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How to Solve Menu Dilemmas

Some common foods on a menu are very similar and can often leave us perplexed when trying to decide which is healthier.

On The Early Show Monday, Heidi Skolnick, a nutritionist and contributing editor for Men's Health magazine, offers this advice on what to pick.

Keep in mind, some of these choices aren't exactly ideal - a piece of fruit in the morning would be a much better option than a side of either bacon or sausage.

These items contain about the same amount of protein, but sausage has twice the calories and fat. Bacon has gotten bad rap, but a slice of bacon can take you a long way. You can crumble a piece of bacon over a salad and use it for its flavor. And when you're getting that breakfast sandwich, you're better off going with the bacon and egg, not the sausage and egg.

Bacon per slice: 42 calories, 3 grams protein, 3 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 192 milligrams sodium

Sausage per link: 82 calories, 4 grams protein, 7 grams fat (2.6 grams saturated), 201 milligrams sodium

It's all about the density in this case. Bagels are big and dense. You get the same sandwich feel with an English muffin but half the calories.

Per bagel: 245 calories, 9 grams protein, 48 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fat (0 gram saturated) 2 grams fiber, 476 milligrams sodium

Per English muffin: 133 calories, 4 grams protein, 26 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fat (0 gram saturated) 1.5 grams fiber, 262 milligrams sodium

The first thought is that French toast is less healthy because of the egg batter used to fry the French toast. But there's just as much egg and butter in a Belgian waffle, you just don't see it because it's on the inside. Pick two slices of French toast.

Per waffle: 390 calories, 8 grams protein, 48 grams carbohydrates, 19 grams fat (12 grams saturated) 1 gram fiber, 850 milligrams sodium

Per 2 slices of French toast: 298 calories, 10 grams protein, 33 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams fat (3.5 grams saturated) 0 grams fiber, 623 milligrams sodium

Beans are very healthy, and we don't eat enough of them. They're rich with nutrients. Cole slaw is usually loaded with mayonnaise - and that means a lot of calories. There's not much nutrition in the cabbage. The sauce in the baked beans has calories, but you're getting more nutrients with baked beans than you are with coleslaw. When eating coleslaw, you are taking in more calories with fewer nutrients. With baked beans, you're taking in more calories with more nutrients.

Per serving baked beans (about 6 ounces): 230 calories, 8 grams protein, 46 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fat (1 gram saturated), 7 grams fiber, 720 milligrams sodium.

Per serving cole slaw (about 6 ounces): 190 calories, 1 gram protein, 22 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 3 grams fiber, 300 milligrams sodium.

We all think we're getting the healthy side when choosing the salad, but there's not much by way of nutrients in a side salad. Of course, you're going to need some dressing for the salad, and that's where the fat content comes in. There are a lot of nutrients in the vegetables on minestrone soup, and when they're cooked in the broth, this can actually enhance the nutrients.

Minestrone soup per 1 1/2 -cup serving: 184 calories, 7 grams protein, 31 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 2 grams fiber, 705 milligrams sodium

Salad per 1 1/2 -cup serving: 184 calories, 4 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrates, 16 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 1 gram fiber, 328 milligrams sodium

When you want to have one of these two dairy desserts, stick with the hot fudge sundae. There are a good number of calories in a sundae, but you get much more calcium than you do from a slice of cheesecake.

Hot fudge sundae per serving: 284 calories, 6 grams protein, 48 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams fat (5 grams saturated), 182 milligrams sodium, 207 milligrams calcium

Cheesecake per piece: 257 calories, 4 grams protein, 20 grams carbohydrates, 18 grams fat (8 grams saturated), 166 milligrams sodium, 41 milligrams calcium

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