The Healthier Side of Fast Food

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Healthy fast food might seem like a complete contradiction, especially to a registered dietitian but there are a few places out there striving to do it right. Here are 6 joints aiming to clean up menus and change the trajectory of traditional fast food.

Chopt

Started by a pair of college buddies dreaming up ways to beat the college bulge, this growing chain has establishments up and down the east coast. They serve up creative salads, source as many local ingredients as possible, and feature a delectable array of scratch-made dressings. Try the Spa Dijon or the Smoky Bacon Russian atop a wide variety of both veggie and grain-based salads.

b.good

Another fast-growing east coast chain, b.good is serving up food you can actually feel good about eating. Everything is made from scratch with no processed foods in sight. The menu features burgers, baked fries, kale and grain salads, and an impressive list of freshly whirled smoothies and milkshakes. Steve Hourihan, owner of the Fairfield, Connecticut location says “I truly believe in being able to eat food that is real, from farmers we know, that helps the community and makes you feel good.” And what doesn’t sound good about top-selling menu like the Spicy Avocado Lime Grain Bowl? Hourihan also recommends the Turkey Burger… “My suggestion would be to get it prepared West Side style (Avocado, Homemade Salsa, Cilantro, Chipotle Puree and a squeeze of Lime)” Yes, please!

Freshii

With locations in more than 20 states, the mantra of this popular eatery is simply “Eat. Energize.” Freshii offers patrons made-to-order wraps, salads, rice bowls, soups, and smoothies. The Banana Nut Crunch Smoothie is a personal fave as is the perk that all wraps can be prepared in large sheets of steamed collard greens in place of tortillas.

Elevation Burger

Elevate your definition of a fast food with organic, grass-fed burgers and fries prepared in olive oil. Don’t eat beef? There are also two delicious vegetarian burger options on the menu. With locations from Texas to Maine, even their restaurants are built with sustainable materials.

Snap Kitchen

This small chain is gaining big momentum, recently expanding to locations in Texas, Chicago and Philadelphia. At Snap, you’ll find dozens of freshly prepared foods, snacks, and squeezed juices for quick and healthy eats on-the-go. The kale caesar salad is superb and their allergen friendly desserts are worth checking out! The easy to navigate website has all the nutrition information front and center.

Panera Bread

This largely popular bakery-café has recently announced that all soups are “clean” and free of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives. This goes to hand in hand with the brand’s larger Clean Pairings Menu.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.