I was really pleasantly surprised by the quality of healthy offerings at the Olive Garden Italian restaurant chain. There's more there than pasta!
First, appetizers. Yes, most appetizers in the world are breaded, so you can eat them with your fingers. Accept that and ignore those. You can have shrimp scampi for $8.95 or mussels at $7.75. There's also an unlimited salad for only $4.75! Salads are healthy for EVERYONE no matter what eating style you enjoy - so be sure to dig in. We had the mussels and they were mild but quite nice.
The salad was quite reasonable, with tomatoes, black olives, carrot bits and onions with the lettuce. Since it's never ending, you can really do quite well and fill up with healthy, fresh food.
On to the main dish. There are a number of grilled items - salmon with broccoli at $14.75, chicken marsala at $13.95. If you're in the mood for steak, try a Tuscan t-bone at $18.95. I highly recommend fish as filling and full of healthy oils.
The menu has a note - 'if you're watching carbs' to go for the whole wheat linguine. I was intrigued, as was my boyfriend - and we went for a pair of dishes involving grilled meats and the whole wheat linguine.
The linguine tasted REALLY good - which made us question just how low carb this stuff was. Intriguingly, their website has hardly ANY nutritional information even though they push this substitution as healthy. Suspicious. I've written in and will let you know when they respond. I am guessing that it's not really low carb at all.
But other than that, the wine list is great, and you really can eat quite delicious foods in a healthy manner, if you simply avoid the pasta. The environment is very comfy and nice, with wood accents, green plants, cloth seats and bright pottery. It's a wonderful place to enjoy a lunch or dinner.
UPDATE: A visitor sent me this information that they got from Olive Garden:
"Choose whole wheat linguine with your pasta selection for a good source of fiber, providing 3.75 grams of fiber in our lunch portions and 6 grams of fiber in our dinner portions."