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Fast Food Gone Healthy: Panera Ditches All Artificial Ingredients

Written on June 9, 2014 at 10:18 am , by

Written by Anna Hecht, editorial intern

Dining out, while following a balanced diet, is hardly ever as simple as it seems—especially when the seemingly “healthy” restaurants have packed their meals with artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives. So we couldn’t help but give three major cheers when Panera Bread announced that it will swear off all artificial ingredients and preservatives by 2016.

Founded on the belief that “quick food could also be quality food,” Panera plans to further its mission by retiring artificial ingredients, such as MSG and artificial trans fats. Instead, the company has built a comprehensive plan that will have all locations using clean ingredients, along with a transparent menu. Translation: customers are gaining more control over what they eat, even when they’re not cooking it themselves. Everybody now: big sigh of relief!

So what specific changes can you expect when you visit a Panera? First, all of those delish dressings and sauces can be served guilt-free, because there won’t be any artificial preservatives. And the bakery items (mmm…bear claws)—actually, everything on the menu—will no longer contain high-fructose corn syrup, and natural alternatives will replace artificial coloring in icing.  Panera is even looking into different options for traditional deli meats, since those often have nitrites and artificial preservatives hanging around.

The problem with all of these artificial ingredients lies in what Panera is calling “a broken food system.” Even though many of us are health-conscious, the status quo over the past few decades has been to include artificial additives in pretty much everything—from snacks to fast foods and pantry ingredients. While choosing foods wisely can be somewhat of a chore, efforts like this will become a restaurant trend, improving the dining-out experience for those of us who are constantly on the go. Fingers crossed!

Photo courtesy of Panera

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Get Heart Healthy with Subway’s Savvy Dietician

Written on June 11, 2013 at 1:57 pm , by

Heart-healthy options are poppin’ up all over the Subway menu. (Photo courtesy of Subway.com)

Written by Chloe Metzger, editorial intern

It’s no secret that Subway is known for being one of the healthiest fast-food options in the industry (who could forget Jared’s larger-than-life weight loss?). But as of last year, it’s also the first of its kind to receive the stamp of approval by the American Heart Association. So what does that mean for you? More nutritious (and tasty!) bang for your buck.

In fact, Subway recently got 16 AHA-approved meals on its menu. To bring you expert nutritional know-how for your crazy-busy summer, we chatted with Subway’s Corporate Dietician of 13 years, Lanette Kovachi, RD. She knows it can get difficult to stay on track while on-the-go, and facing a variety of fast-food choices is no joke. “When it comes to eating out, people get overly hungry and end up choosing a restaurant where they’re not going to get good options,” Kovachi explains. “They’re in dire-hunger mode, and they just go for that indulgent sandwich or meal, or they eat too many portions.” The trick, she says, is not letting yourself become too ravenous. When that happens, “your body takes over and craves more calories and fat.”

But when you’re on the brink of an I’ll-eat-absolutely-anything-right-now-level of hunger, limiting portions and staying satisfied is easier said than done. To keep from succumbing to the pitfalls of dining out, curb your cravings by eating fresh fruit right before chowing down. Kovachi recommends snacking on apples: “They fill you up and take off the edge.” It’s no surprise, then, that apple slices are a staple item on Subway’s menu. “It’s not exciting,” she admits, “but they’re quick to grab and cost-friendly.”

Of course, we can’t always find a Subway when we’re on the road and hunger pangs strike. Then, it’s all about moderation: “When you order out, just try to think about what’s a sensible portion,” Kovachi suggests. “Even if you’re feeling really hungry, know that ordering half of what you really want is still going to satisfy your cravings.”

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Feet not quite this flawless? At least you can protect them. (Photo by Ericka McConnell)

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What’s In a Shamrock Shake?

Written on February 9, 2012 at 12:36 pm , by

shamrock shake mcdonalds

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Strupey

McDonald’s announced yesterday that—for the first time in its history—their annual Shamrock Shake will be available nationwide. Other than meaning that its cult-like following no longer has to track which of the locations offers the green concoction, this also means we’re all suddenly faced with yet another easily-accessible temptation! (Not that you should be frequenting fast food restaurants…)

Let’s break down what you’re in for if you consume the seasonal shake:

For a 16 oz. Shamrock Shake…

  • 550 calories
  • 16 grams of fat (8 of which are saturated, and 1 that’s trans fat)
  • 96 grams of carbohydrates
  • 72 grams of sugar
  • 13 grams of protein (from the milk)
  • 190 mg of sodium
  • 3 oz. of leprechaun blood
  • And then these ingredients for the special Shamrock Shake syrup: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, sugar, natural plant flavoring (plant source), xanthan gum, citric acid, sodium benzoate (preservative), yellow 5, blue 1.

Our recommendation: Make a low-calorie vanilla shake at home by using low-fat ice cream and skim milk, add a dash of peppermint extract, and then a couple drops of green food coloring.

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Written on May 20, 2011 at 3:01 pm , by

Photo by Karen Pearson

Photo by Karen Pearson

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