In two prior posts, Worst Restaurant Meals Part 1 and Part 2, I listed a handful of the worst meals that can be had in a few of America’s more popular restaurants. The list was not extravagant in length although it could have been. It seems America is bursting at the seams with bad meals. Platters consisting of salt, saturated fat, and calories are as common as strip malls in New Jersey. Sadly, I could have easily expanded the list and posted a few more articles without trouble.
There is good news though in that we are becoming a bit more aware in our choices. Although we remain a population of overweight men, women, and children, there is a blink of light in the tunnel that many are gravitating toward. When Canadian researchers asked patrons from ten different restaurants how well they were satisfied with their meals, the low-fat crowd expressed greater satisfaction than their high-calorie peers. Some of the reasons given were the freshness of the food and the absence of fat and grease.
Hopefully we are on our way to an awakening that will increase good health and decrease the volume of stretch pants.
Best Chain Restaurant Foods (or better stated as the “least bad” chain restaurant foods)
Smoothie King Blended Coffee Mocha - We are in the midst of something of a coffee craze. The days when variety was restricted to “with” or “without cream and sugar” are long gone, and the new days of the intimidating crush of caffeinated diversity gone mad are here. If simplicity remains your preference, then Smoothie King has something for you. The Blended Coffee Mocha contains coffee, non-fat milk, and chocolate flavored protein. That’s it. A twenty ounce cup is only 160 calories with 2g of fat, 13g of sugar, and 17g of protein.
Chipotle Grilled Steak Salad with Black Beans, Guacamole, and Green Salsa - Chipotle’s ingredients are a step above the normal restaurant fare. The meat is hormone free, the beans are frequently organic, and the fare is prepared daily. Have the vinaigrette replaced with salsa to seal the deal. This tasty salad has only 485 calories and 20.5g of fat.
P.F. Chang’s Seared Ahi Tuna - This appetizer derives all of its calories from the appetite-suppressing nutrients: protein and healthy fat. It’s a good starter choice that has 320 calories and 22g of fat.
Panda Express Mushroom Chicken - If you trade the rice and noodles for a side of vegetables, empty calories will have been swapped for nutrients and you only will be consuming 220 calories and 13g of fat.
Red Lobster Seafood Stuffed Flounder - It is as simple as it sounds: grilled flounder with a protein-charged seafood filling. No breading or thick sauces, just a nice healthy entrée that contains 320 calories and only 11g of fat.
Wendy’s Chili (small) – Drive-thru anyone? How about a Wendy’s small chili? Finding fast food that won’t blow your calorie and fat allotment for the entire day isn’t easy. Minus the dairy fat of ice cream, this sorbet partners shaves ice with the fruit and sugar that will satisfy your sweet tooth. It also contains only 210 calories, 6g of fat (2.5g saturated fat), 6g of fiber, and 17g of protein. It is a bit high in sodium at 880 mg but this is still less than the average fast food soup at 980 mg of sodium.