Steakhouse dinners are synonymous with celebration. When I was out for a steak the other night, I overheard people at the surrounding tables celebrating everything from graduations and promotions to birthdays, engagements and anniversaries. On these special occasions, worrying about calories is usually the farthest things from people’s minds. And that’s okay, because these are occasional celebratory meals. But what if you find yourself going more often, on weekly date nights and to get together with friends? Or if you’re like many of my clients and you dine out often as part of your job, is it even possible to make healthier, low calorie choices at a steakhouse?
This post is a collaboration with my client, Ruth’s Chris Steak House. As always, I only write about brands/food I enjoy myself and recommend. All opinions are 100% my own.
Decoding a restaurant menu to figure out what’s lower in calories and what isn’t can be a daunting task. Sometimes the salads have even more calories than the meat and potatoes! But there are some tricks you can use when ordering your meal to reduce the calories without compromising much on flavor. Plus, certain menu items tend to be lighter than others.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House is taking the guesswork out of low calorie healthy eating by launching a Lighter Recommendations Menu. For between 420 calories (for the Seared Ahi Tuna, 6 oz Filet & Shrimp and Fresh Broccoli) and 740 calories, you can have an appetizer, main course and a side dish. And yes, steak and mashed potatoes are on the menu! The calorie count is given for each part of the meal so you can mix and match to include your favorites.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House Lighter Recommendations
Menu 1: Surf and Turf
Appetizer: Steakhouse Salad with Thousand Island Dressing
The salad itself is only 50 calories because it’s loaded with lettuce: iceberg lettuce, baby arugula and other baby lettuces, plus grape tomatoes, garlic croutons and red onion. Starting your meal with a salad helps you fill up your stomach with volume for very few calories. Lettuce and other vegetables are mostly water with some fiber, which can trick you into feeling full.
Now what about the dressing? Classic Thousand Island Dressing has 170 calories. I like to order dressing on the side so I can tailor how much I add to my salad. Try doing a light drizzle onto your salad or dipping the prongs of your fork into the dressing and then loading up your fork with salad. It’s a great way to get plenty of flavor for fewer calories.
Entree: 6 oz Filet and Shrimp
If you want to eat healthy at a steak house and really enjoy it, go ahead and have some steak. Just make sure your portion size is in check if you’re watching your calories.
While massive steaks are as American as apple pie, it’s the first few bites that taste the best! Here’s how to get all the flavor for fewer calories: get the smaller portion. Order a 6 ounce filet without butter and with shrimp and savor every bite for only 210 calories.
This is my favorite entree to order at Ruth’s because it makes the meal feel special. Sometimes I’ll even add on a lobster tail without butter to elevate it even more. This high protein entree will fill you up, plus high protein meals can help speed up your metabolism.
Side: Fresh Broccoli
Ruth’s serves its broccoli side dish “simply steamed” so you don’t have to worry about oil or butter being added to it. Broccoli is high in fiber which helps you feel full, along with calcium and magnesium, minerals that may help you lose weight and keep it off.
Menu 2: Seafood Lovers
Appetizer: Seared Ahi Tuna
I love ahi tuna and eat it often, and I have to say Ruth’s version is the best I’ve ever tasted. It’s a creative fusion of Louisiana and Japanese flavors that just works. The ahi tuna is rolled in Cajun spices and then seared on all sides and sliced. It’s served in a delicious sauce that I could have sworn was miso, but it’s made with mustard and beer for a savory and slightly spicy flavor. This is on the regular menu at Ruth’s and just happens to be a lighter choice. Your tastebuds won’t know it!
Starting your meal off with a high protein appetizer is a great strategy for keeping your calories in check because it helps you feel full. That means it’s easier to say no to the bread basket to save room for your main course.
Entree: Ora King Salmon
You might be surprised to see that the salmon is higher in calories than the beef. That’s because the salmon has lots of fat, but don’t worry – it’s healthy fat. Oily fish such as salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which are linked to brain health, heart health and more.
Ask for your salmon broiled or baked with salt and pepper and you’ll bring out the flavor without needing to add any oil, butter or sauces.
Side: Grilled Asparagus
If you haven’t tried grilled asparagus, you’re in for a treat. The grill marks mean you’re getting smoky flavor and tender-crisp texture. Ask for your asparagus without hollandaise sauce and it’s only 100 calories. Plus, it’s high in filling fiber and vitamin K, which is important for healthy bones.
Menu 3: Steakhouse Favorites
Appetizer: Lobster Bisque
This Lobster Bisque had me wanting to lick the bowl. There is so much flavor in every bite and I loved the tender morsels of lobster meat. This appetizer tastes so rich and decadent, I couldn’t believe it was only 210 calories.
Having soup as an appetizer is a great strategy to keep your meal on the lighter side because soup is mostly water, which helps fill you up. Plus, choosing things that are this delicious helps you feel like you’re treating yourself, not depriving yourself.
Entree: Petite Filet
This 8 ounce cut of tender beef melts in your mouth. Order it with no butter and you’re enjoying a steak for under 300 calories.
Side: Mashed Potatoes
Yes, you can have steak and mashed potatoes and still stay on track! Ruth’s mashed potatoes are a generous 8 ounce portion with a hint of roasted garlic for plenty of flavor. This is the ultimate comfort food meal that fits with your healthy eating plan. Plus, potatoes are an excellent source of potassium which balances out the effects of sodium to help lower blood pressure.
What about wine and dessert?
I tell my clients that if they go out to eat often, choose between a glass of wine and a dessert. The exception is, if you’re out with other people who are interested in sharing a dessert. That way you can taste it without needing to eat the whole thing.
If you want your own dessert and are looking for something lighter, Ruth’s Chris Lighter Recommendations Menu has Fresh Seasonal Berries for 50 calories and Raspberry Sorbet Haagen-Dazs for 180 calories. If you’d like some vanilla or chocolate ice cream, they have that too: 380 calories for the vanilla Haagen-Dazs and 390 calories for the chocolate.
It’s all about eating what you love and “flexing” your calories over your day and over your week to meet your goals.
How do you try to make lighter choices when you’re dining out? Share in the comments below!