Healthy Lunch Options in the Kansas City Crossroads

meal prep

One of my favorite parts of living and working in downtown Kansas City is all the amazing local restaurant options. From BBQ to vegan, you can’t go wrong. If you’re trying to dial in your nutrition or lose weight, however, the abundance of close and convenient eateries can be problematic. But, with a little planning and menu tweaking, you can actually find some delicious, healthy lunch options. Here’s a run-down of some of our favorites:

Cafe Gratitude

Honestly when it comes to eating out this might be one of the best menu I have ever seen! I really don’t think you could go wrong with any of the options. 

TryAdd Kimchi to everything!  Fermented foods rock!

ModifyI would recommend staying away from the juices and smoothies because they will be high in sugar, low in fiber, and not fill you up for very long. 

Evolve Paleo Chef

Try: Salads and entrees look good.  They are a little high in fat, but for “eating out” it’s not bad. Take a fruit or veggie cup or jerky pack back to the office to snack on later.

Modify: The desserts. Just because they are paleo doesn’t mean you need dessert at lunch. Again, I’m not a huge fan of juices so I would avoid those and snack on whole foods.  And I definitely would advise against having a full juice with a meal.

Protein House

Try: Breakfast Sandwich, PH Hash (could split into 2 meals or a meal and leave some for a snack later), Loaded Oatmeal, PH Greek Yogurt, Super Bird Omelet, SHRDD Veggie Omelet, Plant Power Bowl (vegetarian), Power Wrap (vegetarian), PH Vegan Mixed Salad (vegan), Southwest Veggie Wrap (eat half and save other half for a snack or lunch the next day), Salads, Bowls, and Wraps.

Modify: Always add dressing yourself. And try to use oil-based dressing (Vitamins A, D, E, & K are fat soluble, which meals there must be fat present to absorb them). Split wraps/bowls into 2 meals and have with a side salad. 

The Westside Local

Try: They have a seasonal menu, so it changes frequently and is always fresh. Look for items that list at least 1-2 veggies. Eat ½ of wraps and sandwiches and pair it with a side salad or a veggie Locality. When looking at entrees make sure there is a protein and at least 1 veggie, preferably 2.

Modify: Items covered in cheese.

Lulu’s Thai Noodle Shop

Try: Thai Lettuce Wraps, Satay, Vietnamese Spring Rolls, Wok dishes are a good choice (the more veggies the better), Curries, Salads, Red curry tofu.

Modify: Sodium is always the biggest issue at noodle/ramen restaurants. Wok No Brainers – avoid meats that have been battered and/or fried. Soups are going to be very high in sodium.  If you get a soup make sure to eat the veggies and meat and leave remaining broth. Always add salad dressing yourself. Substitute crab rangoon for spring roll. Be mindful while eating meals that come with noodles or rice.  These are fine to have, but the correct portion size is a cupped fist full (1 for women, 2 for men).

Blue Bird Bistro

Try: Look for items that list at least 1-2 veggies. Eat ½ of wraps and sandwiches and pair it with a side salad or a veggie starter. Choose meats that are grilled not fried. When looking at entrees make sure there is a protein and at least 1 veggie, preferably 2.

Modify: Menu items covered in cheese

The Mixx

Try: Build a salad, add any veggies you want, 1 fruit, 1 protein, 1 legume OR grain (unless you are vegetarian, then 1 of each), nuts and seeds optional – no candied pecans, substitute black beans or salad or sandwich side, the more veggies the better for mixx ins.

Modify: Cheese optional – ask for a small amount, always add dressing yourself.

Jack Stack BBQ

Try: Fill up on salad first. Eat sandwiches open faced. Opt for lean meats, like turkey & chicken over fatty cuts like burnt ends & sausage.

Modify: Substitute a side of fries for a side salad, coleslaw, baked potato with a little butter, broccoli with roasted garlic butter, or veggie kabob. Use BBQ sauce sparingly. BBQ may be good for the soul, but not so much for the “diet”.  Eat intuitively.  Stop eating when you are 80% full.  If you are still hungry after 5-10 minutes have a little more. 

The Jacobson

Try: Fresh Markets Greens and More are good options – Always add dressing yourself. Waldorf chicken salad – ½ might be enough with a side salad or veggie Accompaniment. Heirloom & Ancient Grain Bowl. Bourbon-Glazed Roasted Cedar Plank. Salmon

Modify: Crispy Fish Tacos – ask for them grilled. 

BLVD Tavern

Try: Avocado Toast, Organic Scottish Salmon, Shrimp & Grits, Quiche of the Day

Modify: Corned Beef – Get Creamy horseradish on the side and use sparingly – only eat ½ if it is a large sandwich & have greens as side. 

Grab ‘n Go: Eat Fit Go

Try: Breakfast choices are a good way to start the day.  Avoid starting the day with processed sugar (i.e. bagel, muffin, sugary coffee, cereal). Snacks are great to keep in the office when working long hours. There more veggies the better. Has a lot of options for people with food allergies. 

Modify: Eat Pasta meals sparingly. 

Remember, restaurants generally aim to create the best-tasting food experience. Even if the restaurant has fresh, “healthy” ingredients, it is easy to rack up the calories while eating out. Try to limit how many times you eat out for lunch but, if you find yourself in a bind, follow these simple steps to choose some healthy options next time you’re in Kansas City eating out!