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Chick-fil-A can thank its classic fried chicken sandwich and waffle fries for its cult-like following. But eating at America's favorite fast food chain doesn't have to get in the way of any healthy-eating resolutions.
"When ordering at Chick-fil-A, I would choose entrees that are no more than 400 calories and less than 1,000 milligrams of sodium," Keri Gans, a New York City-based registered dietician, told TODAY Food. The author of "The Small Change Diet" also recommended sticking with sauces and salad dressings that have less than 80 calories per serving. From "naked" nuggets (i.e. grilled chicken bites) and waffle fries, to mini chicken breakfast sandwiches and a fruit cup (or one of Gans' favorites like the chain's Superfood Side), here are 10 combos that all come in at under 500 calories.
Egg White Grill and Orange Juice, 460 calories
With 25 grams of protein and 7 grams of fat, Chick-fil-A's answer to McDonald's' Egg White Delight has 7 more grams of protein and 3 fewer grams of fat. Instead of Canadian bacon, this multigrain English muffin sandwich features a skinless chicken breast filet. With 300 calories and 980 milligrams of sodium, it also falls within Gans' recommendations. Add a 100-percent orange juice for 160 calories to meet your Vitamin C needs for the day. It is important to note that the orange juice has 35 grams of sugar so, if you can, eating an orange is a great way to get both vitamin C and filling fiber.
Hashbrowns and a Fruit Cup, 300 calories
This combination is perfect if you're not a big breakfast eater but you need something salty and sweet. One serving of hashbrowns, made from American-grown potatoes cooked in canola oil, has 250 calories, 17 grams of fat and 380 milligrams of sodium. Pair it with a fruit cup (50 calories) and get your sugar fix from fresh apples, strawberries, blueberries and mandarin oranges.
Bacon, Egg & Cheese Muffin and Iced Coffee, 450 calories
When egg whites won't cut it and you're craving bacon, order this 310-calorie sandwich featuring scrambled eggs, American cheese and bacon on a multigrain English muffin. It has 13 grams of fat, 15 grams of protein and 720 milligrams of sodium. Wash it down with an iced coffee for an additional 140 calories. (Keep in mind that the chain's standard iced coffee is pre-sweetened and has 24 grams of sugar.)
LUNCH & DINNER
Chick-n-Minis and Coffee, 355 calories
This drive-thru breakfast is easy to eat with your fingers. It's a play on Chick-fil-A's signature sandwich. But instead of one big one, you get four little bites flavored with a honey butter spread. They come in at 350 calories with 14 grams of fat, 19 grams of protein and 860 milligrams of sodium. Add in one hot black coffee for 5 calories to get your caffeine fix, too.
Grilled Nuggets and Waffle Potato Fries, 500 calories
One order of naked nuggets has just 140 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 25 grams of protein and 440 milligrams of sodium. Chick-fil-A's dipping sauces add between 45-140 more calories to any meal. Add an order of Chick-fil-A's most popular menu item, for 360 calories and 18 grams of fat. For even fewer calories and fat, swap the fries for a bag of waffle potato chips which have 220 calories and 13 grams of fat. (Of course, the healthiest option, which is also Gans' pick, would be the broccolini and kale side dish coming in at 140 calories, 8 grams of fat.)
Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap and Iced Tea, 470 calories
This 350-calorie flaxseed flatbread is packed with grilled chicken, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses, lettuce, cabbage and carrots. It has 14 grams of fat, 960 milligrams of sodium and 37 grams of protein. Add a freshly-brewed sweet tea for 120 calories. Or better yet, advises Gans, add the unsweetened version and save on the calories and 31 grams of sugar.
Market Salad with Light Italian Dressing, 355 calories
Yes, it's OK to come to Chick-fil-A for a salad. This colorful 330-calorie salad with 28 grams of protein features grilled chicken, shredded carrots, red cabbage and fresh fruit served on fresh greens. Still, it's not as innocent as it sounds. Between the crumbled blue cheese and granola and nut blend toppings, it has 14 grams of fat and 700 milligrams of sodium. Dress it with Chick-fil-A's Light Italian Dressing which adds just 25 calories and 1.5 grams of fat.
Spicy Southwest Salad with Chili Lime Vinaigrette, 500 calories
Chick-fil-A goes TexMex with this grilled chicken salad topped with Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese, poblano chiles, seasoned tortilla strips, chili lime pepitas and roasted corn and black bean salsa. Even though its base is romaine lettuce and baby greens, it has more calories (440), fat (19 grams) and sodium (1,070 milligrams) than some sandwiches on the menu. Pair it with the Chili Lime Vinaigrette dressing (60 calories and 3 grams of fat) for an even 500-calorie lunch.
Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich with Honey Mustard Sauce, 485 calories
With 440 calories, 19 grams of fat and 1350 milligrams of sodium, the sandwich that helped Chick-fil-A earn its title as America's favorite chicken chain isn't exactly healthy. But, it does have 28 grams of protein and there is the option to order it on a multigrain bun for no additional cost. To stay under the 500 calorie total, top it with Honey Mustard Sauce (45 calories), Barbecue Sauce, Zesty Buffalo or Sweet and Spicy Sriracha, which all have 60 calories or less.
Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Chick-fil-A Sauce, 450 calories
If you must have Chick-fil-A's signature sauce, consider compromising and getting the grilled chicken sandwich. It has 310 calories, 6 grams of fat, 820 milligrams of sodium and 29 grams of protein. It also automatically comes on a multigrain bun and even includes some fresh veggies (like green leaf lettuce and tomato). The barbecue-and-honey mustard hybrid sauce — with 140 calories and 13 grams of fat per serving — is the real kicker. (When it comes to sauces and dressings, Gans recommends trying to stick with just one packet.)