- Ilana Muhlstein, a nutritionist, reviewed the Applebee’s menu for Insider.
- She avoided fried foods and made menu choices that included vegetables and protein.
- He also said he avoids high-fat or high-sugar menu items, such as quesadilla burgers.
Chain restaurants offer sit-down or to-go meals, and if you want to eat in, you can find healthy food options on the menu if you’re looking for them, says nutritionist Ilana Mulstein.
Muhlstein reviewed the Applebee’s menu for Insider and shared three healthy menu items to recommend to customers and three things to avoid ordering from.
The nutritionist said to stay away from fried foods and instead eat foods like tomato basil soup and Caesar salad because they contain vegetables and protein and are low in fat.
Skip the fried snacks
When it comes to healthy menu choices, it’s best to skip the fried snacks, says Muhlstein. According to him, fried foods add fat and cause heart disease. Fried foods are often loaded with refined carbohydrates, such as white flour, which increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, Healthline reports.
“If you’re going to eat fried food, it’s one thing if you’re going to eat a handful of fries, but starting a meal with deep-fried food is not a good entry strategy,” he said.
Instead, Muhlstein says in the “Toppings” section, tomato basil soup is a great starter because it contains vegetables, fiber and protein. She says French onion soup is another good option because it’s high in protein, with 16 grams of protein per serving. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends 5.5 ounces or about 155 grams of protein per day for the average person. But she says the dish is high in cheese, which adds up to 22 grams of fat per serving, 10 grams more than tomato basil soup. The recommended daily allowance of fat for a 2,000-calorie diet is about 67 grams per day. If you’re going to have a high-fat meal, you can skip this one, the nutritionist said.
According to Mulstein, it’s best to stay away from breadsticks with Alfredo sauce, which have 1,570 calories and 95 grams of fat per serving.
Because of their high fat and calorie content, breadsticks are made from white bread, which means they have less fiber than whole wheat bread, she said.
Stick to “straight” protein and vegetables for nutrition
Mulstein suggested deep-fried vegetables and protein for the meal.
She says a Caesar salad with blackened shrimp or grilled chicken is a good choice because it contains vegetables, protein and fewer calories than other options. Muhlstein said if you order a side salad with lemon, you can squeeze the lemon into the salad for flavor and it’s half the size of the dressing, which cuts out 21 grams of fat and 200 calories.
The dietitian also recommended grilled chicken, blackened Cajun salmon, and 6-ounce or 8-ounce top sirloin because they are not fried and contain vegetables. A side of steamed broccoli is an especially good source of fiber with 2 grams per serving, she said. According to the Mayo Clinic, people should eat 21 to 38 grams of fiber per day.
Muhlstein said to avoid the quesadilla burger, which he called “junk.” An entree contains 40 grams of saturated fat, while the American Heart Association recommends only 13 grams of saturated fat per day. The entree is also 1,620 calories, a large portion of the 2,000-calorie diet.
Look for smaller portions for dessert
For dessert, Mulstein said she liked the brownie bites because of their smaller serving size, which is 330 calories compared to the 1,420 calorie blue ribbon brownie. She said more restaurants should include dessert options of the same size.
Muhlstein said to avoid one of the new menu items: sugar-dusted donuts. She says this meal contains more than a day’s worth of saturated fat and 40 teaspoons of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar per day for men and no more than 6 teaspoons for women.
Mulstein called it “one of the worst things on the menu.”