The popular restaurant Chili’s recently enhanced its Lighter Choices menu line. The items in this menu section are designed to contain no more than 750 calories, 25 grams fat, or 8 grams of saturated fat, and include Classic Sirloin, Grilled Chicken Salad, Sweet and Spicy Chicken, Grilled Salmon, Margarita Grilled Chicken, Santa Fe Chicken Wrap, and Grilled Chicken Sandwich options.
If calories and fat are your main concerns, any of these items will fit the bill. If, however, you have a personal or family history of diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, or weight cycling, it is also important to consider the ratio of carbohydrate to protein. Considering that criteria, 3 of these 7 offerings would fit into a hormone-friendly style of eating: the Classic Sirloin, the Grilled Chicken Salad, and the Grilled Salmon.
Something that often happens with low-calorie menus is that sodium spikes up. It’s there to replace the flavor that taking everything else out, removed. These menu items are no exception; in fact, the lowest calorie item, the Classic Sirloin, has the highest milligrams sodium to calorie ratio, 6.25 to 1. Of the three with the best carbohydrate to protein ratio, your best bet is the Grilled Chicken Salad, at 1.6 to 1. The salmon, which many of you would gravitate toward with so much press about omega-3’s, is so-so at a 3.3 to 1 ratio. (Calories and milligrams sodium should be roughly the same, any higher ratio than 2 to 1, on a regular basis, especially if you’re prone to fluid retention or high blood pressure, can be problematic.)
Bottom line, if you’re traveling, Chili’s is an option found in many airports (including LAX) and road stops that is a better option than fast food. It is also popular enough to keep on the list for a business lunch where there are a lot people with a lot of different tastes, or an occasional family outing. The three entrees recommended above are perfectly fine.. If you eat at Chili’s regularly, stick with the Grilled Chicken Salad. Since Chili’s has a takeout service, this may actually be a better choice for those of you who struggle with what to eat if you don’t eat fast food.
A suggestion for the Chili’s menu designers. The only vegetable offered on any of these dishes…was broccoli. It would be nice to see a variety of veggies, even carrots, zucchini, sweet potatoes, etc. It’s an entire category of beautiful food with a lot of possibilities for enhancing flavor, texture, and presentation.