Last week I published a post called Beware the wolf in salad’s clothing. In that post I broke down the salad choices that are on the menu at Applebee’s, and found some eye-opening facts. While I was working on that post I decided that it would be good to create a series on restaurants. Over the past week I’ve decided that this series will be called “Bobby-C’s Restaurant Survival Guide.” For this week’s installment, I am going to look at the menu for Ruby Tuesday.
Since starting my Journey toward better health, my wife and I have become regulars at the Ruby Tuesday near our home. Initially we went there because we received a coupon in the mail. The restaurant has been in our neighborhood for quite a few years, but it hadn’t really popped up on our radar. With coupon in hand we went in. Once there, we were reminded that Ruby Tuesday features a well-stocked salad bar, which meant that I had plenty of opportunity to tailor a salad to my liking. I’ll talk more about their salad bar below.
What we also found was that they had a menu that seemed to have plenty of diet-friendly choices. Until this week I hadn’t taken a disciplined look at that menu, but I have now, and it turns out my instincts were correct.
Ruby Tuesday’s menu features two different categories of choices that can both be very diet friendly; The Fit & Trim Choices, and the Smart Eating Choices. One quick word before going into details. Ruby Tuesday does not provide information on how much sugar is in their dishes. This isn’t part of their nutrition guide. I have left that out of this discussion only because the data was not available. With that said, here is the chart for the Fit & Trim Choices on their menu
The first thing to note is that this menu does tend to have a lot of sodium, some dishes more than others. I highlighted the Chicken Bella in yellow, because it is close to the maximum daily amount suggested for an adult of my age. Also, the Petite Parmesan Shrimp Pasta is actually over that 1,500mg limit for the day. If you suffer from hypertension, you should choose carefully from this menu.
On the plus side, the menu is full of choices that are low in Weight Watchers points. No dish exceeds 16 points. I have had several of the dishes from this menu, and my wife has had others. We can both attest that they are well prepared and tasty.
In addition to the Fit and Trim menu, there are also the Smart Eating Choices.
Here again, there are a few dishes that are very high in sodium, but overall there are fewer than on the F&T menu. One interesting thing I noted is that while Chicken Bella appears on both lists, it has different values. When ordered as a Smart Eating Choice, there are fewer calories, less fat, and less carbohydrate. Also, there are fewer Weight Watcher’s Points. I have had the Chicken Bella, but I honestly don’t know from which menu it came. The difference is 3 WW points, which isn’t huge to me (my daily allowance is 45 points). But for someone smaller than me, or a woman, both of whom could have a significantly lower daily allotment of points, the difference would be more substantial.
My favorite dish on this menu is the Blackened Tilapia. In fact, our regular waitress knows that this is most often my go-to choice in the menu. It’s well seasoned, and well prepared. It is a single filet of tilapia. There are no sauces added to it, so the 5 points matches the amount allocated in the Weight Watchers App.
Remember, when calculating points for the meal you have to include the entree as well as the side dishes. As I said, one of the things I really like about Ruby Tuesday is the salad bar. It features a wide variety of items that can be put on the salad. It starts with field greens and spinach, in addition to ice berg lettuce. I prefer to have my salad with plenty of spinach and field greens. Then there is a nice variety of things like tomato, broccoli, cucumber, and more. The only topping in the first 2/3 of the bar that has points associated with it is peas. Toward the end of the bar there is shredded cheese, croutons, chopped bacon (actual, real bacon), and more. There are also some prepared salads that have mayo in them. I tend to avoid those. Finally, there are the dressings. Here is the nutrition information for their dressings:
I included some of the other sauces as well for your reference. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I avoid almost all salad dressing. I prefer something like Frank’s Red Hot Sauce when making salads at home. When I am at Ruby Tuesday, I opt for the bottle of Balsamic Vinegar at the end of the bar, which I sprinkle on. There are 0 points in Balsamic vinegar. I know that many people don’t like salad without dressing, so I have provided the stats.
One thing to note, which I found very interesting. The difference between Ranch Dressing and Lite Ranch Dressing is negligible. Both end up at 2 Weight Watchers Points per ounce. What the Lite Ranch saves in fat, it makes up for in Carbs. So, beware of that little glitch.
For those of you interested, I have included here the prepared salads and combos that you can order from the menu
As you can see, most of these combos are a nightmare when it comes to sodium. Also, they tend to be high on Weight Watcher’s points. For my money, and for my allocation of points, they don’t really cut it.
In conclusion, I am not making it much of a secret that I really like Ruby Tuesday. I think they provide a menu that is rich in foods that support my weight loss and overall fitness goals. And, with their clean, well-stocked salad bar, they give me the option to tailor my meal to my needs.