When eating out, we’re faced with a lot of different choices; so many that nobody can ever agree on where to go. Eating healthily while eating out can sometimes be difficult, as we all know, as it is ambiguous as to how things are cooked, and what is hidden in our food. of course, it’s okay to treat yourself occasionally, we’re all human, and moderation is key in keeping a healthy lifestyle (so if you really do want that cocktail, or that dessert, go for it, it’s not as if you do it every day!). However, when we are trying to keep a little healthier, I like to know what I’m getting, and where I can get a meal with good, whole foods, which will make me feel good, instead of slightly nauseous. Of course, it is very easy now to ‘personalise’ our dishes: the amount of times that I have used the phrase “Could I have salad instead of chips” eludes me, but sometimes, you can’t help but want something different to a salad, or grilled chicken breast. In this post, I’m going to show you some of my favourite chain restaurants and cafés, which offer healthy alternatives, consisting of something more than just iceberg lettuce.
Pret A Manger
If you go to any UK city centre, you’ll no doubt see a Pret on almost every corner, which makes them so accessible to everybody, especially when out shopping, or looking for a quick lunch during the work day. I personally love Pret A Manger, because they have such a variety of food, and they suit almost every dietary requirement. Their menu ranges from baguettes, to soups, to salads, and they pride themselves on using organic produce in their food. They have an extensive vegetarian menu, with many vegan options too, which are delicious and healthy. I personally love the Super-Veg Rainbow Flatbread, and the Mango Chia Pot!
View the menu here!
EAT cafes are also very widely spread across the UK, and similarly to Pret A Manger, offer a wide range of healthier choices, which are suitable for vegetarians and vegans alike, as well as allergy sufferers. Their healthy choices are extensive, and they offer things to suit a wide range of tastes: an option which is good for those who exercise a lot are their Fit Boxes, which contain large amounts of protein, and other nutrients to fuel workouts, or aid repair. If you are looking for something slightly different, they offer a variety of Asian-inspired dishes, such as dumpling soups- my favourite is the Thai Butternut Squash Soup!
The menu is available to view online.
Pho has to be one of my all-time favourite places to eat. they are a Vietnamese street food chain, which offer healthy, delicious food, inspired by Vietnamese cuisine. With monthly specials, and many sides and add-ons available, this restaurant will make an amazing change from your usual salad. Using fresh produce, and cooking all food to order, you are guaranteed a high quality, filling meal, after which you’ll be desperate to go back for more. An added bonus are their fresh teas and juices, which are made to order. I could give an extensive list of food that I’ve tried and loved from here, but if I had to choose, I’d definitely recommend the King prawn pho with veggie broth, and the veggie summer rolls (get these with peanut sauce, it is to die for). The menu for all locations is available on their website.
The Slug and Lettuce
Known primarily for its cocktails, The Slug and Lettuce is an unexpected addition to my list, however, they have a great food menu, which changes seasonally, and they offer healthy options within their classics. For example, they offer char-grilled salmon, or tofu ramen (which is very nice, by the way), whih are both great health options, and there are many more to choose from. Another bonus, is that they offer 50% off on Mondays, and it is a great place to go, if you want to eat somewhere a little more upscale than your usual café, yet still want relaxed atmosphere. Their menu varies by destination, however, you can search by postcode for your nearest, and all of the menus are on their website.
Jamie Oliver is famous for making many changes, in order to promote healthier diet, and this definitely shows through on his restaurant menu. there is a range of both healthy, and indulgent dishes, both of which are delicious, proving that food does not have to be unhealthy to taste good, and allowing the more health conscious to enjoy Italian food along with everybody else. If you don’t like Italian food, (firstly, why not?), a range of salads, and other dishes are offered, so there really is something for everybody. On the website, there is clear nutritional information for dishes, and tells you which are healthy options, to allow people to make more conscious choices.
As well as places with healthier options, I also wanted to include some of my personal favourite restaurants, for when you’re feeling like a treat, as I think that despite the fact that these places do not advertise their menus as ‘health food’, you should definitely try them out!
Le Bistrot Pierre
Le Bistrot Pierre is a French restaurant with various branches across the UK, and I can honestly say that although my meal was less healthy than what I’d usually eat, I did not regret it one bit. The food was just so well cooked, with many different flavours, a range of sides, and unlimited French bread. The menu changes seasonally, but there is always something unique and interesting to try. Another great thing about this place, is the fact that they offer a ‘Soirèe Gastronomique’, twice a month, in which you are served a six course menu, which allows you to taste a range of different French dishes. I also cannot write anything about Le Bistrot Pierre, without a mention of their Tarte Au Citron, which is beyond amazing, and is exactly the right balance between sweet and tart, topped with a caramelised brulèe, alongside a scoop of raspberry sorbet. Their extensive menu list can be found here.
I’m sue you can tell from this, but I rather like Italian food. Strada was a restaurant that stood out to me, with their modern interiors which drew me in, and possibly the best seafood linguine that I have had, and trust me, I have had a lot of seafood linguine. The food was so simple, yet so effective, and I went way desperate to return for more. if you’re ever near a Strada, I would definitely recommend eating there, because you will ot be let down. As well as this, they have a set menu, which allows you to get two courses for £10.95, as well as ‘Pizza mondays’, on which any pizza is £5 after noon! Their menus are all available on their website.
So, why chain restaurants? I am completely behind supporting independent local businesses, and I love to eat at somewhere unique and different, however, I thought that doing chain restaurants would make the destinations much more accessible to everybody, as they are not subject to a specific location, and can easily be found.