All Entries For chain restaurants

The Healthiest Choices at Panera Bread


These days, it can be really tough to find a bite to eat on the go that won't break the calorie bank. Fast food chains are convenient, but most options are loaded down with excess calories, fat and sodium. Panera Bread has emerged in recent years as a healthier choice in a sea of burger joints. Although some of its menu items aren't the greatest (720 calories for a bowl of clam chowder, anyone?), we've scoured the menu to find some decent choices the next time you find yourself in a pinch for food—right now.

Panera has stepped up their nutritional game recently with their Power Menu, a selection of high-protein, low-carb entrees with some seriously impressive nutritional stats. We've included some of them in our top six favorite healthy Panera entrees below, followed by 10 more of our honorable mentions. (Note that salads do not include dressing nutritional information.) 
Posted 2/23/2014  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 208 comments   120,953 views
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15 Surprisingly Healthy Restaurant Dishes


Just because you're trying to eat healthier this year, doesn't mean you can never go out to eat with your friends or family. Instead of getting frustrated and throwing caution to the wind, just do a little research ahead of time to identify menu options that fit in with your nutrition goals.
 
We've scoured popular restaurant menus to give you a head start with 15 healthy dishes that will fit into most eating plans. And don't worry, even if you do make a less-than-ideal choice at one meal, that doesn't mean you have to give up on healthy eating. Just go right back to your plan at the very next meal and don't waste time feeling guilty!
Posted 1/1/2014  6:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 7 comments   12,049 views
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The 15 Worst Foods of the Year


Each year many people make food-related New Year's resolutions or goals. Figuring out how to make dining out fit in with those goals can be a big challenge. Over the years, we've highlighted many of the healthier options in our Diet Friendly Dining series. Last year we were encouraged by the increased number of nutrition conscious restaurant options that were available.

This year, we've seen all sorts of new foods hit the market. Some, like the recently invented Cronut, throw nutrition caution to the wind. Others, like Satisfries, are an attempt to create tasty lower-calorie favorites. We scoured restaurant menus to find the biggest nutrition disasters so you'll know what to avoid when eating out in the new year.  
Posted 12/27/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 31 comments   75,506 views
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Just How Healthy Are Burger King's New Low-Cal 'Satisfries'?


A few weeks ago, Burger King started heavily promoting its latest menu offering called Satisfries, which are formulated to have 40% less fat than the leading fast food French fry (from McDonald's). We decided to try the fries, than take a close look at the ingredients and nutrition facts to discover whether these fries are as healthy as they seem.
Posted 10/4/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Megan Patrick : 48 comments   27,647 views
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$20 Food Showdown: Fast Food vs. Healthy Food


Budget constraints prevent many people from eating right.

"I can't afford to buy healthy food."
"Fruits and vegetables are too expensive."
"Grocery store prices are astronomical."
"It's cheaper to eat fast food."

We hear these "excuses" every day--and they're good ones. But we don't give up that easily and believe any excuse can be overcome. Today we're setting out to prove that healthy eating is possible on any budget.

We compared the cost of unhealthy foods from the drive-thru, freezer section and snack foods aisle to the cost of healthy foods. By making even one of these swaps, you can make room in your grocery budget for a few new healthy foods.

The photos below aim to show the diversity in healthy foods available. Prices may vary in your area (some items were on sale when we shopped), but we think you'll be shocked at how far you can stretch a buck at the supermarket when you buy healthy foods!
Posted 4/18/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 680 comments   1,483,394 views
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What Do 300-Calorie Meals Really Look Like?


Wonder what 300 calories looks like? 300 calories look drastically different when you're eating in instead of dining out. Choosing healthier, more nutritious foods--at home and away--means you can eat much more food and still lose weight. Check out these 18 meal comparisons to see for yourself, then forward this post to your friends!
Posted 1/14/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 708 comments   169,134 views
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The 11 Worst Foods of the Year


Fast food and chain restaurants have evolved significantly over the last few years. Burgers, fries and sodas are still the status quo for many diners, but those who seek healthier foods have plenty of options, from fruit and yogurt parfaits and baked potatoes, to apples cut like fries and grilled chicken. Trans fats have been reduced and eliminated; lowfat milk, fresh fruits and vegetables grace the menus at even the most ubiquitous roadside eateries; and more companies are disclosing nutritional information.

Despite those changes, fast foods menus remain dichotomous: Healthy choices reside next to triple-stacked burgers and extra large fries.

We've rounded up 11 of the worst foods we've seen this year.

Stay far, far away from the foods listed below, and instead select from the plentiful healthy choices at each of the restaurants included in this article.


Posted 1/5/2013  10:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 729 comments   37,946 views
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The 10 Worst Foods of the Year


If 2009 was the year of cutting back, 2010 was the year of adding on, at least when it came to food. The year's top catch phrase: More cheese, please!

On menus from Taco Bell to the Cheesecake Factory, cheese was piled on, in several varieties. Melted, fried, sandwiched, stuffed and slathered on anything and everything, it's safe to say that, if you're eating these foods, you're meeting your dairy quota.

We've rounded up the worst new foods of the year and compiled some fun fitness facts to help put these caloric monstrosities in perspective!

Posted 12/30/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 420 comments   320,486 views
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New Under 400-Calorie Menu at McDonald's


McDonald's has a new online promotion to highlight both its sponsorship of the US Olympic team and its under-400 menu options. Win When USA Wins Gold Olympic promotion. This interactive quiz feature lets you learn more about the healthier options at McDonald's.
 
Do you know how many servings of whole grain are contained in the Fruit & Maple Oatmeal? How about how many grams of protein are in the Premium Grilled Chicken Sandwich? You can learn that and more from the new highlighted information. Not everything on the under-400 calorie favorites list are good options -- and most contain a very high amount of sodium. Here are some of the better choices from the new list.  
Posted 7/30/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 82 comments   28,587 views
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Bacon Sundaes: Dream Combo or Nightmare Snack?



What do you get when you top vanilla soft serve ice cream with chocolate fudge and caramel sauce? An ice cream sundae of course. Now for a limited time you can top that with hardwood smoked bacon pieces when you visit Burger King and make it a Bacon Sundae!



The bacon and ice cream combination seems to be the new taste sensation of the year. In February, Jack in the Box launched its bacon-flavored milkshake followed by Denny's Maple Bacon Sundae creation. Both were only offered for a limited time and now BK is following suit. It seems that other sweet-salty combinations like Bacon Chocolate Bars, Bacon Maple Cupcakes, and Bacon Lollipops have also become popular.
 
Burger King didn't just introduce the Bacon Sundae for the summer. They are also featuring other favorites from BBQ pork or chicken sandwiches and sweet potato fries to frozen lemonade for a limited time. Their new It's BBQ Day at Burger King commercial highlights all the best things about summer in America like picnics, lemonade and ice cream to also help get you in the mood. How does the new Burger King Bacon Sundae stack up nutritionally?

Photo by SparkPeople member KALORIE-KILLAH

Posted 7/9/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 47 comments   9,487 views
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Food Showdown: Battle of the Blended Beverages


As the weather warms up, you might take refuge in smoothie shops and coffee houses to cool down. Starbucks has long been a go-to destination for sippable summertime treats, and the chain has come out with some healthier options in recent years. However, some are better for you than others; many of the frozen drinks that are marketed as ''healthy'' are simply glorified milkshakes, even before the whipped cream and extra syrups.

If you were to grab a frozen drink on a hot summer day, which Starbucks pick would be lowest in calories and sugar: the Grande Green Tea Frappuccino® Blended Crème (no whipped cream), made with sweetened green tea and 2% milk, or the Grande Chocolate Smoothie (no whipped cream), made with rich mocha sauce, banana, and 2% milk?
 
Posted 5/19/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Melinda Hershey : 47 comments   27,789 views
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Something New Coming South of the Border


Last year wasn't one of the best sales years for Taco Bell. Perhaps it was because of a lawsuit early in the year but regardless of the reason, Taco Bell and their parent company Yum Brands Inc. seek to make this year better. With the hopes of increasing interest in the Mexican style fast-casual dining chain, they are rolling out two new test market initiatives with specific competitor markets in mind.
 
Last month nearly 800 Taco Bell test restaurants across 12 western U.S. states began trialing new breakfast options. The initial breakfast test market began with four cities and favorable response led to the increased test market to begin making a presence in the $42 billion food on the run breakfast market. New "First Meal" items focus on egg and steak, sausage or bacon stuffed burritos and wraps. Taco Bell has also included recognizable name brands like Cinnabon, Johnsonville, Tropicana, and Seattle's Best in the hopes of boosting interest as well. With a price range from $.99 to $2.79, more people may begin thinking "outside the bun" when it comes to breakfast.
 
In addition to the expanded test market of the new breakfast line, initial testing is under way for the new menu items that they hope take Taco Bell in the direction of gourmet food. Biggest Loser Chef Lorena Garcia has created the new Cantina Bell burrito, burrito bowl, and soft tacos menu items. Increased focus on nutrient rich ingredients such as seasoned white rice, black beans, and corn salsa appear to take aim at fresh-Mex competitors Chipotle Mexican Grill and Qdoba. Unfortunately, the initial testing market for Cantina Bell is restricted to the Bakersfield, California and Louisville, Kentucky areas for now. If all goes well, you may be seeing the new menu near you by the end of the year.
 
If neither of these new initiatives is in your area but you love Taco Bell, have no fear because the countdown has started for a new culturally cool concept that just might be.
Posted 2/27/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 27 comments   10,161 views
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10 Diet Friendly Restaurants: Stay on Track When You're On-the-Go


Harris Interactive recently conducted a survey on behalf of Applebee's Neighborhood Bar & Grill to gain information about food-related New Year's resolutions. They surveyed U.S. adults at the end of 2011 and found that 83 percent of those interviewed would like to eat better in the New Year but don't want to feel they are sacrificing to do it. Eighty-one percent of respondents also say that lower-calorie meal options when dining away from home would help them keep their food-related resolutions. Since nine in ten Americans that make food-related resolutions end up breaking them, help with finding lower calorie meal options is needed to point people in the right direction when they dine away from home.
 
Over the years, we have highlighted many healthier options in our Diet Friendly Dining series. Since many of you made food-related New Year's resolutions or goals for this year, here are 10 restaurants with calorie conscience menus to keep in mind when eating away from home.
Posted 1/19/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 43 comments   114,948 views
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Diet Friendly Dining: Denny's


In The Santa Clause movie, Scott Calvin and his son visit Denny's late in the evening after burning their holiday meal because America's diner is always open. Besides always being open, Denny's is probably best known for breakfast because it is served all day long. If breakfast isn't for you, a variety of other diner favorites are available to meet all kinds of tastes. In America, diners or "greasy spoons" were known for great tasting foods that were less than healthy. Today, Denny's attempts to keep the diner favorites while also offering more nutritionally fit meal options as well as a value menu so both the nutrition and cost conscience patron can find what they are looking for.
 
Denny's Fit Fare guide will be your key to better nutrition at your next visit. In addition to a variety of designated Fit Fare options, you can also substitute healthier items like egg whites, chicken sausage, turkey bacon, wheat pancakes, sugar-free syrup, Fit Fare fresh veggies, or seasonal fruit in any meal. The Fit Fare logos will help you identify the best choices to meet your nutrition meal goals.
  • Fit Fare Lean: Under 15 grams of fat
  • Fit Fare Light: Under 550 calories
  • Fit Fare Protein: Over 20 grams of protein
  • Fit Fare Fiber: Over 8 grams of fiber
 
Here are the best choices we found that might help you stay within your nutrition goals as you enjoy a meal away from home.
Posted 12/5/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 12 comments   11,019 views
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Separating Hype from Reality on Menus


When you're on the run or out with friends, it's not always possible to plan ahead and do your research before heading to a restaurant. (If you can plan ahead, Tanya's Food on the Run series is a fantastic resource.) Once there, your senses are often assaulted by glossy photos on menus and table tents, tantalizing smells, and fast-paced sales pitches from servers. Even your fellow diners get in on the act, urging you to try the newest, most popular menu item. "Crispy breaded macaroni and cheese bites wrapped in bacon and served with our five-queso, dragon fire dipping sauce." Sounds good when everyone else is ordering it, right?

While the trend at some hip restaurants is simplicity (Mac-n-cheese: penne + pancetta + artisan Gouda), most restaurants add long descriptions to entice diners. "Fluffy omelets," "real cheese," and "fresh lettuce" become selling points.

But think about it: Omelets are fluffy by nature. Shouldn't all cheese be real? And would someone really serve not-fresh lettuce? (Perhaps, but most customers would send it back.) If you're telling me about a specific type of food--Hass avocados, which have a richer flavor than other varieties; Vidalia onions, known for their sweetness; or Niman Ranch pork, a high quality brand--then please add the descriptors. But if restaurants are stating the obvious, overselling their dishes, or trying to gloss over unhealthy ingredients, we as consumers should be able to read beyond that and make educated decisions.

My number one piece of advice for translating menus: If you would never be willing to eat the opposite of a menu description (e.g. stale bread, soggy lettuce, tough chicken), then the modifier is just hype!

When you're learning to maneuver the thick menus of restaurants and seek out healthier items, it's not always easy. I've scoured menus for descriptions that are full of hollow marketing terms. Let's separate hype from reality. Below, I'll translate these menu descriptions. Do any of these adjectives and descriptions actually mean food is better for us? Or--health aspects aside--does it really make a difference in the final taste? Does it justify an added cost? No restaurants will be named in the list below.
Posted 8/25/2010  11:10:12 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 34 comments   15,051 views
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