Healthy Fast Food: The New Norm?

Healthy Fast Food: The New Norm?
By: Laura Cipullo, RD CDE CEDRD CDN and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

 

For all of you New Yorkers out there, have you noticed the new trend on the streets of NYC? And, no, we’re not talking about shoes, clothes, or fashion trends. We’re talking about fast food: healthy, fast food to be exact.

 

If you’ve walked down a city street recently, you’ve most likely noticed a new restaurant or food store. While New York City is known for its abundance of restaurants and diverse food scene, we’ve been noticing a trend among newly opened restaurants. Not only are they focusing on fast service, but also, they’re offering healthier menu options to boot. To name a few, we’ve made a list of some these healthier restaurants, a couple in NYC and a handful located across the US:

 

 

Chipotle

www.chipotle.com

Setting: Sit-Down/Takeout

Cuisine: Mexican

Kids’ Menu: Yes

Price: $$

 

Chipotle offers a Mexican cuisine with sit-down and takeout options. This restaurant is vegetarian and vegan-friendly, plus the majority of their menu is gluten-free, as long as you avoid the tortillas. We love the fact that many of the menu items have a high amount of fiber and protein; you can view this by using their nifty nutrition calculator! Their vast food options make Chipotle a great place to eat, whether you want to sit and relax or pick up while you’re out and about.

Photo Credit: Mr. T in DC via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Mr. T in DC via Compfight cc

Our favorite lunch options:

  • Veggie burrito bowl with black beans and brown rice. With just over 500 calories, this veggie bowl has over 30 grams of fiber and about 13 grams of protein, this veggie bowl makes a fast and balanced meal.
  • Chicken quesadillas with black beans and brown rice. This children’s meal option ranks in with under 500 calories, 12 grams of fiber and over 25 grams of protein. Even though it’s for the kids, we adults like to order this from time to time.

 

 

Fresh & Co

www.freshandconyc.com

Setting: Sit-Down/Takeout

Cuisine: Traditional

Kids’ Menu: No

Price: $$

 

Fresh&Co is a popular lunch choice for those working in Midtown Manhattan. With pre-prepared meals and freshly prepared items on their menu, you are sure to find something to suit your fancy. Fresh&Co serves locally grown foods that are free from synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and additives. They offer salads, pastas, and sandwiches on their menu, all of which can be calculated on their nutrition calculator found on their website.

Photo courtesy of Fresh & Co
Photo courtesy of Fresh & Co
  • Sesame Ginger Seitan with quinoa, kale, seitan, white cabbage, carrots, daikon, broccoli, scallions, pickled ginger and cilantro with soy ginger sauce this is a delicious lunch/dinner option that will surely satisfy.
  • Long Island Local salad with kale, baby spinach, baby arugula, grilled chicken, grilled sunchokes, and apples this salad is loaded with healthy greens and has over 20 grams of protein from the chicken, making this a great meal to grab during your lunch break.

 

 

Hu Kitchen

www.hukitchen.com

Setting: Sit-Down/Takeout

Cuisine: Natural

Kids’ Menu: No

Price: $$$

 

On its website, Hu Kitchen totes itself as the first “ultra-high quality restaurant and market” that makes food for humans. Hu Kitchen works under an 8 Pillar approach: “unprocess, count ingredients – not calories, pull plants – push animals, minimize grains – always whole, embrace fat, get back to animal too, sweeten wisely, and eat clean”. Located just below Union Square, on 5th Avenue, Hu Kitchen offers everything from fresh juices and coffee, to soups and burritos. Plus, their entire restaurant is gluten-free, and a good majority of the menu is dairy and grain-free. While the prices can be a bit steep, you know that you’re getting quality nutrition for your buck.

Our favorite lunch options:

  • Grandmaster Veg with eggplant, carrots, green cabbage, cashews, garlic, chili flakes, and a homemade marinara sauce this is a vegetable powerhouse of a lunch.
  • Hu Bowls with options of quinoa, vegetable mash, or a vegetable medley, these bowls are sure to please. Plus you can add beef, mushroom, or chicken on top for some added protein.

 

 

Hummus and Pita

www.hummusandpitas.com

Setting: Sit-Down/Takeout

Cuisine: Mediterranean

Kids’ Menu: No

Price: $$

 

This lovely establishment currently has two NYC locations, Chelsea and TriBeCa, and is a great option when you’re looking for a quick meal. Whether you want to sit at a table, order takeout, or have your lunch delivered to work, Hummus and Pita, Co can do it all! With a make-your-own-meal style, you can virtually customize any dish to your liking. There are a number of vegetarian options and while there is not a separate children’s menu, you can find a variety of options for kids. We especially love their large selection of hummus!

Our favorite lunch options:

  • Falafel pita with beet salad, chickpeas, hummus and tzatziki. This lunch option comes in at just over 500 calories, 16 grams of fiber, and over 20 grams of protein.
  • Chicken taboon bowl with baba ganoosh, corn and carrot salad, brown rice and tahini this meal is a great source of protein, complex carbohydrates and fat.

 

 

Muscle Maker Grill

www.musclemakergrill.com

Setting: Sit-Down/Takeout

Cuisine: Traditional

Kids’ Menu: Yes

Price: $$

 

This franchise first opened shop in Colonia, New Jersey. Due to its increasing popularity, owner, Rod Silva, officially made Muscle Maker a franchise in 2007 and now has over 200 restaurants across the US. The restaurant offers salads, wraps, and shakes, just to name a few items. Plus, they provide a children’s menu, cater to vegetarians and offer some gluten-free options. With so many locations, Muscle Maker Grill makes a great option for those looking for a quick, and healthy meal.

Our favorite lunch options:

  • European wrap with grilled chicken, spinach, roasted peppers and Parmesan cheese. This meal boasts over 40 grams of protein which will leave you feeling satisfied until dinnertime.
  • El Mexicana with grilled chicken, fajita vegetables, cheese and salsa all served over brown rice and beans. It’s a tasty dish making it a great choice for lunch or a convenient dinner.

 

 

Prêt A Manger

www.pret.com

Setting: Sit-Down/Takeout

Cuisine: Traditional

Kids’ Menu: No

Price: $$
If you live in NYC, you’ve probably seen a few Pret A Manger’s around. This franchise is a great place to go when you’re looking for a salad or wrap to go, or if you want to sit and enjoy a coffee. With a café-like environment, Pret A Manger offers a nice environment and good quality food. Their website states that they create handmade natural food and avoid ‘prepared’ and ‘fast’ foods. They offer online ordering and are conveniently located around the city, making them a great option for your new lunch spot.

Screen shot 2014-03-03 at 2.39.10 PM
Photo courtesy of Prêt A Manger

 

Our favorite lunch options:

  • Balsamic chicken sandwich with antibiotic free chicken, avocado, mesclun, and balsamic vinegar served on granary bread. This meal is an easy grab and go sandwich with 8 grams of fiber and 19 grams of protein. So when you’re in a rush and literally need to pick up a sandwich, you can find this tasty sandwich waiting for you at Prêt A Manger.
  • Aztec quinoa chili with cannellini and pinto beans, quinoa, amaranth and millet, this grain-filled chili won’t disappoint. Not only is it suitable for vegans and vegetarians, but it also has over 10 grams of both protein and fiber.  

 

 

 

We have to ask: do you think that these establishments are changing the face of fast food? We love the fact that we can purchase food conveniently without having to sacrifice nutrition or taste. We’d love to know your thoughts on these healthier fast food options!

 

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