January is traditionally diet month, as consumers embark on missions to eat healthier, lose weight or promote wellness. But it’s also a month when indulgences can be welcome, perhaps to beat the post-holiday doldrums or brighten the winter blahs. Restaurant chains are trying to meet these conflicting needs with a spate of new menu items. Click through to see what’s coming out of their kitchens, starting with the healthier items and ending with the treats.
1. Cutting indulgence in half
PizzaRev is targeting customers looking for a side of value with their health goals. The fast casual’s “Craft Your Half” promotion offers guests a half-pizza and a side salad combo for $6. Diners can substitute the chain’s gluten-free cauliflower crust for the Roman-style thin crust that comes with the deal.
2. Protein power
With the keto diet continuing to trend, several chains are powering up the menu with protein-centric items. BurgerFi is pulling no punches with the introduction of its KetoFi, a double cheeseburger topped with bacon, a fried egg and mustard, and sandwiched between fresh lettuce leaves. The burger concept launched the item on Jan. 5, which was National Keto Day.
3. Diet in a bowl
Chipotle Mexican Grill debuted a line of four Lifestyle Bowls in sync with the most current diet trends. There’s a Paleo Salad Bowl (lettuce, barbacoa, fajita veggies, green salsa and guacamole), a Whole30 Salad Bowl (lettuce, carnitas, fajita veggies, tomato salsa and guac), a Keto Salad Bowl (lettuce, carnitas, red salsa, cheese and guac) and a Double Protein Bowl (rice, black beans, chicken, steak, red salsa, lettuce and sour cream). All cross-utilize ingredients already in-house and can only be ordered through the mobile app or Chipotle’s website for delivery or pickup.
4. Superfood stars
Functional foods that reduce inflammation, aid digestion or build immunities are the focus of the new menu at Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes. Vegetables and fruits including kale, Brussels sprouts, edamame and cranberries—often classified as superfoods—star in salads such as the Power Fit Chicken Salad and Superfood Crunch Salad. Nutrient-packed hot dishes are also available, including a Spicy Sausage and Kale Soup and Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts.
5. Betting on functionality
Vitality Bowls, a rapidly growing fast casual, has updated several salads and paninis to focus on ingredients believed to have healing properties, such as turmeric and acai. The new kale salad features quinoa, hemp seeds, goat cheese and other veggies, dressed with a turmeric mustard vinaigrette, while the spinach salad is tossed with antioxidant-rich goji berries and housemade acai balsamic vinaigrette. On the panini side, there’s a vegetarian offering layered with mozzarella, spinach, avocado, pesto and red onion.
6. Pho with a faux twist
Ground beef alternatives are moving out from burger buns into ethnic preparations. Fresh & Co., an emerging fast casual based in New York, launched hot pho bowls featuring Impossible Foods’ plant-based meatballs. The faux meatballs are served in an Asian-accented broth along with zucchini noodles, green cabbage, scallions, mint, cilantro and a lime wedge garnish.
7. Sandwiches slim down
Skinnys are Potbelly’s contribution to helping people stay on track with their resolutions. The lighter sandwiches have one-third less meat and cheese than the chain’s regular versions. Options include Mushroom Melt, Hammie and T-K-Y (turkey and melted Swiss), all coming in at 350 calories or less. And as Dunkin’ changes its name from Dunkin’ Donuts, more sandwiches are appearing on that chain’s menu, including its new Power Breakfast Sandwich, which features a veggie egg white omelet with spinach, peppers and onions, turkey sausage and cheese on multigrain bread topped with seeds and rolled oats. The bread, a new SKU, provides 30 grams of whole grains.
8. Don’t forget the donuts
For those who want to cheat with a breakfast treat, both Krispy Kreme and McDonald’s are indulging that desire. Krispy Kreme debuted a Chocolate Glaze Collection of four donuts, including one filled with cake batter and dipped in chocolate, and another with a cookies and cream filling. Meanwhile, customers stopping at McDonald’s for an Egg McMuffin can order Donut Sticks for dessert. The deep-fried, cinnamon-sugar coated strips of dough won’t be available until February, according to Business Insider, and will be priced at $1.29 for six and $2.39 for a dozen.