Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Olive Garden: Soup, Salad, and Breadsticks

Happy Tuesday!

After a long morning at the office, lunch is probably one of the first things on your mind. A popular place to go is Olive Garden for their soup, salad and bread sticks special ($6.99 for unlimited food...somebody pinch me).

Fun Fact: Olive Garden is the LARGEST family-owned restaurant in the entire WORLD.

So, how does this soup, salad, and bread stick thing work?

Basically, you get to choose which soup you want (you can switch if you want), and then they give you the Garden salad and bread sticks...and they will give you as many as your heart desires.

My goal today is to show you how to be smart when ordering this meal.

Step 1: Soup

There are four options for the soups:

  • Chicken Gnochi: Sausage, Kale, and Potatoes in a creamy broth

  • Pasta e Fagioli: White and Red beans, ground beef, tomatoes, and pasta in broth 

  • Minestrone: Vegetables, beans, and pasta in tomato broth

  • Zuppa Toscana: Chicken, dumplings and spinach in a creamy broth

As I talked about in my last blog, it is important to choose soups that have a broth base instead of a cream base. It is also important that the soup is packed full of veggies for maximum nutrients.

When choosing soups here, the top two healthy choices are definitely minestrone or pasta e fagioli because they both have broth bases.

Pasta E Fagioli is full of protein because of the meat and beans, but is lacking vegetables--while Minestrone has lots of vegetables and some protein from the beans.

Step 2: Salad

There is not much to be said here because they only offer you one type of salad. The garden-fresh salad includes an Italian dressing. What many people don't know is that you can order a low-fat Italian dressing instead which cuts 60% of calories and 65% of fat.

Step 3: Breadsticks

Each breadstick is 140 calories and 2 grams of fat. You can ask for them to make your breadsticks dry (they don't put butter on them) and this will reduce your calorie/fat intake as well. Another way to flavor up your breadstick instead is to dip them in marinara sauce. Marinara is full of antioxidants and is 80 calories and 3.5 grams of fat (this is a huge serving of marinara though).


  • Just because it is unlimited does not mean that you should over eat, be smart about what you put into your body!
  • If you do want to keep eating, keep eating the minestrone soup. You will eat this slower than the other foods and it is one of the lowest calorie/highest nutrient food available. 
  • Order dressing on the side--control how much you eat!
  • Only ask for one breadstick at a time-- you will eat less because you will have to go through the hassle of asking every time rather than it just being right in front of you. 

Thanks for Reading!

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