With more of us becoming more health-conscious while being busier than ever, fast food joints have started to improve their menus to stay afloat. These healthy options are no longer limited to the “Swap fries for fruit”opportunities we’ve been seeing, but now some companies are going as far as cutting artificial ingredients from their foods, along with removing antibiotics from their meats.
While we’re sure there are other amazing options out there in the world of fast food doing amazing things, here are our personal votes on healthy places to grab and go:
1. LYFE Kitchen: Modern Comfort Food
With 20 locations across six states (California, Illinois, Texas, Colorado, Nevada, and Tennessee), LYFE Kitchen has been creating a buzz in the healthy fast food world. Something many people don’t know is that the chain is backed by Art Smith, Oprah’s former personal chef who also appeared on the TV show “Top Chef.”
LYFE Kitchen offers what they term, “Modern Comfort Food,” which includes dishes like Blueberry Quinoa Pancakes for breakfast, Seasonal Market Salads (with organic greens), Turkey Meatloaf, and Crispy Chicken and Brussels Sprouts for lunch and dinner. As a bonus, every dish can be made dairy-free, and each menu offers several gluten-free and vegan options as well.
2. Veggie Grill: More Veggies Please
Veggie Grill takes getting in your daily dose of vegetables to another level: here, you can find veggie burgers made with pea protein, “Wunderbraut” sausages made with Beyond Meat, seasonal salads, and various “bowls” filled to the brim with veggies, grains, and nuts like butternut squash, quinoa, kale, sweet potato and more.
They also offer desserts (with a gluten-free brownie option) and an interactive nutrition calculator that helps you calculate your nutrients and calories, so you know what and how much goodness you’re putting into your body.
Veggie Grill has several locations throughout California, Washington, Chicago, and Oregon, and plans to double in size and expand to other areas by 2020.
3. Eatsa: The Future of Healthy Fast Food
Eatsa is an incredibly unique fast food chain. Eatsa isn’t your typical drive-through or walk-in fast food experience: instead, customers serve themselves through self-serve kiosks, complete with iPads to order your food and a “cubby” pick-up system that holds your dish after humans prepare it in the back. Eatsa believes this creates a faster, more pleasant customer experience, stating on their website, “No lines. No cashier. No nonsense. We’re engineered to get you in and out fast.”
No nonsense also includes their healthy menu choices, which are free from scary ingredients and chemicals. Instead, they specialize in bowls filled with fresh ingredients, like their No Worry Curry bowl, featuring roasted veggies in a spicy Thai Curry sauce.
Eatsa has several locations in San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as Washington D.C. and New York. Check their website regularly to be updated on new locations openings.
4. BareBurger: Organic Burgers
BareBurger’s burger menu is based on “No funny business,” with a focus on organic, fresh, and clean food options. All of BareBurger’s burgers are organic, grass-fed, antibiotic-free and hormone free. Also, they also offer chicken, bison, and turkey options that are free-range, antibiotic-free, and humanely-raised. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you’ll be ecstatic to know they offer veggie burgers made with organic grains and vegetables.
BareBurger is located throughout New York, Connecticut, California, and even (their newest location) in Dubai.
5. Panera Bread: Super Accessible and Fresh
Panera Bread isn’t the first fast food joint to come to mind when people think of “healthy” fast food, but it turns out many of their new menu options are surprisingly clean. Plus, with locations spanning the entire U.S., they are a great option when you’re in a hurry to get a healthy bite.
To keep it clean at Panera, skip their bread and bakery section. Instead, focus on their seasonal salads made with antibiotic-free chicken and fresh veggies and greens, smoothies, and soups like their Vegetarian Creamy Tomato soup.
6. Jason’s Deli: Highlighting Organics
Jason’s Deli, which has several locations throughout the U.S., makes this list due to its devotion to organic ingredients; especially when it comes to ingredients (like corn and wheat) that are often genetically modified.
Order a portion of their organic Blue Corn chips, roll your fresh wrap in an organic wheat wrap, or savor their Nutty Mixed-Up Salad with organic field greens, grapes, chicken breast, feta, walnuts, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, raisins, and organic apples.
7. Chipotle: Mexican, Hormone, and Antibiotic-Free
Craving Mexican, but having a hard time finding an option that uses fresh, clean ingredients only? Chipotle is your best bet. They give you the opportunity to build your bowl or burrito, buffet-style, with fresh ingredients that include rice, beans, an assortment of veggies, guacamole, salsa, and (drumroll) pasture-raised, antibiotic and hormone-free meats.
Not to mention, any GMO ingredients they may use are freely disclosed, as well as the presence of gluten or other allergies, on their website. With over 800 locations nationwide, Chipotle will more than do in a pinch.
One of the best aspects of the healthy fast food movement (aside from, you know, the food) is the fact that it raises the bar for restaurant food now and in the future. There’s nothing better than knowing you can grab something healthy for you and your family when you’re on the run, and these restaurants are committed to keeping that feeling alive for generations to come.