McAlister's Deli, founded in 1989 in Mississippi, is a quick-service chain restaurant with locations throughout the United States. The menu features the kind of food you'd expect to find at a deli: sandwiches, soups and salads. The restaurant is also known for their large baked potatoes and pizzas loaded with a variety of toppings. There's plenty of high-calorie foods on the menu at McAlister's, but finding healthier options is also doable.
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Salads are a great way to get plenty of veggies, but they also can be loaded with many high-calorie, fattening toppings. The Caesar salad with grilled chicken at McAlister's, for example, has 700 calories and 51 g of fat. Creamy dressings are often the culprit in derailing sensible eating. Many of the deli's dressings have well over 300 calories per serving. Order the McAlister's Chef salad and choose the olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette instead. Doing so saves you 276 calories and 22 fat grams over the Caesar salad. Share with a friend if you're craving one of the larger specialty salads to help keep your caloric intake in check.
McAlister's offers soups in cup and bowl sizes. It's easy to make the wrong nutritional choice when looking through the soup menu. A bowl of Tuscan Tomato sounds healthy, but it has the highest caloric content of any soup or chili at 602 calories and 60 g of fat. The best choices are the French onion, southwest roasted corn, chicken chili, country vegetable, cheesy chicken tortilla and chicken noodle. All of these have less than 200 calories and under 10 g of fat in a bowl serving. Stay clear of ordering the bread bowl for your soup or chili; it adds 140 calories to your meal.
Tons of sandwiches are on the menu -- and many of them you should avoid. The McAlister's Club has almost a day's worth of calories and fat at 1,029 and 56, respectively. Many are of substantial size at 15 to 16 oz., so taking half home for another meal is a good strategy. Use the build-your-own-deli-sandwich menu so that you're in control of what's in between the bread. Low-calorie meats include the chicken breast, smoked turkey, hickory smoked ham and roast beef. Choose whole-wheat bread to up your fiber intake. Watch out for the sandwich sauces; the horseradish sauce, for example, has more calories than some of the meats.
Special Diet Options
You should be able to find something that meets your needs if you have certain dietary concerns. You won't have to stick to salads if you're a vegetarian. The baked potatoes, cheese pizza, veggie chili and The Veggie sandwich are all options. You can also enjoy several menu items if you're on a gluten-free diet. The deli meats, including the grilled chicken breast, smoked turkey, corned beef and roast beef, are all gluten-free. So is the southwest roasted corn soup, grilled chicken spud and several salads. Be aware that many of McAlister's foods are loaded with salt, so finding low-sodium options proves difficult. Sharing with another person or eating smaller portions will help cut down on your salt intake.