Order This, Not That: TGI Fridays

What you should and shouldn’t order the next time you dine at TGI Fridays.

This longtime-favorite chain has changed some of its options to make them lighter. However, there are still some calorie bombs to stay away from. Check out what you should and shouldn’t order the next time you visit your local Fridays.

Appetizers

Order

There are only two appetizers that are in the 300-calorie range. The lowest of the bunch is the Ahi Tuna Crisps, which if shared will give you a reasonable 150 or so calories. The other is the Pan-Seared Pot Stickers, which provide around 195 calories if split in half.

Per dish (Ahi Tuna Crisps): Calories 350; Fat 26 g (Saturated 4 g); Sodium 640 mg; Carbohydrate 17 g

Not

Many of the appetizers range in calories from about 600 to 1,100. Surprisingly, the worst offender is the Warm Pretzels with Craft Beer-Cheese Dipping Sauce, with close to 1,200 calories and 133 percent more sodium than is recommended for one day.

Per dish: Calories 1,180; Fat 60 g (Saturated 25 g); Sodium 3,170 mg; Carbohydrate 125 g

Salad

Order

The calorie counts of all the lunch-sized salads are reasonable, ranging from 300 to 540 without dressing. When ordering the full salads, however, you need to choose carefully. The best choice is the Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad with Low-Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette, which adds only 50 calories. Although there are two other salads that are slightly lower in calories, the amount of sodium is more reasonable in the Cobb Salad.

Per dish (Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad without dressing): Calories 570; Fat 33 g (Saturated 13 g); Sodium 970 mg; Carbohydrate 16 g

Not

Although you may think you’re ordering healthfully when choosing a salad, that isn’t always the case. The Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad is the only choice that’s over 1,000 calories. It also has a whopping 1,650 milligrams of sodium, which is 72 percent of the recommended maximum for one day. This is just one salad to skip.

Per dish (without dressing): Calories 1,080; Fat 71 g (Saturated 16 g); Sodium 1,650 mg; Carbohydrate 76 g

Main Dish

Order

TGI Fridays now offers several dishes for under 500 calories each. The Sizzling Chicken and Spinach is made with miso-glazed chicken, fire-grilled and served over fresh spinach, roasted yellow squash, grilled balsamic-glazed onions and roasted cremini mushrooms. It’s a satisfying meal that’s low in calories and will help you meet the daily goal for veggies. Although the sodium is on the higher end, it’s one of the lowest-calorie dishes on the menu.

Per dish: Calories 440; Fat 17 g (Saturated 6 g); Sodium 1,520 mg; Carbohydrate 25 g

Not

The ribs have just a ridiculous amount of calories. The worst is the Jack Daniel's Ribs, which are over the top in calories, sodium, fat and carbs.

Per dish: Calories 1,590; Fat 71 g (Saturated 24 g); Sodium 3,080 mg; Carbohydrate 175 g

Dessert

Order

If you’re going to order dessert, one of the favorites at TGI Friday’s is the Oreo Madness. It’s cookies-and-cream ice cream sandwiched between layers of hand-crumbled Oreo cookie crust, drizzled with chocolate sauce. The entire dish is 500 calories, which is reasonable when split between two people. Also, you can shave off some calories by forgoing the chocolate sauce.

Per dish: Calories 500; Fat 21 g (Saturated 10 g); Sodium 330 mg; Carbohydrate 76 g

Not

Many of us are obsessed with chocolate and brownies, but the Brownie Obsession can bust your waistline. This warm chocolate-fudge brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce and pecans weighs in at 1,200 calories — and that’s after your entire meal. Unless you plan on sharing it with three or four of your tablemates, you’re better off making your own portion-controlled version at home.

Per dish: Calories 1,200; Fat 60 g (Saturated 32 g); Sodium 480 mg; Carbohydrate 153 g

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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