Eating Low Cal & Low Fat at Olive Garden!

by Bella Rum

Tour of Italy

1450 calories – 74 fat g – 33 sat. fat g – 3830 sodium mg

Low cal, low-fat and kinda low carb at Olive Garden? Really? Is that possible? Let’s just say you can do a lot better than Fettuccine Alfredo or Five Cheese Ziti al Forno. Can we all say coronary on a plate?

H and I took my sister and her husband to dinner at Olive Garden last night. H (the same H with the ever helpful suggestions about my food choices) saw Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Bowl commercial on television – all you can eat pasta for $8.95. You have forty-two heart stopping combinations from which to choose. Yum!

He immediately decided we were going to Olive Garden. He could eat until he had to recline to breathe and it would be easy on his wallet. Where else can you feed four people for fifty bucks? BUT…..

Where did that leave me?

Just let me say before I begin, life should be celebrated and it’s fun to indulge once in a while, but I feel a need to behave myself as much as possible these days. I’ve indulged enough in my life and the truth is, I hate all-you-can-eats. Aren’t they a little gross? H is obsessively fairly health conscious most of the time, but the man does love to throw back at an all-you-can-eat every now and again.

Almost every entrée on the menu at an Italian restaurant includes pasta, and it isn’t only the high-carb pastas that throw up roadblocks. What about those high-fat and high-calorie sauces? Yeah, what about those? But here’s a tip. Kristie Leong M. D. suggests substituting steamed vegetables for the pasta in your entrée (Of course, you must be very determined, which I am.). Olive Garden allows substitutions for most of their entrées.

Olive Garden declares one serving of their Garden-Fresh Salad is 350 calories with dressing and 120 without dressing. Even though Olive Garden brings it to the table already dressed, you can order the dressing on the side. Why haven’t I ever thought of doing this at Olive Garden? I do it every where else.

Venetian Apricot Chicken

380 calories – 4 fat g – 1.5 sat fat g – 1420 sodium mg

I decided to go with The Venetian Apricot Chicken. Olive Garden says, “it boasts grilled chicken breasts in an apricot citrus sauce, served with broccoli, asparagus and diced tomatoes,”… and it weighs in at a mere 380 calories. Olive Garden even offers the recipe here.

Forget about the sodium. These restaurants are a horror story when it comes to salt, but I think it’s a pretty good option. I decided to have a serving of salad and I only ate one chicken breast. That actually put the saturated fats under one gram and reduced the sodium substantially. I brought the other breast home to have for lunch today. I plan to make a salad to go with.

I lost count of how many bowls of pasta H and my sister ate.  Just sayin’.

Olive Garden Nutrition Facts and Calorie Information


some other options

Take note of the portion size. Is it a lunch or dinner portion?

Images: Olive Garden