Hopefully, when making the decision to eat out, most of us at least try to think we are going to order a "healthier" dish at our restaurant of choice. The problem is, once we actually get to the restaurant and find ourselves salivating over the highest calorie menu item; an irrational decision may take over. The good news is that many of Ahwatukee Foothills' restaurants have lots of healthier, great tasting items on their menus that you can plan to order before you even walk in the door.

Most chain restaurants have their nutritional facts posted on their websites. Before you head out the door, log on and see which menu item you will be ordering based on calories, total fat and sodium. I have already done some work for you and here are some suggestions:

Macaroni Grill: Most of us aren't coming here when on a diet, but check out the grilled chicken (390 calories, 970 mg sodium), Beef Tenderloin (410 calories, 620 mg sodium) or the King Salmon (460 calories, 430 mg sodium). Pay special attention to sodium when eating out as most dishes can exceed 2,000 milligrams, which is about a day's worth.

Pei Wei: The Honey Seared Shrimp isn't a bad choice at 230 calories and 440 mg sodium. However, you must order it "stock velveted," which means it is cooked in broth and lowers the calories. Note: This does not include the rice but be sure to order brown over white.

Mimi's Café: They have a "fresh and fit" line on their menus, which is great. Order a low-fat fitness omelette, the petite citrus salmon or broiled chicken and fruit plate and you will do just fine.

Paradise Bakery: Any restaurant with the word bakery in the title signals trouble. Skip all the sandwiches and head straight for the Small Asian Chicken Salad (300 calories, 880 mg sodium). Keep in mind that the free cookie isn't so free when you consider it's about 280 calories.

Chipotle: Breaking down one of their great burritos yields the following numbers: Tortilla is 290 calories, beans are 120 calories, chicken is 190 calories, corn salsa is 80 calories, cheese is 100 calories and sour cream is 120 calories. Total: 900 calories and a whopping 1,900 mg sodium. Skip the cheese and sour cream and go with the tomato salsa.

Michael Murphy is a registered dietitian living in Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach him at (480) 415-8803 or visit www.nutritiontoyou.com.


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