Eating out can sound like a sin when dieting or trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It surprisingly doesn’t have to be. Among the hundreds on hundreds of fast food restaurants out there six stood out with their healthy eating options. And no, these restaurants aren’t your typical “salad” bars.
Chipotle is one of many restaurants that has devoted itself to serving non-GMO foods to help their customers lead healthier lives. Their motto is “food with integrity,” meaning that they serve meat from animals that aren’t confined to unhealthy environments and their vegetables come from healthy soil or are locally grown. With the large number of food allergies growing, the company caters to those needs; taking care to list if foods contain gluten, milk, soybean, and sulphites. The company is also careful to list if a food is vegetarian or vegan with the growing popularity of the two lifestyle choices. While allergies and lifestyles are all taken into account, the company goes a step further and offers a nutrition calculator on their website. This calculator allows the customer to select their dish and the ingredients that go into it and then provides the total calories, fats, and other nutritional facts.
Located in the Southeast region of the United States and parts of the Southwest, Zoe’s Kitchen is a great option for nutritional meals at reasonable prices. Zoe’s Kitchen serves food with a Mediterranean flair which is prepared fresh on a daily basis. Their food philosophy is derived from Zoe Cassimus’ (their founder’s) quote, “If it wasn’t food 100 years ago, it’s not food today.” The restaurant offers a wide variety of gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan options to satisfy a variety of lifestyles. On top of providing different options the restaurant also provides a “nutrition portal” complete with a nutrition calculator, interactive nutrition menu, and allergen menu.
While a restaurant with “bread” in the name might not seem like a better option, it is among the healthier choices in the fast food world. The company has recently been seen advertising with the tag line “food as it should be.” The food served is made with clean ingredients without additives like MSG, artificial trans-fats, and other unnecessary extra ingredients. Panera Bread has a “No-No List” provided on their website which lists all of the artificial flavoring, sweeteners, and ingredients that have been removed from their foods and are in the process of being removed from their foods. While there are a few heavier options like breads, pastas, and pastries; the restaurant offers a variety of low calorie salad and soups. And if you want to indulge you can at least have the comfort that you aren’t consuming artificial ingredients.
Noodles & Company
An all-around favorite comfort food is pasta and Noodles & Company caters to that comfort but in a better way. The company offers the option to substitute gluten free noodles for their dishes, under 500 calorie options, and portioning options. The restaurant also allows for additions of meat or tofu in each dish which helps with protein intake. Included in the various options are dishes with zero grams of artificial trans-fat, dishes with less than 460 mg of sodium, and 16 completely vegetarian dishes. Instead of using grease, the restaurant uses refined soy oil for cooking which helps to make dishes a little more health friendly.
While meals with bread will always be a higher calorie option, Subway restaurants offer sandwich and salad options with 6 grams of fat or less as well as a lower calorie menu. The restaurant also lists the sodium levels in each dish as well as other key nutritional information. To help track the nutritional information the Subway website offers a complete list on their website. For lower calorie options the restaurant also provides wraps if you would like to replace the heavier breads.
Don’t let the name of this restaurant fool you. Cheesecake Factory has a menu especially for healthier options. Their Skinnylicious menu and their Super Foods menu provide both lower calorie options and a variety of nutritional choices. Not only are the menu options healthier but they’re also delicious! From their Harvest Chicken Salad to their Skinnylicious Veggie Burger, there is something for everyone.