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Olive Garden & Macaroni Grill - Study by Center for Science

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Old 12-03-2007, 01:00 AM   #1
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Default Olive Garden & Macaroni Grill - Study by Center for Science

As a proponent of Olive Garden as a "hey, that's a place I can get something relatively low-cal and healthy" I thought this article was interesting.

Particularly:

Olive Garden Picks: CSPI’s lab tests found 790 calories in the Linguine alla Marinara—more than the 550 calories the chain reports. Capellini Pomodoro, pasta with tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil, also had more calories that the company stated (990 as opposed to 640). But both dishes had only 2 grams of saturated fat. “Garden Fare” items such as Venetian Apricot Chicken (450 calories), Shrimp Primavera (690 calories), and Pork Filettino (if ordered with vegetables, not potatoes, just 340 calories) are among the best choices.
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Old 12-03-2007, 08:27 AM   #2
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Hey Glory87!

I think that was wishful thinking on your part! It's been pretty obvious to me that the food at those places is high-cal and very dangerous because it is so good! Last time I went to Olive Garden, I left half the food and probably still took in too many cals.

I haven't been there in ages, but if I were to go again, I'd have to plan ahead on my calories, be prepared to leave food (or take it home--although I usually leave pasta anyway), and know that I was going over the day.

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Old 12-03-2007, 09:58 AM   #3
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Personally,

I can't stand the Olive Garden anymore. I used to like their breadsticks and salad but beyond that, I didn't care for their food. Last time I went (was given a gift certificate to them), I got the salad and soup thing because I knew that the salad and breadsticks was what I liked. I asked for the salad dressing on the side and although the salad was ok, it wasn't great. Sadly, the breadsticks also weren't great and the soup was the worst of it. We didn't use up all of the gift certificate but we don't plan on going back.

I even got something in the mail the other day offering a free dinner for 2 for filling out a survey. The free dinner was to either Olive Garden or Red Lobster (another least favorite). I was sad, I would've enjoyed a free dinner but I threw it away knowing I wouldn't enjoy it as much as places I do go out to eat at.

Oh yea, Macaroni grill. I do like Macaroni grill but only because they do have awesome bread. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever fall out of love of their bread but I don't think I will. It is a reason I stay away from them though
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Old 12-03-2007, 10:27 AM   #4
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Most of these dishes have more calories than stated because your local restaurant's cook thinks he's being a nice guy by giving you more than the chain considers to be one serving. The article makes it sound like it's a vast right wing conspiracy to make us fat.

I'm always a little suspicious of anything that comes out of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Most of their reports are designed for the most impact on the evening news and not for the pure science. I'm sorry but not everything is a heart attack on a plate. Some things are occasional treats that do no harm at all.

I really doubt there are a lot of people out there who would be surprised that fettucine al fredo is really bad for you, but the the CSPI always makes it sound like breaking news.
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Old 12-03-2007, 11:29 AM   #5
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That apricot chicken stuff sounds good. I wish there were an Olive Garden near me so I could try it!

Ya, I have to think that the cooks are having a trouble portion control, rather than some conspiracy. Cooks are humans too, and we're all conditioned to just pile food onto a plate!
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Old 12-03-2007, 03:13 PM   #6
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I LOVE Olive Garden and don't got there often because I KNOW it isn't lo-cal! It is too good and my favorite place to eat so I tend to overeat. Now Macaroni Grill, ugh, not so great. Apparently, others thought so too because they closed the one on this side of town. But whenever I go out to eat I never think about the cals otherwise I wouldn't go, ever. It's a treat so I indulge for sure.
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Old 12-03-2007, 05:40 PM   #7
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I'm not much of a conspiracy buff, but there are restaurant groups which have lobbied against legislation to require calorie info in menus:

http://www.restaurant.org/government...tion/index.cfm

And it's not just the obvious stuff which we can try to avoid. I analyzed the chicken mandarin salad at Wendys. Substituting a fat free dressing and skipping the crunchy noodles saves me over 200 calories.
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Old 12-03-2007, 06:25 PM   #8
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Red Robin is one that annoys me because they refuse to disclose their nutritional information.

I do think nutritional information should be disclosed but also people need to do their own research on how to lessen the calories in their entrees. Asking for veggies (and meat) to be cooked without butter, asking for sauces on the side, asking for dressing on the side, etc can save a lot of calories. Also choosing good restaurant choices is key.
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Old 12-03-2007, 10:21 PM   #9
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I'll attest to the Venetian Apricot Chicken. So much so that I had to come home and make a similar apricot glaze and now use it (with the diced tomatoes they also used) on my grilled salmon and chicken. Delicious.
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Old 12-04-2007, 08:26 AM   #10
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Olive Garden ...

I don't love Olive Garden as much as I love Macaroni Grill, which is also TERRIBLE in regards to fat and calories. It makes me sad, because the food is SO good, but knowing how BAD it is for me makes me stay away. It's UNBELIEVABLE how many calories restaurant meals contain.
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Old 12-04-2007, 09:00 AM   #11
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yes duhhh about the alfredo sauce. I love Olive Garden, just love it. I just made a deal with my boyfriend that if we eat at home 20 nights (we really eat out a lot). That we can treat ourselves to Olive Garden, YUMMY.
I have since switched to a healthier meal though, mixed gril, chicken and steak and veggies, and potatos---(can replace potatos)....
and it's amazing, it is enough for a whole nother dinner the next night too!
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Old 12-04-2007, 12:29 PM   #12
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Ever since DH and i went on a dietary Budget...we don't eat out but once in a blue moon...its amazing at how much easier it is to lose weight. In general most resturants serve way too big portion sizes and most options i enjoy, i know are not low in fat. So it really has helped not going to resturants but every now and then.

I do wish more resturants would disclose nutritional information. But i know if i saw it, i'd probably steer clear of a lot of things i like to eat
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Old 12-04-2007, 02:41 PM   #13
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Personally, I'd like having the info right out there on the menu. Even if I decide to splurge, at least I know exactly what I'm getting and I can plan accordingly in reducing calories for other meals, working out a bit longer. In fact, I'd probably eat out/pick up lunch out a lot more often if I knew what I was getting calorie & nutritionwise. I eat at home/bring my lunch most of the time because at least then, I know what I'm getting. I work in midtown, so there's lots of temptation, but healthier choices too. I tend to stick to sushi or select your own salad when I get lunch out. I keep balsamic vinegar on hand to use instead of dressing because those house dressing can pack a real calorie wallop.
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Old 12-04-2007, 02:46 PM   #14
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Actually, some restaurants will let you view the nutritional guides right on the spot. I've asked before. While of course quite a few do not have information, the ones that do will let you see it... they will give you a strange look, as you will most likely be the first one to ask, but they will give it to you nonetheless
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Old 12-04-2007, 02:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NightengaleShane View Post
Actually, some restaurants will let you view the nutritional guides right on the spot. I've asked before. While of course quite a few do not have information, the ones that do will let you see it... they will give you a strange look, as you will most likely be the first one to ask, but they will give it to you nonetheless
LOL That happens quite frequently here. I don't think people in WV know the concept of healthy eating. If it ain't cornbread and pinto beans, with maybe some pickled pigs feet on the side, it ain't worth eating. Ick!

But I ask for the guides all the time. Since I frequent pretty much the same places though, I pretty much already know what they have and what I'll order before I go in.
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