December 26 2014 – Robert Fiumara
As our waistbands expand and our lives continue to be busy, many diners are looking for healthier take-out and dine-in options. Factor in common dietary restrictions like vegan, vegetarians, and gluten-free, and the options for healthier fare grow even more.
In a recent survey by Consumer Reports, the top rated healthy restaurant was Subway. 96% of those surveyed said the sandwich shop offers the healthiest fast-food dining options out there. Surprisingly, Chipotle, who offers antibiotic free poultry and GMO-free ingredients, didn’t even make the top ten. They’re ranked 13th out of 65 restaurants. Even more surprising? When it comes to tastiness, Subway ranked at the bottom. Its success comes from the fact that the chain is able to expand at a significant rate and you can find a Subway almost anywhere in the world. In fact, the Subway chain is bigger than McDonalds.
If you travel often and you’re constantly looking for healthy on-the-go options, consider flying in and out of Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI). It takes the top spot this year on the list of airports with the healthiest dining options. According to rankings conducted by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, of the restaurants and cafes inside BWI, 92% of them offer healthy “cholesterol-free, plant-based, fiber-packed” meals.
Another big trend that’s changing the way fast-food locations operate? Clean eating. In fact, several California based chains are attempting to cater to a crowd that doesn’t shop at Whole Foods but might dine at Wendy’s or McDonalds. How are they doing this? By rethinking the way fast food is marketed, prepared, and served, and by offering the option to add craft beer with every order from local breweries. Instead of offering foam and plastic ware, many of these cafes are offering real china and silverware and seating options that remind diners of a high-class restaurant instead of fast-food. On the menu are options that are consistent with a clean-eating lifestyle.
One of these chains, Lyfe Kitchen, focuses more on the aspect of how their food tastes rather than focusing on how healthy it is for diners. Serving burgers and chocolate desserts that are all less than 600 calories, Lyfe Kitchen has expanded to thirteen locations around southern California and is seeing increasing interest in franchising outside of California. Focusing on a younger crowd is also a surefire way that restaurants can succeed in their goal of offering healthier dining options. Many who are under thirty avoid traditional fast food because they eat out often and don’t want to feel bad about their choices. Another main difference between a chain like Wendy’s and Lyfe Kitchen is the cost. There’s no dollar menu at Lyfe Kitchen but diners are willing to spend more knowing they’re eating healthy, fresh food, that’s in line with their dietary restrictions and lifestyle choices.
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