We all know the routine after work. It’s time to rush the kids off to practice or rehearsal, and you didn’t have time to make a healthy dinner. You hardly had time to change your clothes before loading up the car with your hungry little one. You choose to stop at a fast food restaurant for a quick bite, but all of those trips will catch up to you (and your kids) eventually.
Instead, try going to a fast casual restaurant. These restaurants are sweeping the nation. Though they don’t offer full table service, they promise quick, high-quality food, which means a higher nutritional value. Here are a few of IKO Community Management’s favorite fast casual restaurants:
Chick-fil-A. There’s no doubt that chicken is nutritionally better than beef, and Chick-fil-A has made an empire out of that fact. They serve everything chicken, including wraps, sandwiches, strips, and nuggets. Their sides include waffle fries cooked in canola oil, but it’s best to opt for chicken salad, Greek yogurt parfait, chicken noodle soup, or fruit cup. Try to steer clear of their milkshakes, too.
Chipotle. Chipotle’s fare is no-nonsense delicious and nutritious. Their buffet-style dining gives every customer complete control over their meal. Choose a burrito, taco, salad, quesadilla, or bowl and load it with fresh, local ingredients. Most entrees are low-sodium, and the fajita veggies and tomatillo salad are organic. All of the meats are responsibly raised, but beware the large doses of sour cream and cheese.
Einstein Bros. Bagels. Normally bagels are full of carbs, but it’s the cream cheese and butter that get you in trouble. Instead, choose reduced-fat shmears, hummus, or peanut butter. You can also order a salad, soup, or fruit salad. Not to mention that the bagel sandwiches come with yummy lean meats like turkey and lox.
McDonald’s. You might be surprised to see the biggest fast food chain on our list, but the company is overhauling its unhealthy menu with more nutritious options. Order a Happy Meal with apple slices and low-fat milk or a grilled chicken snack wrap. Though, make sure you request a small drink to avoid the supersizing, and skip the fries, even if they are made in a healthier canola-blend oil.
Noodles & Company. This restaurant offers exactly what its name suggests: loads of noodles. Pasta dishes vary from Asian to Mediterranean to American flavors. Patrons can choose to add lean proteins, including hormone- and antibiotic-free chicken, beef, shrimp, and organic tofu, to their dish. Not to mention the whole-grain linguine is top notch.
Panera Bread. Once you bypass the honey buns and cheese Danishes on display, guests will find a variety of healthy options. Panera offers a half sandwich, soup and/or salad combo that’ll make your mouth water, including options like a turkey artichoke sandwich with black bean or garden vegetable soup.
Subway. Like Chipotle, Subway allows its customers to control their order. Known for their foot-long subs, this fast casual restaurant ranks high in healthiness – if you choose the right combination. Choose a chicken, turkey, tuna, or veggie sandwich then skip the cheese. Instead, load it up with onions, lettuce, tomatoes, light dressing, peppers, and more.
It’s important to remember that not all fast casual restaurants are healthy. Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Pizza Hut, and Dunkin’ Donuts also count as fast casual fare, but it’s hard to find something nutritional on their menus. Check out one of these dining options the next time you have to rush off to practice or rehearsal. Your body will thank you.
From all of us at IKO Community Management, enjoy!