Consistent with most chain restaurants, Applebee's offers many delicious items on their menu, some of which are healthy and some of which are not. Using a keen eye and a few strategies, healthier dishes can be found on the menu.
Better for You Menu Items
Applebee's has a host of healthier options that still provide a delicious dining experience without derailing your health goals.
- Cedar Grilled Lemon Chicken: Served over a cranberry-pecan rice and quinoa bed, this chicken dish is a light and healthy choice at Applebee's. The Cedar Grilled Lemon Chicken provides 580 calories, 48 grams of carbohydrate, 5 grams of fiber, and 42 grams of protein. The pairing of rice and quinoa creates a great whole grain option.
- Pepper-Crusted Sirloin & Whole Grains: The piece of beef is one of the healthier items on the menu. This dish contains 380 calories, 38 grams of carbohydrate, 6 grams of fiber, only 7 grams of sugar, and 30 grams of protein. Make this meal your red meat consumption for the week for a low calorie dose of protein and iron.
- Thai Shrimp Salad: While salads are usually thought as a healthy choice when dining out, that isn't always the case. However, the Thai Shimp Salad provides some excellent nutrition, making it a healthy choice at Applebee's. This salad contains only 400 calories, 31 grams of carbohydrate, 8 grams of fiber, and 25 grams of protein. The combination of fiber and protein will help keep you full after this meal. However, use caution with the dressing as it can pack on calories, unhealthy fats, and sugar.
- Cedar Salmon with Maple Glaze Mustard: This meal contains 540 calories, 38 grams of protein, 28 grams of carbohydrates, and 23 grams of healthy fats. Salmon is a great choice for a dinner entrée, as the American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish such as salmon at least twice a week for its heart health benefits. One drawback to this dish is a high sodium content of 1,730 milligrams. Therefore, be sure to monitor your sodium intake for the remainder of the day.
- Shrimp Wonton Stir-Fry: Loaded with colorful vegetables and stir-fried shrimp, this meal boasts some excellent nutrition qualities. The Shrimp Wonton Stir-Fry provides 630 calories, 98 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, and 26 grams of protein. However, because this dish uses a sweet and spicy dumpling sauce, it is quite high in sodium (2,460 milligrams). When ordering, ask if the cook can go easy on the sauce or omit it all together.
Building a Healthy Meal at Applebee's
If the above dishes don't appeal to you, there are many other ways to build a healthy meal at any restaurant, including Applebee's. Adding a few simple strategies to your tool box will save calories, sugar, sodium, and maybe even some money.
Focus on the Good Stuff
When choosing a dish, focus on the nutrients that you will benefit from eating. These should include a source of lean protein, colorful vegetables, and possibly a healthy carbohydrate from a whole grain source. If you center your order on a protein and vegetables, it is much easier to build a meal around those and avoid heavier dishes.
Watch the Extras
There are many sneaky ways calories, sugar, sodium, and unhealthy fats can be added to a meal. Although sometimes these taste good, they can be detrimental to health goals. These include:
- Fried foods: Dishes that are fried are much higher in calories and unhealthy fats. Avoid these dishes if possible. Additionally, if you are looking at a menu item that comes with a fried meat, such as the Crispy Chicken 'n Cornbread Salad, request grilled chicken instead of fried.
- Sides: Avoid fries and other less healthy options by doubling up on things like grilled vegetables and green beans, both of which are available at Applebee's. Choosing vegetables for your side dishes is a great way to increase the vitamins, minerals, and fiber you are eating and will make the meal a little lighter.
- Sandwich ingredients: Applebee's has a number of tasty sandwiches on their menu. You can indulge, but hold the calorie-laden mayonnaise and only eat half the bread. Alternately, opt for a sandwich that is wrapped in a tortilla rather than served on a large bun. While the default side for sandwiches is fries, request a veggie instead.
- Dressings: Be cautious when ordering salads and ask for dressing on the side. Additionally, a healthier option is substituting the dressing for olive oil or balsamic vinegar (or both).
- Sauces: Any dish with a sauce will likely be high in sodium and sugar. Ask the server if it is possible to hold the sauce, put it on the side, or used a reduced amount. If not, ask if they can substitute the sauce for a lower sodium option.
- Liquid calories: Soda, juice, and alcohol with a meal add on additional calories and sugar. Try to only drink water while dining out. It will help for your health and wallet.
Take it To-Go
Applebee's is notorious for large portions. An excellent strategy is to cut your meal in half. Either split your meal with a dining companion or eat half at the restaurant and take the other half home for another meal. This practice is especially beneficial when splurging and going for a not so healthy meal.
Healthy Eating at Applebee's
Eating out doesn't have to overturn your diet or health goals. There are many ways to eat healthier at restaurants. This can be by choosing some better-for-you dishes or enlisting strategies to eliminate some unwanted ingredients.