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Jun 15, 2012 06:45 AM

Chowhound on a diet looking for salads, fish, whatever is low cal [split from New Jersey board]

[We've moved this discussion of healthy food at Chain restaurants from the thread at -- The Chowhound Team ]

Assuming you don't hate chains, I will suggest Saladworks--IF you customize the salads. For example, the Mandarin Chicken salad normally comes with those wretched chow mein noodles on top, but you can ask them to replace those with something healthier (e.g., mushrooms). (Personally, I choose the glazed pecans, probably just as bad, but, oooh, are they tasty!


When I last checked Saladworks had an interactive nutrition page where you could see what adding each topping did to the calorie count.

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  1. I should hit the 10 percent mark on Monday (26.1 pounds).. so the program works.. it does take a lot of will power though, I will say that. I got lucky that my employer has a corporate account and subsidizes half of the fee, so my cost for WW is like $18 a month, and I usually use my phone to track foods.

    Pasta is dangerous I agree.. and we've tried the alternatives (spaghetti squash, vegetables, broccoli slaw, etc) and its just not the same. So that's just something we have few and far between.

    I've been wanting to stop back at salad works.. last time I was there, i was still in fat head state of mind, so it's due a re-eval for me. +1 to their nutrition site, its interesting to see what a lot of dressings can do to really alter the nutrition.

    I hate to say it but I've actually been eating a lot of subway salads with their "philly meat".. the good points are you can get a lot of vegetables, and the portions are consistent, and I love their sweet onion sauce.. but.. it is subway :-/

    And, don't forget the local Chinese restaurant. Just avoid the fried stuff (sweet and sour chicken, general tso's).. I kind of lucked out there, as chicken and broccoli has been a favorite dish of mine since a kid, the sauce isn't as bad as you would think. The hard part is really limiting the rice.. I've gone so far as to take out the free rice box that every entree comes with, measure out 1 cup, and then literally dump it into the garbage to prevent over portioning. I know its wasting food/money..and it takes ALOT of will power.. but it depends on what's important for you. A regular egg roll isn't horribly bad, as they are pretty much light and airy, so not too much food for the grease to soak into, that's one way to get a little fried stuff in.

    I'm lucky that I don't have problems with water retention / swelling yet.. but the sodium is what's gonna get you at most restaurants.

    There is a panda express by my job, and I go there sometimes, they will give you veggies instead of rice as a side, and they have "wok smart" options.. I know that's a chain (off topic) but what is really valuable to me is that they have an online nutrition chart and it should give you an idea of how bad the stuff at the local Chinese restaurant is.

    2 Replies
    1. re: coldsolderjoint

      At Quizno's the only sub anywhere near a reasonable amount of fat et al is the Honey Bourbon Chicken (which isn't even listed on the menu as far as I can tell, but still seems to be available). A small for one person or two can split a large.

      The problem at KFC and others is that none of the sides are healthy--they're basically only carbs and fat. (Some KFCs have/had green beans, but they were awful!

      There should be some healthy fast food options, but I have no idea what they are. :-(

      1. re: eleeper

        I do apologize in advance for steering this thread off topic to chains.. and I don't like them as much as anyone else here, but they have to publish their nutrition, so it helps when your trying to watch what you eat.

        Surprisingly, in terms of fat and carbs, boston market can be doable, the turkey is low fat and no carbs, the gravy has 0 weight watchers points, and they have roasted potatos and vegetables. I can even work in one serving of mac and cheese with the meal. And, IMO, the food is pretty decent for a chain. The downside... SODIUM.. through the roof..

        I'm still a firm believer that for steak, I'm going to Texas Road house, with Arthur's in North Brunswick a second. They don't publish their nutrition, but if you go with a steak however many ounces, and a side salad (oil and vinegar).. and maybe some veggies, or baked potato, its really not horrible. Just don't add the extra cheese, imo, their steak is great just by itself, and the extra cheese just makes it gross sometimes. I'll add the onions, but not the gravy or cheese. And ask the server to take those intoxicating rolls and butter off the table.. and avoid the appetizers. this is hard to do when dining with a group... but loosing weight is all about will power..

        I haven't been to outback in ages, but i saw on twitter from a fitness type tweeter that they have a healthy dinner of grilled chicken and veggies.. the picture she had posted looked pretty good.

        Yesterday, I was out to lunch with coworkers at red-robin, and I was sort of overwhelmed, i got the grilled chicken sandwich and had to splurge on the fries, but i found it interesting, that they will make any sandwich bunless/wrapped in lettuce, and they offer steamed broccoli or fruit salad instead of fries for no charge. Plus, they had a pretty good selection of salads which didn't seem too bad. When the meal came out, I was actually pleased that the portion of fries they put on the plates was smaller than last time, great for me. But they are bottomless, so if your friends want to keep eating them, the server will keep bringing more.

        As for lower fat items, when we cook at home, we've been buying the 93/7% chop meat for burgers/tacos, etc. It's usually more expensive ($4.99/lb) but its literally half the calories of the 85/15 stuff. We also haven't bought any butter into the house since we started weight watchers, mostly we use EVOO, or sometimes PAM. We haven't really missed the greasy burgers or the butter flavors, we are trying to use more spices and seasonings instead. My grilling skills are also getting better, so that helps. Also, we've been trying to eat london broil and grilled chicken breast. Farmers markets are way better than the supermarkets for produce (much cheaper too). And my fiancee found a pesto sauce packet that can be used for marinade, its just olive oil and this packet, then you put it in a ziplock with the meat for an hour or two. She's been going crazy for that stuff lately.