400 sodium
  • Cheese Ravioli with Marinara (660 cal, 22 fat, 1440 sodium

Montana’s

For BBQ meat lovers, here are the health ratings of some of Montana’s BBQ menu items.

Less Healthy Options:

  • Beef Ribs: the ‘large’ portion has a substantial 109g of fat, with 1490 cal and 2450 sodium. This is without any sauce! The ‘regular’ size is still an unhealthy choice having 65g of fat.
  • BBQ Beef Fajitas: at only 660 cal and 10 fat this item looks deceptively healthy, until you see that it contains 2280 sodium.
  • Chipotle Honey BBQ sauce: this is the unhealthiest BBQ sauce option at 80 cal and 300 sodium.

Healthier Choices:

  • If you must have ribs, order a ‘regular’ portion of the Side ribs (770 cal, 47 fat, 1350 sodium)
  • Pulled Pork Fajita (640 cal, 37 fat, 1490 sodium)
  • Texas Bold BBQ sauce (23 cal, 92 sodium).

Red Lobster

Lobster is generally healthy, but don’t let that fool you with some of these options!

Less Healthy Options:

  • Chef’s Signature Lobster & Shrimp Pasta: the fact that the pasta is in a butter sauce alone should hint at its 1020 cal, 50 g fat and 2170 sodium.
  • New England Lobster Rolls: this dish has 600 cal, 34g of fat and 1530 sodium

Healthier Choices:

  • Rock Lobster (90 cal, 1 fat, 490 sodium)
  • Live Maritime Lobster (steamed) (230 cal, 1.5 fat, 840 sodium)

Synopsis:
If you don’t want to or have time to cook, or if everyone in the family wants something different to eat, going to a sit- down restaurant can be a nice compromise between fast food and preparing a multi-course meal. Generally at any restaurant, a salad with no dressing is the healthiest dish you can order – but why go to a restaurant for something you can buy in a bag? If you want to dine on something these restaurants specialize in, you may not be choosing the healthiest option, but some choices are better than others.

Olive Garden –Pasta
Avoid: The Tour of Italy, which boasts 1450 calories, 74 fat and 3830 sodium; the Fettuccini Alfredo with 75 grams of fat; and the Spaghetti and Italian Sausage packed with 3090 sodium .
Better Choices: Cappelini Pomodoro (840 cal, 17 fat, 1250 sodium), Ravioli di Portobello (670 cal, 30 fat, 1400 sodium), and Cheese Ravioli with Marinara (660 cal, 22 fat, 1440 sodium).

Montana’s – BBQ meat
Avoid: Beef Ribs, the ‘large’ portion containing 1490 cal, 109 fat and 2450 sodium – this is without any sauce; the salt packed BBQ Beef Fajitas (2280); the Chipotle Honey BBQ sauce at 80 cal and 300 sodium.
Better Choices: If you must have ribs, order a regular portion of the Side ribs (770 cal, 47 fat, 1350 sodium); Pulled Pork Fajita (640 cal, 37 fat, 1490 sodium); Texas Bold BBQ sauce (23 cal, 92 sodium).

Red Lobster – Lobster
Avoid: Chef’s Signature Lobster & Shrimp Pasta, doused in butter sauce, it has 1020 cal, 50 fat and 2170 sodium; New England Lobster Rolls, which at 34 fat is extreme compared to the 1.5 of other dishes.
Better Choices: Rock Lobster (90 cal, 1 fat, 490 sodium); Live Maritime Lobster (steamed) (230 cal, 1.5 fat, 840 sodium)

Sources:
http://www.montanas.ca/pdf/nutrition.pdf

http://www.redlobster.ca/menus/lighthouse/default_cn.asp and

http://www.redlobster.com/health/nutrition/dinner.asp

http://www.olivegarden.com/Menu/Nutrition/