Restaurants promote healthful menu platforms for new year

Losing weight is a perennially popular New Year’s resolution, and, as usual, restaurants are offering better-for-you menu items for the growing number of consumers who look for them in January. But this year, chains’ prevailing strategy is to use the opportunity to launch or promote long-lasting healthful platforms, rather than just introduce limited-time offers.

At Jack in the Box, all of the 2,250-unit chain’s breakfast sandwiches can now be made with egg whites at no additional cost. To promote the move, Jack in the Box has introduced a new Egg White & Turkey Breakfast Sandwich as a permanent menu item. The sandwich is made with egg whites, grilled turkey, sliced tomato and American cheese on a classic bun, and has 250 calories and 6 grams of fat.

Sister chains Einstein Bros. Bagels, Noah’s New York Bagels and Manhattan Bagel have introduced new Thintastic Bagels, which have 35 percent fewer calories than its regular bagels. Thintastic Bagels are available in plain, whole wheat and everything varieties with any of the chains’ sandwiches.

Jamba Juice has added a new line of Whole Food Nutrition smoothies to its offerings.

“As consumers become more aware of the benefits of getting their daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, we are determined to support their everyday health and lifestyle needs through our delicious products,” chief brand officer and senior vice president Julie Washington said in a press release.

Dovetailing with consumers’ growing interest in adding protein to their diets, the three new smoothies contain between 10 grams and 14 grams of protein each.

The Kale-ribbean Breeze features mangos, kale, passion-mango juice, Greek yogurt and chia seeds. The PB Chocolate Love combines chocolate, peanut butter, bananas, 2-percent milk and a whole-grain boost high in fiber and protein. The Carrot Orange Fusion blends orange juice, whole carrots, Greek yogurt, soy milk, mangos, bananas and chia seeds.

Del Taco celebrated the new year by introducing Turkey Tacos at its 547 locations. The new, permanent menu item has 150 calories and 33 percent less fat than its beef tacos. Customers can also order turkey in the chain’s CrunchTada tostada items.

“We’re proud to accommodate the growing number of guests who prefer turkey as a protein option but still want great flavor,” executive vice president and chief brand officer John Cappasola said in a press release.

Dunkin’ Donuts has expanded its DDSMART menu of with the introduction of a Sliced Turkey Breakfast Sandwich and a 320-calorie Whole Wheat Bagel.

The sandwich is made with three slices of turkey, an egg and a slice of reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, served on multigrain flatbread. It has 310 calories. It can also be served as a Wake-Up Wrap on a warm tortilla, for 160 calories.

Panera Bread isn’t introducing new items per se, but is starting the year with a challenge for its MyPanera loyalty program members to lose five pounds in six weeks, in part by eating the chain’s 1,534-unit chain’s Power Bowls.

The high-protein, low-carb items are on the chain’s secret menu, that until now was available on its website but not on menu boards, and is promoted through its MyPanera program.

Starting Jan. 1, the Power Chicken Hummus Bowl — chicken, cilantro jalapeño hummus, baby spinach, cucumbers, diced tomatoes, and red onions, lemon juice and cilantro — and Power Breakfast Egg White Bowl — two eggs topped with roasted turkey, avocado and tomatoes — appear on menu boards.

Panera invites its MyPanera members to download the Lose It! app by FitNow and log their activity. The chain promises to provide a “motivator” each week, as well as weekly awards and a grand prize trip to a Sandals resort.

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