We're going round by round and pitting restaurant against restaurant, finding the best and worst items at some nationwide casual-dining eateries. We smell a fight, so grab your forks and knives and GET READY FOR ACTION...
Round 1: Breakfast
The Winner - Blueberry Banana Mini Fruit & Yogurt Parfait and Oatmeal at Bob Evans
PER SERVING (1 Mini Parfait and 1 bowl plain oatmeal): 350 calories, 4g fat, 459mg sodium, 71g carbs, 7g fiber, 36g sugars, 11g protein -- POINTS® value 7*
How cute is this offering from B.E.'s Fit from the Farm menu? Layers of fresh fruit and low-fat yogurt make us happy. Zazzle up the oatmeal with a no-cal sweetener packet and a little cinnamon. And for some extra protein, order a couple of hard-boiled eggs, and then just ditch the yolks -- that'll add 7g protein to your b-fast, no fat, and only around 35 calories (POINTS® value 1*). Nice!
The Loser - Spinach & Mushroom Omelette at IHOP
PER SERVING (1 order): 1,210 calories -- POINTS® value of at least 23*
Listen up, IHOP. Just 'cuz you keep your nutritionals hush-hush doesn't mean you're off the hook! We were astonished when we saw this calorie count pop up on NYC menus. Outrageous stats are expected from a steak scramble or a plate of towering french toast. But over TWELVE HUNDRED calories for an innocent-sounding veggie omelette?! What gives? Well, stuffing this egg-y concoction with Swiss cheese and drowning it in hollandaise sauce certainly didn't help. And adding PANCAKE BATTER to your omelettes is pretty sneaky. Sheesh! We'll pass!
Round 2: Appetizers
The Winner - Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail Appetizer at Red Lobster
PER SERVING (1 order with half the dipping sauce): 181 calories, 3g fat, 9.5g carbs, 1g fiber -- POINTS® value 4*
Good news, chompers! No need to share this appetizer -- the stats are so great, you can eat it all yourself! The sauce serving is large, so stick with half of it for these stats. Or skip it altogether and opt for a nice squirt of lemon -- then your shrimp starter will contain just 138 calories, 2g fat, 1g carbs, and a POINTS® value of 3*.
The Loser - Chang's Spare Ribs at P.F. Chang's
PER SERVING (1 order): 1,356 calories, 89g fat, 43g carbs, 1g fiber, 93g protein -- POINTS® value 34*
Yeah, we know this one's meant for sharing. But even if you split the thing with 2 friends -- consuming just around 2 ribs each -- you'd still be downing more than 450 calories and nearly 30g fat (POINTS® value 11*)... for an appetizer! CRAZINESS!
Round 3: Salads
The Winner - Grilled Chili-Lime Chicken Salad at Applebee's
PER SERVING (1 order): 250 calories, 6g fat, 6g fiber -- POINTS® value 5*
Sure, Applebee's likes to do the limited-information thing, only telling us a few stats for its Weight Watchers menu items, but this salad makes it hard to stay mad. We're used to ordering our salads without the cheese, but since this one has 2 types of reduced-fat cheese, we're all for it. A fresh-tasting, veggie-packed dish like this is cause for celebration. YEE-HAAA!
The Loser - Seared Sea Scallops Salad at Romano's Macaroni Grill
PER SERVING (1 order): 1,320 calories, 91g fat, 2,860mg sodium, 40g carbs, 6g fiber, 80g protein -- POINTS® value 33*
Okay... 1,320 calories and 91g fat FOR A SALAD!?! You know, Romano, you coulda added a few extra veggies to the greens. Why must you go straight for cheese, nuts, and fatty, salty meats? What makes this salad even scarier is how innocent it sounds. The 23g-of-fat dressing is actually described on the menu as "light." Eeeks!
Round 4: Main Courses
The Winner - Venetian Apricot Chicken at Olive Garden
PER SERVING (1 dinner portion): 380 calories, 4g fat, 8g fiber -- POINTS® value 7*
Ooooh, how refined does this meal sound? So elegant, a little exotic, and good for you, too (especially compared to most of the other menu items at The Garden). And we LOVE that it comes with broccoli, asparagus, and tomatoes instead of a big pile of pasta. Way to go, Olive Garden! Now if you would just tell us the stats for your whole menu, maybe we could be friends for real. Hmmmmm?
The Loser - Smokehouse Burger at Ruby Tuesday's
PER SERVING (1 burger without sides): 1,382 calories, 96g fat, 71g carbs, 6g fiber -- POINTS® value 35*
Shouldn't they give this a more appropriate name, like "Freakish Artery-Clogging Meatfest Supreme"? Blame it on the wicked combo of cheese, bacon, and "crisp" (aka deep-fried) onion straws, all piled high on a mound of beef, slathered in sugary barbecue sauce, and sandwiched between a giant bun. To avoid getting your own giant buns, steer clear of this completely. (FYI, the fries that come with the burger add an extra 359 calories and 13g fat!)
Round 5: Desserts
The Winner - Apple Pie Mini Dessert at P.F. Chang's
PER SERVING (1 order): 170 calories, 4g fat, 34g carbs, 1g fiber, 1g protein -- POINTS® value 4*
It's SO cool that P.F. Chang's is making mini-desserts. They have a whole bunch, but this Apple Pie is the most "worth it" to us. It's not huge, but it's hugely satisfying.
The Loser - Dessert Ravioli at Romano's Macaroni Grill
PER SERVING (1 order): 1,630 calories, 74g fat, 1,150mg sodium, 223g carbs, 3g fiber, 19g protein -- POINTS® value 38*
Really, Romano, you have a problem. This is an intervention. You've basically made a Snickers bar wrapped in fried pastry dough, topped it with ice cream and drizzled it with caramel. This dessert is surely delicious, however it should probably be illegal. Seriously. KNOCK IT OFF.
HG Note: Several of these restaurants do not provide certain nutritional information, such as sodium, sugars, and protein (sheesh!). All available information has been included.
Maybe it's time for a quiet night at home! Grab a copy of HG's cookbook (in stores or online) and cook up your own restaurant-style goodies (like our Baja Taco Blitz) without having to deal with other noisy customers!
CHEW ON THIS: Friday, October 24th, is Good and Plenty Day. You can eat about 24 of the candy-covered bites for 100 calories, so start chompin'.
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*The PointsPlus® and SmartPoints™ values for these products and/or recipes were calculated by Hungry Girl and are not an endorsement or approval of the product, recipe, or its manufacturer or developer by Weight Watchers International, Inc., the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark and SmartPoints™ trademark.
SmartPoints™ value not what you expected?Click here for more info on how the values are calculated, plus more FAQs about PointsPlus® and SmartPoints™ values on our website.