Today I want to share some of the foods I choose when I am out and about and I need to grab something to eat. When your choices are limited to fast food joints or other chain restaurants and you don't want to consume a thousand calories, I have some recommendations. I'm not saying these are perfect health foods, but they are a lot better then French fries and cheeseburgers!
The first Restaurant I am going to start with is The Olive Garden. This is a favorite of both of my girls so if we are out shopping by the mall they usually request to eat here. I have found the Olive Garden to be very helpful when it comes to your needs and they even have a section on their menu now that has the lighter options. You can follow this link to get more of Olive Gardens nutritional information : http://www.olivegarden.com/Menu/Nutrition/
-Let's start with the salad. Did you know Olive Garden has a lite version of their famous dressing and they will gladly swap it out with the regular dressing? I can't say there is even much of a difference in the taste. If you want to make the salad have even fewer calories ask them to leave out the croutons and no added cheese. I will tell you from experience that it is still just as delicious, and I actually could go to Olive Garden just to eat the salad! But lets face it most people don't go there just for the salad. So here are some other options.
-Soup, Salad and a Bread Stick. The Minestrone soup at the olive garden is only 100 calories per serving! So you could have a whole meal of soup, salad (w/the croutons and regular dressing) and a bread stick for 390 calories. I do want to mention that one bread stick is 140 calories so make sure you keep track of how many you eat or you could even ask your server not to bring any.
-One of my favorites is the Capellini Pomodoro and always make sure to ask for the lunch portion. I usually ask to add chicken for some added protein. With the chicken the meal comes to 590 calories, and 480 without the chicken.
-Now another great option here is the Venetian Apricot Chicken and like I said above you can ask for the lunch portion. I cannot personally say I have tried this just because chicken with fruit on it is not my thing but my mom loves this. The lunch size is only 290 calories and 29 grams of protein. Not bad right?
The next restaurant I want to mention is McDonalds. I know, I know, but if you have kids I am sure you have heard the words "happy meal" a million times right :) and sometimes it's just the easy choice of driving through somewhere that you need. Don't fret you don’t need to order a cheeseburger just because you are at McDonalds. McDonalds has a good website, you can customize your meals to show the calories counts. www.mcdonalds.com/nutrition
-South West Salad w/ Grilled chicken and dressing is my staple at McDonalds. Not only is it delicious but also it is only 390 calories with the dressing and it has 28 grams of protein. It's not a small salad either, it will fill you right up. If spicy is not your thing that ok because all of the salads at McDonalds are fairly low in calories. Just make sure if you get chicken to get grilled and stick with a lower calorie dressing like the southwest, Italian or vinaigrette.
-Vanilla Ice cream cone! Yes I said ice cream! A small cone at McDonalds is 170 calories. Much better then a vanilla shake which comes in at 530 calories for a regular size and if you have a blizzard hound for a hubby like I do, this is a much better option too.
Ok my next restaurant is Panera Bread and I really only go here for the soup. I love soup especially any soup that has cheese in the name. One of my favorite things I used to get here is the Broccoli and Cheddar soup in a bread bowl. That is until I learned that the soup in the bread bowl was 960 calories.... Ouch! The bread bowl it's self has 660 calories, but I did find a better option. Panera's nutrition calculator is a little stubborn, I recommend down loading the PDF version of their nutrition menu. http://www.panerabread.com/menu/?ref=pbhomeleft
-Now I still get the broccoli and cheddar soup but now I get it in a bowl with a slice of French bread on the side. Much better at 480 calories, that’s half the calories of what it was in the bread bowl and just as satisfying :)
The last restaurant I want to mention in Subway and I know a lot of people already know you can get a nice low calorie lunch or dinner here, but have you tried the breakfast sandwiches? Delish! Also they have a great website where you can calculate the calories of your sandwich with what ever you want to put on it. http://www.subway.com/nutrition/nutritionlist.aspx
-I always get a 6" breakfast sandwich on flatbread w/egg whites, ham, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, spinach, onions and honey mustard for a total of 420 calories. Not bad for a good size sandwich. The great thing about the breakfast sandwiches too is that you can also get them in a 3" size.
So those are my favorite suggestion for lower calorie foods you can eat while out and about. Just keep it smart, pair it with water and you are good to go!
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