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The Five Best Sit-Down Restaurants for Real Food

healthiest restaurant chains

Unless you eat strictly at farm-to-table restaurants—and who can afford that?—dining-out options are pretty abysmal if you like to eat real food. In fact, menu items at most chain or national restaurants are so endlessly awful and packed with processed crap that even the cleanest eaters are often inspired to order with abandon.

Yet a growing number of chain restaurantsaredoing better, says Rich Goldstein, owner and CEO of The Natural Epicurean, a cooking school that focuses on natural, organic, and nourishing foods. "I'm amazed at how many more options there are now to have whole instead of processed foods, steamed or grilled options instead of fried, and whole grains for high fiber and filling calories," he says. "You just have to know where to find them—and what to order."

Thankfully, we've done the legwork for you. Here's our guide to the top five healthy food chains in America, plus the best menu items to order at each spot:

 

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Yard House
yard house

With more than 100 items made from scratch in each of the chain's 52 restaurants across the country, Yard House has definitely made strides when it comes to healthifying its menu. Even though we'd be really wowed if those house-made items were also made using USDA-certified organic ingredients, we still have to give props that what they're doing is a lot "cleaner" than heating up some sugar-packed sauce that's been sitting in plastic for months—or maybe even years.
Pro:Steering clear of gluten? You'll find more than 20 options on YH's special "Gluten Sensitive" menu, which even includes three gluten-free bottled beers. Vegetarian or vegan? There's a special menu for you people, too, that features items made with Gardein, a meat substitute.
Con:While Yard House says it prides itself on "finding the best and the freshest" ingredients, it hasn't yet made a commitment to buying local and organic foods—which anyone who eats clean knows is the only true way to get what's best and fresh.
What to order:The kale chicken caesar salad. While this is one of the lower-cal dishes on the menu (750 for the full-size, 550 for the small), it's still loaded with sodium (1,240 mg for the full-size!). But since is mostly due to the dressing, get it on the side and use less—or opt for a little olive oil and lemon juice instead.

 

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Red Lobster
red lobster

Sure, the chain may be known for cheddar biscuits, but its "LightHouse" menu includes plenty of low-cal, low-sodium options. And when it comes to seafood offerings, Red Lobster says it's committed to quality and safety. The company partners with the FDA and Global Food Safety Initiative to ensure that it's sourcing high-quality seafood. Red Lobster also partners with orgs like the National Fisheries Institute and Global Aquaculture Alliance to help protect the sustainability of the world's seafood supply.    
Pro:You won't find endangered or over-fished species such as Chilean sea bass on the menu. And everything that's been farmed comes from sustainable farms that have been certified by the Aquaculture Certification Council..

MORE:The 7 Best Fast Food Chains For Real Food

Con:Red Lobster is still has an "Endless Shrimp" all-you-can-eat option—what many consider unconscionable, considering the world has a global shrimp shortage. More than 90% of the shrimp consumed in this country is also imported, often from faraway places like Asia, which doesn't leave an awesome carbon footprint.   
What to order:The wild-caught flounder or sole. Get it oven-broiled (not baked with crab-and-seafood stuffing) for 340 calories, 8 g fat, 460 mg sodium, and a whopping 58 g protein.

 

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True Food Kitchen
true food

When restaurateur Sam Fox met Andrew Weil, MD—a big proponent of organic, anti-inflammatory whole foods—he had a hunch that the integrative doc's idea for a restaurant of anti-inflammatory dishes would be a big hit. Sure enough, the first True Food Kitchen that opened in Phoenix was an instant success—and 11 other locations have since sprouted in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Texas, and Virginia, with others on the way.
Pro:All True Food Kitchen locations source local and organic food whenever possible. The restaurants are also eco-friendly, with high-efficiency kitchen equipment, reclaimed wood floors, zero plastic-bottle waste, and even waterless urinals in the men's bathrooms (saving 40,000 gallons of water per year!).
Con:There's very little to point the finger at with this chain, except perhaps that it refuses to call itself one. On Dr. Weil's website, he writes that, "Engrained in True Food Kitchen's ethos is a commitment to a conscious, community-based dining experience—a commitment that ensures that, no matter how many locations are established, True Food will never become what one thinks of as a 'chain.'" What a shame, considering this isexactlywhat most "chain" restaurants should look like if we want the masses to clean up their diets.
What to order:The Tuscan Kale Salad, which rings in at just 202 calories, 12 g fat, and 8 g protein.

 

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Seasons 52
seasons 52

This restaurant has gained serious momentum since its first location opened in 2003, thanks to (as the name suggests) a fresh, seasonally inspired menu. What's more, Seasons 52 president Stephen Judge says that the chain is committed to sourcing locally whenever possible: "Adapting menus to suit local tastes, like offering a Meyer lemon dessert in California rather than its Key lime counterpart that's popular in the Southeast, [is] key to getting customers to think of Seasons 52 as a 'change' restaurant, not a chain restaurant."
Pro:Seasons 52 offers large variety of healthy grilled items, and everything on the menu is 475 calories or under.
Con:The vast majority of dishes on the Seasons 52 menu have more than 1,100 mg sodium—awfully close to the 1,500 mg recommended daily allowance.
What to order:The grilled boneless Rainbow Trout, an ocean-friendly seafood choice because it's farmed in a manner that doesn't harm the environment. Plus, at 990 mg sodium, it's one of the least salty dishes on the menu.

 

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Souplantation (in Southern California) & Sweet Tomatoes
salad

This chain is the all-you-can-eat Vegas buffet of the healthy eating world: Each of its 128 restaurants in 15 states work with local farmers to source produce for salad bars. And while you can pick up calorie-dense options such as chowder, fettucine alfredo, and pizza from "hot stations," healthier alternatives are so abundant and appetizing that these items seem pretty lame.
Pro:The Green Restaurant Association recently named Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes "Certified Green Restaurants," thanks to the fact that each has implemented some 40 steps to become more environmentally friendly. Both restaurants have menus  made up of more than 30% vegetarian entrees, include water-efficient spray valves in their kitchens, and recycle enough to save 12.5 million pounds of garbage from landfills each year.

MORE:Seven Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget

Con:We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Local doesn't mean organic, and organic is where it's at if you really want to eat clean.
What to order:Head straight for the salad bar and load up on plain veggies (not the ones marinating in oil). And as usual, don't drown your bowl of greens with dressing.






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Date: 16.12.2018, 00:06 / Views: 81592