Eating healthy when you’re out at a restaurant can be tricky — and at the Cheesecake Factory, it may seem impossible. You flip through page after page of the menu, gawking at the impossibly high calorie counts listed next to each item.
You might be tempted to throw in the towel and just order something truly indulgent. Shrimp scampi, maybe, or a loaded bacon cheeseburger. Occasionally, it’s probably a good idea to order those “unhealthy” items that sound good to you.
If you always deprive yourself from ordering certain foods, you’re going to drive yourself crazy. The actual healthiest choice is the choice you want — when you allow yourself the food you crave all of the time, you’re actually more likely to make balanced choices in the long run. You’re wired to want what you can’t have. Only when you can have it all do you really get to tune in to what your body craves.
If you have legitimate health concerns or dietary restrictions prescribed by a doctor, it is of course important to pay attention to related aspects of your diet. Sodium, for instance, and making sure you get enough protein are both worthwhile concerns. Sugar is another relevant concern for diabetics, specifically. But if you’re just trying to lose weight, looking at calories on menus might not help you in the long run.
Unfortunately, the only information the Cheesecake Factory makes publically available is their calorie counts. In fact, they print them directly on the menu for you to browse as you choose. They also separate the lower-calorie options to a separate menu: the “Skinnylicious” menu. Many of these menu items made it onto this list; however, the items that were so low-calorie and lacking in sustenance that they would not satiate you for a meal were omitted. Ordering something without enough protein, carbohydrates, and fats to subsist a meal isn’t actually healthy at all! With all these things considered, here are the 15 healthiest menu items at the Cheesecake Factory — though we encourage you to order whatever you truly crave.
We also have a list of the unhealthiest menu items at the Cheesecake Factory.
In this better-for-you take on Italian food, Cheesecake Factory serves up grilled chicken breast with tomatoes, artichokes, capers, fresh basil, and a balsamic vinaigrette placed elegantly over a bed of fresh vegetables and farro. Farro is a whole grain — kind of like quinoa or rice — and provides a filling supply of healthy carbohydrates. The whole dish has lots of protein, vegetables, and fiber and is 590 calories.
This salad might be on the Skinnylicious menu, but it’s still loaded with delicious and satisfying foods. The Asian Chicken Salad is a bed of romaine lettuce topped with carrots, grilled chicken for some lean protein, bean sprouts, green onions, cilantro, rice noodles, wontons, almonds, and sesame seeds. All those balanced ingredients are drizzled with a sesame-soy dressing to add more flavor. Even with all of that going on, the dish is only 550 calories.
This genius menu item channels Chipotle. It’s a salad served on top of a corn tortilla — like a taco that doesn’t get folded. The protein is impressive, since you get some from both the grilled chicken breast and black beans. Even with the avocado cream sauce and sour cream included, this zesty salad has 540 calories.
Better-for-you Mexican food? This order really is the whole enchilada. The tortilla-wrapped dish is cheesy, smothered in sauce, and served with a side salad. It’s 530 calories total.
Turkey burgers are a great option for people who are trying to avoid red meat. This one will definitely satisfy, as it’s topped with mayo, garlic, and spices, along with heaps of grilled onions, lettuce, and tomato, and fresh mushrooms. With the side salad, this order totals to 520 calories.
Want to eat shrimp pasta but want to avoid the creamy, buttery indulgence in some restaurant dishes? This lemon-garlic shrimp is a happy medium — you get angel hair pasta and sautéed shrimp, all topped with basil, tomato, and lemon-garlic sauce. Who said pasta had to be loaded with calories? This dish is just 510.
This order is one of the most balanced on the menu — it’s loaded with protein, fiber, and even some carbohydrates to round out your meal. The “generous” bowl of soup is 510 calories, including the salsa and white rice on the side.
Just because you’re trying to eat healthy does not mean you need to give up tacos. (Phew.) This order is either 510 calories if you order chicken or 480 if you opt for shrimp — both provide a good amount of lean protein. You might think that since the tacos are on the “Skinnylicious” menu that they’d be lacking in your typical taco toppings, but that is not the case. They’re topped with avocado, tomato, onions, cilantro, and a crema. They are a little smaller than your usual order of tacos, so keep that in mind if you’re especially hungry.
Some salads leave you hungry and wanting more — but this one has enough nutritious toppings to supplement an actual meal. The Factory Chopped Salad is 500 calories and has chicken, tomato, avocado, corn, bacon, blue cheese, and apple. It’s light on the carbs, so if you’re craving those we recommend ordering a side.
Ahi tuna is loaded with nutrients such as the rare selenium, vitamin B, and protein. Avocado and wasabi pesto provide some healthy fats to keep you satiated with this 490 calorie meal.
This order lets you eat steak and potatoes for just 380 calories. Steak never fails to satisfy, but keep in mind that the portions are smaller than your typical cut of meat. Mashed potatoes on the side are a surprisingly healthy addition to any meal — in fact, potatoes in general are a great ingredient to add more of to your diet. Here are 50 delicious ways to cook them at home.
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