Veteran chain Marvelous Market has served wholesome, made-from-scratch lunches, breads, and pastries at a quick-service pace for more than 20 years.
For the most part, the menu is what it seems. Registered dietitian Kay Loughrey says, “It looks very wholesome and tasty, but as with many places, it seems like the portion sizes are very large.”
Marvelous Market doesn’t offer nutrition information, so read on for Loughrey’s analysis.
• Worst—Marvelous club: This triple-decker sourdough sandwich offers smoked turkey, bacon, chipotle mayo, lettuce, tomato, Havarti, and way too many calories. “Bread is the number-two source of calories in the US,” our expert points out. “We are obese because our portions have been supersized and we are eating way too much bread.” Plus the bacon and Havarti are a saturated fat hazard. The South Street hoagie was a close runner-up.
• Better—Grilled chicken focaccia: This straightforward sandwich is just chicken breast with lettuce and tarragon mayo. “Compared with some others, it’s still a decent choice,” Loughrey says. “I’d have this on whole wheat and instead of tarragon mayo, do honey mustard, which is lower in fat and calories.”
• Best—Caprese: The classic caprese (on ciabatta) earns Loughrey’s vote for its “modest” calorie count, low saturated fat, and meat-free protein, thanks to the mozzarella.
The salmon niçoise salad packs a great mix of nutrients, according to our expert. Salmon is a super-lean protein that offers heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and the accompanying mesclun, roasted potatoes, green beans, and olives add potassium, fiber, healthy fats, and more. “And the white balsamic dressing is low-calorie,” Loughrey adds.
She also recommends the ziti pasta with chicken, though you won’t find any leafy greens here. Instead, there’s poached chicken breast, pasta, broccoli florets, and sweet red peppers. “It’s good that the chicken is poached, so there’s no added fat,” says Loughrey. “The broccoli and sweet peppers give [the salad] a nutrition lift with lots of vitamin C and beta carotene.” Be sure to keep the Parmesan vinaigrette dressing on the side.
The clear winner is the turkey barbecue wrap, our expert says. It ranks high on her list for its lean, low-saturated fat protein, fiber-rich black beans and corn, and relatively lower-calorie condiment.
The simple homestyle chicken salad wrap was also a favorite. With its low-saturated-fat white meat, mix of crunchy, healthy veggies, and wholesome spinach tortilla, it’s a well-balanced meal. Loughrey named the veggie caponata a close third, but its sautéed vegetables are less nutritious.
While Marvelous Market is a great place to score a healthy lunch, Loughrey recommends splitting sandwiches and wraps in half and saving one half for another day. You should also opt for vinaigrettes and low-fat or fat-free dressings when possible, or keep them on the side. Swap mayos and other fatty condiments for lighter alternatives (mayo for honey mustard, for example), and be wary of your cheese intake.
Finally, “ask for what you want,” Loughrey says. “You’re more likely to get it.”
Find Kay Loughrey on Twitter @kayloughrey.
For more nutritional menu breakdowns of local restaurants, visit Well+Being's Lunch Break page.