Days 24-25: Finding healthy food at the airport

Finding healthy food at the airport is getting just as hard as trying to find roundtrip tickets for less than $300 these days. In just the past 3 years, I’ve become quite the avid traveler, which has led me to consume a few too many high calorie, high sodium, low nutrient meals in the hustled atmosphere of the nation’s airports. However, through my years of experience I have gotten quite good at sniffing out the healthy options when my layover is too long or my stomach starts to grumble. Even if you find yourself at a smaller airport and all they seem to have are McDonald’s or Burger King, don’t fret, you can find healthy options there too!



 This fast food favorite has gotten it’s fair share of backlash for offering only fatty, deep friend food. However, they have revamped their entire menu and have introduced a great variety of healthy foods, ranging from salads and snack wraps to grilled chicken sandwiches. That big yellow M never looked so healthy! Here are my top choices from there along with the nutritional breakdown, courtesy of McDonald’s USA. [All of the nutritional information for the salads does not contain salad dressing. Truthfully, they are so flavorful you don’t need it!]

 Premium southwest grilled chicken salad      320 cal.    

Premium bacon ranch salad with grilled chicken  260 cal.

Honey mustard grilled snack wrap                  260 cal.

Chipotle barbq grilled snack wrap                  260 cal.

4 piece chicken mcnuggets     190 cal.

Hamburger                      250 cal.

Ranch snack wrap [grilled]             270 cal.

For a complete list of nutritional facts for McDonald’s, visit


This favorite coffee shop is a staple at just about every major US airport. Even though coffee seems harmless and calorie free, some of their concoctions contain up to 1000 calories and 20 grams of fat, which many people do not account for in their daily calorie counts. So if you have an early flight and need an instant pick me up, steer clear of the frappachinos and super mocha lattes, as those are often breeding grounds for fat and calories. Here is what I usually get when I’m dying for some caffeine.

Brewed coffee                                      5 cal.     0 gm. fat

Nonfat caramel machiato               140 cal.    1 gm. fat

Nonfat coffee mocha                          170 cal.     2 gm. fat

Skinny vanilla latte                              90 cal.       0 gm. fat

Blueberry oat bar                                 250 cal.     10 gm. fat

Starbucks perfect oatmeal                140 cal.     1.5 gm. fat.

Egg white spinach and feta wrap     280 cal.     10 gm. fat



I know what you’re thinking, there is no healthy options at this place! Which I can’t blame you, I’ve thought the same thing. How can a place that distributes cinnamon rolls oozing in icing actually serve something that is relatively healthy? Well, surprise! There are a few low-fat, low-calorie options hiding behind that tantalizing smell. If this is one of my only choices, here’s what I go for when I’m flying.

Cinnabon cinnamon bread      120 cal. 3 gm. fat

Strawberry minibun        250 cal.     5 gm. fat

Cinnabon mocha latte     190 cal.     4.5 gm. fat

Cinnabon vanilla latte     190 cal.     4.5 gm. fat

Cinnamon crisps                130 ca.      6 gm. fat [per serving, 1.5 servings per container]

Panda Express

Chinese food can be very tricky. There are healthy options, however, sometimes even those are loaded up in salt and …GASP…msg, so you need to be super careful when you are ordering from any fast food chinese place. But I’m not going to pretend here friends, I’m a huge Chinese food fan, so when I see that adorable little panda sign I ussually bolt right there to get my fill on my oriental favorite. If you are like me and crave the chicken low-mein or general tso’s chicken, you are in luck because I have found some delicious, low sodium, low-fat and low-calorie dishes at our favorite Panda. So if you are stuck with a long layover and can’t stomach another cracker, try one of these for a healthy fill me up!

3 Cream cheese rangoons       190 cal.      8 gm. fat       180 mg. sodium

SweetFire chicken breast        440 cal.      10 gm. fat    370 mg. sodium

Sweet and sour chicken           400 cal.      17 gm. fat    370 mg. sodium

Mixed veggies entrée               35 cal          0 gm. fat      260 mg. sodium

Steamed rice                               400 cal.      0 gm. fat      0 mg. sodium

One fortune cookie                  70 cal.         2 gm. fat      0 mg. sodium

For a complete list of Panda Express’s nutrition information, visit


Who doesn’t love a nice, greasy piece of pizza that is the size of their head? I sure do! However, my waistline and size 6 jeans do not feel the same sense of longing. Although I’m a pizza phene and would much rather eat cheese and pepperoni than a salad, I know that, in the long run, the salad is the much better choice. However, Sbarro, which gets the bad rap for having really greasy, over-sized portions, actually has food other than salad that is satisfying and low in fat and calories [plus, a piece of pizza that won’t blow your calorie budget!]. So don’t let the name fool you, you can find some healthy options at this common Italian joint!

Pasta Primavera salad        190 cal.       10 gm. fat

Mixed vegetables [with butter sauce]     190 cal.     15 gm. fat

Low carb cheese pizza         310 cal.      14 gm. fat

String bean and tomato salad                      100 cal.     7 gm. fat

Greek salad                               60 cal.         5 gm. fat

Meatballs                                   139 cal.       9 gm. fat

Au Bon Pain

This is one of my favorite little deli’s and I’m really happy to see it has popped up in so many airports. What is great about this place is there are quite a few healthy options for the health conscious traveler and offer a wide variety of healthy snacks as well. Of course like any other restaurant, they also have their high fat and calorie nightmares, but with so many healthy choices, who needs them?

Garden vegetable soup     80 cal.     2 gm. fat

Chicken and dumpling soup      210 cal.   7 gm. fat

Tomato bisque                    210 cal.     9 gm. fat

Demi ham sandwich on baguette  330 cal.  5 gm. fat

Demi tuna sanwich on baguette     320 cal.   7 gm. fat

Thai peanut chicken salad                 240 cal.  8 gm. fat

Honey 9 grain bagel                             350 cal.  4 gm. fat

Apple cinnamon oatmeal                   280 cal.   4 gm. fat

Fruit cup                         70 cal.

Dunkin Donuts

Donuts and health are never words that often share the same sentence. When one thinks of a donut, they think of deep fried, golden rings of fat, often drenched in sugar. [Which is making my mouth water, what about you?] Well when I’m up at ungodly hours trying to catch a flight, the last thing I need is a sugar filled fat ball that will make me crash 20 minutes later. Instead, I need something hearty, full of fiber and protein that will keep me full throughout my plane ride so I don’t find myself munching on candy or salty pretzels. Luckily Dunkin Donuts has really revamped their image by introducing healthy breakfast sandwiches, whole grain bagels and low-calorie speciality coffees. They even got nutritionists, professors of medicine, doctors and fitness experts on a panel they call DDSmarts Nutritional Advisory, which helps navigate Dunkin Donuts menu to include more healthy, whole grain products! You go Dunkin, you keep this up and I will certainly “run on you.”

Egg white veggie flatbread        290 cal.     9 gm fat.    11 gm. protein

Egg white turkey sausage flatbread      280 cal.     6 gm. fat     19 gm. protein

Egg white and cheese wake-up wrap  150 cal.      6 gm. fat   8 gm. protein

Egg white and cheese on an English muffin  270 cal.    5 gm. fat   16 gm. protein

Multi grain bagel                          390 cal.       8 gm. fat      17 gm. protein

Latte light [small]                        80 cal           0 gm. fat       7 gm. protein

Coffee with skim milk                 15 cal.          0 gm. fat        2 gm. protein

For more information on DDSmart, visit

Although these are just a few of the most common eateries found in airports, there are hundreds of speciality food shops and sit down restaurants at most airports that also offer great, healthy eats for when you are stuck at the airport. The last thing you need to feel on a flight is starving, so happy eating! 

 I love…how certain songs can inspire you in ways you never thought possible.

~ by therealnutritionist on March 11, 2010.

One Response to “Days 24-25: Finding healthy food at the airport”

  1. Airport dining info & reviews:

    Looks like it could be useful.

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