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By peoplestaff225
Updated December 30, 2014 01:38 PM
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Cheesecake factory

With 200+ menu options, brimming plates of pasta, and gargantuan slices of cake, the Cheesecake Factory is all about expansive hospitality.

Alas, their more-is-more philosophy extends to the nutrition profile of many of the dishes. With a 2,780-calorie bruleed French toast dish, 2,410-calorie Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic, and a 1,500-calorie slice of Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake, the chain nabbed three out of nine spots on the annual Xtreme Eating Awards, a list of the unhealthiest dishes in America compiled by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. A dubious distinction, indeed.

However, even in the interest of a balanced diet, there’s no need to swear off the Cheesecake Factory. With these 5 nutritionist-recommended choices, you might even have room for dessert.

  • If you’d like a classic salad
  • “I love the SkinnyLicious arugula salad or the beet and goat cheese cheese salad. Also, never be afraid to customize by asking for less cheese or dressing on the side.”
  • Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of Read it Before You Eat It ($12.50, amazon.com)
  • If you want a juicy burger
  • “I usually snag a turkey burger from the SkinnyLicious menu, but I ditch the bun and have it on top of greens instead.”
  • Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, author of Eat Right When Time is Tight ($12, amazon.com)
  • If you’re craving something Southwestern
  • “At Cheesecake Factory, I order a modified dish: I ask for the Grilled Chicken Tostada Salad, but I skip the crispy tortilla, chicken, sour cream, avocado cream and dressing. Instead, I add extra black beans and a dollop of guacamole—along with the salsa, it serves as dressing.”
  • Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health’s contributing nutrition editor
  • If you like to customize
  • “Definitely try to stick with the appetizers or small plates sections, as entrees here tend to be very large (or take half home for the next day). At lunch, though, I particularly like to create an omelet with mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, and avocado. Yum!”
  • Brittany Kohn, RD
  • If you like having options
  • “I don’t have a specific selection, but in general, opt for a veggie-rich choice – several salads on the SkinnyLicious menu work – but ask for the dressing on the side so you are in control of the calories.”
  • Marisa Moore, RD

—Cecily McAndrews

Health.com

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