Where Restaurants Go Wrong

Written by Eden Berube, Applied Nutrition for Healthy Living

Going out to eat and finding a healthy meal can be a challenge. Many individuals who opt to dine out assume that ordering a salad will prevent the damage of packing on calories. Have you ever assumed this? Well, reevaluate! There are a few restaurant chains who have not mastered a healthy salad plate menu option. Take a look at the chart below, based upon the information from takepart.com about each salad’s fat and calorie count.

Wendy’s Baja Salad – 730 calories, 47 grams of fat

Taco Bells’s Beef Fiesta Taco Salad – 780 caories, 42 grams of far

Outback Steakhouse Crispy Chicken Cobb Salad – 856 calories, 55 grams of fat

TGIFriday’s Yucatan Chicken Salad – 860 calories, 60grams of fat

Ruby Tuesday’s Carolina Chicken Salad – 1100 calories, 46 grams of fat

Houlihan’s Prime Steak and Wedge Salad – 1130 calories, 108 grams of fat

Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad – 1380 calories, 99 grams of fat

 However, it is still possible to avoid the pitfalls of this nasty restaurant trick. Here are a few key words to avoid to make sure your salad is staying on the healthy side!


*A La King: This term typically means the plate is not only piled high with ingredients, but a cream sauce is usually included.

*Béarnaise Sauce: All you need to know is that the heart of this sauce is butter based. Enough said. 

*Caramelize: This term can generally be associated with frying the food…to bring out it’s natural sugars and flavors, the food (such as an onion) will generally spend a little more time frying in the pan than if the ingredients were not “caramelized”.

*Cream, Crispy, Sautee and Stir fry:  These terms undoubtedly scream “extreme artery cloggers”.

*Crusted: The typical way of “crusting” an ingredient involves oils and sugars…yuck.

*Flash Fry: Just because “flash” means “fast”, does not mean that the extra oil did not have time to stick to what you are consuming. Bash the flash and opt for something else. Your heart will thank you!


Ask for:

*Boiled, Steamed, Broiled, Grilled, Baked: Yes please!

*Al Dente: This fancy term may sound like it will be overly rich and overly stuffed with ingredients you don’t want, however all it means is that the ingredients are not overcooked. This is a great healthy option!

*Blanch: All this involves is a quick dip in different temperature waters. Help yourself!

*Glaze: This may be acceptable if it was not glazed in oil. The dish may have an egg yolk glaze. Just ask your server!

*Marinate: This will just enhance the flavor to make those healthy toppings more scrumptious. Yum!

*Parboil: All you need to know is that this option involves boiling. Dig in!

*Reduce: This just means that the food was boiled and simmered. This is alright!

*Skim: This means the extra fat is being removed….yes!

*Thicken: This may sound like a no-no, but just ask your server what they used to thicken the ingredient with. It may just be a pinch of flour or drop of cornstarch!

*Top and Tail: This just means that the end of the ingredient (such as a snap pea) is being removed. Don’t be fooled by wordy terms!

Another quick tidbit of information? Use your common sense! For example, a salad that advertises, “Perfectly drizzled with candied nuts and a medley of dried fruit”screams sugar. It is the little details that really make a difference. So don’t be ashamed to ask to make little changes. Ask for no nuts, and maybe to throw a handful of strawberries or blueberries on top instead.  Are you into Asian Inspired salads? The number one ingredient that is usually on an Asian salad is fried sesame sticks or fried noodles. So, be an educated consumer that differs from the rest and know what is being put in your food!

Remember, it is possible to eat healthy at restaurants and to order healthy choices. Don’t be blind to the restaurant business. Do your body a favor, and think before you order! Happy dining!

What’s your favorite restaurant dish?

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