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The 8 Healthiest Chain Restaurants in the Country

Posted Dec 18 2013 - 9:00am
Tagged With: chain restaurants

5. Pret a Manger

Locations: Boston; Chicago; New York; Washington, D.C.; France, Hong Kong and The United Kingdom

Pret A Manger is known for the freshness of its food; any leftover food that doesn’t sell the day it was made gets donated to charities working with hunger. There are also a ton of options for those with dietary restrictions.

Pick: The Salmon & Quinoa Protein Pot and the Tuna Nicoise Salad are both low-calorie, protein-packed picks. If you’re feeling a sandwich, the Chicken Avocado is a good option to get a dose of healthy fats. The Chicken Sesame Sushi Wrap is a healthy bet as well with a little added crunch.

Skip: The Chicken Caesar & Bacon baguette and the Swedish Meatball Hot Wrap are higher on the calorie and fat spectrums, as are the pastries and croissants.  

6. Chipotle

Locations: 1500+ in the United States, Canada, England and France

Chipotle is the ultimate college student’s chain restaurant. It’s the restaurant that never gets old no matter how many times you’ve had your favorite bowl or salad. Because Chipotle is so customizable, it’s easy to be healthy there, provided you make a few smart choices when ordering.

Pick: Get a bowl or a salad—you’ll barely notice the tortilla’s absence. Choose brown rice and load up on fajita vegetables. Other delicious additions? Black or pinto beans, tomatoes, salsa, corn, lettuce and guacamole. Check out their handy nutrition calculator for the lowdown on calories, fat and carbohydrates in your favorite meals.

Skip: Skip the tortilla, sour cream and cheese. It may seem like a huge sacrifice, but you’ll drop hundreds of calories.

7. Au Bon Pain

Locations: 26 states; Washington, D.C.; India; Kuwait; South Korea and Thailand

Au Bon Pain has the feel of a cute café, but it’s reasonably priced for good, fresh food. And there are a ton of options—from sandwiches to soups and salads, Au Bon Pain has food for the pickiest of eaters.

Pick: In the mood for soup? The 12 Veggies soup or the French Moroccan Tomato Lentil soup are great low-calorie bets. Stopping by for a quick breakfast? A medium bowl of oatmeal will do the trick.

Skip: The Black Angus Steak and Cheese sandwich comes in at a whopping 840 calories—steer clear. Another healthy tip: many sandwiches come in half-sized portions. Get a small cup of broth-based (not creamy) soup to pair with your half sandwich.

8. Subway

Locations: More than 40,000 in 103 countries

Subway’s “Eat Fresh” motto is there for a reason. Affordable, fresh and seemingly everywhere, Subway is a great place for a quick six-inch sandwich during hectic class-filled days. With so many bread and topping options, you’re sure to find something you love. Subway also does a great job of marking how many calories their foods contain as well as giving you smart tips for avoiding high-fat and high-sodium foods.

Pick: A six-inch Veggie Delite has less than 250 calories yet is crunchy and flavorful with its fat-free condiments and vegetables. Craving meat? The Oven-Roasted Chicken sandwich has only 310 calories. Choose the Wheat or the Honey Oat breads (they have the highest amount of fiber) and fill up on as many veggies as you can. Try mustard, honey mustard, vinegar or the sweet onion dressings for flavor without a ton of fat.

Skip: Skip the cheese and the high-calorie toppings like ranch dressing and regular mayonnaise. The Big Hot Pastrami Melt is the highest-calorie sandwich option, so steer clear. It clocks in at 580 calories in just a six-inch sandwich!  

 

No matter where you are, your local college town is sure to have a delicious, healthy option for those days when you just can’t bear to cook. Want more healthy (but fast and easy!) eating advice? Check out our guide to healthy study snacks (all containing less than 300 calories!) and recipes for the eight best microwavable meals. And don’t miss our guide to the nine “healthy” foods that actually aren’t—and what to eat instead

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