Local Restaurants - Healthy Choices

Jason's Deli Sure, you can get a Reuben and a tuna melt here. But if you want to be good, bow tie pasta topped with roasted zucchini, tomatoes, artichokes, Asiago and organic spinach, as well as the Nutty Mixed-Up Salad, chock-full of ingredients such as organic field greens, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds, are no mere afterthoughts.  Jason's Deli might be known for its salad bar heaping with everything from cucumbers to carrots to sort-of-indulgent mini muffins, yet this pioneering chain, started in 1976 by Joe Tortorice Jr., was also one of the first to forgo high-fructose corn syrup and artificial trans fats.

Traditions Their menu features a wide variety of items made from scratch and prepared on-site.  They serve fresh produce, locally grown whenever available, along with fresh fish, grilled chicken and other healthy alternatives.

Zoes Kitchen with a predilection for grilled meats, herbs and olive oil, the Mediterranean diet has long been a healthy on.  In 1995, when Zoe Cassimus opened her namesake restaurant in Homewood, Ala., naturally she turned to the ingredients revered in her Greek family.  Her ambitious son, a one-time University of Alabama football player, lead the expansion charge, opening Zoes Kitchen throughout the Southeast and Southwest, with locations starting to open elsewhere in the country.  The menu includes pitas filled with caper-and-onion-strewn albacore tuna and homey chicken kebabs over rice pilaf.

McDonald's You always have the option of ordering the smallest size, which will help keep calories in check. A hamburger is 3.5 to 4 ounces, which keeps  calories at 250 and saturated fat at 3.5 grams. The Premium Grilled  Chicken Classic Sandwich is also a good bet at 350 calories and 2 grams saturated fat. Probably your best choice, though, is the Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken (pictured; 290 calories, 2.5 grams saturated fat, 650 milligrams sodium and 27 grams protein) and dressing on the side. The black beans provide added fiber, and saturated fat and sodium are lower than in other items.

Taco Bell Order off of the "fresco" menu for choices that are under 350 calories and under 10 grams of total fat (these also happen to have less saturated fat than other menu items). Fresco chicken or steak soft tacos are the best bets in terms of calories, saturated fat and protein. They're only 140 to 160 calories each, so get two and add a side of black beans (which adds only 80 calories and 5 grams fiber) for a complete meal.

Olive Garden  For entrees that are generally under 500 calories, order anything on Olive Garden's Lighter Italian Fare menu. The Herb-Grilled Salmon is a good choice with 480 calories, 5 grams saturated fat, only 360 milligrams sodium and a whopping 56 grams pro-tein. For the healthiest appetizer, choose the Pasta e Fagioli soup, which adds only 130 calories, 1 gram saturated fat and a filling 6 grams of fiber to your meal.

Subway Order the 6-inch Turkey Breast with Avocado and Spinach on 9-Grain Wheat Bread from the Fresh Fit menu. It has 340 calories, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 8 grams of fiber and 19 grams of protein. Load it up with let-tuce, tomatoes, onions, green peppers and cucumbers (but skip the pickles and banana peppers, which are brimming with sodium). Fresh Fit items are certified by the American Heart Association to be heart-healthy meals. Choose apple slices on the side and water or low-fat milk to drink.

Red Lobster's Wood-Grilled Fresh Salmon is low in calories (210) and sodium (240 milligrams) and high in protein (32 grams), making it a good starting point for a healthy meal.  Round it out with fresh broccoli and wild rice pilaf for the most virtuous combination; your meal total will be 450 calories, 1,090 milligrams sodium (mostly from the rice pilaf), 40 grams protein and 2.5 grams saturated fat.  In terms of calories, the Home-Style Mashed Potatoes are an OK choice, too: they are just a bit high in saturated fat (6 grams).

Outback Steakhouse starts fresh every day to create the flavors we crave. Best known for grilled steaks, chicken and seafood, Outback also offers a wide variety of crisp salads and freshly made soups and sides. A great menu option is the Perfectly Grilled Salmon for 450 calories with only 520 mg  sodium.  Make sure you request grilled Asparagus instead of mixed vegetables.  They also offer  KidsLiveWell menu options.

Luby’s has been around for 65 years and while they are steeped in  tradition, they are looking towards the future, with a culinary commitment to healthy-for-you dishes.  The latest Livin’Smart menu highlights smarter, healthier choices for everyone to enjoy.  “Livin’Smart is our dedication to provide guests with fresh, flavorful and smart dining choices.”  Look for this Livin’Smart   icon  when searching for healthy menu item choices.  These are smart and delicious choices for 600 calories or less.

Denny’s has many high calorie items on their menu, however they do offer 28 Healthy Dining options, 2 sodium savvy choices and 16 Kids LiveWell menu items.  Here is one suggestion:  Seasoned red-skinned potatoes, fire-roasted bell peppers and onions, mushrooms and broccoli on a sizzling’ hot skillet topped with two egg whites scrambled with spinach and grape tomatoes.  Served with a side of salsa.  340 calories.

Corner Bakery - Feeling healthy can mean something different to everyone.  That's why the Corner Bakery offers more than 100 fresh, tasty, made-to-order Corner Combos under 600 calories that easily fit within almost any lifestyle.  They also make it a bit easier to eat well by doing things like bringing in over 40 different types of fresh produce each and every day.  Your favorite dishes will be free of artificial trans fats.  A great breakfast option is the Steel Cut Oatmeal with all the toppings (currants, cranberries, brown sugar, toasted walnuts and almonds) at 350 calories.  For lunch, try Mom's Grilled Chicken on Harvest Bread and a mixed greens side salad for 380 calories.

Chili's - Along with the many favorite indulgences on the Chili’s menu, their great  tasting, quality food can also fit a well-balanced diet.  Try one of Chili’s  long-standing “Guiltless Grill” favorites for a meal that is low in fat and calories, but high in fiber and flavor.  They also offer a variety of health conscious side items, including steamed broccoli, seasonal veggies, corn on the cob and black beans.  The fire-grilled favorites, like Margarita Grilled Chicken, Caribbean Salad and Chicken Fajitas, taste so great you’d never guess they are also good for you.  Just a word of caution, most dishes are very high in sodium.  A good option is the Grilled Chicken Salad with fresh diced tomatoes, house-made corn & black bean salsa, 3-cheese blend and honey-lime vinaigrette for 430 calories.

Panera Bread Their food policy boast of clean ingredients.  "We are advocates for clean food.  We're committed to sourcing and serving high quality ingredients without artificial additives including added MSG, artificial trans fats, and ingredients we don't believe need to be in your food." They also claim to have a transparent menu so that the customer can make smart choices for themselves. At 220 calories, you can even feel good about ordering a cup of their Broccoli Cheddar soup.  Panera brad is a prime choice when looking for healthy dining options.

Applebee's -They serves "all American" food that is pretty similar to what you get at most chain restaurants.  In other words, most dishes are loaded with calories, salt, fat and carbs.  When eating at Applebee's, stick to the Under 550 Calories and Weight Watchers menu items.  They are still too high in sodium, but are your best menu options.


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