Walking into a Hale & Hearty midday can feel like an extreme sport. There are an overwhelming amount of options (15 soups!), which is a lot to navigate when your lunch break isn’t exactly lengthy. If you’re not strategic, you might panic and walk out with something you don’t even want. (Chowder? Did I want chowder?)
Special dietary requirements, such as sticking to a vegetarian, Mediterranean diet, or gluten-free meal plan, can add an extra layer of ordering stress. And soups are often known to be total sodium bombs, regardless of what eating plan you follow. To its credit, Hale & Hearty’s menu has handy little graphics indicating what items are dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan. (Very helpful.) But as you know, just because something has a cute graphic next to it doesn’t mean it’s actually healthy. That’s where registered dietitian Sharon Palmer, RD, comes in.
Here, Palmer helps simplify the Hale & Hearty menu by giving her top recs for the three aforementioned eating plans. Even if you don’t stick to any specific diet and instead have an overall goal to eat generally healthy, her tips can help you figure out what to order.
Menu picks: Three lentil chili; farmers’ market quinoa
What an RD says: Hale & Hearty has a lot of soups, but according to Palmer, not all of them have the nutrient density to be a full meal. One that does—and is not only vegetarian, but all-out vegan—is the three lentil chili. “This one has enough protein [15 grams in a medium bowl] and other nutrients to provide energy, and would be great paired with a side salad,” she says. Another one of her fave vegetarian picks is the farmers’ market quinoa, which is also both vegetarian and vegan. “Because it has both quinoa and fresh, seasonal vegetables, this means it will have good fiber [3.9 grams of the recommended 25 grams per day] and the quinoa adds protein [5.5 grams] to the meal,” Palmer says.
Order tweak: If you’re getting the farmers’ market quinoa, Palmer suggests adding tofu or lentils to up the protein factor a bit. Otherwise, both menu options are great as is.
Side dish recommendations: Though it isn’t (ahem) hearty enough to work as a full meal, Palmer says the golden tomato gazpacho is a healthy side option, adding an extra two grams of protein in a small bowl. If you’re already getting soup or the chili, she recommends going for the avocado and tomato salad, which has healthy fats and seven grams of fiber.
Looking for more healthy lunch inspo? Check out a dietitian’s guide to ordering at Chipotle:
Menu picks: Ten vegetable soup; Mediterranean grilled veggie wrap
What an RD says: Hale & Hearty’s Mediterranean grilled veggie wrap doesn’t just invoke the name of the heart-healthy diet—Palmer says it truly checks out on the health front. “Especially if it has hummus in it as a spread, that will pair really well with the veggies, providing protein [12 grams],” she says, as the hallmark of this eating plan is prioritizing veggie-based dishes that either use seafood or plants as protein. Palmer also says the ten vegetable soup works well, with a decent amount of fiber [six grams grams] and a little protein [three grams], in a medium 12-ounce size. (Just be mindful of your sodium intake for the rest of the day.)
Order tweaks: None needed.
Side dish recommendations: Palmer says the gazpacho (again!) is a healthy side for Mediterranean diet eaters or recommends a plain Caesar salad with green goddess dressing to add more greens and up the fiber in your meal.
Menu picks: Tomato basil with rice; Ten vegetable soup
What an RD says: “The tomato basil with rice and the ten vegetable are two heartier soups that would pair really well with a side salad, for extra fiber,” Palmer says. And as the handy little graphics on the menu indicate, they are completely gluten-free.
Order tweaks: None needed.
Side dish recommendations: To add extra fiber, Palmer recommends adding a side salad, such as the avocado green goddess. Besides being the one GF side salad option on the menu, it’s full of healthy fats.
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