Thursday, June 01, 2006
Spotlight on Health - Ruby Tuesday
While I'm gearing up to start eating better and exercising more, I'd like to spotlight restaurants and eateries that make it easier to eat nutritiously.
It's so easy to bash restaurants for the things they get wrong, especially when it comes to offering healthier alternatives. Restaurants, and not just the fast food variety, often rely on fatty ingredients and large portions to satisfy their customers. I can deal with the large portions - I just take part of it home for leftovers - but trying to find something that won't clog your arteries by just reading about is much harder.
To be honest, there are times when I go out to eat where I don't care about healthful options - I want to treat myself to something that tastes fabulous and don't much care about how many calories or fat grams. There are other times, such as when we're traveling, where you need to eat out on a regular basis and really need some other options.
Anyway, instead of bashing restaurants for what they are doing wrong, I'd like to occasionally take time to point out those who are getting it right. Even if they are only getting it a little right.
Now Ruby Tuesday is certainly not the first thing (or even the last) that springs to mind when I think about eating better, but tonight I craved a salad with lots of veggies. It was an evening of baseball and Tae Kwon Do for the boys and I didn't have many fresh veggies on hand, so I decided to stop at Ruby Tuesday. I told the boys that we would be ordering water only - no sodas or other drinks. This was not only better for us, it was easier on the wallet too. That's where their healthful selections stopped - one got mac and cheese and the other got a huge, artery clogging burger. Ah well, you're only young once.
I went for the salad bar. I wish more restaurants had a good salad bar. I'm sure there are better salad bars out there, but for a chain restaurant, Ruby Tuesday's salad bar is pretty good. They offer the typical romaine lettuce, along with spinach and/or mixed greens. Today it was mixed greens. I was picking out the arugula - I love arugula. As for "add-ons", they have the usual - carrots, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, cheese, egg, etc. What makes them stand out is the other things they offer like edamame, chick peas, black beans, corn, and green peas. I love a variety of vegetable"toppings" and their variety is quite decent - I had a hard time piling them all on! They also have blue cheese crumbles, olives, pepperoncinis, mixed seeds (I spied sesame and pumpkin seeds, there were others too) and the list goes on and on.
As long as you choose wisely (skip the croutons, fried noodles and mayonnaise-laden salads) and don't drown your salad in a full-fat dressing, you can create a very nutritious and tasty meal. The dressings could be more exciting, but they aren't bad. I tried the Asian/Sesame dressing today and it was decent. According to FitDay, my salad came to about 376 calories and 21 grams of fat (7 of which were from the edamame and seeds and very few of which were saturated). Not bad for a meal out - and that doesn't even take into account the other nutritional benefits, such as 8 grams of fiber.
Ruby Tuesday also offers a lighter fare, but I've not tried anything from this menu. As for the rest of their menu, eat at your own risk. Still, there aren't many restaurants that serve up a good salad, so I appreciate that they hang on to their salad bar as an option to their customers who want to eat a little healthier.