Applebee’s Behind the Menu Recap & Giveaway

This week, Applebee’s launched three new Weight Watchers™ endorsed menu items, and I, along with a handful of other bloggers, had a chance to see how those entrees made it to the menu at Applebee’s Headquarters in Kansas City. What we learned was surprising, at least to me: for example, it takes about a year and a half for a product to make it from an idea on paper to the menu. A year and a half! On top of that, maybe 1% of the ideas the chefs start with make it to the menu.

We also got to chat with the chefs, nutritionists and dietitians who created these new items about how to eat better when dining out, as well as ways to cook delicious meals at home without sacrificing taste for nutrition. A few of my favorite take-aways:

  • Use descriptions to your advantage. If it’s golden and crispy, it’s probably fried and best to be avoided.
  • Salads aren’t always the healthiest choice. Many places douse their salads in sugary, high fat salad dressings that can alter caloric content significantly. Asking for salad dressing on the side instead is a great alternative.
  • If you know the portions are going to be huge, either share your dish or ask for the to-go box with your meal and set half of it aside as soon as it gets to the table.
  • Request that veggies, buns, or other side dishes be prepared sans butter. This is a really easy way to cut out about 100 calories.
  • Keep making requests, and don’t be afraid to be picky! While I can’t speak for other restaurants, I know that Applebee’s tracks menu item modifications and considers them when they refresh their menus.

We learned that the chefs place a high priority on great ingredients, so the U550 menu incorporates lots of real, fresh ingredients like seasonal veggies, and unmodified foods. That means the cheese tastes like cheese because.. well, because it’s cheese instead of reduced-fat or lower calorie cheese. Each dish has a positive focus, which means that they’re putting in more of the “good stuff” like lean proteins and fresh vegetables, without the negatives like empty calories and unnecessary fats. This means that each dish has a lot of texture and more importantly, a lot of great flavor.

Another added bonus, especially for parents, is that Applebee’s has partnered with Kids Live Well to create better menu items for the little ones. Hurray!

But after a whole day of talking about food, we were all excited to finally try the much anticipated new Under 550 Calorie dishes (as well as the four that are already on the menu). We even got to take a tour of the test kitchen and watch the chefs prepare and plate our dishes! That said, the new Weight Watchers™ endorsed entrees are:

Grilled Jalapeno-Lime Shrimp, 8 PointsPlus value per serving
Grilled chipotle-lime shrimp and black bean corn salsa tossed with lime juice and chopped cilantro, served on a mix of zucchini, marinated tomatoes, onions, and red peppers with steamed white rice.
The fresh squeeze of lime juice adds so much dimension to this already flavor-rich entree, and while it packs a little heat, the jalapeno adds a lot to the flavor as well.

Creamy Parmesan Chicken, 12 PointsPlus value per serving
A juicy grilled chicken breast with a creamy au gratin Parmesan sauce, served with steamed spinach and mushroom rice pilaf.
As indulgent as it tastes, it’s hard to believe this dish is less than 550 calories.

Cabernet Mushroom Sirloin, 12 PointsPlus value per serving
A 7-ounce grilled House Sirloin with sautéed Portobello mushrooms and onions in a Napa Valley Cabernet sauce, served with steamed potatoes and garlic broccoli. This steak is a melt-in-your-mouth wonder, and while I’m not a big fan of potatoes, I could not get enough of these tasty little papas.

Now I must give a side note on the pictures: there is always a chef on hand when food is involved, so the pictures of dishes on the menu and in commercials are prepared with the same recipe that a guest will enjoy in-store. I even did a little side-by-side of the Sizzling Chili Lime Chicken for comparison:

And because your mouth is probably watering by now, Applebee’s is offering a giveaway so you can try the new Under 550 Calorie items yourself!


  • Digital Applebee’s Gift Cards worth $25 each (5 winners)

To Enter (Leave one comment for EACH entry):
1. Tweet this message (1 entry per tweet, 30 tweets max.)

Try new Weight Watchers endorsed entrees at @Applebees. Giveaway for gift cards compliments of @Bookieboo,  #mamavation

2. Share on Facebook (1 entry)
3. Go to and tell us which new entree you’re most excited to try. (1 entry)
4. Join (5 entries, new members only)

Winners will be selected by on March 21st and contacted via twitter. Please leave your twitter name in order for me to get in contact with you. If you do NOT leave your twitter name and you are selected, I will need to select another. Good luck!

Disclosure: My name is Resa Michelle. I’m a member of the Mamavation community. Applebee’s sponsored my trip to Applebee’s Headquarters in full, but they are not paying me to talk about how awesome my trip was or how delicious the food is. All opinions are completely my own. Mamavation is NOT being paid to create this post or giveaway.


Mamavation Team

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  1. i’d like to try the blackened chicken penne

  2. tweet–!/mami2jcn/status/173957083413221377

  3. Shared on Facebook with my username Mary Happymommy–

  4. I’d love to try the Grilled Jalapeno-Lime Shrimp.

  5. Janice Cooper says:
  6. Janice Cooper says:
  7. Janice Cooper says:

    I’d like to try the Creamy Parmesan Chicken

  8. I’d like to try their Sizzling Asian Shrimp & Broccoli

  9. tweet #2–!/mami2jcn/status/173963990496575488

    My twitter name is mami2jcn. :-)

  10. Jennifer Marie says:
  11. Jennifer Marie says:

    I would like to try Creamy Parmesan Chicken
    ****(twitter name is JenniferCNP)***

  12. Jennifer Marie says:

    getting my tweet on


    have not been to AppleBees in about 8 years. I am due for a visit

  14. tweet #3–!/mami2jcn/status/173967065307287552

  15. courtney b says:
  16. I see lots of things my husband would like i.e. Cabernet Mushroom Sirloin. For me I guess the Spinach Artichoke dip if it’s vegetarian. I didn’t see any vegetarian selections – they need to work on that :)

  17. Joined your site :) and shared

  18. Shared on Facebook !

  19. I definitely want to try the Jalapeño Lime Shrimp! Looks divine! 😀

  20. i would like to try the Grilled Jalapeno-Lime Shrimp–YUM!!! :)

  21. Jennifer Marie says:
  22. courtney b says:
  23. tweet #4–!/mami2jcn/status/174142409591099392

  24. tweet #5–!/mami2jcn/status/174144448761036800

  25. tweet #6–!/mami2jcn/status/174149218125086721

  26. Rebecca Shockley says:
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  28. Rebecca Shockley says:

    Very excited to try the Grilled Jalapeno-Lime Shrimp,

  29. Rebecca Shockley says:

    Waiting on confirmation for joining BookieBoo

  30. Rebecca Shockley says:
  31. Most excited to try the roasted garlic sirloin

  32. Signed up for bookieboo with email bmxerchic3(at)aol(dot)com

    Entry 1

  33. Signed up for bookieboo with email bmxerchic3(at)aol(dot)com

    Entry 2

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  38. tweet #7–!/mami2jcn/status/174482815193325568

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  40. tweet #8–!/mami2jcn/status/174490411614748672

  41. tweet #9–!/mami2jcn/status/174499835687354368

  42. Rebecca Shockley says:
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  44. Sometimes I feel like a steak so, the Cabernet Mushroom Sirloin looks yummy!

  45. Rebecca Shockley says:
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  50. tweet #10–!/mami2jcn/status/174845058644852736

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  52. tweet #12–!/mami2jcn/status/174859874432319489

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  63. Mami2jcn says:

    tweet #13–!/mami2jcn/status/175229798224900096

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    tweet #14–!/mami2jcn/status/175232512178655234

  65. Mami2jcn says:

    tweet #15–!/mami2jcn/status/175236967829733376

  66. Stacey B says:
  67. courtney b says:
  68. They all look so good but I really would like to try the Signature Sirloin with Garlic Herb Shrimp

  69. Stacey B says:
  70. The signature sirloin with garlic herb shrimp sounds great to me (and it’s healthy?? – woo!!!)

  71. Creamy Parmesan Chicken is amazing looking

  72. New Cabernet Mushroom Sirloin.

  73. Stacey B says:
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  75. Mami2jcn says:

    tweet #16–!/mami2jcn/status/175577920495034368

  76. Mami2jcn says:

    tweet #17–!/mami2jcn/status/175581899450875904

  77. Mami2jcn says:

    tweet #18–!/mami2jcn/status/175585192969375747

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  83. Mami2jcn says:

    tweet #19–!/mami2jcn/status/175948004426133504

  84. Mami2jcn says:

    tweet #20–!/mami2jcn/status/175950651837255680

  85. Mami2jcn says:

    tweet #21–!/mami2jcn/status/175955471918825473

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  95. Toot Toot! Yeah! Tweet Tweet! –!/Tracy_Iglesias/status/176189841049001984

    Following you and sponsor on Twitter, I am @Tracy_Iglesias and can also be found on @Ascending1 :-)

  96. I’d like to try the New Fiesta Chicken Chopped Salad! Everytime I go I get the riblets, I really need to try something new! :)

  97. Ashley Hatten says:
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  99. Mami2jcn says:

    tweet #22–!/mami2jcn/status/176408075274694656

  100. Mami2jcn says:

    tweet #23–!/mami2jcn/status/176411552415617025

  101. Mami2jcn says:

    tweet #24–!/mami2jcn/status/176413426619396096

  102. I’d like to try Bourbon St. Chicken N Shrimp.
    @1prizewinner – on twitter

  103. Jennifer Marie says:
  104. Mary Michaud says:
  105. Mary Michaud says:

    I’d love to try the Cabernet Mushroom Sirloin.
    twitter is @simplymerrier

  106. Mary Michaud says:

    joined bookieboo (entry #1)
    twitter is @simplymerrier

  107. Mary Michaud says:

    joined bookieboo (entry #2)
    twitter is @simplymerrier

  108. Mary Michaud says:

    joined bookieboo (entry #3)
    twitter is @simplymerrier

  109. Mary Michaud says:

    joined bookieboo (entry #4)
    twitter is @simplymerrier

  110. Mary Michaud says:

    joined bookieboo (entry #5)
    twitter is @simplymerrier

  111. Mami2jcn says:

    tweet #25–!/mami2jcn/status/176662834489462784

  112. Ashley Hatten says:
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    tweet #26–!/mami2jcn/status/176670875549044736

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    tweet #27–!/mami2jcn/status/176673569634394112

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    tweet #29–!/mami2jcn/status/176680604107153408

  117. Mami2jcn says:

    tweet #30–!/mami2jcn/status/176686124998205441

  118. courtney b says:
  119. The roasted garlic sirloin looks tasty.

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  147. Mary Michaud says:
  148. Cabernet Mushroom Sirloin sounds great

  149. shared on FB

  150. courtney b says:
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  169. Laura Jacobson says:

    I am most excited about the Cabernet Mushroom Sirloin!

  170. Laura Jacobson says:
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  218. Rebecca G says:

    @RUtheMOMof I love the Grilled Jalapeno Lime Shrimp

  219. Rebecca G says:
  220. That Creamy Parmesan Chicken looks so good!


  221. The Signature Sirloin with Garlic Herb Shrimp sounds really good too.

  222. I want to try the Creamy Parmesan Chicken!

  223. Daily Woman says:
  224. Daily Woman says:

    New Cabernet Mushroom Sirloin

  225. Daily Woman says:
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  227. Pudgebutters says:
  228. Pudgebutters says:

    I want to try the creamy parmesan chicken

  229. Krissy Rouse Higgins says:
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  231. Amanda Alvarado says:
  232. Amanda Alvarado says:

    I’d like to try the Cabernet Mushroom Sirloin

  233. Amanda Alvarado says:

    Joined (awaiting acceptance) #1

  234. Amanda Alvarado says:

    Joined (awaiting acceptance) #2

  235. Amanda Alvarado says:

    Joined (awaiting acceptance) #3

  236. Amanda Alvarado says:

    Joined (awaiting acceptance) #4

  237. Amanda Alvarado says:

    Joined (awaiting acceptance) #5

  238. Krissy Rouse Higgins says: