You are here

Healthy Travel Diet: The Best Food to Eat on the Road



Fact: Each day about one in four Americans eats at least one meal at a fast-food restaurant. If that number includes you, check out these healthy meal choices.

Let's start with Boneheads.
Here's what they serve: Fresh grilled fish and chicken fire-grilled with Piri Piri sauce, made with spicy chilies from South Africa.

Where you'll find them: In California, Florida, and Georgia. In the next two years, they plan to open in North Carolina and expand in Florida, Georgia, and California (

What to Order

  • Boneheads offers four types of fish, including mahi mahi and grouper. You pick one of three toppings to accompany the fish — we like the pineapple salsa — and a choice of one side. Go for grilled zucchini strips or chilled marinated broccoli.
  • Roasted portobello mushroom over a house salad with dressing on the side.

Note: Boneheads doesn't currently offer nutrition information.

Healthy Fast-Food Lunch Picks


What they serve: Started by the CEO of the Stonyfield Farm dairy company, O'Naturals offers fresh, organic, and natural sandwiches, salads, soups, and pizzas. All of their meats are hormone- and antibiotic-free.

Where you'll find them: Currently, there are four restaurants: two in Maine and one each in Massachusetts and Kansas. By 2009, O'Naturals plans to add 11 more locations nationwide (

What to Order

You can build your own salad or sandwich, but check out these menu items too:

  • Spicy Peanut salad: organic mixed greens, scallions, carrots, alfalfa sprouts, cukes, mushrooms, cilantro, and spicy peanut dressing (224 calories, 14g fat).
  • Teriyaki Noodles: hearty udon noodles and veggies in a traditional teriyaki sauce (326 calories, 4g fat).


What they serve: This restaurant's motto is "Feel Great Fast Food" because they offer healthier versions of menu classics, such as fries — on the EVOS menu they're called "Airfries" because they're baked instead of being deep-fried.

Where you'll find them: Right now, just in Florida and Las Vegas. But in the next year, EVOS plans to open 12 new eateries on the West Coast, with more to follow out East (

What to Order

  • Spicy Thai & Crispy Chicken Salad: organic field greens, green-leaf lettuce, crispy rice noodles, reduced-fat hormone-free breaded and air-baked chicken-breast strips and spicy peanut and chili pepper dressing (350 calories, 13g fat).
  • Honey Mesquite Chicken Burger: low-fat hormone-free chicken-breast strips, leaf lettuce, tomato and mesquite honey mustard (370 calories, 10.5g fat).


What they serve: The leanest burgers in America, according to the company's Web site. If you don't like beef, there are plenty of alternatives: You can get turkey, chicken, veggie, or fish burgers or sandwiches.

Where you'll find them: In California, Texas, and Michigan. In the upcoming year, they'll open restaurants in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

What to Order

  • Chicken Breast Burger: grilled boneless chicken breast on a wheat bun with low-fat ranch dressing (320 calories, 5g fat).
  • Chili (full order): made with lean ground beef and served with cheese and chopped onions (220 calories, 10g fat).

Noodles & Company

What they serve: No surprise here — lotsa noodles, all Asian-, Mediterranean-, or American-inspired. They also offer salads and soups. Bonus: Every dish is offered in two sizes — regular and small, including the delicious mac 'n' cheese.

Where you'll find them: All over the Midwest, with a few restaurants in California and Oregon, and more in the Washington, D.C., metro area. By 2008, Noodles & Company plans on opening 35 new restaurants (

What to Order

  • Bangkok Curry: snap peas, carrots, red peppers, onions, and mushrooms balanced with a half portion of rice noodles in yellow curry served on napa cabbage with black sesame (400 calories, 10g fat).
  • Mediterranean Mixed Grill: thin-cut grilled steak and grilled chicken breast on spinach with tomato, Kalamata olives, red onion, and feta (190 calories, 2g fat).

Moe's Southwest Grill

What they serve: Mexican — burritos, tacos, quesadillas, fajitas, nachos, and salads. Vegetarians can also eat happy. Moe's offers a choice of tofu in all of their burritos, tacos, and quesadillas. Bonus: If you go to, you can see the nutrition information for meals customized to your liking (for instance, the burrito minus the guac). So take your cell!

Where you'll find them: In 35 states and Washington, D.C. (go to for specific locations).

What to Order

  • Pinky Tuscadero salad (without shell): lettuce, cukes, salsa, shredded cheese, and black olives (183 calories, 12g fat). Tip: Ask for extra salsa instead of using the full-fat dressings.
  • The Full Monty taco with fish: 6-inch flour tortilla, black beans, shredded cheese, salsa, and lettuce (172 calories, 6g fat).

Baja Fresh Mexican Grill

What they serve: This chain's slogan is "Built Baja Fresh," which means the food isn't frozen, microwaved, or out of a can and the tortillas are lard-free. However, read the menu carefully: A chicken quesadilla has 1,330 calories — that alone could be more than two-thirds of your daily caloric intake.

Where you'll find them: Baja Fresh has 291 locations around the United States. For restaurant locations, log on to

What to Order

  • Mahi Mahi Taco - Grilled: sliced avocado, cabbage, pico de gallo, and zesty avocado dressing (230 calories, 9g fat).
  • Baja Ensalada with Chicken: romaine lettuce topped with charbroiled chicken, sliced tomatoes, Cotija cheese, pico de gallo, and crispy tortilla strips with fat-free salsa verde dressing (325 calories, 7g fat).


This way to healthy menus at an exit near you: speedy service and smart eats.

What to Order

For breakfast choose the Fruit 'n Yogurt Parfait (160 calories, 2g fat). If that's not filling enough, tack on a plain English muffin with strawberry preserves for an extra 175 calories and 1.5g fat.

Come lunchtime, pick the Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken and Newman's Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing (260 calories, 9g fat).

Burger King

What to Order

  • The TENDERGRILL Chicken Garden Salad with Ken's Fat Free Ranch dressing (300 calories, 9g fat) is your best bet.
  • The BK VEGGIE Burger (without mayo) is another good choice (340 calories, 8g fat).


What to Order

  • A 6-inch turkey breast sandwich on wheat with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, pickles. and olives (280 calories and 4.5g fat).
  • Any of the 4-inch mini subs, except the tuna with cheese, because this sandwich has 18g fat. (180 to 190 calories, 3 to 3.5g fat).

Chipotle Mexican Grill

What to Order

A vegetarian burrito bowl with black beans, fajita veggies. and tomato salsa (255 calories, 9g fat).

A salad of chicken, black beans, and tomato salsa (374 calories, 12g fat). This doesn't include dressing, but who needs it when you've got salsa?

Panera Bread

What to Order

The Grilled Salmon Salad (340 calories and 14g fat, including the dressing).

At dinner, try the Roasted Wild Mushroom Crispani — Panera's version of a thin-crust pizza (340 calories, 16g fat).


What to Order

For breakfast, opt for the Low Fat Strawberry Flavored Yogurt with Granola Topping. Pair it with a Mandarin Orange Cup (330 calories, 6g fat).

At lunch, get a Sour Cream & Chives Baked Potato plus a Caesar Side Salad (400 calories, 8.5g fat).


What to Order

At breakfast, bypass the muffins and opt for the new Peachy Raspberry Yogurt Parfait (320 calories, 4g fat).

For lunch, try one of Starbuck's latest offerings: the Fiesta Salad with chicken (320 calories, 10g fat).

More Healthy Fast-Food Lunch Picks

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, August 2007.