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Restaurant Review: Healthy Fast-Food Dining at Noodles & Company

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Japanese Pan Noodles

Japanese Pan Noodles

Are you tired of eating the same fast food? Why not travel around the world through eating?

Noodles & Company opened its first restaurant in 1995 in Cherry Creek, Denver, Colorado. It now has 380 establishments in 29 states. It is a fast-casual restaurant with the appeal of full-service attention. The menu consists of American, Mediterranean, and Asian dishes all served on stoneware with stainless steel silverware by the friendly staff, no tips allowed. There is a vast array of fountain drinks, fresh brewed iced tea, organic chocolate milk, beer, wine and bottled beverages to choose from.

When you arrive, you will view the colorful menu on the wall with options for vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, and over 25 meals with less than 500 calories. The combinations are many; you can create your own meal. My daughters’ favorite meal is the Wisconsin Mac & Cheese which is $4.49 for a small or $5.59 for a regular.

The cashiers are friendly, knowledgeable, and there to help you with choosing the right meal for your diet. If you are gluten-free, please let them know. (On the other hand, if you have severe food allergies, take the usual precautions and consider talking to your physician before eating here). A ”V” by the calorie count indicates “vegetarian” and a small red pepper icon tells you it’s spicy. If you prefer vegan, ask for no cream or cheese.

When I arrived on a Tuesday at a Noodles & Company in Rockford, Illinois to order foods to critique, I introduced myself, but not until after I had ordered meals. Since my husband isn’t dieting, we ordered him the BBQ Pork Sandwich with a side of tomato basil bisque. The sandwich has 560 calories and the soup 260 calories a cup for a cost of $6.99. When you order a sandwich, you get your choice of a side salad or soup.

My daughter ordered the Indonesian peanut sauté which is a spicy stir-fry with peanut sauce and rice noodles, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, Asian sprouts, cilantro, crushed peanuts and lime. It is spicy (two red peppers) and vegetarian. A small has 420 calories and costs $4.39. A regular has a whopping 840 calories and costs $5.59. Adding a chicken breast adds another 110 calories and $2.39.

I ordered a regular Japanese pan noodles which I enjoyed; it is somewhat spicy (one red pepper) and vegetarian, with beautiful caramelized udon noodles in a sweet soy sauce, broccoli, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, Asian sprouts, black sesame and cilantro. They recommend adding marinated steak. I ordered a side of Thai curry soup with yellow coconut curry broth, spinach, cabbage, mushrooms, tomato, red onion and rice noodles with 230 calories, vegetarian and marked with one red pepper for spiciness. They also recommend adding organic tofu.

My favorite meal is The Med sandwich (one red pepper) for $5.99, 330 calories, a side of tomato basil bisque and a blackberry jasmine green iced tea. You can ask for this to be vegetarian.

On the negative side: the meals at Noodles & Company have a lot of sodium, and the building can be cold; take a sweater or jacket.

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About Roxe Anne Peacock

Roxe Anne Peacock lives in Caledonia, Illinois with her husband, one daughter, a cat, dog, and two horses. They raised five daughters on the five acres and now have eight grandchildren. They are the owners of Top Hat Chimney. Roxe Anne is a member of Sisters in Crime/National, Sisters in Crime/Chicagoland, Guppies, Chicago Writers Association, Windy City Reviews, and In Print. She has approximately 5,000 FB friends and two pages, She has two blogs, Civil War Cooking and Reenacting and The Peacock's Pen which she is still creating. The blog will be about her journey to lose 100 pounds while creating healthy recipes, some of which she might share on this blog. Roxe Anne is the author of two mysteries, Fatal Catch and Leave No Trace which are available on Kindle, Nook and in print. Last week she signed a contract for Fatal Catch for audiobooks. She is also the author of a historical cookbook, History Lover's Cookbook, which has been a top 100 paid Best Seller on Kindle most of 2013-14. She signed a contract for the cookbook to be an audiobook the end of May. It should be completed just in time for her to promote it on Red River Radio with host, Dellani Oakes. It is currently in the process of becoming available in print. Currently, she is working on two more cookbooks which should be available later this summer, Smokin' Good Eats and Cooking to Live.
  • Pauline Holyoak

    Nice post, Roxe Anne. Good advise.

    • Roxe Anne Peacock

      Thank you so much, Pauline.

  • Paul R. De Lancey

    A very good food blog. Roxe Anne helpfully and succinctly helps restaurant goers understand all the food options open to them. At many places it’s hard to tell. Also, it’s quite nice to know about the overuse of sodium. For many people, including myself, this can be a deal breaker. Well done, Roxe Anne.

    • Roxe Anne Peacock

      Thank you for the wonderful comments, Paul. Heart disease is the #1 death of women so sodium content is important to me when choosing food options.

  • http://www.knightseries.com Candace C. Bowen

    Great article. I wish they had a Noodles & Co. in my area.

    • Roxe Anne Peacock

      It is refreshing to have the organic tofu, fresh veggies and fresh brewed iced tea. Thank you for commenting, Candace.

  • Pamela Scarbrough

    Great review of “Noodles & Company.” Roxe Anne! This happens to be one of my favorite places to eat, although I haven’t been to the Rockford Restaurant. I have enjoyed many dishes at other locations. As for the sodium, I wonder if the Rockford establishment let’s you ask for no MSG, like the Chicago ones do?

    • Roxe Anne Peacock

      Thank you, Pamela. I assume it to be a corporate agreement to withhold the MSG upon request. Noodles & Company tries to accommodate most health needs. I love the variety of flavors in the different meals. Thanks for commenting.

  • http://irbratb.com/ Vicki

    Noodles & Company sounds so good, and not bad prices either!

    Great review!!

    • Roxe Anne Peacock

      Thank you, Vicki, for the lovely comment. My daughters’ fell in love with Noodles & Company while attending Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Their favorite meal is the Wisconsin Mac & Cheese. I love so many of the items it really was difficult to choose just one favorite. I do order The Med sandwich the most with fresh brewed blackberry jasmine tea.

    • http://blogcritics.org/writers/barbara-barnett Barbara Barnett

      My vegetarian son loves Noodles & Co. They have a nice selection; their calories are listed and the food is decent for fast food.

      • Roxe Anne Peacock

        Thank you, Barbara, for sharing your information about your son. Most days, I eat vegetarian or vegan.

    • Roxe Anne Peacock

      Thank you, Vicki. I think the meals are a healthy choice while eating out instead of just burgers.

  • Arunava
  • Margot Justes

    Roxe Anne,
    The menu sounds terrific, have never eaten there, but now will give it a try.
    Margot
    http://www.mjustes.com

    • Roxe Anne Peacock

      Thank you for commenting, Margot. I enjoy it for a fast-healthy lunch.

  • Allison Taylor

    A fast food restaurant with a healthy menu? That is nonsense. Can they guarantee what is the origin of their food supplies? I’m not sure! Fast food companies aren’t healthy at all! The only healthy food that can be consumed these days is the one you prepare at home. And to be 100% sure, you have to grow your own vegetables. Read more here: http://my.tntdownunder.com/blogs/13171/1510/a-conspiracy-theory-about-the-fo

    • Roxe Anne Peacock

      Thank you for commenting, Allison. I eat organic, healthy and cook my own food. I very seldom go out but if I do, I want alternative options. There are people who are going to dine out no matter what the situation. This article is geared for those who prefer to eat with others. My area is fortunate to have farmer’s markets, healthy sections in food stores with organic, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and allergy free sections. I live on five acres and used to grow my own vegetables. We have cherry trees, pear trees, apple trees and berries. I grow tomatoes and strawberries in pots on my patios. Not everyone is as fortunate to be able to grow food at home. Thank you again for your input.