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The 5 Healthiest Options on The Cheesecake Factory’s SkinnyLicious Menu—Plus 3 You Should Avoid

The 5 Healthiest Options on The Cheesecake Factory’s SkinnyLicious Menu—Plus 3 You Should Avoid

The Cheesecake Factory has a well-deserved reputation for calorie-laden plates and larger-than-life portion sizes. In fact, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) recently awarded two dishes from the menu—the Breakfast Burrito and the Chicken Parmesan Pasta—in its annual Extreme Eating Awards, for being among the unhealthiest restaurant meals in America.

But here’s the big question—is there anything healthy at The Cheesecake Factory? Potentially. The chain restaurant’s SkinnyLicious menu offers over 50 dishes (of course) that have 590 calories or less. The official description reads, “SkinnyLicious® is our collection of fresh and delicious menu options with lower calories and signature rich taste.”

It’s important to understand that the SkinnyLicious menu only promises lower calorie options. It says nothing about the amount of saturated fat, sodium, or sugar.

While the number of calories in a dish can certainly serve as a guide when choosing a healthy meal, it doesn’t tell you the full story. A low calorie salad may be sky-high in sodium or loaded with unnecessary sugar. We recommend taking into account the full nutrition information of a dish when ordering from the menu. This doesn’t just apply to The Cheesecake Factory—it applies to any restaurant.

The SkinnyLicious offerings include cocktails, small plates, salads, and meals like grilled salmon, a turkey burger, or tacos. Many of them sound like promising options for health-conscious individuals, but how do they actually stack up nutritionally?

We did some digging into The Cheesecake Factory’s nutrition information, and crunched the numbers behind all 50+ SkinnyLicious items. We found several winners that would make perfectly suitable options if you’re watching your weight—but we also surfaced a crop of not-so-healthy meals. See below for the five dishes you can feel okay about ordering—and three items you should probably avoid.

Note: How exactly did we determine this list? The USDA’s 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines a “healthy eating pattern” as one that limits saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars, and sodium. For sodium specifically, the Guidelines recommend limiting your intake to less the 2,300mg per day.

The Good

Courtesy The Cheesecake Factory

There are a number of nutritionally solid options on the SkinnyLicious menu, from shareable plates to tacos to even a cocktail. Keep in mind that the bulk of these dishes come from the Appetizers & Small Plates menu, so the portions may be on the small side. If you’re ordering one of these for just yourself, we recommend supplementing it with a tossed green salad.

SkinnyLicious Mojito
Calories: 100, Fat: 0g, Sat Fat: 0g, Sodium: 30mg, Carbohydrates: 9g, Fiber: 0g, Sugars: 6g, Protein: 0g

If you’re looking for something boozy, try the SkinnyLicious Mojito, a refreshing rum-based drink made with fresh mint and lime juice. It’s lower in calories and sugar than any other cocktail on the menu, so you can safely sip away.

Tossed Green Salad (No Dressing)
Calories: 140, Fat: 6g, Sat Fat: 1.5g, Sodium: 150mg, Carbohydrates: 19g, Fiber: Sugars: 8g, Protein:5g

The majority of the salads on the SkinnyLicious menu are loaded with sodium, so finding a healthy option can be difficult. It’s not the most exciting thing, but your safest bet is the simple Tossed Green Salad. Order the dressing on the side and drizzle it over yourself. Opt for the Mustard Vinaigrette, which is lower in calories, fat, and sodium.

SkinnyLicious Chicken Soft Tacos
Calories: 520, Fat: 16g, Sat Fat: 3.5g, Sodium: 890mg, Carbohydrates: 65g, Fiber: 12g, Sugars: 13g, Protein: 32g

If you can believe it, the Chicken Soft Tacos have the least amount of sodium out of any option from the SkinnyLicious Specialties menu. (In fact, most items clock in over 1000mg!) Per order, you get three soft corn tortillas filled with chicken, avocado, tomato, onions, cilantro, and crema—plus a side of veggies. Major kudos to The Cheesecake Factory for choosing corn tortillas, which are lower in calories, fat, sodium, and carbs than their flour counterparts. The Shrimp Soft Tacos are also a smart pick, but they’re a touch higher in sodium.

Mexican Chicken Lettuce Wrap Tacos
Calories: 220, Fat: 9g, Sat Fat: 2.5g, Sodium: 690mg, Carbohydrates: 14g, Fiber: 5g, Sugars: 7g, Protein: 24g

The Mexican Chicken Lettuce Wrap Tacos, which are also gluten-free, are an excellent choice to share with the table, and they’d also work as a lighter meal. You get three to an order, and each one comes stuffed with avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, roasted corn salsa, and crema.

Ahi Tartare
Calories: 240, Fat: 14g, Sat Fat: 2g, Sodium: 650mg, Carbohydrates: 17g, Fiber: 4g, Sugars: 3g, Protein: 13g

The Ahi Tartare, composed of raw tuna, avocado and a soy-ginger sesame sauce, is a solid pick across the board. It probably isn’t filling enough for one person, but it would make a great shareable appetizer.

The Bad

Courtesy The Cheesecake Factory

While there are plenty of healthy options on the SkinnyLicious menu, there are also plenty of unhealthy options. Some of these, like the Chicken Pot Pie, aren’t so surprising. But others, such as the Fresh Vegetable Salad, are more deceiving. In most cases, the culprit is sodium. And if that’s something you’re watching, we recommend double-checking the nutrition of any dish, even the ones that sound harmless.

SkinnyLicious Chicken Pot Pie
Calories: 590, Fat: 29g, Sat Fat: 17g, Sodium: 1700mg, Carbohydrates: 47g, Fiber: 6g, Sugars: 4g, Protein: 37g

A healthy chicken pot pie sounds too good to be true—and unfortunately it is. The Cheesecake Factory’s SkinnyLicious version features chicken breast and veggies in a light cream sauce topped with puff pastry. While it’s probably tasty, it’s simply not worth the load in sodium and saturated fat. If you’re looking for chicken, the Tuscan Chicken is a slightly better option, but it still packs over 1000mg sodium.

SkinnyLicious Fresh Vegetable Salad
Calories: 400, Fat: 17g, Sat Fat: 7g, Sodium: 1700mg, Carbohydrates: 49g, Fiber: 11g, Sugars: 23g, Protein: 15g

We want to love the Fresh Vegetable Salad—it’s full of nutritious veggies like asparagus, green beans, and beets—and it packs plenty of fiber and plant protein. But we just can’t overlook the shocking sodium and sugar overload. However, we’re willing to bet that a big contributor is the Pomegranate Vinaigrette. You can make this salad a little healthier by swapping the vinaigrette for a lighter dressing, such as the Mustard Vinaigrette, and asking for it on the side.

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp
Calories: 510, Fat: 17g, Sat Fat: 9g, Sodium: 2070mg, Carbohydrates: 52g, Fiber: 5g, Sugars: 2g, Protein: 33g

The Lemon-Garlic Shrimp (pictured above) contains nearly an entire day’s worth of sodium. And in all honesty, there’s nothing very “skinny” about this dish, except for the calorie count. If you want shrimp, opt for the Shrimp Soft Tacos, which have a fraction of the sodium and sat fat.


"Healthy" Restaurant Meals That Are Secretly Awful For You

It's always a struggle when you're dining out to eat and you're trying your best to stay on track and not choose a highly caloric meal that is overly packed with fat, sodium, and sugar. And if we're being honest here, it's a lot harder than you may think! So that's why many of your favorite restaurants offering up lighter, healthier meals has been a true gift.

Sorry to disappoint, but there are some options on this supposed "healthy" section of the menu that are, well, lying to you. Yes, they are just not-so-great meals masquerading as super healthy options. We rounded up the worst menu items so you won't be fooled any longer by these unhealthy "healthy" restaurant meals.


Small Plates, Apps & Flatbread

Mexican or Asian Chicken Lettuce Wrap Tacos 1 order: 260 - 450 calories, 3 - 4g sat. fat, 616 - 1,068mg sodium, 14 - 46g carbs

Tacos wrapped with lettuce instead of tortillas? These couldn't be more HG if they tried! We're particularly nuts about the lower-calorie Mexican ones.

Beets with Goat Cheese 1 order: 360 calories, 4g sat. fat, 931mg sodium, 32g carbs

Feeling schmancy and a little adventurous? Here we have red and golden beets, topped with arugula, diced apple, pecans, and vinaigrette. Mmmm.

Edamame 1 order: 290 calories, 0g sat. fat, 1,250mg sodium, 27g carbs

If you feel the need for some pre-meal grazing, skip the bread and order some edamame for the table. Since you have to shell the beans, you won't wolf 'em down too quickly, which is always a bonus.

Fresh Basil, Tomato and Cheese Flatbread 1 order: 320 calories, 7g sat. fat, 746mg sodium, 32g carbs

Pizza cravings? Scratch that itch with this simple flatbread. Paired with a Tossed Green Salad (100 cals before dressing), we'd totally make a meal of this.

Ahi Carpaccio 1 order: 260 calories, 1g sat. fat, 1,410mg sodium, 13g carbs

This is our favorite! The tuna comes topped with aioli, plus a wasabi pesto on the side (which isn't even needed). If you wanna shave off some sodium, skip one of those sauces.

SHOCKER: Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes 1 order: 1,590 calories, 54g sat. fat, 1,152mg sodium, 112g carbs

Some of the appetizers are no-brainer calorie disasters. Fried Macaroni & Cheese? Obviously. Southern Fried Chicken Sliders? Doy. This corn-based app -- inspired by tamales, which are typically steamed or boiled -- sounds practically virtuous in comparison. But the cakes are fried and smothered with fatty toppings! Pass. P.S. The Fire-Roasted Fresh Artichoke is still as bad as ever -- click here for a DIY swap.


What to Avoid at the Cheesecake Factory

Unfortunately, the first answer here has to be cheesecake! It’s loaded with white sugar and served on a graham cracker or cookie crust. None of the desserts are keto-friendly.

Even their “low-licious” cheesecake has 30 grams of net carbs however, if you split it with a dining companion or take half of it home, it just might work if you’re careful with the rest of the food.

Otherwise, if you’re dining with a group who insists on ordering dessert, get a coffee and ask the kitchen to top it with unsweetened heavy cream and a dash of cinnamon for a zero-carb treat.

Other foods to avoid include anything battered and fried, pasta, pizza, burgers or sandwiches with their buns, French fries, pancakes and waffles, and any sweet beverages.


Starbucks is another really decent option when you’re in a pinch, though you may not think of it as “fast food.” While their sandwiches may not be the best choice, their protein boxes are super filling and rarely have empty calories. The fruit and cheese protein box actually comes with brie, among other cheeses, some nice seedy crackers and a branch of grapes. They also have a box with hard-boiled eggs in it, which is the ultimate post-workout lunch.

Just like Taco Bell, seeing Wendy’s on a list of the healthiest fast food might surprise some people. However, Wendy’s has a solid salad selection that tends to change seasonally, so you’ll never get bored. And, as previously mentioned, their kids’ meals (with healthy side alternatives) are perfectly filling, bonkers cheap and don’t take up much room in your calorie count. For instance, the four-piece nugget is only 170 calories with nine grams of protein and the apple slices are a miniscule 35 calories. This means you can totally splurge on a Frosty. (Note: If you’re a speecy-spicy protein fiend like moi, a six piece of spicy nugs is 280 calories. There’s no rule that says you have to get a side.)


How much is a burger at Cheesecake Factory?

Read complete answer here. Similarly one may ask, what is the best burger at Cheesecake Factory?

The macaroni and cheese burger is a good representation of the Cheesecake Factory, in burger form. It features a half-pound patty topped with a giant ball of breaded and deep fried mac and cheese that's smothered in thick cheddar cheese sauce.

One may also ask, can I buy a whole cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory? 6-inch & 7-inch Whole Cheesecakes. Our whole cheesecakes are served deeply chilled. They travel well and can be stored in your freezer to enjoy later. Select cheesecakes come in our 6-inch size, serving 4 &ndash 6 people.

Regarding this, how much is the impossible burger at the Cheesecake Factory?

The Cheesecake Factory Impossible Burger &ndash $16.95 We know that meatless protein is expensive, but it's still kind of hard to believe the price of this vegetarian burger! It turns out that this burger isn't sold by itself.

Does Cheesecake Factory have burgers?

Bacon-Bacon CheeseburgerCharbroiled and Covered with Melted Cheddar and American Cheese, Crispy Bacon, Thick-Cut S Factory Turkey BurgerCombined with Fresh Mushrooms, Garlic and Spices.


Best: Avocado Toast

Courtesy of The Cheesecake Factory

"While I'm not too impressed with the 1,500 milligrams of sodium this avocado toast has to offer, I will say that the other nutrition components are reasonable," Fillenworth says. "The 16 grams of fiber is perfect for keeping you full and for promoting digestive health," she adds.


Eggs and Omelets

Eggs aren't only for breakfast at Cheesecake Factory. The eggs and omelet section of the menu offers a number of low-carb choices throughout the day.

  • Farm Fresh Eggs with Old Smokehouse Bacon: 1 gram of carbs
  • Plain Omelet: 2 grams of carbs
  • Spinach, Mushroom, Cheese and Bacon Omelet: 7 grams of carbs

Round out your egg meal with such no-carb sides as:

  • Bacon: 0 grams of carbs
  • Canadian Bacon: 0 grams of carbs
  • Grilled Ham: 0 grams of carbs

How to Have the Ultimate Cheesecake Factory Experience, According to the Cast of Friends

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Eating at The Cheesecake Factory is a life experience everyone should have. It’s hard to resist the family-friendly atmosphere, half-off cheesecake deals, and enormous portions.

If you’re like me and excitement gets the best of you, you can be found shoveling food in your mouth until you end up feeling so full, you skip the best part: Cheesecake.

So here’s how to eat strategically so you can stroll out feeling like a champ:

Know what you want

You should always have at least a general idea of the type of food you want. It’s easy to get lost in the massive, 17-page long menu. Knowing whether you want steak, tacos, burgers, pizza, pasta, or maybe even a salad from the Skinnylicious® menu could save you (n)oodles of time.

The faster you order, the faster you can eat.

Drink water before going

Resist the temptation of reaching for that plastic cup handle. Trust me on this one. This might be one of the less intuitive methods on this list, but make sure you’re hydrated before you go.

Studies have shown that drinking water can fill your stomach, making you less hungry. Guzzling water while trying to eat all your food will make you feel bloated and give you that extra push towards giving birth to an actual food baby.

Go with friends

GIF courtesy of wordpress.com

Go on a date with that special someone and take advantage of the dim and intimate

lighting. Go with a group of friends on your birthday (and get free ice cream while you’re at it). Go for happy hour with coworkers. The options are limitless.

Friends, friends of friends, more than friends — this step is pretty self-explanatory. More friends, more food, more fun.

Don’t go overboard on bread

Five words: Warm honey wheat black bread. Out of all the delicious types of bread out there, this one takes the cake. This bread is the perfect mixture of sweet, soft, oat-y goodness, and nearly impossible to resist.

If you manage to accomplish this step, let me know how you did it — I’m still trying to figure it out.

Share

Don’t be a Joey. Get appetizers, entrees, drinks, and desserts to split with the table. Plates of food don’t need personal space.

Pair this step with Step 3, and you have yourself a wider variety of food to eat. Go forth and multiply (your options).

Get cheesecake to go

At The Cheesecake Factory, you can’t not get cheesecake. It’s a rule, I promise. Give in to the creamy texture and those classic flavors plus seasonal ones like the pumpkin pecan cheesecake and the peppermint bark cheesecake (brb, drooling).

Let’s face it — no matter how well you stuck to the steps above, you probably had to undo the button on your pants to let your tummy breathe

#SpoonTip: Hide your undone button by putting your table napkin to good use.

That being said, take full advantage of the fact that your server can and will put your beautiful wedge of cheese and cake in a convenient, little box that you can take home. Amazing. With these steps, you can always have your cake and eat it too.


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"The amount of fat and saturated fat in this dish should come with a warning label to parents," Fillenworth advises. At 47 grams of saturated fat, she explains that this dish has more saturated fat that is recommended for adults let alone kids (it's recommended that less than 10% of all calories come from saturated fat according to the dietary guidelines).

Comments

1.5 hours+). If you're reading this after indoor dining is allowed again, I don't think the wait time is worth it over an hour. If the line is under an hour, I would definitely recommend a visit!


Watch the video: The Cheesecake Factory: New menu items and more seating (December 2021).