Do you ever have one of those weeks where you have plans every night and don’t have time to cook? That was me last week. I really want to get back in the kitchen because I have a few good recipes that I want to post, but I haven’t had time to make them and take pictures! And what fun is a recipe without pretty pictures? In the meantime, I would still like to give my readers some healthy food options, so I’m telling you about my favorite healthy “fast food” options. Yes, “fast food” can be healthy food, especially in NYC where the options seem endless! AND the best part is that all of these places have “fast food” prices (my meal is always under $10).
*Every place has vegetarian options, but only The Hummus Place and Angelica Kitchen are fully vegetarian.
** While the majority of this list is located in NYC only, I included a few chains that can be found anywhere.
Location: Multiple locations in Manhattan
Description: This is one of my favorite food places in NYC. The premise is simple: chopped salads in a bowl or a wrap. Chop’t has a great menu with a variety of hand crafted selections (watch out for some unhealthier options like the Chop’t Po Boy Salad). Featuring local and seasonal ingredients, Chop’t is constantly introducing new items that you won’t find at other salad places, like kabocha squash, tempeh, and southwest roasted sweet potatoes. The unique salad combinations are guaranteed to please, and if not, you can always create your own!
Favorite healthy item: Mexicali vegan sandwich with the Mexican goddess dressing
2) Dig Inn
Description: Aptly described as “farm to counter”, Dig Inn brings farm fresh ingredients to the fast food world. Dig Inn features a delicious variety of locally sourced vegetables and meats. I usually get the small veggie plate, which comes with ample grains (brown rice or bulgur) and three choices of vegetables. Some of my favorites are the cauliflower salad, roasted Brussel sprouts, and quinoa salad, but the selection varies with the seasons. The best part is that the small veggie plate is only $5 and it’s enough for lunch or dinner!
Favorite healthy item: Veggie plate with brown rice
Description: Whole Foods isn’t just a supermarket. Each Whole Foods has a tremendous prepared food section, which includes a unique salad bar and hot food bar, a daily variety of soups, a pizza station, freshly made sushi, and other pre-packaged salads and sandwiches. When I’m running somewhere after work, Whole Foods is my go-to for a quick healthy dinner. And the best part is that Whole Foods lists the ingredients in the prepared food, so you know what’s in your food.
Favorite healthy item: Anything from the salad bar
4) Hummus Place
Description: Obviously Hummus Place has hummus, but there’s so much more! This Mediterranean vegetarian restaurant has both sit-down and take-out options. The dishes are hearty and plentiful, featuring multiple hummus dishes and tons of vegetables, like a Beet salad, cauliflower, roasted eggplant, and tabouli salad. Although it’s a vegetarian restaurant, both meat lovers and herbivores will leave here feeling satiated.
Favorite healthy item: Hummus Tahini with Whole Wheat Pita
Description: I know that Panera might not come to mind when thinking of healthy food since it displays sugar covered pastries and giant loaves of bread, but there are many healthy options at Panera. This chain has an abundance of soups, salads, and sandwiches, so it’s easy to choose a healthy option! In NY (and soon everywhere), the calories of each item are listed on the menu, so it’s easy to pick something lower in calories. I suggest choosing something that is 500 calories or less.
Favorite healthy item: Autumn Squash Soup
6) Just Salad
Location: All over Manhattan
Description: Like Chop’t, the premise of Just Salad is in its name. It’s “Just Salad”, but with a wonderful variety. Featuring fresh seasonal ingredients, Just Salad is a quick lunch spot with many healthy options. Choose one of their premade salads or create your own!
Favorite Healthy Item: Hudson Valley Mix Salad (seasonal)
7) Hale and Hearty
Location: Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island
Description: Sometimes a simple soup is the best lunch on a cold New York day, and Hale and Hearty is the ideal place for just that. Many of the soups are loaded with veggies, making them hearty and healthy. Try to stay away from fatty cream based soups, as they often contain a ton of calories.
Favorite Healthy Item: Holiday Pumpkin Bisque (seasonal)
8) Paradis To Go
Location: 114 Fourth Avenue New York, NY
Description: I discovered this tiny café across the street from my gym a few years ago. This is my favorite type of place with homemade sandwiches and salads that change daily. It’s ideal for when I want a home cooked meal but don’t have the time to make it!
Favorite Healthy Item: It changes every time!
Sit-down with takeout available:
Location: Brooklyn (DUMBO) & Manhattan (NOHO)
Description: I was in DUMBO one rainy Saturday afternoon searching YELP for a healthy lunch spot, and I found Siggy’s. This tiny location had a wait, but I assure you that it was worth it! The organic food tasted fresh, healthy, delicious, and like something I would make! I appreciated the abundance of vegetarian choices, as my boyfriend savored the “flavorful” burger.
Favorite Healthy Item: Greek Style Quinoa Avocado Salad
10) Angelica Kitchen
Location: 300 East 12th Street New York, NY
Description: I would venture a guess that most vegetarians/vegans in NYC know of and have visited this restaurant. Angelica Kitchen is an organic vegan restaurant that uses fresh healthy ingredients and omits refined sugar and preservatives from their food. Although the food contains no animal products, it doesn’t lack in flavor. Angelica Kitchen doesn’t use any fake meat products, but instead features a variety of plant based proteins, such as tempeh, seitan, and tofu.
Favorite Healthy Item: Tempeh Reuben Sandwich
Are there any healthy “fast food” places that I missed? What are your favorites?