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Another Eating Out Disaster

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Old 04-14-2010, 06:55 PM   #1
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Is it really that hard to make decent low calorie food?

My SO was trying to be nice and went by Long John Silvers to get us some food since it had some lower calorie grilled options. I told him to pick up the Salmon meal with no breadstick or rice and with double veggies with no butter/sauce. What I got was a platter of mushy veggies swimming in some sort of oily sauce topped with dryish salmon. They couldn't keep the sauce of the veggies because it was pre-packaged. The vegetable serving was relatively small and 50 calories (probably mostly from the sauce).

We really should have just cooked at home. We could have made nice flaky salmon with firm steamed vegetables. Yum. There are just very, very few places that I go to eat anymore that I enjoy or am satisfied with and I used to love eating out. Though my waist line showed it! This is just one area I'm really struggling with a lifelong alternative.
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Old 04-14-2010, 07:17 PM   #2
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I hear you. I find restaurants irritating in that we pay so much for the lite option, which doesn't taste that good. Another thing I dislike about eating out is all the sitting. In the time it takes to eat out, I could cook a meal at home and get some exercise.
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Old 04-14-2010, 08:05 PM   #3
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There are more and more places offering good light fare, though. I am heartened by that. There is still a long way to go, but of the five or six places I last ate, only one could be said to have a lower-calorie healthy option that wasn't good. That said, though, these were not fast food places a la Taco Bell and Long John Silvers and the like, but more places like Friday's and Applebee's. Fast food is still lagging in that area.

I still prefer the food I make at home. But I don't find it too hard to find an enjoyable, healthy meal when I eat out. I'm grateful for this because I do enjoy going out with friends and spending an evening catching up.

I'm hoping that whole wheat pasta and brown rice will become more of an option than it currently is. Cheesecake Factory actually has a wonderful chicken meal that is quite good for you and about 500 calories, but they do use white rice. (They save money by purchasing only white rice for their menu items.) I was glad, however, to find that Noodles & Company allows you to order whole wheat pasta (and extra vegetables) with any pasta bowl now.

I do understand the frustration of an underwhelming healthy meal. I got the healthy option turkey dinner at Mimi's Cafe the other day and was frustrated that they didn't try to make it more taste tempting. It was just dry turkey with a little bit of cranberry sauce on the side and a giant serving of nutrition-less white rice.

In the future I will ask if the meal comes with white rice and substitute vegetables if need be. But that still doesn't change the fact that I would like to see every place putting more of an effort into their healthy menu options.

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Old 04-14-2010, 08:17 PM   #4
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My favorite "fast food" place to eat from is Panera Bread. The food is fresh, tasty, and they have a great nutrition tool online to determine calories and more. The one I go to locally even has the calories posted right up on the menu, so I like steering friends there for unplanned/spur of the moment meals out.
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Old 04-14-2010, 08:23 PM   #5
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I have cut out fast food all together. (Well anything I can order at a window...Panera and Subway and the like don't count.) But I can usually find something I can eat and enjoy at any sit-down place. I like that Applebees has the lower cal menue, but GOSH the put so much salt on EVERYTHING- including the veggies!
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Old 04-14-2010, 08:30 PM   #6
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I have this issue all the time. I ordered a shrimp salad at a mexican food place the other day that sounded good. It was ok, but they didn't even have to cook anything! the shrimp were pre-cooked, then they threw on a couple tomato slices, 1/2 an avacado and some bagged lettuce. It tasted ok but at $8, i felt like I paid too much for something I could have tossed together in about three minutes.

Its just frustrating that healthy eating seems to be dumbed down menu items.
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Old 04-14-2010, 08:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikoMarcia View Post
I have cut out fast food all together. (Well anything I can order at a window...Panera and Subway and the like don't count.) But I can usually find something I can eat and enjoy at any sit-down place. I like that Applebees has the lower cal menue, but GOSH the put so much salt on EVERYTHING- including the veggies!
Too true. Sodium remains a huge problem even in healthier items when eating out. It isn't good for you and I also don't like the taste of it. I rarely salt my food when I cook, and then only lightly.

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Old 04-14-2010, 09:29 PM   #8
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I have found some very tasty low cal options at various restaurants. However, I usually don't feel 100% confident about it because I didn't prepare the food, and I don't know exactly what's in it. Not to mention, even though it may be low cal, there's always an outrageous amount of sodium.

One meal that has impressed me was the Southwest salad from McDonalds. Now don't get me wrong, it's not an A+ for healthy food by any means, but it's a decently safe option. With no crutons and half the dressing packet, it's about 400 cal. And it is tasty! I'm not even much of a salad eater, but I love this salad. But of course, way high in sodium.
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Old 04-14-2010, 09:37 PM   #9
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I hear ya! I was reading this eat this not that thing on yahoo health and it said they have a "fit 'n delicious" pizza at pizza hut.. so I was going to order it for my dinner and the girl didn't know what size a medium was or had heard of it.. it was soo annoying because according to the website it's like.. the only pizza on the menu where a slice is only 150 calories.. I think restraunts need to get with the growing weightloss trend..
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Old 04-14-2010, 09:47 PM   #10
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Agreed, Avezy, I looked up the fit 'n delicious pizza and our local Pizza Hut hadn't heard of it either!

It actually surprises me that more restaurants don't jump on the bandwagon. I guess some do, offering "healthy" salads and such, but there's a huuuge market for diet options at restaurants.
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Old 04-14-2010, 09:55 PM   #11
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I would pay good money to be able to sit down at a restaraunt with my family and be able to eat healthily and enjoy my food and be satisfied at the end (besides the fact that I'm vegan, that's a whole nother issue eating out!)

It's easy for restaraunts to not worry about the amount of oil/salt/sugar that they use in things because people will pay for it! But to actually have to watch the amount of oil, salt, etc, is alot of work and would slow down the cooks. I can sympathise with the restaraunts, but it's not an excuse.
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Old 04-14-2010, 11:55 PM   #12
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I'm doing low carb so it's slightly easier to find good food when eating out, but it's still a pain. I find myself cooking alot more.
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Old 04-15-2010, 12:03 AM   #13
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I would pay a LOT of good money to any restaurant that provided me with a healthy, from-scratch meal. A LOT. But I just can't find it, so I cook myself almost every night. And almost invariably, what I make is so much healthier and more satisfying than what I get out.

Even now for special events, like anniversaries, I'll cook a meal at home - our most recent Valentine's Day featured a starter of Shrimp Cocktail, followed by a 4 ounce, perfectly seared filet mignon with a balsamic reduction, roasted asparagus with parsley, lemon, and garlic, and a small baked potato. A glass of wine and a scoop of our favorite ice cream for dessert, and it was heavenly...higher calorie than a normal day, sure, but way lower than it would have been out, and cheaper. And in my opinion, tastier too!

When we need to grab something fast, we found a salad bar that works pretty well...it's in a local grocery store, and it's easy to get some greens, veggies, chicken, drizzle with a little balsamic, and go.
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Old 04-15-2010, 09:59 AM   #14
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OMG. I hear ya. We went out to Wood 'n' Tap one day for lunch at work. I knew it was coming up, so I asked the trainer at the gym what she thought would be a good option. (you can't find any nutritional info online for this resturant) She sugested the Turkey burger (no sauce, no cheese) and veggies instead of fries (I hate fries anyways, so I usually get veggies or a salad instead)

Now... Turkey burger tend to be a little bit drier than beef burger because of their lower fat content. WELL! Not this one. I think it was the juiciest/greasiest burger I have EVER eaten. (it was quite tasty!)

And the broccoli... I like butter as much as the next guy, but my 'steamed' broccoli was DROWNING in butter. It was really kinda gross.

Anywho - my point is, I feel your pain. It is hard to eat out and be healthy. Sometimes I just try to really focus on having a very small portion of what I want.
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Old 04-15-2010, 11:29 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkendrick View Post
I have found some very tasty low cal options at
One meal that has impressed me was the Southwest salad from McDonalds. Now don't get me wrong, it's not an A+ for healthy food by any means, but it's a decently safe option. With no crutons and half the dressing packet, it's about 400 cal. And it is tasty! I'm not even much of a salad eater, but I love this salad. But of course, way high in sodium.
I like this one, too! It's the only thing I buy at McDonald's.
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