Thursday, December 6, 2012

Surviving the Chain Restaurant

In an ideal world, my restaurant meals would all be taken at quirky local places with delicious local products. Of course, that world is not the one I live in, particularly with a kid in the mix. We went tonight to one of his favorites - Red Robin.

How does a dieter survive a restaurant where the burgers routinely top 1000 calories, and even things that sound like they could be healthy - like a Caesar Chicken Wrap or a Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad - are laden with calories and fat?

One redeeming quality that a lot of big chains have is a website with nutrition information. When I plan to go to places like this, I look at the menu online and decide what to order while I have the information in front of me.

With that in mind, I ended up with a Simply Grilled chicken sandwich, with a lettuce wrap instead of a bun. (The grilled chicken breast is hiding under the tomatoes and onions.) Switching lettuce for the bun took that one down to 175 calories from an already not-too-bad 400. Also, I got cole slaw for a side instead of fries. I love fries, but if I'm going to splurge on them it's going to be someplace that has really good fries, which Red Robin's aren't. (My fries of choice in Charlotte are actually fried Tater Tots at Bad Daddy's Burger Bar.) I did sneak a fry from my son's plate - it is a widely-known fact that anything stolen off a child's plate has no calories in it.

This meal was reasonably tasty, and with the calories I saved on junky fries and squishy bread, I can have dessert tonight. (I'll be back with an update later.)

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