While it may be tempting to order whatever is touted as "fresh" on the menu, make sure to take a good look at the other ingredients included in the recipe to assure that it is also healthy.
You may be surprised to see that salads topped with summer fruits and veggies are calorie and sodium laden, thanks to the addition of dressing and croutons. Simple pasta dishes tossed with fresh veggies may also be rich in butter or cream sauce contributing to the overall saturated fat content. While it is usually a best practice to choose a dish featuring the freshest ingredients available, don't be afraid to ask questions about the recipe, request certain items be left off, or put on the side. If you aren't sure about the nutrition, check online for details.
Here are some of our favorite "fresh" menu items from chain restaurants that actually live up to their names:
Panera Bread Company: Low-Fat Smoothies
Ranging in calories from 230 to 300, Panera's 16-ounce, low-fat fruit smoothies feature organic low-fat vanilla yogurt and a fresh fruit blend. With 6 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber in most smoothies, this is certainly a healthier breakfast option than a bagel or pastry.
Applebee's: 1/2 Seasonal Berry & Spinach Salad, Regular
If you are watching your sodium, ask for a smaller portion of blue cheese. You can also reduce the sodium and calories by asking for the dressing on the side and only using a small amount.
Subway: Ultimate Veggie Sandwich
Subway has jumped on the avocado bandwagon and is highlighting fresh avocado as a healthy addition to their sandwiches. We love the Ultimate Veggie sandwich with just 330 calories, 440mg sodium, 7 grams of fiber, and a whopping dose of good fats.
Cheesecake Factory: Skinnylicious Herb Crusted Salmon
The Cheesecake Factory has taken note of their large, high-calorie entrees and unveiled a new lineup of menu items known as Skinnylicious. Each of these dishes has less than 650 calories. Our top choice is the Herb Crusted Salmon that has the lowest amount of sodium (less than 700mg) and around 570 calories.
Check out more of our recommendations for the best picks at your favorite restaurants: