As a dietitian, I’m always curious about the nutrition facts for places that I frequent. Consider some of these nutritional shockers from Olive Garden:
- Lasagna Rollata al Forno (dinner portion) = 1170 calories, 39 grams of saturated fat, and 2510 mg of sodium
- Spaghetti & Italian Sausage (dinner portion) = 1270 calories, 24 grams of saturated fat, and 3090 mg of sodium
- Grilled Sausage & Peppers Rustica (dinner portion) = 1320 calories, 30 grams saturated fat, and 2860 mg of sodium
And these are just the entrees – if you combine that with a few bites of an appetizer, a soft drink or alcoholic beverage, and/or a dessert – you can easily exceed an entire day’s worth of calories in one meal.
But you can make some healthier choices when eating out just putting some effort into browsing the nutrition facts before heading out to the restaurant. Check out these healthier options from Olive Garden which are much more reasonable:
- Herb-Grilled Salmon (dinner portion) = 510 calories, just 6 grams of saturated fat, 760 mg of sodium – not to mention this meal boasts 64 grams of protein and omega-3 fatty acids!
- Linguine alla Marinara (dinner portion) = 430 calories, just 1 gram of saturated fat, and 900 mg of sodium – ask for whole wheat pasta to boost the fiber and vitamin/mineral content. For the endurance athletes out there, this is a great carb-loading meal!
- Ravioli di Portobello (lunch portion) = 450 calories, 11 grams of saturated fat, and 960 mg of sodium – plus it’s got the rich taste that you crave from an indulgent Italian meal.
I went with a serving of salad to start and then had the portobella mushroom ravioli (half of the dinner portion) for my meal. It was amazingly tasty!
Are you wondering yet where Day 3 of 25 Days of Christmas Kindness comes in? Well, our server (we sat at the bar, so also the bartender) was incredibly on top of things. He was really attentive, got our food served promptly, and was super friendly. From working in restaurants and banquets, I know people are always more apt to complain than compliment. So after we finished our meal and were on our way out, I went to the hostess stand and asked to speak to the manager. The manager came up, obviously prepared for a complaint, but I went on to tell her how great Elliot (our server!) was and how much we enjoyed our meal. She was obviously surprised and very thankful, and I’m sure our server felt great when she went to pass along that compliment as we were leaving.
Do you enjoy going out to eat? How do you make healthy choices at your favorite restaurants? Do you ever go out of your way to recognize your server?