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Just Tell Me What to Eat!

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Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews

Eating Healthy at Chain Restaurants

Ruby Tuesday

Ruby Tuesday Logo

There's never been much good to say about Ruby Tuesday.

The last time we reviewed Ruby Tuesday we did not find much to like. At the time menu regulations were very different, and all we had to go on was the number of calories in particular meals.

Fortunately, there is now a great deal more information, including fat, fiber, and most importantly, sodium, that is required to be made available to restaurant customers. Even though this is true and is the law of the land, Ruby Tuesday does not make it easy to find, with the nutrition information deeply buried in their website.

This is likely because, as with so many chain restaurants, the food contains ridiculous amounts of salt. While Ruby Tuesday is not one of the worst, we can start by saying there are no chicken dishes that are edible, with every one of them coming in at over 2,000 milligrams of sodium. Their Chicken and Broccoli Pasta is a whopping 3,533 milligrams and the Crispy Chicken Mac 'n Cheese 3,752. Wowser! That is a LOT of added salt. Neither of those can hold a candle to their Chicken Parmesan at 1,524 calories and an incredible 5,395 milligrams of sodium. That translates to about 2 1/4 teaspoons of salt.

It is also a good indication of their lack of quality or about how little Ruby Tuesday cares about their customer's health in that almost every recipe appears to contain liquid margarine. Yuck! You have to wonder if anyone in the executive suite actually eats at their own restaurants.

That's okay. You can always have one of their salads, right?

Nope.

All of their salads come in at over 2,000 milligrams of sodium as well. Soup? Well, a cup of the Broccoli Cheese Soup is the best - at an unacceptable 869 mg of sodium - and all of the other soups contain over a gram (1,000 milligrams) of sodium.

Other seemingly healthy items, like the Avocado Turkey Burger, are equally bad (824 calories and 1,431 milligrams of sodium) or worse, like the Chicken Quesadilla (3,289 milligrams of sodium per serving).

There are two choices that are the lesser of the many evils on their menu. Having half of the 12 ounce ribeye (6 ounces is closer to an appropriate portion size) at 363 calories and only 477 milligrams of sodium would be a fair choice. You know it is bad when one of the two menu items that is close to healthy is beef and the other is tilapia (not one of the healthiest fish choices). While I am not a fan of tilapia for its higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids, the Blackened Tilapia does come in at under 300 calories and only (only!) 589 milligrams of sodium.

There are two other alternatives. One is the salad bar. It is actually pretty well stocked, with fresh greens, veggies, beans, seeds, and nuts. The dressings are not overly salty, so you might be able to make a pretty great meal for yourself. Avoid the composed salads that are on the salad bar: the only one with even close to a reasonable amount of sodium is the Waldorf Salad at 86 milligrams per serving.

Other than the salad, bar, your best option is to stay home and make your own Chicken Parmesan using this fantastic Dr. Gourmet recipe.

Eat well, eat healthy, enjoy life!

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet