As the Director of Marketing for Cafe Metro in NYC, I was thrilled when noted nutritionist Martha McKittrick wanted to do a feature on our new 100 Under 500 Menu that features a menu of full meal options under 500 calories combined. Not a lot of places have embraced this mind set so I thought I would share it here. You can see see articles and great advise on her great website

 As a nutritionist in NYC, I’m always on the lookout for healthy lunches on the run for my clients … and myself. Most New Yorkers are busy and want something quick, tasty and healthy. The problem is that unless you are sticking to the same old boring turkey sandwich or “tossed” salad, you aren’t sure how many calories you’ll end up with if you order that fancy wrap or pre-made salad that is already dressed. But lucky for us New Yorkers, Cafe Metro (with 11 locations in NYC, one in Brooklyn) has recently launched 100 healthy options for breakfast, lunch and snacks – all for under 500 calories. And it even includes pasta!

You’ve probably been seeing calories posted in many NYC restaurants thanks to Bloomberg’s labeling law. However the majority of places still don’t post this info. At Cafe Metro, you no longer have to guess that your lunch choice is healthy and low calorie. And you have tons of choices – 100 to be exact – so you won’t be bored.

Here is how it works
All the 100 under 500 items have a sign or sticker to help you distinguish them from the not-so-low-calorie items (like that massive piece of pizza I was eyeing). You can choose your own whole sandwich or 1/2 sandwich and then add something else like a soup, salad or side dish. They also have a “tossed salad bar” where you can select from a wide variety of ingredients as well as a pasta bar. Or you can use the Cafe Metro 100 under 500 menu as a guide for meal planning. The nutritionist Alex Oppenheimer, RD who helped design this menu had a goal in mind: she paired smaller entrées (like 1/2 sandwiches or soups) with nutrient-rich sides to increase the overall nutrition value and help busy New Yorkers cut down on calories and make smarter, easier choices. Examples of these “pairings”:
- 1/2 Cape Cod Turkey sandwich, small organic pea soup and a small fruit salad for 489 calories
- half of Tuscan Chicken Sandwich, a bag of Popchips, side mixed green salad with low calorie dressing and jello for 440 calories
-whole wheat pancakes, fruit salad and coffee for 328 calories.
- small oatmeal, hard boiled egg, and small fruit salad for 311 calories

Watch my Cafe Metro Video

Sample menu items at Cafe Metro
I’ve made a few trips to Cafe Metro and here are some of the items I tried:

- 1/2 Cape Cod Turkey Sandwich (311 cal)
- California Turkey Pita (my fav – whole sandwich for 412 cal)
- Vegetarian Pita (whole sandwich for 310 cal … this was good but not enough food for me. Adding a soup/salad or side dish would help)
- Whole wheat penne,1 cup broccoli, 1 cup mushrooms, 1 cup tomato-basil sauce (tasty and a decent
amount of food for 460 cal)
- Tuscan vegetable soup (small , only 85 cal … delicious, would be a great addition to a 1/2 sandwich or salad)
- Gazpacho soup (again, very good … low cal but calories weren’t calculated yet)
- Sides: Organic spicy Thai Noodle side salad (tasty and good sized portion for 229 cal. Add a salad or hearty soup for a meal)
- Organic Penne with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto side salad (same size portion for 327 cal)

While I didn’t try the tuna salad sandwich or chick parm sandwich, I couldn’t help but notice the calories: tuna salad sandwich on a pita for 338 calories and a 1/2 chicken parm sandwich for 342 calories! I usually warn my clients to steer clear of these high fat high calorie sandwiches as they tend to range from 600-800 calories! And while I didn’t get a chance to try the breakfast items- there were many to choose from under 500 calories.
Final word...

Cafe Metro has been in NYC for the past 30 years. They were recently featured on this season’s premiere of The Celebrity Apprentice on NBC! I’ve eaten there in the past for a quick lunch and have enjoyed the food – but with this new menu, I’ll be eating there a lot more (and sending my clients there!) Whether your goal is  to eat healthy or lose weight, Cafe Metro makes it easy with their new 100 under 500 meals. And for all you New Yorkers with hearty appetites, you don’t have to eat “light food”. There are plenty of the usual higher calorie options! Check out their website for locations. If you are too busy to leave the office, you can order online and get it delivered. No excuses not to eat a healthy lunch!

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