Archive for the ‘ Restaurant ’ Category

Applebees Update: Let There be Nutritional Information

So, I’m pretty sure that everyone has been to a chain restaurant at some point in their lives. I know I’ve been to a few, and some are more of a reliable standby then others. One such, is Applebees. The food and prices there are both good and consistent. Their menu is varied enough that I can usually always find something I want to eat. On top of that, they even have several menus items with Weight Watchers points listed. Now if that isn’t helpful on a diet, I don’t know what is.

Well, as kind as they are about having Weight Watchers menu items, they have usually been less forthcoming with the nutritional information on other items on their menu. One such area that this was particularly annoying with was their “Under 550 Calorie” menu. It’s a great marketing ploy, and nice to have healthier options on a menu, but as any dieter knows, their is a lot more to nutrition then a calorie number. Weight Watchers specifically also looks for fat, and fiber.

Well, what started this whole spiel is that while recently on another site, Eat This Not That, one of the under 550 items was listed as a healthier alternative, and had nutritional information listed. Well, skipping over to Applebees‘ site, low an behold, there was a nutritional information section for all of the menu items. Hooray, no more guess work!

So, as a celebration, here is a nice clean breakdown of the Weight Watchers information for Applebees’ Under 550 Calorie menu:

Food Calories Fat Fiber Points
Asiago Peppercorn Steak 390 14 5 8
Asian Crunch Salad 490 9 7 10
Grilled Dijon Chicken & Portabellos 450 16 6 10
Grilled Shrimp & Island Rice 380 4.5 6 7
Spicy Shrimp Diavalo 500 10 12 10

Subway: Free Sandwich Fail

So, I feel that it’s pretty established by now that I am a common patron of Jared’s favorite haunt: Subway. Well, as such, I am one of those people that keeps one of their cards on me to rack up points for the occasional free sandwich. Makes sense to me. The only skin off my back is having to remember to hand them the stupid thing before paying for my sub.

So, a little while back, I had a hankering for a roast beef sub. Not unheard of, and we were heading to Subway anyways as it is in the same complex that my roommate and I do our grocery shopping. I had remembered from my last visit that they had pointed out that I had accumulated enough points for a free 6-inch sub. Perfect. I went into subway, ordered my sub, handed them my card…and guess what?

Apparently roast beef is a Premium sub, and you can only use the free deals on things that are on the five-dollar-foot-long side of the fence. So lame. So, here is the cautionary tale of there always being a catch…at least the sub was tasty though, but it could have done with some of that special sauce called free sandwich.

Subway: A New and Improved Website?

Lately, a week can’t go by that I don’t write some post about Subway. Some are good, some are bad, some are simply informative. This is an interesting note, especially after my call for more transparency on Subway’s main website.

After a friend had suggested that I try Subway’s new Orchard Chicken Salad sub, I decided to see what kind of nutrition Subway was toting with what, in my mind, could never be that good for you. Well, after a brief struggle at Subway.com, looking in the nutrition and menu section for information about this sandwich, I was redirected to a whole new site: SubwayFreshBuzz.com.

Now this was interesting. Instead of fixing their original site, it looks as if Subway simply redesigned it at another URL. Well, I must say that I was able to find my information here, and then some. This site has some serious chops compared to the old site.

To start, the UI is much better, looking to have climbed out of the 90’s, and early 2000 website style previously sported by Subway. Now we have some good features on the site.

Of course my first stop was the menu/nutrition tab. Along the right side of the page are expandable sections of Subway’s menu. Click on an item, and in the left and center area, you get a nice picture of the item, and a description. What is that right below? Nutritional Information? Don’t mind if I do! Click on this button, and you get a nice clean breakdown of your sandwich’s “stats”.

Now, you know how I asked for transparency? Well, opening up the nutritional information triggers the “your build” button to be revealed. Click on this, and the picture is replaced by an ingredient selector. This serves a two-fold purpose. First, it gives a clean representation of what comes on the sandwich with the nutritional information provided. Second, its dynamic so as you customize your sandwich, the nutritional information changes to reflect your ingredients.

Now that’s what I’m talking about Subway! You have officially one me over with your new site. Now an OCD eater like me can figure out even more accurately what I’m taking in at my favorite sub shop. You have restored my faith with your new website, and smart design.

With these new tools in hand, I was able to calculate the point-age of the orchard chicken without further struggle. It joins the Sweet Onion Chicken Terriyaki as a 7 point 6 inch sub on the menu. Not bad, and definitely worth a try in my mind. Thanks Subway!

Restaurant Review: Hanover St. Subway in Manchester

So, most weekends when I am not off and about in other sections of the state, I end up going to Subway at least once. This isn’t completely my fault, instead I blame my roommate as he considers himself a sort of Subway aficionado. Yeah, he really does…

Still, I can’t complain. Considering this isn’t the only post I’ve ever written about the sub chain, I would be lying to say that I don’t enjoy me a $5 foot-long on occasion. Well, due to the combined proximity to our apartment, and the grocery store, we end up most often at the Subway located at 881 Hanover St. in Manchester, NH.

Now this is not your standard Subway, but is instead a privately owned Subway. The owner is a friendly Indian man who also owns a secondary location in Merrimack, NH across from the post office. We see him in the Hanover Subway almost every weekend, to the point where he recognizes us now.

So, besides the fact that the subs here are consistently good (always fresh, and well made) this Subway keeps some of those menu items that disappear from other Subways that are part of the main chain. For instance, I can go in here, and get one of my favorite subs: the pastrami. Hopefully I don’t need to go into detail about the virtues of Pastrami as they should be well known, but I was devastated when it was struck from the normal menu at Subways.

Thanks to great quality, and knowing what their customers want, I have to give it to the Hanover St. Subway in Manchester as one of my favorites of the chain.

Deception at Subway: Nutrition Discrepancy?

So, I am a big fan of Subway, and love that they offer some Weight Watcher’s friendly menu items on their 6 grams of fat or less menu. Previously I wrote a post breaking down the point values of Jared’s menu items, and happily continued on my way. Just wanted to get that out there before I start the bashing.

Well recently, I was wondering what some of the nutritional values might be if I mixed it up a little. You know, be a rogue and have a flatbread instead of Jared’s standard wheat. Off I went to Subway’s helpful nutrition page to convert the numbers to a point value, when I discovered some shady, and misleading information.

Let’s talk numbers.  To start, we’ll begin with the basics: the nutrition for a sandwich as a 6 Grams of Fat or Less, and as a flatbread.

6″ Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki

Flatbread Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki

Calories

380

410

Fat

4.5 g

7 g

Fiber

5 g

3 g

Points

7

8

Ok, so there’s just a little difference here, so lets see where it comes from. We’ll look at the bread used.

6” 9-Grain Wheat Bread

Flatbread

Calories

210

240

Fat

2 g

5 g

Fiber

4 g

2 g

So, here is what we can take away. The difference in the breads account for the differences in the sandwiches almost exactly. Aka the only difference is the bread. But wait, there’s more! Jump now to Subway’s note at the bottom of the page:

Subs with 6 grams of fat or less include 9-Grain Wheat bread, lettuce tomatoes, onions, and green peppers. All other sandwich values include cheese unless otherwise noted” – Subway

So wait, this means that my flatbread has cheese on it right? What is this mysterious calorie and fat free cheese that Subway has discovered to make this possible? Well, it all depends on what they mean by “otherwise noted”.

Jumping over to the Sandwich Components section of their site, we can see what actually should go into a Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki:

Teriyaki glazed chicken strips, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, green peppers, olives, and sweet onion sauce” – Subway

Ok, so this type of sub isn’t inherently made with cheese. I didn’t know that, Subway employees usually assume you want cheese anyways, and the nutrition page is misleading on what is supposed to contain cheese. Still, there are other problems even if we accept that the cheese not being part of the sub has been “otherwise noted”.

The sandwich description says that the sub comes with “olives and sweet onion sauce” in addition to the items that the nutrition page says makes up the 6 grams of fat or less subs. Now I’ll give them the olives, they hardly make a difference, but sweet onion sauce, although fat free, is not calorie free. So, should I assume that Jared’s version and the flatbread come with sauce, or that neither do?

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that Subway offers some nice options for the health conscious fast-food-goer, but still, a little transparency would be nice. For now, I say screw it, let there be cheese and sauce for all!!! Muahahahaha!!!

And as a parting shot:

6″ Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki

Flatbread Sweet Onion Chicken Terriyaki

Calories

380

410

Fat

4.5 g

7 g

Fiber

5 g

3 g

Points

7

8

Weight Watchers Goes Out: Taco Bell Fresco Decoded

Oh chain restaurants, how America loves thee. Still, I’m not here to trash them. I won’t lie, I enjoy going out to them, and even rocked some Taco Bell last evening for dinner.

Taco Bell is still a novelty too me, so I’m almost always good to go there. Growing up, the nearest “Big” town had the classic three: McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s. I was always a big Wendy’s guy, but now I favor BK, and the Wendy’s is getting replaced by a DQ…I digress. What I’m really here to talk about is how to stay on the Weight Watchers wagon at a place like Taco Bell. Luckily, Taco Bell has joined the health craze with their Fresco Diet Menu.

Weight Watcher’s Points for Fresco Menu

  • Fresco Bean Burrito: 7 Points
  • Fresco Burrito Supreme – Chicken: 7 Points
  • Fresco Burrito Supreme – Steak: 6 Points
  • Fresco Crunchy Taco: 3 Points
  • Fresco Grilled Steak Soft Taco: 3 Points
  • Fresco Ranchero Chicken Soft Taco: 3 Points
  • Fresco Soft Taco: 4 Points

So there you have it: nothing on the Fresco Menu is particularly crippling, and you can actually fair better than at some of the Bell’s competitors. Still, the key here is that when you start combining items, you can lose that fiber bonus as most of these items are loaded fiber already. The Bean Burrito alone boasts 11g of the stuff. Mmmmm fiber. Still, walk away with a burrito, and a chicken soft taco, and you’re doing pretty well for a trip to the fast food place. I know where to go when I want to be bad and good at the same time now.

McDonalds.com Gets a Face-Lift

Fast food chains are now a part of every persons life. Whether you eat at them regularly, count how many you see on your ride to work, or simply marvel at how different ones pop up across the street from others, we all know about fast food restaurants.

Personally when I’m following my diet, I avoid fast food, and only indulge on particular days. Even then, I usually am a Burger King, or Taco Bell guy. Still, sometimes I do end up under the golden arches, and have often been curious about what, nutritionally, is really going in my gut. For a long time, getting this information from McDonald’s was a chore. There nutritional info was in one large, cumbersome, and frankly, hard to read spreadsheet/pdf thingy. (Yes I described it as a thingy)

Well to normal patrons, and dieters sheer, they have updated their site. The new MacDonalds.com allows for easier searching of their food, with easy to find, read, and customize nutritional information. How many calories do you save from the standard Big Mac without the special sauce? Uncheck the box in the nutrition, and it will tell you!

Now, I still don’t recommend McDonald’s to dieters. It’s like willing walking into a minefield with the difficulty set to high. Still, I give it to McDonald’s for helping us out by at least making it easier for us to find out how many laps we should run after a meal.