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Daily Grill joins growing restaurant trend with lower-calorie menu items

January 12, 2012|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • The Daily Grill's salmon burger is part of the restaurant's new lower-calorie menu and comes in at 554 calories.
The Daily Grill's salmon burger is part of the restaurant's… (Daily Grill )

Staying on a diet while eating out is getting easier as more restaurant chains offer menu items that don't break the calorie bank. The newest entrant is the Daily Grill, which just debuted its Simply 600 menu.

The lunch and dinner items, which are 600 calories or less, include a blackened ahi tuna salad (319 calories), a pan-seared salmon burger (554 calories), fish tacos (548), a Thai noodle chicken salad (472) and chicken meatballs with angel hair pasta (590 calories). Fat grams were not revealed.

Recently, major fast-food and eat-in restaurant companies such as the Darden Group (parent company of Olive Garden and Red Lobster), Cheesecake Factory and Romano's Macaroni Grill have added healthful items or revamped existing recipes to make them lower in calories, saturated fat, and sometimes sodium.

This week, Chick-fil-A announced it was introducing a new kids' menu that included grilled chicken nuggets instead of fried.

The changes are occurring, it's believed, because of customer demand as well as laws mandating that chain restaurants post nutritional information. Studies tracking consumers' buying habits find that sometimes menu labeling makes a difference in what they order, and sometimes it doesn't.

A study released this week in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that an educational program designed to teach women to eat more mindfully when dining out resulted in them losing weight by the end of the sessions.

But if restaurants continue to offer tasty meals with lower calories, those education programs may eventually become obsolete.

Do you like having more healthful choices when eating out? Do you pay attention to nutritional information posted on menus? Let us know.

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