What 6 dietitians order at Olive Garden

George Sheldon/ShutterstockThe Tastes of the Mediterranean Menu tends to have healthier options.
  • For a healthy lunch it’s best to choose the soup and salad but skip the breadsticks.
  • The Tastes of the Mediterranean Menu offers healthy meals full of flavour.
  • Just say “no” to unlimited breadsticks.

Unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks might be a top pick at Olive Garden, but what about the rest of the menu? If you’ve ever wondered what a dietitian feasts on when they dine at this Italian kitchen, we’ve got you covered.

INSIDER spoke with six dietitians to find out what they order when they eat at Olive Garden.

The salmon or whole-grain pasta are good options at Olive Garden.

Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDERYou can substitute whole-grain pasta.

Rachel Fine, RD, of To The Pointe Nutrition said one of her top choices at Olive Garden is the salmon, which is a great source of protein and healthy fats.

Fine told INSIDER that she usually pairs this with a side veggie, such as their broccoli, and a breadstick. Another great choice, she said, is the Garden Primavera, which is packed with veggies like roasted zucchini, red bell peppers, and tomatoes. “Olive Garden allows you to swap in whole-grain pasta, which further gives you a nice boost in fibre,” Fine added.

This nutritionist’s philosophy? Forget anything that’s never-ending, like breadsticks, pasta, even soups or salads.

Olive GardenA 6-oz Sirloin.

Dr. Keith Ayoob, of Cut To The Chase Nutrition, said that any of the “Tastes of the Mediterranean” are better options than the “classics,” which are higher in calories and fat.

He told INSIDER that he likes to order the Minestrone Soup or the House Salad (low-fat dressing on the side or balsamic if it’s available), then either the Herb-Grilled Salmon or any of the Tastes of the Mediterranean options. “If I was going for pasta, my personal choice would be the Whole Wheat Linguine with Marinara and the sautéed shrimp or the grilled chicken to top it, ” he said.

As far as beef, his top choice is the 6-oz Sirloin but swap out the Fettuccine Alfredo for some parmesan-crusted zucchini.

The salmon is a popular choice.

Olive GardenHerb-Grilled Salmon.

Laura Yautz, RD, owner at Being Nutritious said she likes to order the Herb-Grilled Salmon off of the Taste of the Mediterranean menu.

“Almost any entree from this menu will be a good choice,” she said. With a lower overall calorie count, less sodium than most dishes, a whopping 45 grams of protein, plus heart-healthy omega-3 fats, you can feel good about this meal.

This dietitian likes to get the most “bang for her buck” when dining at Olive Garden.

Olive GardenSalmon Piccata.

Jessi Holden, MS, RDN, CSOWM from Nutrition Brewed, said her go-to menu item is the Salmon Picatta. “When I’m out to eat, I want something that I wouldn’t normally eat, but that will satisfy my taste and fill me full of good nutrients,” she told INSIDER.

Holden said that the high amount of protein, healthy fat,and calcium in the Salmon Picatta allows her to feast on the food she loves while also getting a lot of bang for her buck.

This dietitian likes the option of accessing the nutrition information online, which can be a big help in planning what to eat ahead of time.

Olive GardenOlive Garden soups.

Susan Bowerman, RD, Herbalife Nutrition, said she likes to start with the Minestrone Soup when dining at Olive Garden. “Since it’s hot, it takes a little while to eat, which forces me to slow down and enjoy my meal,” she told INSIDER.

For her entrée, Bowerman orders the Grilled Salmon. “The menu says it is topped with garlic herb butter, but I would ask that they leave that off – the fish is moist enough without it,” she explained.

This dietitian is a fan of the Taste of the Mediterranean menu.

Olive GardenChicken Giardino.

Rebecca Stib, registered dietitian and founder of dietitian thyme, told INSIDER that she sticks with items found on the Mediterranean menu. “These dishes tend to be lower in calories and salt, and high in vegetables compared to other dishes,” she explained.

If you’re a pasta lover, Stib said to order the Chicken Giardino. “It’s a well-balanced meal boasting with veggies and protein,” she explained. But if you haven’t had fish this week, Stib said to opt for a meal high in omega-3 fatty acids (good for brain health) like the Salmon Piccata or Herb-Grilled Salmon.

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