There’s no question that the foods you eat go far in determining how quickly you’ll meet your fitness goals. And if you’re eating a number of your meals out at restaurants, you’re going to want to keep reading because the average restaurant meal contains more than 1,200 calories.
Most people have no idea just how fattening restaurant food is. In fact, the following information may shock you. Here, in no particular order, are 5 of the most fattening restaurant dishes along with tips that I’ve included to equip you in making lighter, healthier versions of these dishes at home.
Food #1: Cobb Salad
Cobb salads are loaded with cheese, bacon, egg, and topped with a creamy dressing. Sure, you’re eating a salad, but that salad is likely to contain more calories than a burger.
At-Home Version: Making a lighter Cobb Salad at home is easy and quick. Start with a dark lettuce, like spinach or arugula, to get the most nutritional value. Top it with hardboiled egg whites, baked turkey bacon, light cheese, toss in some extra veggies, avocado and drizzle lemon juice and vinegar for dressing. This at-home version has dramatically lower calories while still providing you with a satisfying, tasty dish.
Food #2: Spinach Artichoke Dip
When it comes to appetizers, spinach dip is filled with veggies, so its calorie content is often underestimated. Don’t be fooled: just half a cup of this creamy dip will set you back about 350 calories. And if you finish the bowl yourself, you’ve just taken in 1,000 calories in dip alone, not to mention the chips or pita bread you scooped it with.
At-Home Version: That delicious creamy spinach flavor can be recreated at home by using low-fat milk, spinach, a tad of olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. A quick Google search for ‘light creamed spinach recipe’ will give you plenty of recipe options that are much lower in fat and calories than the restaurant version.
Food #3: Chicken Tenders
Fried chicken (or anything fried) from a restaurant is going to be loaded with more fat and calories than you’d believe. Even a serving on the kid’s menu will tip the scales at over 800 calories.
At-Home Version: Making faux fried chicken at home is easy and surprisingly delicious. Whip up a few eggs with some Dijon mustard, garlic powder and onion powder. Dip your skinless, boneless chicken tenders in the mixture and then coat with almond flour, thyme, paprika and salt. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes or until no longer pink, flipping once halfway through. Turn on the broiler for the last couple of minutes to make it nice and crispy.
This at-home version will save you hundreds of calories that would have ended up around your waist.
Food #4: Sliders
Sliders are so small, there’s no harm in enjoying a couple of, right? Wrong. Despite their petite package, enjoy a couple sliders and you’ll have taken in more than 1,000 calories.
At-Home Version: The biggest problems with the restaurant slider are its fatty meat content and the refined-carbohydrate bun. So at home you can remedy these two issues. 1) Use lean, ground turkey to create petite patties. Use your grill pan to cook them with minimal oil. 2) Instead of the carbohydrate-filled bun, use large pieces of butter lettuce to wrap around your patties. Add sliced tomato, low fat cheese and grilled onion and secure the whole thing with a toothpick. These at-home sliders are guilt-free!
Food #5: Pasta
Eating a pasta-based dish at a restaurant is weight-loss suicide. There’s no way to escape all those carbohydrate calories unscathed. The 1,000+ calories found in the noodles alone (not to mention the sauce) will quickly end up stored on your body as fat.
At-Home Version: There are two really easy and guilt-free ways to mimic pasta noodles at home. 1) Bake a spaghetti squash until tender, then scoop out the soft, angel hair-like strands and top with your healthy pasta sauce. 2) Using a vegetable peeler, create long strips of zucchini and top with your healthy pasta sauce.
Cooking more of your meals at home and using the tips above will save you many hidden calories and goes hand-in-hand with regular, challenging workouts in seeing you to your fitness goal.