10 Best New "Light" Restaurant Meals

Things aren’t always as they seem, and that can be disastrous when it comes to eating out and our health. The truth is, many of us believe we are eating much earlier than we actually are, ordering salads and grilled chicken sandwiches when we’re out to eat, having no idea our “healthy” meal contains 1,000 calories or more. Sometimes it’s the dressings, or the secret oil and butter our food is prepared in, and other times it’s the shear size of the dish. Portion sizes are getting bigger, which may be good for our wallets, but not so much for our waistlines.

Thankfully, fast-food chains and restaurants are moving in the right direction, offering healthier fares to newly introduced “light menus.” If you’re someone who eats out at least once a week, switching to one of these lighter options can help you lose 10-20 pounds a year! More restaurants are joining in, not wanting to lose the health-conscious customers – even the big boys, The Cheesecake Factory and T.G.I. Fridays!

So stop kidding yourself with those grilled chicken sandwiches and salads loaded with dressing and cheese, and order one of Eat This, Not That’s Best New Restaurant Meals:

#1: Best new food at T.G.I. Friday’s

Black Angus Sirloin Japanese Hibachi Skewers – 660 calories, 22g fat, 1,690mg sodium. The popular chain restaurant introduced a ‘Right Portion, Right Price’ menu, full of modest portions under 750 calories. This is considered the best new food, and is certainly one of the healthies, making it a great subsitute for its Jack Daniels Ribs with 1,640 calories and 66 grams of fat. Just make sure you don’t order the regular Hibachi Skewers which have more than 1,500 calories!

#2: Best new food at Starbucks

Chicken and Hummus Bistro Box – 270 calories, 8g fat, 520mg sodium. Thank-you Starbucks! A delicious high-protein, low-fat lunch that you can feel good about eating…even paried with a skinny latte! The coffee-chain known for it’s over-the-top drink conconctions and pastries introduced a new line of bistro boxes – nutritious food packages of chicken, salsa, hummus, and cheeses. Definitely your best bet over those 400-calorie-plus muffins!

#3: Best new food at Carl’s Jr.

Teriyaki Turkey  Burger – 470 calories, 14 g fat, 1120mg sodium. Carl Jr’s lightened up with a new line of turkey burgers that actually taste good and don’t leave you wanting more. All the burgers have less than 500 calories, and that’s including toppings like guacamole, mayonnaise, pineapples and teriyaki sauce! The burger joint’s regular teriyaki burger has over 600 calories and nearly 30 grams of fat – so don’t get the two confused.

#4: Best new food at IHOP

Simple & Fit Spinach, Mushroom & Tomato Omelette with Fresh Fruit – 330 calories, 12 grams of fat, 690 mg sodium. You can finally go to IHOP and not have to chose between a fat-loaded meat and eggs dish or a carb-heavy pancakes or frenchtoast disaster. For the classic veggie omelette, IHOP managed to slash two-thirds of the calories and 21.5 grams of saturated fat with its Simple & Fit version (the regular Spinach & Mushroom Omelette has 990 calories and 70 grams of fat!).

#5 Best new food at Cosi

Lighter Side Chicken Tandoori Sandwich – 376 calories, 3 g fat, 889mg sodium. Cosi is one of those places where you think you’re eating healthy because it’s a soup and sandwich place, but some of the grilled chicken sandwiches have 700 calories and are loaded with saturated fats. Cosi’s new The Lighter Side menu helps clear up the confusion.

#6 Best new food at Denny’s

Fit Slam (egg whites scrambled with spinach and tomatoes, turkey bacon, English muffin, and fruit) – 390 calories, 12 grams fat, 850mg sodium. Denny’s has come a loooong way from their 1500-calorie Grand Slams. The new Fit Fare menu introduces breakfast, lunch and dinner items all with fewer than 550 calories, more than 20 grams of protein, more than 8 grams of fiber, and less than 15 grams of fat. Impressive!

#7 Best new food at McDonald’s

McDonald’s McNugget Happy Meal with mini-fries, apples, and low-fat milk – 410 calories, 19 g fat, 560 mg sodium. Starting in September, the fast food chain will reduce calories and fat in their kids meals by replacing half the french fries with fresh apples. That cuts about 100 calories per Happy Meal.

#8 Best new food at Cheesecake Factory

SkinnyLicious Petite Grilled Beef Tenderloin – 585 calories, 38g fat, 951mg sodium. The restaurant known for it’s never ending menu and caloric monstrocities has introduced the new SkinnyLicious menu, offering more than 40 items with fewer than 600 calories. They even have skinny coctails now! The lighter menu offers a lot of the same entrees, just smaller and healthier. The original Petite Filet has almost twice the calories, sodium, and fat.

#9 Best new food at Applebee’s

Asiago Peppercorn Steak with herb potatoes and seasonal vegetables – 380 calories, 14 g fat, 1520mg sodium. You don’t need a huge 12-oz New York strip to satisfy your a meat craving. This is right on track! Applebee’s Under 550 Calories menu is one of the originial light chain menus, and it’s still one of the best! It may not offer as many options, but sometimes less is more!

#10 Best new food at Ruby Tuesday

Barbecue Grilled Chicken with white cheddar mashed potatoes and broccoli – 591 calories, 23g fat, 1658 mg sodium. Gone are the days of grilled chicken actually being a healthy choice at a restaurant, unless it’s on the specified “light” menu. The chain’s Fresh Grilled Chicken Sandwich has nearly 900 calories! Thankfully, Ruby Tuesday’s introduced a Fit & Trim line that features items with fewer than 700 calories, and dishes like sirloin, shrimp scampi and thsi barbecue chicken, which is just about as lean as anything you’d make at home!

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