Friday, February 6, 2009

Chain Restaurant Calorie Shockers!!!

We ALL like to treat ourselves now and then. However, there's a big difference between treating yourself and treating yourself BADLY. Here are a handful of entrees that are WAAAY heavier than you (or any of us) ever suspected. Are you SITTING DOWN?!?

Olive Garden, Spaghetti & Meatballs

PER SERVING (dinner portion): 1,110 calories, 50g fat, 2,180mg sodium, 103g carbs

For anyone who missed the big news, Olive Garden now posts its nutritional info online. We flipped when we heard and were brave enough to scour the site in search of shocking new info. Some of the meals are what we like to call "DUH!" items (a dinner portion of Chicken Alfredo over fettuccine has 1,430 calories and 82g fat... DUH!), but others surprised and horrified us. Specifically, the most basic of all Italian food -- Spaghetti & Meatballs. Over 1,000 calories for spaghetti in a tomato-based sauce and a few balls of meat? COME ON!

Better Choice: If you want that classic tomato goodness, go for the Linguini alla Marinara, with 430 calories and 6g fat for a dinner portion. And if you really need a ground beef fix, start with a serving of Pasta e Fagioli for just 130 calories, 2.5g fat. Those meatballs are SO not worth it.

Red Lobster, Parrot Bay Jumbo Coconut Shrimp with Creamy Langostino Lobster Baked Potato and a Caesar Salad

PER SERVING (1 dinner portion with accompaniments): 1,620 calories, 69g fat, 2,708mg sodium, 111g carbs

One of the things we LOVE about Red Lobster is that you can customize your meal by picking your sides. However if you're in one of those "throw caution (and diet) to the wind" moments, you can get in SERIOUS trouble. Say you decide to be a little adventurous and get those coconut shrimp (they sound so special). The dish comes with a salad. You ask for Caesar (it's still a salad, right?). For your side, why not get the baked potato (smart!) topped with lobster? WHY NOT?!? Because the combo meal you just ordered has now tipped the scales at over 1,60 0 calories... AHHHHHHH!

Better Choice: If it's shrimp you crave, go for the dinner portion of Wood-Fire Garlic-Grilled Jumbo Shrimp -- only 365 calories and 6g fat. It comes over wild rice pilaf, and if you go with the garden salad and fat-free ranch, you'll clock in with a total of 495 calories and 9g fat. WAY better!

T.G.I. Friday's, Sizzling Fajita Combo

PER SERVING (1 order): 1,590 calories

Of course the Jack Daniel's Ribs & Shrimp is gonna be a calorie-fest (1,910 calories, to be exact), but fajitas seem so simple and grilled and guiltless. How bad could they be? Ummm, BAD. For a meal that consists mostly of grilled meats and roasted veggies, that sky-high calorie count probably means that a) the tortillas are plentiful and a little high in calories, b) it's served with the heaviest possible toppings, and c) this is an OILFEST!!! One of these days, we'll get that fat content from you, T.G.I. Friday's...

Better Choice: You've got the right idea going with a grilled entree, but instead go for the Dragonfire Chicken. It's glazed with spicy Kung Pao sauce and it comes with stir-fried brown rice, broccoli, Mandarin oranges, and pineapple pico de gallo. All that for 510 calories. Not bad.

Outback Steakhouse, Alice Springs Chicken

PER SERVING (1 order): 2,000 calories

Alright, we recognize that nobody really walks into an Outback Steakhouse and expects to leave feeling like they ate healthy food, but COME ON! If you think you're dodging a big fatty bullet by getting this not-beefy, not-deep-fried dish, you are just plain WRONG. It's a grilled chicken breast, sure, but it's buried under bacon, sauteed mushrooms, honey mustard sauce, and two kinds of cheese, and it's served with "Aussie Chips." Wow. It takes a lot of work to get a grilled chicken dish up to 2,000 calories. And Outback, you are putting in OVERTIME!

Better Choice: If you're determined to eat well at Outback, go for the Ahi Tuna Chopped Salad. You'll get seared tuna on a big pile of greens with wasabi vinaigrette and crispy wontons for 590 calories. Save some calories and fat by ditching the wontons. Save more by ordering that dressing on the side -- even better, get the fat-free Tangy Tomato Dressing -- then dip, don't pour! Click here for more suggestions on how to cut calories and fat from Outback's menu -- pretty impressive. Guess you can eat smart at Outback... it just takes a little effort!

Romano's Macaroni Grill, Parmesan-Crusted Sole

PER SERVING (1 dinner portion): 2,190 calories, 141g fat, 2,980mg sodium, 145g carbs, 9g fiber, 82g protein

Friends, we're scared. This meal, at first glance, seems like a pretty safe option. "Filets lightly hand-breaded with Parmesan cheese and garlic, sauteed and topped with lemon butter sauce and capers." Oh! It's only lightly breaded. And at least it's fish and not beef. "Served with sun-dried tomato and spinach orzo pasta." Well that sounds lovely and not heavy at all. The ugly truth? You could eat an entire Layers of Lasagna dinner AND a Brick Oven Meatball Sandwich and STILL not have consumed as many fat grams and calories as there are in this dangerously deceptive dish. (Don't do that.) Sad times!

Better Choice: Go somewhere else. Seriously! But if you're stuck there for dinner, stick with the Pollo Magro "Skinny Chicken" -- 320 calories and 5g fat. If you swore off that dish after last year's nutritional controversy, your next best bet is actually the Simple Salmon, with 590 calories and 32g fat -- and stress the word SIMPLE when you order, because the Grilled Salmon has a LOT more calories. Both the Pollo Magro and the Simple Salmon come with grilled asparagus and broccoli.

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