Nov. 25, 2012— -- Feeling a bit puffy after this weekend's gorge-a-thon? If you're traveling by air, you may find that it's easier to get a healthy meal this year than in years past.
For the 12th year, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has reviewed the food served at some of the country's busiest airports in an effort to find the healthiest. The PCRM said that although some airports have lost points from year to year, the overall trend is toward offering passengers the nutritious meals they need to maintain a healthful diet and handle the stress associated with air travel.
PCRM dietitians reviewed restaurant menus at 18 airports. Each airport's score was determined by dividing the number of restaurants offering at least one healthful option by the total number of restaurants. Facilities that do not serve entrées, such as snack food kiosks and small coffee shops, were not included in the review. A restaurant was rated as healthful if it served at least one low-fat, high-fiber, cholesterol-free breakfast, lunch, or dinner entrée.
Winner: Newark Liberty International Airport
Biggest Loser: San Francisco International Airport, down 19 points from last year.
Most Improved: Chicago O'Hare International Airport
Last Place: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
The complete list and restaurants and meal recommendations from PCRM at each:
1. Newark Liberty International Airport
Healthy choices: falafel sandwich at Mediterranean Bistro and a hummus wrap at Market Fresh. Seaweed salad, cucumber rolls, vegetable rolls, asparagus rolls, vegetable gyoza, and yakko tofu at Hamachi Sushi, and a grilled veggie burrito at Qdoba Mexican Grill.
2. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport
Healthy choices: Vegetable-packed, cholesterol-free options include the smoked tofu, broccoli, and mushroom burrito at 360 Gourmet, which clearly labels the vegan items on its menu. Several HMS-operated eateries, including Home Turf Sports Bar and Fresh Attractions, serve a vegan wrap with hummus.
3. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
Healthy options: Seaweed salad and vegetable sushi at Musashi or visit Mediterranean Grill for tabbouleh, hummus, vegetarian grape leaves, vegetable stir fry, almond rice salad, and a fruit plate.
4. Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport
Healthy options: Visit Zpizza for the Berkeley Vegan Pizza: marinara sauce, vegan cheese, veggie burger crumbles, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and peppers. Mango Taco Truck serves veggie tacos with zucchini, summer squash, cilantro, peppers, and onions.
5. (tie) Chicago O'Hare International Airport
Healthy options: Johnny Rockets serves the Streamliner Burger — a Boca Burger with grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and mustard. The Mediterranean platter at La Tapenade Mediterranean Café is with packed with pita points, hummus, olive tapenade, fresh asparagus, yellow zucchini, green zucchini, baby carrots, and Kalamata olives.
5. (tie) Miami International Airport
Healthy options: Visitors should indulge in the hummus platter at Beaudevin or several legume-based soups — black bean, white bean, lentil, chickpea, navy bean, and split pea — at La Carreta Restaurant.
6. (tie) Orlando International Airport
Healthy options: At Nature's Table Bistro — where vegetarian items are made-to-order vegan — opt for the veggie chili, sandwich, or wrap. ZaZa's Cuban Café also serves a vegan sandwich.
6. (tie) Washington Dulles International Airport
Healthy options: . Options for health-conscious passengers include veggie burgers at Five Guys and Fuddruckers, and veggie burritos at California Tortilla and Chipotle Mexican Grill. Make sure to hold the cheese on all of them.
6. (tie) Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
Healthy options: One of the best bets for a zero-cholesterol meal at this airport is California Pizza Kitchen, which serves pea and barley soup, tortilla soup, grilled vegetable focaccia (hold the cheese), grilled vegetable salad, hummus, and veggie pizza (again, hold the cheese).
7. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
Healthy options: Vegan burritos at 360 Gourmet. Ufood Grill offers a veggie burger, portobello sandwich (hold the cheese), Tofusion Bowl, and three-bean chili.
8. (tie) Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
Healthy options: French Meadow Bakery and Café is a perennial favorite of travelers looking for more than a burrito or veggie burger. Items clearly marked vegan on the menu include black bean chili, grilled tempeh Reuben, and grilled tempeh cutlet.
8. (tie) Charlotte Douglas International Airport
Healthy options: Health-conscious passengers can choose the Tree Hugger Salad at Bad Daddy's Burger Bar or edamame, seaweed salad, veggie maki roll, cucumber roll, or avocado roll at Hissho Sushi.
9. (tie) San Francisco International Airport
Healthy options: PIQ bakery offers the Vegan-O panini, Amoura Café serves a falafel sandwich, and Perry's has a vegan burger.
9. (tie) Denver International Airport
Healthy options: Try the hummus platter at New Belgium Spoke, the veggie "Philly" sandwich (hold the cheese) at one of the three Lefty's Grille locations, or the tofu wrap at Itza Wrap! Itza Bowl!
10. (tie) Los Angeles International Airport
Healthy options: Healthful highlights include vegan burritos and fajitas at Camacho's Café or edamame, cucumber rolls, or veggie rolls at Home Turf Sports Bar.
10. (tie) Baltimore/Washington International Airport
Healthy options: Travelers will find low-fat, cholesterol-free options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There's oatmeal with soy milk at Jamba Juice. Try the No-Meato Burrito — highlighted as vegan-friendly on California Tortilla's menu. Or you can have portobello stir-fry with tofu at the Silver Diner.
11. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
Healthy options: They are fairly limited at Reagan but include the hummus and veggie flatbread sandwich at Cosi and the arugula salad with oranges, spiced nuts, and citrus dressing at Sam and Harry's.
12. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Healthy options: The limited healthful options include spicy tofu made with vegetarian broth at Asian Chao, the vegan veggie wrap at Muffalettas on the Run, vegetarian chili at Nature's Table, or the falafel hummus wrap at Great Wraps.