More restaurants offering both fast, casual service and alternatives to hormone-loaded burgers and nuggets are finding success with a public that is increasingly choosing to eat more consciously and healthfully. If you happen to see any of the spots below, you’ll discover yummy, healthy “fast” food the whole family can enjoy at reasonable prices.
Panera Bread offers sandwiches on whole-grain bread, including their “white whole grain,” designed for little picky eaters. In addition to that universal favorite, mac and cheese, their kids’ menu includes several sandwiches — organic American grilled cheese, all-natural peanut butter and jelly, and deli sandwiches including antibiotic-free smoked turkey. A squeezable organic yogurt and a choice of apple juice, organic milk or chocolate milk accompanies each meal. Adults have many options as sandwiches and salads can both be made to order. In addition they offer a variety of soups and baked items. Zagat’s named Panera Bread Most Popular and No. 1 for Best Facilities, Best Healthy Options and Best Salads (for chain restaurants with less than 5,000 outlets) in 2009.
The Mexican food chain Chipotle’s philosophy is “Food With Integrity.” That translates into its serving naturally raised meat, working with dairy suppliers to eliminate the use of hormones, and supporting sustainable practices in produce farming. Menu options include burritos, tacos, salads, chips and guacamole, all made with fresh, local ingredients.
Many of Whole Foods markets have a seating area where you can eat their high-quality prepared foods ready for purchase. Overall, the store is committed to the 3 Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, demonstrated in their dining areas by such policies as using reusable and biodegradable plates and bowls, and providing receptacles for glass and plastic recycling.
Located throughout Oregon and Washington, Burgerville’s commitment is to fresh, local and sustainable food practices. Their burgers are made from local, vegetarian-fed and antibiotic-free beef. Cage-free eggs are in their breakfast items, and sustainable, local ingredients are used in their salads. Apple slices can replace fries on the kids’ menu. The milk served is local and hormone-free, and costs no more than a soft drink. Their delicious milk shakes also contain this milk. With a greater view toward being environmentally sound, Burgerville’s used cooking oils are turned into biodiesel, and all of the chain’s restaurants are 100 percent wind-powered.
O’Naturals cafes are hard to find, as they’re located in a couple of hospitals (one in Boston, one in Tucson), a health club (in Wichita!), and one mall in Maine (Falmouth). But, on the off chance you’re near one, I had to let you know about their good eats. Their menu is made of additive-, preservative-, artificial growth hormone-, and antibiotic- free ingredients. Their flatbreads are made of organic unbleached flour and are used to make sandwiches with fillers ranging from hummus to wild prairie-raised bison meatloaf. Flatbreads are also the base of their pizza offerings. Their kids’ menu includes the ubiquitous mac and cheese, as well as a turkey sandwich, shells and red sauce, and a grilled flatbread sandwich.