With a little searching, you can determine which dishes at your favorite haunt are healthful and which are no-nos. Here are a few smarter choices to consider when faced with dining out at popular local chains.
Try the Burrito Bowl, which includes all the yummy burrito fillings without the 290-calorie flour tortilla. But steer clear of cheese (100 calories), sour cream (120 calories) and guacamole (150 calories). Fill your bowl with carnitas (roasted, shredded pork), brown rice, pinto beans, fajita vegetables, fresh tomato salsa and romaine lettuce, for a total of 515 calories, 13.5 grams fat, no trans fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 1660 mg sodium.
An alternate choice — try the trio of soft corn tacos with chicken, fajita veggies, tomato salsa and lettuce, for 415 calories, 13 grams fat, no trans fat, 115 mg cholesterol, 1040 mg sodium. Find an easy-to-use nutrition calculator at www.chipotle.com.
GRINDERS ABOVE & BEYOND
The best choice from the Grinder list is the small Southwestern Turkey, with 750 calories and 32 grams of fat. The orange roughy dinner is among the lowest in calories with 720. Grinders nutritional information provided by www.livewellstarkcounty.org.
Choose from the Under 550 Calories menu. The Napa Chicken and Portobellos, with sautéed zucchini and peppers and red potatoes, is just 450 calories, and the sodium is lower than the other Under 550 entrees. The most healthful soup is, surprisingly, the Tuscan Bean with Chicken and Sausage. Beware of the Signature Salads, the normal go-to menu item for dieters. They contain a whopping 820 to 1390 calories each.
Steer clear of the bread bowl — that’s 660 calories before you even put the soup in! Opt for the low-fat garden vegetable with pesto soup or the vegetarian black bean — both are low in calories and lower in sodium than other selections. You Pick Two with a half sandwich and a half salad or soup is a healthier choice, especially if you avoid focaccia or any bread with cheese added. Choose a cafe or signature sandwich over a panini. Download the entire menu with nutritional information at www.panerabread.com.
Most of the pasta dishes are high in calories, fat and sodium. The Herb-Grilled Salmon is a healthier choice here, with only 480 calories and a remarkably low 360 mg sodium. The Venetian Apricot Chicken is low in calories, but not for those watching their sodium intake.Avoid the breadsticks.Try the pasta fagioli — just 130 calories per serving and 680 mg of sodium, which is low for a restaurant soup. Find more information at www.olivegarden.com/men/nutrition.
Pass on the burgers and melts — the Five Cheese Melt with Tomato and Bacon weighs in at a hefty 1,020 calories. Instead, try the Strip Steak Wrap, which comes with grilled onions and is much lower than the other wraps because it doesn’t have a heavy sauce. Pass on the fries and ask for steamed broccoli or grilled vegetables. Another possibility is the grilled salmon dinner, at 630 calories. For a nutrition chart, go to www.winkinglizard.com.