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10 Dallas Restaurants for the Health-Obsessed

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Hitching its proverbial wagon to the 2012 summer Olympics’ built-in audience, McDonalds announced last week a marketing campaign emphasizing a new “Favorites Under 400 Calories” menu featuring nearly 40 options in a reasonably healthy calorie range. And, while this effort is hardly innovative – Subway, after all has been a long-time contender in weight obsessed America’s fast food cravings, and Wendy’s, Taco Bueno and Taco Bell have all provided specialized “lower calorie” menus – it is financially effective, and one might reasonably argue, actually useful to those concerned about their caloric intake.

While we are all for transparency and accuracy when it comes to nutritional information, it is important to remember that, by simply providing lower calorie options, restaurants and not necessarily providing healthy options. After all, one might lose weight by consuming only 1,500 calories per day of Snickers bars, but that person will hardly be a bastion of physical fitness. Luckily, Dallas boasts a number of restaurants – some just as affordable as the aforementioned fast food chains – that provide healthy options.

1. Company Cafe - With locations on both Lower Greenville and the Katy Trail, Company Cafe has spearheaded Dallas' gluten-free revolution. And, while not all diets require such restrictions, their focus emphasizes fresh, locally procured and organically grown ingredients that, with portion control, quell your comfort food cravings, without making your jeans uncomfortable. We like the Company Smoked Salmon (served with sautéed broccolini and cauliflower mash) and the Shrimp Tacos (Sautéed shrimp with fresh spinach in corn tortillas topped with pico de gallo and served with organic salsa), but if you're looking to splurge, the Chicken Fried Steak and Chicken and Waffles entrees are fried in olive oil, proving that being "bad" can still be good.

2. Spiral Diner & Bakery - 100% vegan, Spiral Diner offers an extensive menu of fare ranging from light veggie dishes to allergy-friendly entrees. Some of our favorites include the Bowl O'Broccoli (with a tofu add-on, if you fancy it), the Tofu Scramble and the Big Texas Salad. Found in Oak Cliff and Fort Worth, Spiral also offers good-for-you custom cakes and other sweet treats for shame-free special occasions.

3. Rise No. 1 - If you're under the impression that a soufflé is a no-way, then you are in for a French treat. Airy by nature, Rise's soufflés come in diverse incarnations from savory brunch and dinner entrees with farm-fresh vegetables and meats to fruity and nutty dessert versions. The Lovers and Inwood located Rise's website states that their "savory souffl&eacutes range from 263-413" calories based on nutritional analysis by the Cooper Clinic, and Yelper Lindsay W. says that a friendly bartender was quick to offer the deets on specific dishes, upon request.

4. Cosmic Caf&eacute - Another vegetarian hub, Oak Lawn's Cosmic Cafe offers a full menu of Indian/Middle Easter fusion aimed to amp up your primordial energy. The Yogi Power (sauteed mung sprout, cilantro, served on left lettuce) is a surefire low calorie side dish, but if you're looking for something a bit more substantial, consider the No Bull Burger (black bean patty) and hold the cheese. And, if you happen to go a little crazy with the all-too-yummy naan, Cosmic Cafe hosts dance and yoga events on the patio to get in a good burn.

5. Season’s 52 - The only thing on our list with national presence - and one of the more expensive - Seasons 52 deserves a nod for upscale fare for a down (bathroom) scale. According to the official, nothing on the menu tops 475 calories, and all calorie counts are easily available online for pre-game planning. We're talking a Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli entree with 470 calories and Strawberry Shortcake for 110. Everything adds up, of course, but a little savvy strategizing means never having to say "I'm sorry" to your weight loss diet.

6. Start Restaurant - As we mentioned above, many fast food restaurants are talking low calorie, but Start Restaurant, slated to opening on August 8 on Upper Greenville is a "slow cooking" fast food format, with a drive-through window and fresh, organic flavors. Sure, you could run through the window at Micky-D's, or you could swing by Start for Steel Cut Oatmeal (topped w/ pecans, maple syrup, raisins & dried cranberries) of Mediterranean Quinoa (with feta, veggies, scratch-made EVOO herb vinaigrette (vegan style available)). No brainer.

7. The Dream Cafe - Don't be discouraged by The Dream Cafe's elusive uptown location - once you find it, you'll never forget it. With an entree called The Square Meal on the menu (chicken, seasonal vegetables, tahini miso, rice & beans), there's no second guessing this good choice. If portion control is your Achilles heel, watch the popovers (they are delish, but not low-cal) and mix and match smaller dishes to ensure you stay within a reasonable range. How about a Southwest Salad (mixed greens topped with grilled chicken, avocado, cherry tomatoes, garlic croutons and goat cheese, tossed in cilantro lime vinaigrette) hold the cheese? Or the Glorified, a spinach and mushroom omelet made with egg whites only, by request.

8. Greenz - Don't be fooled by the name - while Greenz does offer a long list of vegetarian options, there's plenty of good stuff for everyone, even the carnivores. With spots in Highland Park, Uptown and Addison, Greenz boasts a flexible menu, encouraging guests to create their own salad or to choose from a wide variety of soups, salads and sandwich options. Our favorite smart options? The Tofu and Veggies comes with fresh bean sprouts and glass noodles topped with crispy marinated tofu, red bell pepper, carrots and scallions, and the Grilled Chicken Rivera comes with mixed greens, grilled chicken and assorted fresh fruit, "kissed lightly with strawberry balsamic vinaigrette." Who doesn't love a light raspberry kiss! Greenz also caters and offers free delivery in a limited range for orders over $15.

9. VSPOT Cafe - This Knox-Henderson vegan staple is unique in that it offers raw options (such as Coconut Kale Enchiladas and Red Chili Sesame Linguine), but if that's not your style, they also serve a variety of soups and salads (think Poblano Chowder). That said, if you'd prefer to drink your veggies, VSPOT's juice list is more extensive than the traditional menu. We hear the Like a Virgin (tomato, beet, carrot, celery, spinach, parsley, garlic, jalapeno, apple, lemon) will kick your start with a healthy natural high.

10. Buzzbrews - While not everything on the menu at this all-night diner is low calorie (or guaranteed health food), Buzzbrews is committed to fresh fare, purchased as locally as possible. Owner and classically trained chef, Ernest Belmore, tells us that everything at Buzzbrews is customizable, and waitstaff is trained extensively to be knowledgeable about dietary flexibility. Really want to watch your intake? Think about the Veg Out (cup of vegetarian soup du jour and a small house salad with your choice of dressing), or create your own egg white omelet and don't spare the nopales! (strips of prickly pear cactus pad and are nutrient-dense).

These are, of course, just the tip of the iceberg (lettuce). For more great Dallas haunts, is a customizable online resource helping users locate restos with options under 600 calories and detailing which items on the menu fit the bill. As with the fast food options above, lower calorie does not necessarily mean higher quality. What is your strategy for dining out while trying to drop some lbs?

· Kalachandji's [Official]
· Company Cafe [Official]
· Seasons 52 [Official]
· All Healthy Eating Coverage [- EDFW -]

[Photo: Kalachandji's/Facebook]

Dream Cafe

2800 Routh Street, , TX 75201 (214) 954-0486 Visit Website

Company Cafe

2217 Greenville Avenue, Dallas, TX 75206 214-827-2233

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