Monday, July 9, 2012

Eating Low-Cal, In the Neighborhood

Mr. Light and I have been itching to try Applebee's 550 and under menu, so we thought yesterday after church would be an appropriate time to try it out!
A tip for eating at restaurants that I can't stress enough is to go in knowing what you want to eat. So many chains have their nutrition information and menus listed online, which it makes it really easy! (You can find the Applebee's info in a pdf here.) Since JD and I knew we were going 550 and under, we hadn't really looked at the information beforehand, but I wanted to know exactly what my meal was clocking in at, so I ended up downloading the pdf onto my phone. I love smart phones!
Looking at the menu, I knew almost instantly that I wanted to try the Grilled Dijon Chicken and Portabellos, which only cost me 470 kcal, sides and all! JD opted for the Roasted Garlic Sirloin, which was only 450 kcal.

As we sat waiting for our food, we looked up the items that used to be among our favorites. For me, I usually opted for the Chicken Fajita Rollup. Where this gem is delicious, I found out yesterday that it is 1040 kcal alone. That doesn't even include the fries, which is another 390! And you better believe, I almost always ate it all. That's 1430 kcal in one meal. It wasn't long ago where that number would have been my entire day's allotment of calories. Ironically, someone at the table next to us had ordered my old favorite, and as I watched the waitress approach their table, I couldn't help but notice how huge the wrap was...along with one of the biggest baked potatoes I have seen in a long time! So naturally, when our plates arrived, my first thought was, "where is all the food?" The portions seemed so little, comparatively. Fortunately, my next thought was that it wasn't the lack of food as much as the over-abundance of plate. But when I gave myself a moment to remember that I don't need the food to cover the plate, and that there was plenty for me to eat, I dove in, feeling really good about my choice.
I had already eaten some chicken, here o_O
And you know what? It was delicious! It was just the right amount of food for me (JD said he was still hungry, but that makes sense. Being a male, his body needs to process much more than my own, and my piece of chicken was marginally bigger than his steak). And I still had some calories for dessert when I got home!

I definitely suggest trying one of these 550 and under dishes. If you aren't sure it will be enough to fill you, I suggest ordering a bowl of chicken tortilla soup on the side for only an extra 160 kcal. That still keeps your meal at a caloric input you can feel good about!

I have a lot of respect for Applebee's for offering such responsible foods in responsible portions, which can be really hard to find at most restaurants.

Have you tried any of Applebee's 550 and under meals? If so, what did you think?
Have you found any other restaurants that make responsible food choices easy and worthwhile? I'd love to hear about more options! Leave your tips and thoughts in the comments.

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