Taste of Home is sponsoring a company weight loss program based on our new cookbook, The Comfort Food Diet. I asked one of the participants, Associate Web Editor Heather Gergen, to share with us her journey to a healthier lifestyle.
I try to pack my breakfast and lunch and make dinner at home as much as possible. But, that plan doesn’t always work. Inevitably, we all have to eat at a restaurant occasionally.
Eating out while on a diet can be difficult, but restaurants are starting to make it a little easier.
The restaurant temptations didn’t start for me until the week after I started the Comfort Food Diet. Our whole department at TasteofHome.com went out to lunch at Famous Dave’s to welcome a new employee. (Famous Dave’s is a chain restaurant that serves delicious barbecue.) I figured I wouldn’t have a chance finding anything under a million calories, but I was wrong.
In preparation, I went to Famous Dave’s site for nutritional information. They posted a link to a different site that mentioned some of their healthier menu items – HealthyDiningFinder.com
I chose Dave’s Sassy BBQ Pork Salad (Lunch Portion) for a mere 410 calories. It was tasty and filling. This is the salad …
I went back last night and noticed that they are also starting to offer a 600 calorie meal feature on their menu. And this is what the rest of the family ordered… the Feast for Two, which actually should feed 4 and have leftovers!
Valentine’s Night Out
Last Saturday, my husband and I went out for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner at one of my favorite seafood restaurants here in Milwaukee – Harbor House.
It is located right on the lake next to the world famous Milwaukee Art Museum designed by architect Santiago Calatrava. (It was featured on the season premiere of American Idol. We’re kinda proud.)
We both chose lower calorie fish items. I ordered the Poached Salmon with potatoes, olive tapenade and spinach. It was pretty good, but I ended up switching with my husband because I thought what he ordered was better.
He ordered the Grilled Atlantic Swordfish with roasted potatoes, braised artichokes and lemon oil, which looked beautiful and tasted even better. We both had enough leftovers for lunch on Sunday.
As you probably know, most chain restaurants offer nutritional information on their Web sites. But sometimes you don’t have time to prepare before hunger strikes and you need to stop someplace for a bite to eat while you’re on the go.
Even though the Eat This, Not That book series wasn’t created by our company, I have to say, I’m a fan. I keep a copy of the book in my car for reference before I go into any chain restaurants. I also have the iPhone app for handy browsing.
Here are some of my favorite low-calorie restaurant options that I’ve come across organically, not using the Eat This, Not That book:
Panera Bread: A few months back Panera started posting calories on their menu boards for most of their entrees. They conspicuously left off the calories for most of their bakery items, but that’s OK. Having the entrée calories right in front of you in makes it so much easier to make healthy choices. Thanks, Panera.
Noodles & Co.: Last month, Noodles sent me an email with a link to a new cheat sheet for creating 16 dishes and dozens of combinations that are 400 calories or less. Check it out, it is really pretty cool.
Culvers: I received a different email from Culvers where they were promoting their lower calorie meals and nutritional facts page. Here are a couple of their meals:
• 452 Calories – ButterBurger “The Original,” side salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette and Medium Diet Pepsi
• 421 Calories – Flame Roasted Chicken Sandwich, Tomato Florentine Soup and Medium Diet Pepsi
I like the fact that you can eat something with “butter” in the title and still not have too many calories. They also have an iPhone app with their nutritional info.
Papa Murphy’s: I went to a Super Bowl party at my friend’s house a couple of weekends ago. In addition to several yummy appetizers, she served Papa Murphy’s take and bake pizzas including a “Cheese De-Lite” for people watching their calories. It was only 140 calories a slice! I could have 2-3 pieces and not feel too guilty!
McDonalds: It seems like every digital billboard around town is advertising any size coffee at McDonald’s for a dollar. I swear they have been screaming at me. They are only a buck and they are hot – a big plus when the temperature’s below zero. I’ll admit, I have been partaking in this deal a bit too often this winter. When I stopped to get one recently with my family, the 49 cent ice cream sounded pretty good, too. So, I looked up the damage – only 150 calories! They aren’t very nutritious, but for ice cream, it was a lower calorie splurge.
Public Market: We have a wonderful public market here in Milwaukee with a top-notch fish market & casual restaurant. It’s the type of place where you can pick out the fish and they’ll cook it for you. I love it. They offer a daily deal where you get a whole lobster, fries and coleslaw for $12.99 – a steal. It is one of my favorite bargains in town. And one whole medium lobster has less than 300 calories!
I took the kids there to try their first whole lobster a couple of weeks ago when my parents came to visit.
What are your favorite low-calorie restaurant menu items?
What I made this week
I’ve been on a seafood kick lately and I actually had everything on hand to make this low-calorie Tomato Seafood Soup. It was really good and only 163 calories a cup. I thought it was even better the next day in my lunch.
Get this recipe: Tomato Seafood Soup
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