out for lunch

Nutritional Facts and Fauxs

Recently I went out to lunch with some coworkers to celebrate another coworker’s birthday. It was a different kind of birthday celebration, more a memorial. Some of you long term readers might remember last August, my office experienced some tragedy. It was a really sad, dark time and no one should ever have to attend two funerals in one day. But this post is not about sadness, it’s about food!

So to celebrate Flo’s birthday, we all went out to lunch to her favorite place, Rock Bottom Brewery in downtown Portland. It was a nice way to kind of honor her memory. It’s still weird not having her in the office and I think we all think about her pretty frequently still.

Anyways, back to the food. I rarely eat at chain restaurants. Michael and I are kind of foodies and love trying new (or new to us) restaurants. Portland has a fantastic food scene, many restaurants boasting Michelin chefs, so it’s fun exploring that. In preparation for going out to lunch, I checked out the Rock Bottom menu online to see what they had. This is the norm for me. I like going into a restaurant prepared. This doesn’t mean I always go with the “healthier” option but I at least try.

I was happy to discover that this place offered nutritional stats for all their food! You have no idea how exciting that was (I know, I live an exciting life). It’s just rare that I get to know ahead of time actual stats.

I’d already decided I was probably having a salad or soup. That’s what I was craving. I looked through their stats and was shocked. Here are a few of the ones I had considered getting:

Blackened Chicken Salad – 1026 calories

Salmon Spinach Salad – 927 calories

Crikey! That’s too many calories for a salad. But guess what I discovered? Those calorie counts do NOT include salad dressing. There’s a whole section for that. And that section was really eye-opening.

Balsamic Vinaigrette (the one I usually order because it’s a “safe” bet) – 200 calories for 1 ounce

Caesar Dressing – 174 calories for 1 ounce

I’m not sure how many ounces of dressing a typical salad has, but it’s probably not one. Counting calories is tricky enough, it’s even harder when you realize that you’re not counting correctly! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been mislead by a tricky label that doesn’t clearly state it’s multiple servings, or restaurant foods with hidden add-on calories that I forget to count. It’s easy to miss these little things, but doing the best you can is better than throwing in the towel completely.

Being tricked by labels and servings is easy to do. Look at that above label. What the heck is it telling us? Can YOU figure out how many calories are in whatever that was? I sure can’t. I think I need to sit down with a calculator, a protractor and some graph paper to figure it out…

I ended up ordering the soup of the day, creamy chicken with artichoke. It was fantastic! I am definitely a fan of creamy soups, which I know can tack on the calories but they are simply my favorite. The calories for a bowl of the soup was 183 calories according to their website. I rounded up and called it 220 just in case my hunch that they were a bit off was right. It also came with a roll.

The soup was creamy and had carrots, artichoke and celery in it, too. I loved the flavor and creaminess. I definitely detected a heavy-hand with the salt, though. I’m really glad I ordered what I planned on ordering and I managed to stay within my calories for the meal.

A few of my coworkers ordered the Chicken Fried Chicken–it was Flo’s favorite thing. Fried chicken with mashed potatoes, gravy and coleslaw. It looked absolutely decadent. Another coworker got the nachos–which ended up being big enough for 5 people to share! Way too much food. (I realize this post is kind of all over the place, forgive me!)

We reminisced about the old days and Flo. She would have been 56 this year. Her cancer took her really fast and it’s still weird that she’s gone. I was glad we could all get together to remember her and have a laugh about the old days.

QUESTION: Have you been tricked by deceiving labels before?