Here's the lowdown on some restaurant VBs from your pal HG!
Johnny Rockets Streamliner
PER SERVING (1 burger): 422 calories, 11g fat, 1,521mg sodium, 60g carbs, 8g fiber, 10g sugars, 26g protein -- POINTS® value 9*
What They Say: "The original meatless Boca burger with grilled onions, fresh lettuce, ripe tomato, pickle & mustard."
HG Says: Of course we're psyched that Johnny Rockets uses actual BOCA patties in their Streamliner burgers. In fact, when it comes to veggie burgers, J. Rockets may have the most impressive patty out there -- their "meaty" patties are 40% larger than the standard Bocas you find in the freezer aisle, and they each contain just 100 calories and 5g fat... plus 5g fiber! We're also thrilled that all sides (fries, onion rings, etc.) come separately, so no tempting pile of fried things will show up unless you actually order 'em. Since we know the Boca patty only accounts for 100 cals and 1g fat, we did some investigating and discovered the extra calories and fat come from a puffy bun and the oil used to grill the onions. We're guessing you could save several dozen calories and quite a few fat grams by asking for fresh onions instead of grilled ones. And make sure they don't slap any butter on your bun, like they do with most of their burger buns. As for sides, stick with a garden salad and request their fat-free Italian dressing. All in all, pretty impressive, JR!
Ruby Tuesday Veggie Burger
PER SERVING (entire platter): 1,312 calories, 65g fat, 112g net carbs, 20g fiber -- POINTS® value 31*
What They Say: "Handcrafted and topped with Swiss and garlic mayonnaise. . . . With fresh leaf lettuce, seasonal vine-ripened tomatoes and crisp pickles. . . . with fresh, hot fries."
HG Says: WHOA! This one is a huge mess! Swapping the fries for a side of green beans or broccoli would save you about 250 calories and 7g fat right there. And while Ruby T doesn't provide exact stats for the Swiss and their seasoned mayo concoction, avoiding them both would likely save you around 200 calories and 20g fat. However, even with those changes, your meal would still top out at around 860 calories and 38 fat grams. With those stats, you're better off eating something WAY more exciting than a veggie burger. Skip it! You're better off ordering from Ruby T's Smart Eating Choices section (where you can find grilled chicken, broiled tilapia, and sirloin steak for around 300 calories or less), and then building your own guilt-free platter.
Burger King BK Veggie Burger
PER SERVING (1 burger): 420 calories, 16g fat, 1,100mg sodium, 46g carbs, 7g fiber, 8g sugars, 23g protein -- POINTS® value 9*
What They Say: "The BK Veggie Burger features Morningstar Farms Garden Veggie Patties. . . topped with fresh lettuce, red ripe tomatoes, ketchup, and creamy mayo all on a sesame seed bun."
HG Says: Right off the bat, we noticed that 9 of the fat grams and EIGHTY calories come from that sizeable squirt of mayo. The patty itself (a version of the classic Morningstar Farms one, but a whopping 50% larger!) is a reasonable 170 calories with 4.5g fat, and it's cooked in a microwave, so there's no added oil. Without the mayo, the burger's not bad at all -- 340 calories, 8g fat, 7g fiber and a POINTS® value of 7*. Need another condiment? Squeeze a little mustard on it to fill the void of the missing mayo.
Chili's Guiltless Black Bean Burger
PER SERVING (entire platter): 650 calories, 12g fat, 1,940mg sodium, 96g carbs, 26g fiber, 38g protein -- POINTS® value 13*
What They Say: "Our meatless black bean patty topped with low fat Ranch, shredded lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion. Served with steamed seasonal veggies w/Parmesan cheese."
HG Says: Chili's original black bean patty is one of the best in the biz. This thing is exploding with beans, has the perfect amount of Southwest spice, and is HUGE. The patty itself has only 200 calories and 2 fat grams, plus it's loaded with TWENTY grams of fiber. Now pay very close attention, cuz what we're about to tell you may change your life. If you order your black bean patty on one of Chili's unbuttered whole-wheat buns without the ranch dressing, the whole platter'll only clock in at around 350 calories, 5g fat and a POINTS® value of 7*. The crazy Big Mouth Bun it regularly comes on has 330 calories and 6 fat grams (yes, just for the bun)! See, you learn something new every day.
Fatburger Veggie Burger
PER SERVING (1 burger): 430 calories, 12g fat, 1,180mg sodium, 45g carbs, 12g fiber, 8g sugars, 35g protein -- POINTS® value 9*
What They Say: "A Boca soy patty, built to your tastebuds and served up on a whole wheat bun."
HG Says: Talk about shocking -- what we have here is a stellar selection from a place called Fatburger. We looked into it, and these stats include mustard, relish, onions, pickles, tomato, lettuce, and mayo, and the bun itself accounts for a reasonable 180 calories and 3g fat. And our friends over at Fatburger let us know that they serve up a super-sized, 120-calorie version of the All-American Flame Grilled Boca patty (thanks, guys!). So the Boca patty plus the bun totals 300 cals and 7 fat grams (POINTS® value 6*)!!! Ditch the mayo, but indulge with other extras (they're guilt-free). We recommend rounding out your meal with a Fat Salad Wedge (70 calories, 4.5g fat, POINTS® value 1*) with some of their fat-free Italian dressing. Fatburger, YOU ROCK!!!
Veggie Burger Wrap-Up!
Tips to make ANY veggie burger more diet-friendly...
Excess calories and fat grams almost always come from creamy condiments and buttered-up buns. Request your burger bread unbuttered and without the fatty spreads, and you're likely to save tons.
A huge portion of the calories in veggie burger platters tend to come from those giant rolls they’re served on. If there's a smaller bun option, go for that. If not, why not order your yummy patty on top of a giant salad? You can even use ketchup, mustard and a little vinegar to whip up a guilt-free special-sauce dressing!
Although some restaurant veggie burgers are pretty high up there in terms of calories and fat, they are almost ALWAYS better than their beef-based counterparts. So if it's burger you crave, veggie is likely the way to go.
A side of fries may be standard, but they're known for sending nutritionals into the danger zone. If the burger automatically comes served with some, request an alternative like a side salad, fruit, or steamed veggies.
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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.
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