Walking Guide

Diet Friendly Dining: UNO Chicago Grill

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Cincinnati has chili and Chicago has its own special style of pizza. In the early 1940's, people enjoyed pizza as a snack and not as the main course of their meal. Restaurant owner Ike Sewell desired to change that and in the process started what has become an American tradition -- the Chicago style deep-dish pizza. While the deep-dish pizza is an UNO feature, over the years the ever-expanding restaurant has seen additions to their menu, which include many diner and steak house favorites. When dining at casual dining restaurants, we encourage you to aim for a complete meal that is 500 calories and 15-20 grams of fat or less. Our ongoing Diet Friendly Dining series is intended to help you make informed decisions so you can meet that goal. The UNO Chicago Grill provides a very helpful website containing a nutrition kiosk of information that is also helpful in meeting this goal when dining at one of their 200 restaurants found in 31 states in the U.S., the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the United Arab Emirates.

UNO Chicago Grill appears to provide full disclosure related to how they generate their nutrition information. Their website states, "the nutritional information is based on standard recipes that may vary based on portion size, regional and seasonal differences in products or substitution of ingredients." This indicates that the information shared is what they intend but not a guarantee of what you will receive when you get your order. I do not believe this to be any different at this restaurant chain from any other chain, but I applaud UNO's openness in sharing this fact. The company is wonderful about sharing complete nutrition and ingredient information as well for all of their menu items. It is interesting to note that most of the nutrition information for the entrées indicates the amount you receive on your plate is for two servings. Because of this, you may want to ask for a take home box when you order so you can immediately prepare half of the entrée for take home so you are able to stay within your intended nutrient range for your meal.

You can clearly find gluten and food allergy information, which makes planning easy before heading out to the restaurant. You will want to take special note if you or someone in your family has a shellfish allergy. Since they share the same frying oil and offer fried shrimp on the menu, there is a risk of cross contamination with any of the other fried foods. Of course, we encourage you to select items that are not fried, so hopefully this provides little to no inconvenience or worry for you when dining at this restaurant.

The restaurant website is proud to state that all UNO Chicago Grill items are "free of artificial trans fats per serving", however, it is important to take note of the 'per serving' notation. Since most entree sizes are intended to be two or more servings, you will likely get 1-2 grams of artificial trans fat if you consume the entire amount served since .5 grams of trans fat or less per serving can legally be reported as containing no trans fat. Ordering 'multi-grain' products typically tends to be a healthier option. At this restaurant, the multi-grain pasta used contains a mixture of grains such as oats, spelt, barley and durum wheat and legumes such as lentils and chick-peas.

Here are some specific entrée suggestions to consider when eating at UNO Chicago Grill. When selecting a salad, your best options would be the Watermelon Blueberry Salad which provides 240 calories, 7 grams of fat, 620 mg of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates and 11 grams of protein or the House Salad with Grilled Chicken which provides 160 calories, 7 grams of fat, 390 mg of sodium, 10 grams of carbohydrates and 17 grams of protein per serving. The Fat Free Vinaigrette would be your best dressing choice for 30 calories, 0 grams of fat, 200 mg of sodium, 5 grams of carbohydrates and 0 grams of protein. Another good option would be the Low Fat Blueberry Pomegranate Vinaigrette which provides 60 calories, 3 grams of fat, 110 mg of sodium, 8 grams of carbohydrates and 0 grams of protein.

When selecting a sandwich, your best choice would be the Grilled Chicken Sandwich which provides 380 calories, 13 grams of fat, 1010 mg of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates and 34 grams of protein per serving. A good vegetarian choice would be the Roasted Vegetable & Feta Wrap which provides 220 calories, 10 grams of fat, 620 mg of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates and 11 grams of protein.

Your best chicken choice would be the Grilled Chicken with Mango Salsa which has 110 calories, 3 grams of fat, 520 mg of sodium, 3 grams of carbohydrates and 21 grams of protein per serving. This dish also comes with an UNO breadstick, which provides 210 calories, 13 grams of total fat, 460 mg of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates and 6 grams of protein.

Soups can be a good option eating at casual dining restaurants and the same is true at UNO as well. Many soup choices are low in calorie and fat content however, sodium can still be high so if that is of concern, use caution when making your selection. Beef Barley Soup provides 90 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 700 mg of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates and 6 grams of protein per serving. Black Bean Lentil Soup contains 150 calories, 3 grams of fat, 820 mg of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates and 8 grams of protein per serving. Veggie Soup provides 90 calories, 1 gram of fat, 620 mg of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of protein per serving. Tuscan Pesto Minestrone Soup provides 100 calories, 2 grams of fat, 930 mg of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of protein per serving. Italian Wedding Soup has 120 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 730 mg of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates and 6 grams of protein per serving.

If you are really in the mood to boost your iron intake from a good steak, the 8 oz Top Sirloin cooked medium well might be just what you are looking for providing 200 calories, 7 grams of fat, 310 mg of sodium and 33 grams of protein per 4 oz serving. If seafood is more what you had in mind, give the Grilled and Skewered BBQ Shrimp providing 170 calories, 1 gram of fat, 690 mg of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates and 29 grams of protein per serving. The Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Mango Salsa with 120 calories, 1 gram of fat, 490 mg of sodium, 6 grams of carbohydrates and 21 grams of protein per serving is another good option to try.

A couple other things are important to note. Pizza, pasta and dessert choices will be hard to stay within our suggested guidelines unless you have a very small portion. Most of the chicken, steak or seafood choices listed above come with side items as well. Some of your better side choices include Steamed or Roasted Seasonal Vegetables, Steamed Broccoli and Brown Rice with Cranberries and Mango. Remember that these will add to your meal nutrition totals as well although the side items portion are one serving each. It would still be a good idea to cut your entire meal in half to keep under the recommended 500 calories and 20 grams of fat.

Are there other tips you can share when eating at this type of casual dining restaurant?

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The concept sounds pretty exciting, but up here in NW Washington, we've got fast food and Applebees. Great choices, huh? As interesting as this reads, I still think cutting back on the beef is the best choice for me. Not total vegan, just healthier choices. Report
We don't have a UNO Chicago Grill in our hometown but I've eaten at them while traveling (was one in Washington DC where we went on our honeymoon!). But these days I just have to assume I am going to be bringing a good part of my dinner home because the portions are just too big!! (works out to be a nice breakfast or lunch.). Report
I'm glad that they're being (relatively) honest about their portion sizes and nutritional information. Whenever I'm at Uno, I normally share a small pizza with another person and have a side salad as well. That way, I really can stick to the serving size and lessen my calories while still enjoying the food. Report
Nice to see a restaurant that is honest regarding the variations in its nutritional content! Report
I do wish there were more options with lower sodium. =] Report
it makes it nice that there is something healthy on their menu. I always avoid going to dinner with family and friends due to the fact that I don't want to eat my entire calorie intake in 1 meal. Report
i am glad companies like this one help those who are dieting and i love spark people Report
We don't have an Uno's around here, but I will remember which to order in case I get to where there is one. Report
i too appreciate their perceived honesty. They still may not be divulging the entire fatty truth. Just eat the pizza, then do extra cardio. really. Report
Thanks for the info - I had written this restaurant off, because I thought I read, here, that there were not many healthy options. Maybe that referred to the pizza. I will be open minded when traveling and seeing one, as there are none in my corner of PA. Report
Yum on the skewered shrimp. I love shrimp grilled, and they are so high in protein/low in calories! Yum, indeed. Report
great blog thanks Report
:0 Report
It says the STEAK is 200 calories for 4 ozs. and NOT for the full portion. Report
I would seriously like to know where they find top sirloin steak for only 200 calories for a whole 8oz which is 2.5 servings of meat. Report
Thank you I love this section. Helps alot when you are busy and out and need a meal. Gives plenty of choices to stay on track Report
This article was very helpful to me. Thanks! Report
We always take company to Uno's when they come to town, their pizza is the best. It's good to know there are some better options for those who want them. Report
JYORK, I think it's just missing the specification - Cincinnati has *Cincinnati-style* chili (thin, no beans, has weird stuff like cinnamon and chocolate in it, and served over spaghetti - no thanks!!) I've lived here for 9 years and I still can't get into that stuff!! Report
I was shocked to see how many calories are in the cheese and tomato personal Uno pizza. I love that pizza, but I haven't eaten there since (don't want to be tempted). I am glad they wrote this article because now I know of the healthy choices. The watermelon salad sounds good. I guess I could order the salad and eat the pizza over a few night's meals. I will take this off my "do not eat there" list and try it again! Report
I just can't get excited about restaurant food any more, particularly not the casual dining or fast food variety. There are chefs out there doing exciting things with SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) food - I'd rather save my money to eat at their establishments and cook at home the rest of the time. Could anyone at DailySpark maybe run a series of blogs introducing "Lifestyle-Changing Dining", since that's really SP's mission (as opposed to "diets")? After all, as Garfield says, "Diet is just 'die' with a 't' at the end!" Report
Uno's is okay, but not great. For months it was my only option for going out because of their transparency when it came to nutritional information. But I always feel like I'm taking a salt bath there.

A few tips:
* pretty much anything with mango salsa is healthy
* most of the pizza is not
* don't eat the breadsticks; they're loaded with fat, salt and calories and the taste is not worth it
* the above article is spot on when it comes to the salads and dressings
* the above article is also spot on when it comes to the sides
* only eat half the meal
* skip dessert, not just because of the calories but because it tends to not be too fantastic
* there is a roasted quesadilla appetizer, you can get it with chicken or vegetarian. I often get this and can see making it the meal rather than the starter
* they have a kids' meal but it's generally fried stuff Report
I have never seen this chain, but will look for one in my travels. Report
I used to work at UNO. The one thing I will recommend if you're watching your diet is to make sure you ask that your food not be grilled or sauteed in butter. They have definitely improved health-wise since I worked there, there were only a few healthy items on the menu when I left in 2006. I will definitely have to try to get back there and check out their menu. :) Report
i wish i lived in america - we don't have anything like this where i live Report
Is there a reason why the sirloin has to be cooked medium well? Report
No UNO pizza in our tourist town, last time I went there I didn't like anything I saw on the menu. Report
Our little area here rarely has restaurants that aren 't national chains or family traditions, but there are great ideas for other places here. I still think that I would have to pass on this place because it sure seems as if pizza is the main deal. (I am oftren able to be satisfied with one slice of pizza if I have salad and enough water...) I have lots of ideas I use at other restaurants that would work here. I am allergic to mayo, so i use my "dressing allergy" to avoid all dressing. For the vinagrettes, dip your fork in it and then into the salad--you will get plenty of dressing that way--but you have to order it off to the side. I oeder a box with my food and take care of it ASAP and I don't have the nerve to change my mind when I am not alone, lol. I try to look at the menu first and plan and I look for anything FRESH as part of my order, fruit plate and salads fall in that category. I am a bit surprised at the sirloin because I generally avoid steaks, but 200 calories is a good deal and I will do that. Finally, one of my biggest pitfalls is anything cheesy--so if I am staying on track, I have to stay away from places that serve hot and cheesy.......Someday, I'll be ready for this. Report
And I live in Chicago but not many restuarants appeal to me at this time. Maybe I will give Uno's a try?! Report
Sodium is too high at these restaurants Report
Ok now I'm hungry. Great info. Report
never heard of it of the place, but what's in their watermelon blueberry salad that gives it that much sodium? Report
"Cincinnati has chili" - they do? When I think of chili, I think Austin or Kansas City or Memphis. The author completely lost all credibility right off the top.

Cincinnati has WKRP. Anything else is a bit of a stretch. Report
Thanks for this information - the grilled chicken with mango salsa sounds yummy! Report
get a box with your food, put what is more than you want to eat in the box, close it and put it next to you on the seat.
Have a salad or soup before the entree Report
I can't believe they actually admit that a plate serving is two portions. At least they are honest... Report
I saw several items that I think I'm going to have to try. I prefer the low sodium dishes and low carbs. Report
I wish this article existed years ago! My boyfriend and I used to eat at UNOs all the time in college. I'd get the rattlesnake pasta and eat the whole thing, including the breadstick, then split the chocolate cookie ice cream dessert with my boyfriend. It was at least 2000 Calories just for that meal... yikes! Report
Would love to try!! Report
Don't have it in Canada. No surprise here. Report
This is one of my favorite places to go. I normally share a flatbread pizza (one pizza, 6 slices total, is 3 servings) and a dinner salad with a friend. We skip the bread stick and we each take 1/2 of the last serving home with us. The servers are VERY good about bringing extra plates. I've gotten charged a plate fee at some places, even though we were ordering two entrees - what a rip-off.
Every time I eat out I seem to go over the recommended sodium for the day, and this place is no different. Report
Free ad for UNO. Lots of other restaurants post their calorie counts on line, too. Report
I've gotten into the habit of ordering kids meals because they tend to have healthier options and are the perfect size. When I get to a restaurant that will not allow me to do so(although they have to with a doctors note), then I scope the menu for grilled options and for veggie side dishes. If the grilled option is slathered with cheese or sauce ask for it on the side. I absolutely love Chili's "guiltless" menu. Report
It makes think ... if dining out share the portions so you are not eating more than what you are allowed. Report
I have to admit, their soup is great. I travel a lot for work and work with teenagers, they like Uno for some reason, so this is their pick of choice. I always plan ahead to ensure I don't get some unexpected out of control meal. Report
I am in love with UNO's. My favorite fare is usually over the 500 calorie range, but because I know the ingredients, I can make a lower-fat version at home, and when I know I'm going out, I can plan to indulge at the restaurant. I've recently fallen in love with their Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa, though. It was a featured item the last time we went, so I decided to try it, and LOVED it. My sides were a salad and rice pilaf. I did finish the entire meal there though, oops! Report
MN needs one! ASAP! Report
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