Yesterday, we told you about the five biggest mistakes that shoppers make in the mall food court during Black Friday and the holiday season. Fat, empty calories, sodium, mounds of sugar -- all the things that give you a temporary boost but bring you crashing down only an hour later.
Christmas shopping (or Hannukah shopping or solstice shopping -- we're equal opportunity here) takes stamina, energy and perseverance. And you'll need to fuel your body with good food while you're out there tackling the crowds. Below are the five best options for mall food meals and snacks while you're stalking sales and stuffing stockings.
5. Jamba Juice: Many of Jamba Juice's smoothies and drinks have far too much sugar in them to be considered "health" food. But the menu of Jamba Light® options like Strawberry Nirvana® and Berry Fulfilling® have half the amount of sugar without sacrificing any of the taste. Plus, the nutrition in one 16-ounce Berry Fulfilling® smoothie -- 150 calories, 25 percent of your daily value of calcium, 30 percent of Vitamin E, 4 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein -- will give you a fast and healthy pick-me-up.
4. Subway 6" Oven-Roasted Chicken Breast: Of all the sandwiches on Subway's "6 Grams of Fat or Less" menu, the chicken breast is our favorite. It has a good balance of energy-providing protein (23 grams) with only 320 calories, 4.5 grams of fat and 750 grams of sodium. Dress it up with veggies like bell peppers and tomatoes for an extra boost of nutrients.
3. Auntie Anne's Garlic Pretzel: As bad as the Glazin' Raisin pretzel from yesterday was, the savory Garlic Pretzel is just as good. This isn't the healthiest option in the entire mall, but it's a good start at only 310 calories, 2 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein. Sure, you won't smell good afterwards, but it will satiate your inner carb-lover without too much guilt.
2. Chick-Fil-A Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich: Although it may be hard to pass on the classic Chicken Sandwich here, you'll be thankful you did. The chargrilled version cuts the calories by 30 percent and the fat by a whopping 79 percent. You'll also get plenty of protein (29 grams), Vitamin A, Vitamin C and calcium. Just steer clear of the fatty waffle fries, carrot & raisin salad and cole slaw on the side -- we recommend the fruit cup -- and you're good to go.
1. Extreme Pita Market-Fresh Veggie Pita: We wish there were more Extreme Pita franchises around. We can't get enough of the warm pita bread and fresh ingredients -- an oasis in the mall food court to be sure. Our favorite is the Market-Fresh Veggie, which comes piled high with sauteed bell peppers, onions and mushrooms along with lettuce, tomatoes, banana peppers, olives and cucumbers. With a thick, velvety spread of hummus and feta cheese, you've got a hearty meal that's only 300 calories with very little fat and plenty of protein.