Your favorite "Italian" eatery and mine, the Olive Garden, is changing their menu. Don't worry! It may be for the better. The Garden has updated its kids' menu -- time to say goodbye to the kiddie French fries and milkshakes and say hello to grapes and fruit smoothies. Woo.
While I know that fries and milkshakes are clearly unhealthy options, I don't want to start giving the Olive Garden too much credit here for this change. It's certainly a step in the right direction, but with the kids' sized Fettuccine Alfredo on the menu with a whopping 800 calories (which is more than half the daily caloric recommendation for a 5-year-old), is this no-fries/no-shake situation still a win?
I don't think so. The fries and milkshakes were calorie bombs (400 calories and 540 respectively) and I agree it's a good move to take them off the menu, but it's still like searching for a needle in a bread and cheese haystack when looking for healthy items on the menu.
And what about the adults and the parents? Hey, I'm with you guys. The last time I found myself at the Olive Garden in rural Texas, I went to town on some endless pasta and bread sticks. It was a refined-carb feast and I loved every bite. So while the kids' menu is getting a little healthy makeover, we in the over 12 set are still gonna be in trouble.
The kiddies might be getting better options at the O.G., but we adults are still on the path to cardiac arrest with Pork Milanese (1,510 calories, 87 grams of fat), Chicken and Shrimp Carbonara (1,440 calories, 88 grams of fat), and my personal fave, Five-Cheese Ziti al Forno (1,050 calories, 48 grams of fat). I love cheese.
So! I would still say that the Olive Garden is not necessarily a family-friendly place. The changes to the kids' menu are delusional -- it's not like the chain is now some sort of healthy restaurant option for parents and kids. No way.
While the kids can get grapes and smoothies with their pizza or chicken fingers, everyone else will order what they want and die of a cheese coma or a stomach explosion due to bread stick and pasta overload. Maybe our less heart-damaged kids can drive us to the hospital when we're seizing on the floor. "Grab Mommy's keys, son! It's time you learned how to drive."
Do you think the Olive Garden is family-friendly?
Photo via marbla123/Flickr