Eat by Stars eats out: Olive Garden

Eat by Stars is going out to eat!  Eating at home is the easiest way to eat
healthy and cheaply.  But, hey, eating out is fun.  So from time to time we’ll
rank foods at various restaurants.

I prefer local restaurants, but for ease of application we’ll tackle chains.  The lessons can be translated to local fare.  First up, Italian food.  Our example, Olive Garden.

Herb-Grilled Salmon

Per dinner portion:  calories 510, fat 26g, carbs 5g, protein 64g

One of the healthiest things you can find on most menus is salmon with veggies.  No exception here.  As healthy as you can get at Italian restaurants, Olive Garden included.  To find other five-star worthy entrees, look for those that come with
veggies instead of pasta.  Like the Venetian Apricot Chicken.

Bread Sticks and Salad

Per breadstick: calories 150, fat 2g, carbs 28g, protein 6g

Everyone’s favorite part of dining at this chain, Olive Garden’s breadsticks and salad serves as a solid, if not spectacular, lunch option.  Here’s the thing though, it’s hard to limit it to one stick and one plate of salad.  The all you can eat style usually makes your pants fit a little tighter.  And downing this before an entrée can have you in fat guy pants in no time.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Per dinner portion: calories 710, fat 22g, carbs 94, protein 36g

Here we have the problem with Italian dining.  The processed white pasta shoots our carbs to the moon.  Again, portion size here is everything. The lunch portion carries 160 fewer calories and 35 fewer carbs.  Get it instead.  You prefer your spaghetti with meatballs? Well….

Spaghetti with Meatballs

Per dinner serving: calories 920, fat 36g, carbs 98g, protein 50g

Amazing that switching from meat sauce to meatballs adds 210 calories and 18 grams of fat.  Bear this in mind when choosing italian fare: it’s typically better to get the protein (meat, sausage) blended in the sauce than stand alone.

Fettucine Alfredo

Per dinner portion: calories 1220, fat 75g, carbs 99g, protein 36g

Those in the dining industry call it “heart attack on a plate”.  An apt term for the very definition of a one star food.  Seriously, once a year is all.  A cream based sauce smothering a thick processed pasta.  Just brutal.  Be sure your life insurance policy is up to date before this indulgence.

I prefer to take these pics myself to show what the food actually looks like when it arrives at your table.  I haven’t been to an olive garden recently so the photos are the professional, marketing department style.  My apologies.


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