As college students, we all have those nights when you’re just not in the mood to cook, the meal at your sorority/fraternity house might not be what you’re craving, or maybe you’re just sick and tired of the dining hall food. Whatever the reason is, we all end up going out to eat sometime or another.
For most of us, we focus on choosing the cheapest yet tastiest places to eat which usually leads to deep fried foods dripping in grease and covered in salt. It all seems great until our fate lies between the 4 for 4 deal at Cookout or the buy one get one free pizza at Dominos.
Although these foods may be satisfying to our taste buds, they aren’t very kind to our health. It’s time to start including the nutritional quality as a factor when deciding where to eat. Below are a few of my favorite restaurants around Tuscaloosa that have a variety of healthy options on their menu.
Newk’s Eatery is located on University Blvd. so it’s at a very convenient location if you don’t have time for Tuscaloosa traffic. They are known for the fresh ingredients used in their famous soups, salads and sandwiches. There are plenty of pairing options you can choose from which will ensure you leave with a full stomach. I typically choose half of the Newk’s Q sandwich and a cup of loaded potato soup, but you can pair any items you may desire. Newk’s gives you access to a Nutrition Calculator on their website so you are able to select your meal and all of its nutrition facts will appear. This is an easy and accessible way to monitor what you are feeding your body.
Zoë’s Kitchen offers Mediterranean food made from scratch and it’s located right inside Bryant Denny Stadium. That’s how you know it’s good! Its menu provides options for everyone: calorie counters, gluten-free, vegetarians, vegans, and those focusing on their carb or sodium intake. My go-to meal is the Greek Chicken Pita with a side of fresh fruit. It really captures the Mediterranean taste, but at the same time it’s nothing too exotic. Not very familiar with Mediterranean food? Don’t worry, Zoë’s has a Mediterranean food pyramid available so you can be sure you are consuming the recommended amounts of food to maintain a healthy balance.
Tropical Smoothie Café is a personal favorite of mine. It’s filling and refreshing so it’s a perfect choice when you’re looking for that pre/post workout meal. You can find it in Midtown Village, so if you get hungry while you’re shopping you can always stop by for one of their signature smoothies or maybe even a flatbread, wrap, or sandwich if you’ve really worked up an appetite. For those of you enjoy foods with a little kick behind it, my personal favorite is the Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wrap. I also order a Kiwi Quencher for a nice balance of sweet and spicy. If you’re struggling to decide what to order, don’t panic, they have a detailed nutrition guide at your service to help you decide what food is best for you. Their motto is “eat better, feel better” so it pretty much speaks for itself.
Juice Bar is the definition of nutritious. Just stop by Legacy Park and see for yourself. I’m always up for a good smoothie so as soon as I found out about this place I couldn’t wait to try it. The first time I went I had no idea what to order because most of the ingredients were things I would never imagine you would put in a smoothie. However, don’t be alarmed, the workers are very helpful and they will make sure you get exactly what you came for. A worker introduced me to the Coco Banana Smoothie with added blueberries and I haven’t been able to order anything else ever since (this one is for all you peanut-butter lovers out there). Juice Bar uses 100% whole fruits and vegetables and also strives to purchase directly from local farms whenever possible. It’s very evident that they go the extra mile to provide their customers with the freshest and most nutritious foods, so stop by and give it a try.