Cava Mezze, with locations in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, is known for adding a touch of modern flair to its fresh Greek-inspired dishes. Here at The Washingtonian, we love their moderately priced dishes so much we recently named Cava Mezze one of the 100 Very Best Restaurants of 2013. It also scored major points for offering a pretty lengthy gluten-free menu.
We asked nutritionist Jared Rice to check out the lunch menu and pick out the healthiest and worst items. Read on for what he chose.
Worst: Cava Gyro Sandwich
The first item on the menu doesn’t scream healthy, Rice says of the sandwich stuffed with gyro meat, French fries, and pickled onions. “The combination of processed meat and fried potatoes makes this sandwich high sodium and a hyper-inflammatory mess.”
If you haven’t made it down to Union Market, you’re missing out. The trendy gathering place is a melting pot of fresh food with a rotating lineup of vendors, including TaKorean and Rappahannock Oyster Company.
Union Market is open Wednesday through Sunday, so this week’s lunch break is focused on healthy eats you can find whether you’re headed there for a day trip or an early dinner. Check out our picks below.
DC Empanadas was named one of our healthiest quick lunches from DC Food Trucks. The empanadas are fried, but having one with a salad wouldn’t be the worst. The black beans and rice or vegetable curry are both delicious and great vegetarian options.
Today marks the start of DC Meat-Free Week, and what better way to celebrate with a Meatless Monday lunch? The good news is that local lunch spots are not short of vegetarian-friendly options. Read on for some of our favorites:
Smokey Root Veg & Bean Soup at Pret A Manger
You don’t have to worry about being hungry 30 minutes after eating this soup. You’ll be satisfied for a while thanks to 11 grams of fiber and 8.5 grams of protein from the veggies and beans.
Energy Kitchen recently opened its first location in DC, bringing its everything-under-500-calories menu to health-conscious Washingtonians. But although the chain is touted for its low-calorie meals, does that mean everything is healthy?
Registered dietitian Tanya Halliday scoped out the menu and, for the most part, liked what she saw. “Since our eyes tend to be bigger than our stomachs, the portion-controlled options at Energy Kitchen can certainly help us avoid eating more than we need,” she says.
But she notes one oddity: Energy Kitchen’s calorie counts on the main menu don’t match up with the nutrition information sheet.* “This sets off a bit of a red flag in my mind regarding how accurate their nutrition information is,” Halliday says. (For consistency’s sake, the following calorie counts are based off the nutrition menu.)
Worst: Bison Cheesesteak Wrap
Not only does this wrap contain 21 grams of fat, it also has almost half of the recommended daily sodium limit. The 49 grams of protein is nice, but it’s better to consume moderate portions of it throughout the day than in one sitting, Halliday says.
Now that you’re on week three of your New Year’s health kick, you deserve a little treat. And who doesn’t love a delicious slice of pizza?
Before you scoff at us for suggesting it, remember this: Even the strictest dietitians say pizza can be a great way to incorporate a variety of veggies into your diet.
We rounded up some of the healthiest pizzas you can order at our favorite pizza spots in Washington. Just keep your serving size down to two slices and consider ordering a side salad to keep you from going for that third helping.
Naked Pizza: Superbiotic
This pizza is basically a veggie-rich salad on bread. The probiotic crust is topped with artichokes, greens, peppers, mushrooms—the list goes on. After two slices you’ll feel full and satisfied.
With the holidays over, our wallets are a little lighter—and our midsections possibly a little heftier. Lunch Break is here to help. We rounded up some cheap, guilt-free lunches around DC that you can eat guilt-free, without worrying about hidden calories or a depleted bank account.
The Summer Bowl at Boloco—$5.93
For a decent 407 calories and 43 percent of your daily fiber, the original-size summer bowl will hold you over throughout the day. You’ll get protein from the black beans and fajita vegetables while cutting fat and calories by skipping the jack cheese and tortilla, which is more than 200 calories alone.
Although this winter has been unseasonably warm, we’re bound to get a cold snap or two. Soup is not only the perfect meal to warm your insides, but it’s also a great way to lose weight, eat more vegetables and fiber, and create a balanced meal.
We asked Jill Weisenberger to help us pick the best soup options at Au Bon Pain, Cosí, Corner Bakery, Panera Bread, and Pret A Manger.
When seeking soup, keep your goals in mind. If you’re just hungry, go for something with beans or good fiber sources; if you’re watching your figure, try broth-based soups, and get them in smaller sizes as part of a total meal. Also, remember that soup tends to be full of sodium, even when it’s homemade. If you don’t have health issues surrounding salt, then check out this list of lunch options for blustery days to come.
AU BON PAIN
• Barley and creamy lentil: This vegan soup is our expert’s favorite on this list, and at 210 calories, 700 milligrams of sodium, nine grams of protein, and no saturated fat in a medium, it’s easy to see why. But the real draw is in its seven grams of fiber. Weisenberger says, “With barley you get beta-glucans, which lower cholesterol and improve blood glucose resistance. And beans have resistant starch fiber, which helps with colon health.”
Here at Washingtonian headquarters we spent about a year patiently waiting for the arrival of Boloco's unconventional burritos. The Massachusetts-based burrito spot already has a location in Bethesda, and finally opened its DC doors last month.
With naturally raised meat and gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian choices, it seems like a great new addition to our lunchtime options. But to make sure, we had registered dietitian Tracy Gensler take a closer look at its menu.
“I love restaurants like Boloco, since you can select your own ingredients,” she says. “There are some great choices.”
It should be noted that the menu is high in sodium, which Gensler says is typical of restaurant dining. Read on to find out how to navigate the offerings.
We love this time of year: the lights, the window displays . . . and especially the menus of holiday-themed drinks at coffee shops and cafes. But after checking out nutritional information for three of the most popular coffee chains’ offerings, it’s safe to say those seasonal beverages aren’t exactly helping you avoid the dreaded holiday weight gain.
Here’s our rundown of some of the most popular holiday hot beverages. We hope it helps you stay off your personal trainer’s naughty list.
Pumpkin spice latte: It’s not fall until you stop by Starbucks and grab that first cup. Normally, a snack or treat should be no more than 300 calories—luckily, a tall pumpkin spice latte is exactly that. But it also packs 11 grams of fat (7 grams of which are saturated, which is 35 percent of the recommended daily total. Almost all the fat is from the whipped cream). If you can’t enjoy it without whipped cream, opt for nonfat or soy milk.
DGS Delicatessen in Dupont Circle is a welcome reminder of DC’s mom-and-pop-style grocery stores. The deli pays homage to the many Jewish immigrants who owned and nurtured these community hubs and brought their home cooking to the masses.
Today delis have become an American staple, but can DGS’s artisanal offerings be a healthy lunchtime staple?
Registered dietitian Joni Rampolla says, “Their menu—and any Jewish deli menu—is usually a high-salt, high-fat menu. They tend to brine things, smoke things, pickle things, whether it’s a vegetable or a meat. If you’re on a heart healthy diet, it’s not the place to visit.”
Read on to find out how to try this new spot without blowing your healthy diet.
Worst—Corned beef Reuben: “Corned beef is one of the highest-fat meats they cook, and it’s soaked in a salt bath,” Rampolla explains. The meat contains five grams of fat (two saturated) per ounce of meat. The Emmentaler (also known as Swiss cheese) and Russian dressing pile on the cholesterol, as well.