Lighten up: 7 fast casuals prepping for the new year

| by Cherryh Butler
Lighten up: 7 fast casuals prepping for the new year

Pancheros has added Tofusada, tofu marinated southwestern-inspired sauce

Healthful eating is on the minds of more consumers these days, and there is no better time than the new year for restaurant brands to capitalize on the trend. Below is a roundup of a few brands that have added healthier menu alternatives just in time to help customers make their New Year's resolutions. 

Veggie Grill launches meatless burger

The veggie-centric restaurant has created a plant-based burger that looks, cooks and tastes like ground beef, according to a company press release. The VG Beyond Burger is served on a sesame bun and topped with grilled onions, melted American veggie cheese, tomato, iceberg lettuce and a house-made signature sauce.

"The chance to bring the Beyond Burger to our mindful guests first is an amazing opportunity,"  Veggie Grill CEO Steve Heeley said in a press release. "Our partnership with Beyond Meat will allow more people to experience this new protein which we believe is not only the future but the most delicious option on the market.. 

Pancheros goes vegan

In hopes of catching the attention of non-meat eaters, Pancheros has added Tofusada, tofu marinated in southwestern-inspired sauce with flavors reminiscent of carne asada and sauteed to give the tofu a glazed, crispy texture, according to the release.

Captain D's showcases better-for-you menu options

Captain D's is reintroducing its Captain's D-Lites menu to make it easy for consumers to stick to their New Year's resolutions as 2017 approaches, according to a company press release. Available now through Feb.12, Captain's D-Lites menu features entrée options under 500 calories, including blackened tilapia and wild Alaskan salmon.

"Everything we do at Captain D's is motivated by our commitment to our guests, and our Captain's D-Lites menu is no exception," Jason Henderson, head chef and vice president of product innovation at Captain D's said in a company press release. "We believe that bettering yourself should not mean having to sacrifice food you enjoy, so we strive to provide our guests flavorful meals that will satisfy their appetites for under 500 calories."

Pieology puts healthful spin on pizza

Although pizza isn't known for being a healthful menu choice, Pieology is hoping to change that with its wheat- and gluten-free dough options along with topping choices, including Daiya vegan cheese and a variety of fresh vegetables, according to a company press release. Cutting carbs? Pieology also offers the option to create a totally customized salad.

Nekter Juice brings back mint chocolate chip smoothie

In hopes of helping customers maintain a healthful lifestyle during the holidays, Nekter Juice Bar has brought back its mint chocolate chip smoothie, featuring peppermint and cacao, according to a company press release. Made fresh daily and available for a limited-time only, this option includes cacao, spinach, dates, peppermint oil, agave nectar and cashew milk.

"During the holiday season, it's so tempting to stray from health goals. Our mint chocolate chip smoothie feels indulgent but it's made from pure, clean, nutrient-packed ingredients, and absolutely no artificial fillers or refined sugars," Alexis Schulze, co-founder and chief visionary officer, Nékter Juice Bar, said in a company press  release. "It's the healthy and satisfying alternative to sugar-laden sweets found everywhere during the holidays."

The Flame Broiler adds charbroiled tofu

Guests at The Flame Boiler — a 180-unit, California-based chain that focuses on healthful menu items — has added organic charbroiled tofu to its menu in order to reinforce its focus on health and better serve its growing vegan customer base, according to a company press release.

Guests can choose from a base of white or brown rice, or opt for all-blanched vegetables,  topped with firm tofu.

PJ's Coffee debuts protein velvet ice, Eat Fit menu

Just in time for the New Year, PJ's Coffee of New Orleans is launching its newest protein-packed product, the protein velvet ice. Created in partnership with Ochsner Eat Fit and its registered dietitian, Molly Kimball, the Ice will be available Jan.1 and comes in mocha and vanilla with 21 grams of protein, according to a company press release

PJ's will also debut an Eat Fit menu, to help customers order their favorite beverages with fewer calories, carbohydrates and fat grams, PJ's Director of Marketing and Brand Strategy Reid Nolte said in a company press release.

Cover photo: Pancheros adds Tofusada to the menu




Topics: Health & Nutrition

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