6 New Fast-Food Items, Judged by an RD

Fast-food restaurants like Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Tropical Smoothie have added more than two dozen new items to menu boards at the drive-thru in March. While some dishes should be avoided for their high fat and sodium content, others offer a more healthful approach to a quick lunch while on the go.

We got some insight from nutrition expert Jamie Lee McIntyre, MS, RDN, on what to order and her top tips on making some of these new dishes healthier for you. If you’re eager to try some of the newest fast-food dishes out there, keep reading.

And for more, check out these 15 Classic American Desserts That Deserve a Comeback.

Per sandwich: 830 calories, 51 g fat, 55 g carbs, 36 g protein

There’s nothing more indulgent in the BBQ world than a few slices of juicy brisket. When Einstein Bros Bagels added it onto an egg sandwich, it was obviously a match made in breakfast heaven.

The addition of brisket will keep you fuller longer because of the amount of protein, but it can add extra saturated fat. McIntyre says, “Think of ways to adjust the order to make room for budget calories and fat from this add one. For example, opt for enjoying it on a bagel thin and with egg whites.” You’ll still get that delicious brisket taste!

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starbucks chickpea and avocado protein box
Courtesy of Starbucks

Per serving (205 g): 560 calories, 37 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 710 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (13 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 15 g protein

If your afternoon coffee run also includes a snack, consider the new Starbucks Chickpea Bites and Avocado Protein Box from the grab-and-go cooler. The box is completely plant-based and is filled with healthy fats, 15 grams of protein, and 13 grams of fiber to keep you fuller longer. “It may seem high [in] fat at 37 grams for the whole box, but most of this is coming from unsaturated fatty acids found in the nuts, seeds, and avocado, making it more of a heart-healthy choice when on the run,” says McIntyre.

dunkin avocado toast
Courtesy of Dunkin’

Per serving: 240 calories, 11 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 530 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (6 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 6 g protein

Avocado toast had its moment as a major food trend over the past few years, and now Dunkin’ is offering a lighter item: avocado toast. “The new avocado toast is a great option for those early morning commutes. You get a delicious item at a steal (2.99) that provides half the calories, a fraction of the saturated fat, and more fiber than a plain bagel with cream cheese,” says McIntyre.

RELATED: This 7-day smoothie diet will help you shed those last few pounds.

peets coffee everything plant based sandwich

Per sandwich: 380 calories, 21 g fat (8 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 840 mg sodium, 32 g carbs (7 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 21 g protein

For those looking for a plant-based option that’s high in protein and fiber, look no further than the Everything Plant-Based Sandwich from Peet’s Coffee. The new sandwich features seasoned Beyond Breakfast Sausage, JUST Egg Folded, and vegan cheddar cheese on a toasted everything bagel thin. Just be mindful of the sodium content. “If you are on a sodium-restricted diet this may not be the best choice for you,” says McIntyre. The sandwich tops out at 840 milligrams of sodium.

tropical smoothie cafe starfruit smoothie

Many fruit smoothies are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are all part of a healthy diet. The new Starfruit Smoothie from Tropical Smoothie has all of those things, but it lacks protein. To keep hunger from sticking too soon after finishing the smoothie, asking for a few add-ins is a great hack. “Modify the Starfruit Smoothie by choosing an add-in like pea, soy, or whey protein powder,” says McIntyre. “Looking for a more whole-food choice? Ask for non-fat yogurt for protein plus probiotics.”

tropical smoothie cafe citrus hawaiian wrap

The new Tropical Smoothie Citrus Hawaiian Wrap sounds like a tasty choice. It’s filled with grilled chicken, red bell pepper, roasted pineapple salsa, romaine, pickled red onions, and orange garlic citrus sauce. According to McIntyre, the wrap has all of the main components of a healthy meal, including lean protein, carbs, and flavorful veggies. “I recommend making lunch and dinner 50% veggies, so adding the kale side salad to this meal will boost the veggies even more to make it a completely balanced meal packed with feel-good fiber,” she says.