Restaurants add ‘better-for-you’ menu items

Staff Writer
Restaurants add ‘better-for-you’ menu items

More restaurant chains are jumping on the better-for-you bandwagon, as Luby’s beefs up its low-calorie options, Tony Roma’s launches a Low Cal Temptations campaign, Chick-fil-A introduces more healthful kids items and TCBY plans a higher-protein frozen yogurt platform.

Luby’s, the Houston-based cafeteria chain, has launched a Livin’Smart menu of items with fewer than 600 calories. The 178-unit chain now has more than 60 such items, including such entrées as shrimp and crawfish jambalaya, chicken piccata and mushroom turkey chopped steak. Lower-calorie sides include almond rice, lemon roasted asparagus and squash sauté.

At least five Livin’Smart entrées and sides are available every day at all Luby’s locations.

Tony Roma’s has introduced a Low Cal Temptations campaign featuring a 180-calorie strawberry pecan salad for $5 and a 700-calorie flat iron steak topped with Japanese sweet-and-sour katsu sauce for $17. The casual-dining chain also has added a 144-calorie serving of mashed sweet potatoes as a side dish.

Watch a commercial for Low Cal Temptations; story continues below

Chick-fil-A has revamped its kids menu with lower calorie options, including gluten-free grilled chicken nuggets, which are 80 calories for 4 pieces. Also available is a squeezable 60-calorie applesauce pouch. The chain also has eliminated soda from its kids meal choices, and is instead offering 1-percent milk, apple juice, its signature lemonade or water.

TCBY, the 450-unit frozen yogurt chain, will roll out a Greek-style frozen yogurt in April.

Product development director Wayne Geilman said the new item is the next step in the evolution of the company’s better-for-you yogurt program, following the introduction last year of “super fro-yo,” which was enhanced with fiber and higher levels of protein and calcium.

The Greek yogurt uses technology that Geilman has been working on as a researcher since 1986, and allows the company to remove excess whey and lactose from milk before making it into yogurt.

Traditionally, Greek yogurt is made by straining whey from yogurt after it’s made, Geilman said. Removing the whey and lactose beforehand gives the frozen product a smooth texture, rather than a granular one, he said. A half-cup, 95 gram serving of the product has 9 grams of protein, compared with 4 grams in the super fro-yo.

A honey-vanilla flavor will be introduced in April, followed in June by a fruit-flavored version, probably blueberry or strawberry, or possibly both, according to Greg Allison, TCBY’s senior director of marketing, product innovation and consumer insights.

Krispy Kreme is not promoting its new items as being better for you, but the doughnut chain has launched a limited-time line of dark chocolate products through March 11. Dark chocolate has grown in popularity in the United States in recent years, and some trend watchers say that is partly due to the reputed health benefits of dark chocolate, which has higher levels of antioxidants than milk chocolate.

Krispy Kreme’s new items are the Dark Chocolate Kreme Filling doughnut, which is topped with dark chocolate icing and a milk chocolate drizzle and stuffed with a creamy dark chocolate filling.

The Glazed Chocolate Cake is a chocolate cake doughnut frosted with the chain’s signature original glaze.

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.
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