No one expects a place with "cheesecake" in its name to be a low-calorie establishment. But like most restaurants, there are plenty of great choices at The Cheesecake Factory, as well as some truly horrifying ones! Look what we found...
Caution: Heavy Appetizers
Seemingly innocent apps with some surprising stats...
Thai Lettuce Wraps PER ORDER (serves 2 - 4): 1,025 calories, 6g saturated fat, 2,347mg sodium, 114g carbs
This is basically a moveable buffet of calorie-packed insanity. Don't let the lettuce fool you. If you've gotta have it (or if someone else orders it), avoid the noodles and the sauces -- then request a side of the low-cal sesame soy dressing as a sauce swap (only 13 cals per tablespoon!).
Fire-Roasted Fresh Artichoke PER ORDER (serves 2 - 4): 1,028 calories, 13g saturated fat, 787mg sodium, 62g carbs
No veggie app should be this high in calories. It's served with a creamy dipping sauce and an oily dressing. ACK! If you do get this, request it oil-free and get salsa or low-cal dressing on the side for dipping.
HOORAY for no-guilt nibbles...
Ahi Carpaccio PER ORDER (serves 2): 260 calories, 2g saturated fat, 1,223mg sodium, 11g carbs
Mmmmm... This is decadent and guilt-free at the same time. WE LOVE TUNA!
Edamame PER ORDER (serves 2 - 4): 323 calories, 0g saturated fat, 1,261mg sodium, 31g carbs
Simple and to the point. This is a nice, light, and delicious way to take the edge off your hunger while waiting for the main event.
Chicken Pot Stickers PER ORDER (serves 2 - 4): 377 calories, 2g saturated fat, 2,341mg sodium, 43g carbs
If you crave an Asian-style first course, this is a great way to go. It may be pan-fried, but it still has hundreds fewer calories than those slim-sounding Shrimp Summer Rolls.
Fresh Vegetable Salad PER ORDER (1 appetizer salad): 275 calories, 6g saturated fat, 515mg sodium, 30g carbs
This crazy-delicious chopped salad includes apple chunks, edamame, and a slew of other veggies, plus a pomegranate vinaigrette. Add chicken for 115 calories. Fun, fun, fun!
HG TIP! Mix 'n match those smart starters, along with a no-guilt side or two, for some delicious meal options!
Fear Factory Entrées
If you're not sitting down already, you might want to brace yourself. These only SEEM guilt-free...
What?! This sounds great. It's chicken, it's grilled, and it's marinated in basic balsamic with five types of veggies. Sure it has rice, too, but over 1,400 calories?! This entrée's for the birds. (Would that make them cannibals? Oh, never mind.)
This freaks us out, because it's SO something that we'd order if we weren't aware of the stats. Whether it's the wacky wasabi "crust," that miso sauce, or some hidden element we're not even aware of, a 1,750-calorie price tag is NOT OK.
We know, we know. Nobody really wants to order the "Weight Management" ANYTHING. (CF, change that name, for Pete's sake... SHEESH!) Still, we say it's worth swallowing your pride for a brief moment if it means NOT swallowing a cool 1,000 calories for some other entrée. This dinner is "garnished" with rice and asparagus and topped with a little tomatoes-'n-arugula salad. Cute!
Fresh Grilled Mahi Mahi PER SERVING (1 entrée, not including sides): 466 calories, 5g saturated fat, 394mg sodium, 3g carbs
This is a totally respectable dinner you can get without feeling like you're ordering something too diet-y. Choose a couple of smart sides and enjoy. Yay!
One "Weight Management" item on our lineup is enough. This salad is actually lower in calories than ANY of the WM salads, plus it has delicious albacore that's lightly seared (so if you fear fully raw fish, no worries) as well as avocado and a wasabi vinaigrette. Yum!
HG TIP! There are lots of grilled chicken salads on the menu -- with mango and peppers, with black beans and corn, etc. And with a little special ordering, they can all become really good choices. Just avoid fatty and fried toppers (croutons, wontons... basically anything that ends with TONS), and trade the standard dressings for low-calorie ones (there are a bunch). Yay!
Something on the Side
These individually ordered side dishes are twice as large as those that come alongside an entrée. We love them!
HG TIP! Avoid the following side orders at ALL costs: Mashed Potatoes (564 calories!), French Fries (689 calories!!), and Macaroni & Cheese (1,309 calories!!!).
Dessert: The O'Really?! Factor
Alright, we KNOW it's called The CHEESECAKE Factory. But some of the not-so-sweet stats are crazy enough to send you screaming into the glass display case...
Adam's Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake PER SERVING (1 slice): 1,326 calories, 40g saturated fat, 700mg sodium, 136g carbs
Yikes. This thing put the FAT in "Factory." (Yup, it's in there.) And in case you're wondering, even a slice of the Low Carb Original Cheesecake with Fresh Strawberries has 602 calories and 28g saturated fat, and a slice of the basic Original has 707 calories and 29g saturated fat. So chew wisely.
Just because you don't want to spend freakish amounts of calories on dessert, that doesn't mean there's nothing here for you...
Goblet of Fresh Strawberries PER SERVING (1 goblet): 108 calories, 2g saturated fat, 0mg sodium, 15g carbs
It comes in a goblet! How fancy! And there's whipped cream on the side, so it isn't TOTALLY non-indulgent. If you're out with pals and feel like splurging a little more, also order the Dish of Ice Cream: a generous bowl of vanilla, coffee, or chocolate ice cream topped off with a little whipped cream (277 - 333 calories). That's one of the ONLY other desserts with less than 800 calories!
The Nutritionals 411! The stats here come from The Cheesecake Factory's official Nutritional Guide, displayed where disclosure's required. Click here to download a copy.
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