Cracker Barrel Restaurant isn’t exactly known as a healthy eating destination. With a menu item that actually advises you to “loosen your belt,” the Southern home-cooking destination isn’t making any health food claims itself.
Originating in Lebanon, Tennessee, Cracker Barrel’s menu has many of the pitfalls that are so common to the Southern diet (See 10 Things Southerners Do Wrong With Their Diets), but it doesn’t have to be a lard-fest. Savvy diners can watch their fat and calories just by being choosy about what they order from Cracker Barrel’s menu.
Cracker Barrel doesn’t list nutritional information on its website, so choosing the healthiest menu items requires expert guidance. Use these tips, courtesy of your Knoxville Healthy Food Examiner to ensure that belt-loosening isn’t necessary on your next trip
Healthy Ordering Tips at Cracker Barrel
- Order a la Carte – One of the reasons Cracker Barrel’s breakfast specials can be unhealthy is because of their size. Eggs and toast aren’t evil on their own, but the platters add country ham, biscuits, gravy, grits and more. Ordering individual items can cut the fat tremendously. For breakfast, choose a poached egg or two, a side of turkey sausage and whole wheat toast or Special K cereal.
- Make Substitutions – You can cut quite a few calories by making substitutions, and Cracker Barrel makes it easier by offering healthier versions of some of their items. Ask for Egg Beaters instead of eggs, turkey instead of pork sausage, Promise Spread instead of butter, and sugar-free syrup or low-sugar jams.
- Eat Your Veggies – Pump up the nutritional value of your lunch or dinner by making a meal of side dishes. Skip the breaded or fried sides (like Fried Apples or Okra) and choose between Turnip Greens, Pinto Beans, Whole Kernel Corn, Baby Carrots, Applesauce and Country Green Beans.
- Flee the Fried – That fried chicken might look tempting, but to cut significant amounts of fat from your plate, order Baked Chicken or Oven-Roasted Turkey instead. The same goes for Cracker Barrel’s salads: choose grilled chicken as a topping instead of the bacon or fried chicken salad options.
- Don’t Drink Your Calories – Since Cracker Barrel doesn’t list its calories (and they might be lurking anywhere), cut them where you can by ordering calorie-free drinks like black coffee, unsweetened iced tea or diet soda with your meal. The healthiest choice would be water, which also helps you feel full faster.
Recommended Healthy Menu Items at Cracker Barrel:
- Spicy Grilled Catfish (two catfish fillets with choice of side dishes)
- Grilled Chicken Tenderloin (six tenderloins with choice of side dishes)
- Bowl of Turnip Greens or Bowl of Pinto Beans (served with corn muffins)
- Oven Roasted Turkey Salad or Grilled Chicken Salad (hold the egg, cheese and croutons to make it healthiest)
Cracker Barrel Locations in Knoxville, Tennessee:
2020 South Mall Rd.
9214 Park West Blvd.
5001 Central Avenue Pike
1510 Cracker Barrel Lane (I-40 Exit #348)
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