Fast Food With Healthy Choices

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Welcome to the blog page for Fast Food With Healthy Choices!

This is the place where we’ll share our thoughts on everything from the food to the decor to the service at restaurants in our area. We’re focused on places that serve fast food—but not exactly what you would expect from most fast-food chains. We’re interested in chains that specialize in healthy, organic, natural foods—as well as sit-down restaurants that serve fast food with a side of healthy choices.

We’re not just here to review restaurants, though. It’s our mission to help bring healthy choices to everyone. That’s why we’ll also be posting news and updates about other restaurants and businesses that are working toward making their menus healthier for their customers. And if we hear about new studies or articles about health in general, we’ll post about that too.

Fast Food With Healthy Choices

While most fast foods are based on cheap, unhealthy ingredients, many fast-food establishments now offer healthy alternatives.

Some major chains even focus exclusively on providing healthy fast food.

These can be life-savers when you don’t have the time or energy to cook a healthy meal.

Here are 10 fast-food restaurants that have some healthy options on the menu.

1. Chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill is a restaurant chain that specializes in foods like tacos and burritos.

The company tries to use only organic, local ingredients, with meats from naturally raised animals.

Healthy options: burritos, tacos, and salads, with a variety of meats, veggies, rice, beans, and guacamole

Locations: all over the United States, as well as Canada, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom

2. Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A is a fast-food restaurant that specializes in chicken sandwiches.

They were the first fast-food chain in the United States to offer a menu completely free of trans fat.

They have taken strides to make their dishes more healthy. In particular, their kids’ menu offers fruit cup sides and milk to drink.

Healthy options: grilled chicken nuggets, chicken salads, grilled market salad, and multi-grain breakfast oatmeal

Locations: throughout the United States

3. Wendy’s

Wendy’s is the third-largest hamburger fast-food chain in the world, behind McDonald’s and Burger King.

Although their menu consists mostly of hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, and French fries, they also offer some healthier alternatives.

Healthy options: chicken salads and chicken wraps

Locations: 30 countries worldwide, mostly in North and South America, Asia, and the Caribbean

4. McDonald’s

McDonald’s is the world’s biggest fast-food chain.

It is famous for its signature burgers, such as the Big Mac.

Most of the offerings at McDonald’s are highly processed and unhealthy. The company has been slammed for its role in facilitating the worldwide obesity and type 2 diabetes epedemics.

However, due in part to this critique, McDonald’s has added several healthy options to its menu.

Healthy options: several healthy salads, mostly made with chicken, vegetables, and fruit

Locations: worldwide, in a total of 119 countries

You can take a look at their salad menu here.

5. Ruby Tuesday

Ruby Tuesday has many restaurants across the globe.

They offer a large menu, ranging from steaks and seafood to pasta and salads.

The healthier options on their menu are marked with the moniker “Fit & Trim.” Those dishes contain fewer than 700 calories per serving.

Ruby Tuesday offers options based on all sorts of dietary needs, such as gluten intolerance.

Healthy options: a variety of meat, fish, and salads, with side dishes like baked potatoes and fresh vegetables

Locations: North America and Europe

You can take a look at their

6. The Cheesecake Factory

The Cheesecake Factory is known for gargantuan portion sizes and high calorie content.

However, due to increased pressure, they now offer a “SkinnyLicious” menu with smaller portion sizes and healthier ingredients.

Healthy options: steaks, fish, seafood, salads, and various appetizers

Locations: the United States, with several restaurants in the Middle East

You can take a look at their SkinnyLicious menu here.

7. KFC

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is an international fast-food restaurant known for its signature deep-fried chicken. This franchise serves mainly unhealthy foods.

However, some of their restaurants sell grilled chicken to serve their more health-conscious customers.

Healthy options: grilled chicken pieces and sides like green beans or corn on the cob

Locations: worldwide

You can take a look at their menu here.

8. Subway

Subway is a fast-food restaurant that primarily sells build-it-yourself submarine sandwiches (subs) and salads.

That said, you can also skip the bread altogether and get a salad with chicken breast and plenty of fresh vegetables.

Healthy options: whole-grain bread, plus plenty of vegetables

Locations: 44,000 restaurants in 110 countries

You can take a look at their menu here.

9. Panera Bread

Panera Bread is a bakery, café, and restaurant that serves baked goods, soups, salads, and sandwiches.

Healthy options: a variety of healthy soups and salads

Locations: North America

Healthy fast food breakfast

As always, keep an eye out for sugar. “Sugar can definitely be an issue at breakfast, even beyond the obvious offenders, like donuts and cinnamon rolls,” says Ansel. Smoothies, for example, may contain frozen yogurt or added sweeteners—and are often so large that you’re getting three to four servings of fruit per blend.

“Considering just about anything you order from a fast food restaurant is going to have more than enough fat and calories, be mindful of your portion sizes,” Ansel adds. “Whenever you can squeeze in a serving of fruit or vegetables, that’s a bonus,” she says.

To eliminate the guesswork (and online menu stalking), order up one of these dietitian-approved breakfasts next time you’re on the go.


1. Panera Bread Mediterranean Egg White Wrap

Dish, Food, Cuisine, Ingredient, Sandwich, Produce, Vegan nutrition, Staple food, Lunch, Sandwich wrap,

“I actually recommend ordering it with the whole egg,” says dietitian Kelly Jones, RD. “This way, you’re getting healthy fats, which are important for feeling satiated, so that you aren’t hungry again soon after the meal.” The egg yolk also provides essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. “Plus, you’ll get spinach, tomato, and whole grains,” Jones adds.

Of course, if you stick with the egg whites as is, you’ll still have a delicious and healthy breakfast that’s super low in sugar.

Per egg white wrap: 260 calories, 8 g fat (3 g sat), 31 g carbs, 3 g sugar, 650 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 10 g protein


2. Au Bon Pain Egg White, Cheddar, and Avocado Bagel Sandwich

Food, Bagel, Dish, Cuisine, Ingredient, Breakfast sandwich, Baked goods, Finger food, Produce, Hamburger,

AU BON PAN

“Au Bon Pain keeps things light but satisfying with their egg white, cheddar, and avocado bagel sandwich,” says Jones. “It comes on their wheat bagel, and you can order a small fruit cup on the side to start your day off with produce.”

Though a little higher in sugar (because of the fruit), this order provides plenty of energy, protein, and filling fiber.

Per sandwich + fruit cup: 430 calories, 23 g fat (12 sat), 40 g carbs, 17 g sugar (no added sugars), 605 mg sodium, 10 g fiber, 20 g protein


3. Jamba Juice Vanilla Blue Sky Bowl

Dish, Food, Cuisine, Meal, Breakfast cereal, Breakfast, Ingredient, Vegetarian food, Snack, Superfood,

“Jamba Juice has a variety of smoothie bowls, but many are very high in sugar and low in protein,” says Jones. “The Vanilla Blue Sky Bowl is one of their better options.

Loads of fruit provide some natural sugar and potassium, while blue spirulina algae gives it a fun color and adds lots of essential nutrients and phytochemicals.

Order this one without the granola and it also happens to be paleo-friendly.

Per bowl: 330 calories, 9 g fat (3 g sat), 62 g carbs, 33 g sugar, 85 mg sodium, 8 g fiber, 6 g protein


4. Pret a Manger Ricotta & Veggie Frittata

Food, Cuisine, Food group, Dish, Recipe, Vegetarian food, Ingredient, Menu, Finger food, Side dish,

PRET A MANGER

“If you’re living in a city or frequently in airports or train stations, Pret a Manger’s Ricotta and Veggie Frittata is a great hot option,” says Jones. It provides hearty vegetables (like mushrooms and spinach), is high in protein, and is low enough in carbs to be keto-friendly.

To be fair, the meal doesn’t skimp on sodium, so you’ll want to keep intake a bit lower the rest of the day (and drink plenty of water), says Jones.

Per frittata: 430 calories, 28 g fat (11 g sat), 11 g carbs, 6 g sugar, 110 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 35 g protein


5. Dunkin’ Donuts Ham, Egg, And Cheese Wakeup Wrap

Dunkin Donuts ham egg and cheese wake up wrap

Skip the bagel sandwich and donut and go for this protein-rich option, suggests dietitian Karman Meyer, RD. With less than 200 calories and nine grams of protein, it’s a solid, quick option.

Just note that it’s a little higher in the sodium department.

Per wrap: 190 calories, 11 g fat (4 g sat), 15 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 600 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 9 g protein


6. Taco Bell Breakfast Soft Taco

Taco Bell Breakfast Soft Taco

COURTESY OF TACO BELL

Yes, you can actually eat a decent breakfast at Taco Bell. “Skip the meat on this egg and cheese wrap and order two to score a total of 14 filling grams of protein,” says dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD.

Per taco (with egg and cheese): 170 calories, 9 g fat (3 g sat), 15 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 330 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 7 g protein


7. McDonald’s Fruit and Maple Oatmeal

McDonald's Fruit and Nut Oatmeal

Hitting up McD’s in the morning? Skip the McMuffin. “The trick to making this whole-grain oatmeal bowl healthier is to ask for it without the brown sugar and cream,” says Ansel. “Then, it becomes a decent egg-free breakfast option with five grams of fiber.”

Per oatmeal cup (without cream): 290 calories, 2 g fat (0 g sat), 61 g carbs, 32 g sugar, 130 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 5 g protein


8. Starbucks Spinach, Feta, & Cage Free Egg White Breakfast Wrap

Starbucks Egg White Spinach Feta breakfast wrap

STARBUCKS

“This toasty whole-grain wrap delivers nearly half your daily recommended vitamin A and a quarter of your calcium needs,” says Ansel. Plus, thanks to the spinach and tomatoes, you score some veg, too.

To make this pick lower in carbs and more keto-friendly, ditch the wrap and grab a fork.

Per wrap: 290 calories, 10 g fat (3.5 g sat), 33 g carbs, 4 g sugar, 830 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 19 g protein


9. Sonic Jr. Breakfast Burrito

Sonic Jr. Breakfast Burrito

Don’t let the “Jr.” in the name of this breakfast pick fool you; it’s got enough staying power to keep you full until lunch. Thanks to a higher fat and protein content, Sonic’s breakfast burrito is a good option, says Elizabeth Shaw, RDN, (who previously recommended it to Women’s Health).

Though it packs a good amount of carbs, it’s super low in sugar.

Per serving: 300 calories, 17 g fat (7 g sat), 24 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 900 mg sodium, 1 g fiber, 12 g protein


10. Chick-fil-A Egg White Grill

Chick-fil-A egg white grill

COURTESY OF CHICK-FIL-A

If you want to eat Chick-fil-A for literally every meal of the day, their grilled breakfast sandwich is a great healthy option to start with, says dietitian Jessica Ivey, RDN. The English muffin contains less saturated fat than the biscuit, and the egg whites provide lots of filling protein.

10 Healthiest Fast-Food Menu Items

Healthy

Arby’s

You’re stuck on the road, or didn’t have a chance to eat and end up in some fast-food or quick-service joint that’s all too conveniently placed in your neighborhood. What should you choose? Your best line of defense is to be prepared. I checked out popular fast-food restaurants and found options that can be part of a healthy eating plan; whether you’re looking for a quick snack or a sensibly-sized meal, I’ve got you covered.

Arby’s Roast Chicken Entrée Salad

Many of the sandwich options at Arby’s are very high in sodium. Instead, opt for the salad (pictured above) made with lettuce and tomato and topped with chicken, crispy bacon, and cheddar cheese.

Nutrition info (per dish): 250 Calories;14g Total Fat; 7g Saturated Fat; 25g Protein; 8g Total Carbs; 3g Fiber; 4g Sugars; 690mg Sodium

Panera

Panera’s Napa Almond Chicken Salad on Country Rustic Sourdough

This well-balanced chicken salad is made with celery, red grapes, toasted almonds, and serves with emerald greens, tomatoes, salt and pepper on Country Rustic Sourdough. Opt for the apple for about 70 calories more.

Nutrition info (per whole sandwich): 550 Calories; 25g Total Fat; 4g Saturated Fat; 22g Protein; 60g Total Carbs; 4g Fiber; 12g Sugars; 860mg Sodium

Chick-fil-A

Chick-Fil-A’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Opt for the grilled chicken sandwich at this favorite poultry fast food restaurant. This sandwich is made with lemon-herb marinated boneless chicken breast served on a multigrain bun with lettuce and tomato. The sodium, saturated fat, and sugars are all within reasonable limits for a sandwich. Compliment it with a fruit cup or side salad.

Nutrition info (per sandwich): 320 Calories; 6g Total Fat; 1g Saturated Fat; 28g Protein; 41g Total Carbs; 2g Fiber; 9g Sugars; 680mg Sodium

McDonald’s

McDonald’s Fruit & Maple Oatmeal

If you’re looking for a healthy breakfast, opt for the oatmeal which in some locations may be available all day. This dish has two servings of whole grain oats with a touch of cream and brown sugar. You’ll also find it sweetened with red and green apples, cranberries and two varieties of raisins.

Nutrition info (per oatmeal): 320 Calories; 4.5g Total Fat; 1.5g Saturated Fat; 6g Protein; 64g Total Carbs; 4g Fiber; 31g Sugars; 150mg Sodium

Starbuck’s Tomato and Mozzarella Panini

If you find yourself hungry when hitting up a Starbuck’s opt for this plant-based sandwich which includes roasted tomatoes, mozzarella, spinach and basil pesto layered in focaccia. When ordering, ask for this baby to be warmed up!

Nutrition info (per sandwich): 380 Calories; 14g Total Fat; 5g Saturated Fat; 18g Protein; 48g Total Carbs; 2g Fiber; 2g Sugars; 770mg Sodium

Dunkin

Dunkin’s Veggie Egg White Omelet

If you’re driving across the country or find yourself at an airport, chances are you’ll run into a Dunkin’. This sandwich is made with a veggie egg white omelet filled with spinach, bell peppers, and onions. It’s layered with white cheddar cheese on a multigrain sandwich thin.

Nutrition info (per Sandwich): 290 Calories; 13g Total Fat; 5g Saturated Fat; 17g Protein; 27g Total Carbs; 5g Fiber; 4g Sugars; 550mg Sodium

Noodles & Company

Noodles and Company’s Cauliflower Rigatoni Fresca with Shrimp

This noodle establishment has several healthy options including this cauliflower-infused rigatoni sautéed with shrimp, balsamic vinaigrette, olive oil, roasted garlic, red onion, tomato and spinach, and topped with parmesan cheese. The only set back on this dish is the high sodium count (which is on the lower side compared to other menu items), so be mindful of the sodium you take in the rest of the day.

Nutrition info (per dish): 470 Calories; 20g Total Fat; 4g Saturated Fat; 25g Protein; 51g Total Carbs; 4g Fiber; 5g Sugars; 1,130mg Sodium

Wendy’s Sour Cream and Chive Baked Potato

Whether you’re stopping for a snack or small meal, Wendy’s baked potatoes are always a good option. The sour cream and chive is a classic combo and a nice comfort food when on the road.

Nutrition info (per dish): 310 Calories; 2.5g Total Fat; 1.5g Saturated Fat; 8g Protein; 63g Total Carbs; 7g Fiber; 4g Sugars; 55mg Sodium

Chipotle

Chipotle Steak Salad

Using the nutrition calculator on the Chipotle website you can build your own meal while keeping nutrition in mind. This steak salad includes greens, steak, brown rice, light Monterey Jack cheese, and fresh tomato salsa. The portion is rather large, so feel free to save leftovers for later.

Nutrition info (per salad): 455 Calories; 16g Total Fat; 6g Saturated Fat; 29g Protein; 44.5g Total Carbs; 6g Fiber; 2g Sugars; 1,180mg Sodium

Panda Express Bowl with Super Greens and Kung Pao Chicken

To create a bowl at Panda Express, choose one side and one entree. The super greens consists a mixture of greens including broccoli while the Kung Pao Chicken is a Sichuan-inspired dish with chicken, peanuts and vegetables, finished with chili peppers. The sodium for most dishes is on the higher end (pretty common for Asian-style dishes), so be mindful of the sodium in your food the rest of the day.

Nutrition info (per dish): 380 Calories; 22g Total Fat; 3.5g Saturated Fat; 22g Protein; 24g Total Carbs; 7g Fiber; 10g Sugars; 1,230mg Sodium

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