Restaurant Favorites Made Healthy

Enjoy the lightened flavors of your favorite restaurant dishes in the comfort of your own kitchen.

  • Healthy Restaurant Favorites at Home
    Story by Holley Johnson, M.S., R.D., Food Editor,, Photo: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Lighten Classic Restaurant Fare

    We've chosen our favorite dishes from leading national chain restaurants like Chili's, Olive Garden, PF Chang's, Ruby Tuesdays, On the Border, and Romano's Macaroni Grill and lightened them to keep you healthy and trim. Our versions have similar flavors to the restaurant items, but feature the 3 P's: healthier Prep, smaller Portions, and lean/low-fat Products.
  • Italian
    Story by Holley Johnson, M.S., R.D., Food Editor,


    When ordered at a restaurant, Caesar Salad with Chicken runs between 800 and 1000 calories and about 75 gram of fat. Our lightened version has just 304 calories and 16 grams of fat and features a slimmed-down Caesar dressing.

    Chicken Parmesan is another classic Italian dish but a restaurant-size serving may have as many as 1500 calories (including the pasta). When Quick Chicken Parmesan is served over a cup of cooked noodles, the entire meal is just 500 calories.

  • Asian
    Story by Holley Johnson, M.S., R.D., Food Editor,


    A Chinese-restaurant favorite, this Sweet and Sour Chicken is even better when made at home. Plus, it takes less than 20 minutes to prepare. When choosing this entrée at your local Asian restaurant, it packs on as many as 800 calories. Prepared at home, this recipe has only 388 calories.

    If pork is what you please, give Ming Spareribs a try for only 425 and 26 grams of fat (versus the restaurant version of 1090 calories and 95 grams of fat).

  • Burgers
    Story by Holley Johnson, M.S., R.D., Food Editor,


    Save almost 950 calories by preparing your own version of a mushroom-Swiss burger. Our Open-Faced Burger with Onion-Mushroom Topping (320 calories, 10.5g fat) uses lean ground beef and is served open-faced, eliminating the extra calories from the bread. Instead of Swiss cheese, onions are used as a topping to cut down on the calories, but if you prefer to leave the cheese, add 100 calories for every 1-ounce slice.

    Try Blue Cheese-Stuffed Burgers for another lightened burger that's a spin on the classic black and bleu burger.

  • Mexican
    Story by Holley Johnson, M.S., R.D., Food Editor,


    With a savings in over 90 grams of fat and 1,000 calories, our homemade Quick Taco Salad (332 calories, 11.1g fat) drastically cuts out the excess by keeping portion control in check while still providing an extremely filling and tasty salad.

    Mexican restaurants are known for serving basket after overflowing basket of hot, fried tortillas chips. Indulging in this appetizer can pile on hundreds of extra calories. Try Spicy Tortilla Chips for a simple baked version of the classic corn chip that pairs well with hot salsa or cool guacamole.

  • Soups
    Story by Holley Johnson, M.S., R.D., Food Editor,


    Save about 225 calories by making French Onion Soup at home. Our version uses reduced-fat Swiss cheese and just a small amount of oil while still maintaining a rich flavor.

    One bowl of Loaded Potato Soup from a local restaurant ranges between 400 and 500 calories. This Baked Potato and Broccoli Soup has the same creamy taste for only 223 calories and adds broccoli for an extra punch of vitamins.

  • Dessert
    Story by Holley Johnson, M.S., R.D., Food Editor,, Cracker Jack Brownie Sundae / Cooking Light


    Don't forget the sweets! Serve dessert at home with a brownie sundae that will impress the entire family and has only 318 calories (about 700 calorie less than what you would get at the restaurant). Cracker Jack Brownie Sundaes feature a homemade brownie with caramel sauce, low-fat ice cream, and crispy Cracker Jacks.

    Gooey molten cakes are easy to prepare as well, and the calorie-savings total to almost 1,000. Our recipe for Molten Chocolate Flourless Cake uses only 3 ingredients and takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

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