List: 10 Tasty Options from Fast-Food Restaurants
Like a lot of foodies, I prefer to eat at locally owned restaurants as often as possible. But sometimes, I just need something quick for lunch (or I’m craving an old favorite that I probably shouldn’t be eating) and rapid pick-up/drive-thrus are calling my name.
Fast food restaurants have come a long way since I became a vegetarian 11 years ago, and many national favorites have only become available in Oklahoma within the last decade or so. It’s pretty easy now to find fairly healthy veggie options or to customize away with online ordering platforms. Check out some of my favorites below!
1) The Veggie from Jimmy John’s
I only recently started eating at Jimmy John’s, mostly because Ed is so obsessed with it. Kids in high school would eat there a ton, but it never seemed like something I’d be into (mostly because I didn’t think to modify…amateur move!). The Veggie straight off the menu comes with sliced provolone, avocado, cucumber, lettuce, tomato & mayo. But it can easily be made so much better! I do -avocado spread (I think it tastes funny), -cucumber, -tomato, -mayo, easy cheese, +Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard, +Jimmy Peppers, +onions, +oregano-basil, +sprouts, all on wheat bread. With my modifications, the sandwich went from 770 calories to 490 calories. But you must order it with a side of their new Kickin’ Ranch for dipping (another 150 calories, but so worth it).
2) Veggie Salad from Freebirds
There used to be a Freebirds on Campus Corner, and I remember first training the chain as a visiting high school student. Luckily, as an adult, there’s one just down the street from my house. I always order a mixed greens salad from Freebirds and top it with salsa, lime juice, roasted veggies, corn salsa, white onions, shredded lettuce, black + pinto beans, Spanish rice and sliced avocado (will sometimes add cheese, too). The salad always tastes super fresh, just like I’d made it at home (and I probably could have, but whatever).
3) Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich & Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad from Panera Bread
Like many a white girl, I am a Panera fiend. My mouth instantly waters at the mention of “you-pick-two." In the summertime, I love their Corn Chowder, and in the wintertime you can’t go wrong with their Tomato Basil Soup. But when I’m not in the soup mood, I usually go for the Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich + Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad—with modifications, of course.
Veggie Sandwich comes with cucumber, green leaf lettuce, feta, cilantro-jalapeno hummus, red onions, tomato basil bread, salt & pepper, peppadew peppers and sliced tomatoes. I sub the tomato basil bread for sourdough, -cucumber, -tomato, extra hummus.
Southwest Salad comes with Chile Lime Rojo Ranch, Feta, Cilantro, Chicken, Quinoa Sofrito Blend, Avocado, Adobo Corn Blend, Tortilla Strips, Arugula and Romaine. I do -chicken, +red onions, +peppadew peppers and +hard boiled egg.
4) Veggie Chili from McAlister’s Deli
I’m a huge fan of vegetarian chili and sometimes forget just how good it is at McAlister’s. This chili comes loaded with pinto beans, tomatoes, kidney beans, onions, bell peppers, carrots, garlic and chili powder. It’s great on its own, or try it on the Spud Ole or Taco Salad.
5) Veggie Salad from Fuzzy’s
I love me some Fuzzy's; veggie tacos at the Campus Corner location were my hangover food of choice in college (just ask my best friend Lillie about Norman Music Festival 2013). Now that I’m older and wiser, I tend to go for the Veggie Salad. It’s loaded with shredded veggies, including zucchini, squash and carrots, and is toped with black beans, onion, shredded cheese, feta, cilantro and tortilla strips. I do no tomatoes on mine and order salsa for the dressing. So good!
6) Potato, Egg & Cheese Taquito from Whataburger
There’s a Whataburger down the street from our house and I’m honestly obsessed with their Potato, Egg & Cheese Taquito. Whataburger famously scrambles its eggs to order, so these are always hot and hella fresh. Be sure to snag a couple handfuls of their picante sauce for dipping.
7) Veggie Salad and Bean & Cheese Burrito from Chipotle
I’ve always loved a simple burrito bowl from Chipotle with veggies, lettuce, rice and beans, but I was super ecstatic when they added sofritas to the menu a couple years ago (learn more here). I don’t eat tofu that often, but I’ll definitely make an exception for the tofu at Chipotle! Honestly, it might be the best I’ve ever had.
Fun fact: I’ve actually never ordered a burrito from Chipotle until a couple months ago, partially because they just seemed too filling and partially because I love their burrito bowls so much. But one day I just wanted something good and went with an uber simple burrito stuffed with black + pinto beans, cilantro lime rice, lettuce and cheese along with salsa and guac for dipping. This is for sure a new “treat yoself” favorite for me.
8) Spinach, Feta & Cage Free Egg White Breakfast Wrap from Starbucks
I worked at Starbucks in high school and ate the hell out of these babies. As the description implies, this wrap contains spinach, feta cheese and a cage free egg white “patty,” along with sun-dried tomatoes. It’s only 290 calories and packs 19 grams of protein, which is pretty good in my book. Pro tip: ask them to cook it a bit longer so it’s extra crispy. And if you’re taking it home, dipping it in Sriracha or salsa is a must!
9) Mexican Pizza (No Meat) from Taco Bell
This is throwing it way back. My mom actually introduced me to the Mexican Pizza when I was a little kid, long before I stopped eating meat. I honestly think it’s been a few years since I’ve been to Taco Bell, but as this is such a classic for me, I had to include it on the list. It’s basically a crispy tostada topped with beans, Mexican pizza sauce and cheese, then topped with more sauce and cheese (order it -meat and -tomatoes +onions if you’re like me). I’m exploring their menu now and they actually have a dedicated Vegetarian page with new options like veggie burritos…might be time to Think Outside the Bun again!
10) Quinoa Salad & Falafel Pita from Zoe’s Kitchen
Saved the best for last. Zoe’s is seriously killing the healthy fast food game! Their Lentil and Tomato Soups are both amazing, and so is their Basil Pesto Hummus. I also like to order the Cauliflower Rice Bowl and will add a side of veggies, braised white beans or falafel to it.
But let’s talk about two full-size dishes that require little-to-no modifications: the Quinoa Salad and Falafel Pita. The salad features mixed greens with quinoa, carrots, cabbage, green onion, red peppers, tomatoes, celery and feta, all tossed with lemon vinaigrette. It’s literally only 320 calories, and for an extra boost of protein I’ll add falafel or braised white beans.
Then there’s the falafel pita, with includes baked falafel, Greek tzatziki, Israeli Skhug, Mediterranean relish, cabbage, feta and fresh dill. This thing is absolutely incredible! It’s 460 calories, which really isn’t bad at all. Add a side of Harissa (hot chili pepper sauce) for dipping.