Order This, Not That: The Cheesecake Factory
You can’t escape the ginormous portions at this popular sit-down restaurant. You can, however, opt for some of the better-for-you options that do exist on the lengthy menu.
Starters are usually slated for two to four people. But if you want to leave room for dessert, choose a very low-calorie, more healthful choice main. You can also select your appetizer as your main course — an easy way to save money and calories!
The Ahi Carpaccio is made from thin slices of raw ahi tuna, wasabi pesto, along with creamy avocado and togarashi aioli. If raw fish isn’t your thing, or if you’re dining with kids, opt for edamame (baby soybeans) instead.
Per dish (meant to serve 2): Calories 260; Saturated Fat 2.5 g; Sodium 1,220 mg; Carbohydrate 11 g
The made-to-order guacamole may seem like a healthful choice, but even if you split it into two portions (it’s recommended for two to four), you’ll still be indulging in more than 800 calories per serving!
Per dish (meant for 2 to 4): Calories 1,610; Saturated Fat 21 g; Sodium 1,170 mg; Carbohydrate 134 g
There are many salad options available, but if you do choose a salad, make sure it’s a half portion or lunch-sized salad. At 510 calories, the Luau Salad is a light option. It’s made with grilled chicken breast, mixed greens, veggies, mango, crisp wontons, macadamia nuts and sesame seeds tossed in a vinaigrette dressing. To cut calories further, ask for the dressing and nuts on the side, so you have control over the portions.
Per serving: Calories 510; Saturated Fat 2 g; Sodium 970 mg; Carbohydrate 51 g
You may think the Caesar Salad with Chicken is a smart salad choice, but a full portion contains more than 75 percent of your daily calories and 63 percent of the recommended daily amount of sodium.
Per serving (per salad): Calories 1,510; Saturated Fat 16 g; Sodium 1,450 mg; Carbohydrate 24 g
If you’re looking for a warm dish, grilled fish like mahi mahi or tuna is the way to go. Order the fish with a side of seasonal veggies, and share it with the whole table.
Per serving (tuna, without veggies): Calories 520; Saturated Fat 6 g; Sodium 260 mg; Carbohydrate 3 g
The enormous portions of pasta have no fewer than 850 calories per dish. The worst offender is the Pasta Carbonara with Chicken, which has more than 2,000 calories per serving.
Per serving: Calories 2,290; Saturated Fat 81 g; Sodium 1,690 mg; Carbohydrate 144 g
You can’t leave The Cheesecake Factory without ordering a slice of the eatery's famous cheesecake — or can you? If you’re trying to watch your calories, choose a bowl of fresh strawberries served with whipped cream on the side (and just take one bite of someone else’s cheesecake).
If Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake is screaming your name, muster up all the energy you have to pay your bill and get out quickly. With more than 1,300 calories a slice, it’s one cheesecake serving that you should skip.
Per serving: Calories 1,330; Saturated Fat 40 g; Sodium 700 mg; Carbohydrate 136 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.