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Healthy Dining in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport

Airport dining is difficult. As a REALLY frequent traveler, I find it almost impossible to find healthy options in the airports around the country. You can only eat so many salads, but your options are limited beyond that. The Minneapolis/St. Paul airport is focusing on offering travelers more healthy dining options, which is GREAT! Especially for all of those airport patrons who are consistantly stranded by shady Northwest Airlines.

What can you get and where do you get it?

Blackened Warm Walleye Bistro Salad: Axel’s Bonfire. “This is a salad that stands apart, thanks to a large serving of warm fish on cool greens,” said Mitchell. The entrée-sized mix of baby greens, including arugula, purple cabbage, shredded carrots and juicy cherry tomatoes is an abundant dose of vegetables. “And the magic combination of spicy fish and slightly sweet, homemade white balsamic maple vinaigrette makes it all work. It’s not only nutrient-rich, but hearty and beautiful.”

Fresh Spring Rolls: Ike’s Food & Cocktails. From Ike’s Small Plates menu, these make a terrific lunch or light dinner and are great for sharing. “This is one of our healthiest choices,” said Mitchell. “I love all the fresh vegetables and shrimp rolled in a fresh, not deep-fried, rice paper wrapper. The noodles inside are made from rice, too, which means this is an appealing choice for anyone who’s wheat intolerant. The wonderful hoisin dipping sauce has just a bit of chili oil and chopped peanuts on top for flavor – much healthier than the typical heavy peanut sauce.” The presentation on a triangular black plate is impressive, too!

Three Meals: French Meadow Bakery, Café & Wine Bar. With a national reputation for organic, vegetarian and vegan food, this is the first restaurant and bar featuring organic food in a U.S. airport. From the diverse menu, we sampled three dishes.

• Black Bean Chili. “The Black Bean Chili is vegan, but anyone would love this!” said Mitchell. It’s brimming with corn, carrots, bell peppers and onions in addition to black beans for meatless protein, then topped with fresh scallions. “It’s so thick you could almost eat it with a fork, truly wholesome and hearty. Really, really, good,” raved Mitchell. For a whole-grain choice, request a slice of the restaurant’s Healthy Hemp bread to go with it.

• Mediterranean Wrap. The Mediterranean Wrap in the grab-and-go case has the added bonus of an organic baby greens salad on the side. An organic sprouted-flourless tortilla wraps up nicely spiced hummus, olives, red peppers and grilled tofu. Mitchell’s take: “Another healthful vegan choice, but so tasty that non-vegans and even carnivores would be impressed.”

• Miso Salmon Dinner. “This is a perfect option for non-vegetarians traveling with vegetarian diners,” said Mitchell. “Salmon is recommended for being high in omega-3 fatty acids, something we should all be getting from fish a couple of times a week.” It’s served with garlic mashed potatoes and lightly sautéed kale, “A green that’s common in Europe,” added Mitchell. And kale is high in vitamins A and C.

Grilled Chicken Breakfast Frittata: Locanda D’Amico. This frittata packs the protein and nutrition of three eggs plus spinach. “Request that the chef prepare it in olive oil instead of butter,” said Mitchell. “The chicken and spinach are tender, with just a little fresh goat cheese for flavor, and the olive oil-roasted red potatoes are perfectly flavored with fresh rosemary. All the top-quality ingredients in the dishes here really make a difference. Be sure you order the incredible raisin rye bread, but ask for it without butter and use the delicious jam instead.” Breakfast is served 6am – 10am; arrive before 10am and you can enjoy the frittata as an early lunch.

Shrimp & Asparagus Salad: Icescape. “What a generous amount of shrimp with good quality crisp romaine and asparagus – lots of protein, everything is very fresh and it looks absolutely beautiful,” said Mitchell. Fresh strawberries add vibrant color and a fruit serving, while a sprinkling of crumbled feta cheese boosts the flavor. With the pomegranate lime vinaigrette, “this is great eating that is filling without being heavy,” said Mitchell.

Tuscan Chicken Salad: Rock Bottom Restaurant. Another freshly prepared entrée salad that makes getting your daily vegetables seem almost decadent. “The leafy greens, walnuts, Granny Smith apples, red bell peppers, Roma tomatoes, shredded carrots and plum-marinated chicken are all wise food choices and it tastes as good as it looks,” said Paulette. “I also love the fact that the dressing is a just-right amount of balsamic vinaigrette rather than a rich, creamy dressing that would overpower the salad.”

Beach Chicken Taco with Salsa Bar: Maui Tacos. “This is a good way to start with fresh, wholesome ingredients and then customize to your own taste,” said Mitchell. First, the taco (just 255 calories) – grilled chicken, lettuce and cheddar cheese (request less) in two soft wheat (not fried) tortillas. Next, the taste can be varied with mild-to-zesty choices from the salsa bar. We were impressed with Pineapple Passion – a zingy blend of pineapple, tomatillos, sweet onion, jalapeño and lime juice.

Subway Veggie Delite Sandwich: Subway. “Get a big serving of vegetables with this cold sandwich, which is a crunchy, delicious choice,” said Mitchell. “Pile on the veggies, opt for olive oil and vinegar instead of the higher-fat sauces, and go light on the olives and pickles, which are high in sodium. The wheat and honey-oat breads are the best choices for fiber.” At just 6 grams of fat or less, you could consider indulging in a slice of pepper jack cheese to add even more flavor and protein.

Chinese Chicken Salad: California Pizza Kitchen. “There’s really no excuse not to eat a great-tasting salad, even if you’re running from one gate to another,” said Mitchell. You can grab this pre-packaged salad and get a generous serving of protein thanks to the chilled grilled chicken, plus julienne carrots, scallions and fresh basil, all on a bed of greens. “The accompanying wonton crisps are tasty, but add them sparingly,” cautioned Mitchell.

Here’s even more info (listed by restaurant):

Axel’s Bonfire – Blackened Walleye Bistro Salad, $11 with balsamic vinaigrette. Beef or Chicken Fajita, $14 with sauteed peppers and onions, with flour tortillas

Ben & Jerry’s – Selection of sorbets used in Real-Fruit Smoothies, $5. Strawberry Lemonade, Mango & More and Life’s a Beach. All are made with no-fat sorbet, juice, fruit and lowfat frozen yogurt

California Pizza Kitchen – Roast Turkey Sandwich, $7.99 or Chinese Chicken Salad, $7.69.

Chili’s Too – Guiltless Chicken Salad, $8.99 with grilled chicken, pico de gallo, black beans, corn, bell peppers, no-fat ranch dressing (450 calories, 43g carbs, 15g fat, 3g saturated fat, 7g fiber). Burgers – can substitute black bean burger for any burger on request for $7.29 – $7.99.

Einstein Bros Bagels
– Roasted Veggie Bagel Sandwich, $5.39 with roasted vegetables, hummus and garden vegetable cream cheese (choose the 25% reduced fat). Tasty Turkey Bagel Sandwich, $6.19 with turkey, onion, veggies, chive cream cheese (replace with reduced fat version).

French Meadow Bakery & Cafe – Organic Oatmeal, $5.99 topped with fresh organic apples, organic bananas, organic raisins and toasted organic sunflower seeds, with 2% or soy milk and organic sourdough toast. High Health & Energy Breakfast, $7.99 with organic High Protein & High Fiber Men’s, Women’s, Healthy Hemp or Healthseed Spelt Bread toasted and served with organic peanut butter and fresh organic fruit Vegan Black Bean Chili, $5.99. French Meadow House Salad, $6.99 (vegan) with organic field greens with carrots, cherry tomatoes, organic sunflower seeds, shredded beets and balsamic vinaigrette (with chicken, $8.99; salmon, $9.99). Roasted Beet & Pear Salad, $8.99 with organic field greens, roasted beets, caramelized pears, bleu cheese, toasted walnuts with tarragon shallot vinaigrette. Veggie Burger, $7.99 with Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle and tomato-tofu mayonnaise on organic sprouted-whole grain bun, with firecracker slaw (request no cheese to make vegan). Vegan Chili & Rice, $6.99 with black bean chili served over organic brown rice. Grilled Tempeh Reuben Sandwich, $8.99 with marinated and grilled tempeh with sauerkraut and tomato-caper tofu dressing on organic rye bread. Miso Salmon Entree, $18.99 with sauteed kale and garlic mashed potatoes. Beverages high in nutrients, include: Naked Juices, Organic Valley milk, Knudsen vegetable cocktail. Various low-fat, vegan and sugar-free treats are available, including brownies,
muffins, cookies.

Icescape – Shrimp & Asparagus Salad, $11.29 with fresh asparagus, strawberries and feta cheese tossed in
pomegranate lime vinaigrette with herb marinated shrimp and fresh mint

Ike’s Food & Cocktails: Seared Ahi Tuna, $21.99 with soy and ginger marinated yellowfin with ponzu and wasabi mashed potatoes. Fresh Spring Rolls, $8.25. Daikon radish and carrot salad, shrimp and basil, with chunky peanut hoisin sauce and Thai chili oil. Classic Shrimp Cocktail, $12.25 with cocktail sauce, lemons and saltines. Tuna Tataki, $12.25 with Ahi tuna seared rare with sesame seeds, served with soy ginger sauce, wasabi peas and pickled ginger. Blackened Swordfish Tacos, $11.99 with seared blackened swordfish bits and roasted peppers, warm corn tortillas, pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole. Chicken Satay, $9.25 with marinated chicken skewers griddled and sprinkled with sesame seeds and Thai chili oil, with sweet and sour dip and marinated cucumbers. Seared Ahi Tuna Salad, $16.99 with tuna on mixed greens with honey mustard dressing, scallions, Bermuda onion, cucumber, tomatoes, Mandarin oranges, crispy noodles and a smear of wasabi sauce.

Locanda D’Amico – Chicken Breakfast Frittata, $8.99 with grilled chicken, spinach, chevre; served with breakfast potatoes and toast. Flatbread Pizza, $7.99 with fresh mozzarella, tomato and oregano.

Maui Tacos – Veggie Taco, $5.59 with rice, beans, potato, lettuce, cheese, tomato on soft tortillas. Beach Chicken Taco, $4.99 has chicken with lettuce, cheese on soft tortillas. The Veggie Burrito, $6.09. Paia Burrito with rice, black beans, lettuce, tomatoes and guacamole.

Northern Lights Grill
– Grilled Chicken Breast Sandwich, $9.99 with vegetable medley as the side choice. Blackened Salmon Salad, $10.49 is a grilled fillet on romaine with ripe tomatoes, red onions, diced egg, croutons and your choice of dressing. Vegetarian Omelet, $8.99 with tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, cheddar, breakfast potatoes and sourdough toast.

Rock Bottom Restaurant – Fruit ‘n Granola, $4.69 with granola and fresh strawberries with low-fat yogurt or milk. Make Your Own Smoothie, $4.49 with low-fat vanilla yogurt, choice of juices, fruits and berries. Tuscan Chicken Salad, $10.59 with plum-marinated chicken with Roma tomatoes, red peppers, carrots, greens, Granny Smith apples, walnuts, croutons, gorgonzola and balsamic vinaigrette. Turkey Wrap, $8.79 with turkey, pepper jack cheese, lettuce and pico de gallo with avocado lite ranch dressing wrapped in a tomato basil tortilla.

Skol Cafe & Bar – Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad, $6.99. Fruit & Yogurt Parfait, $3.99 with vanilla yogurt, wild blueberries, strawberries and toasted granola (6g fat total, 12g protein, 4g fiber, with vitamin C 50% and calcium 30% of recommended daily requirements). Fresh Fruit Cup, $3.99 with cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, red grapes and strawberries.
Odwalla bottled Smoothie or Superfood Micronutrient Fruit Juice, $4.26

Subway – Various Fresh Fit 6-inch sandwiches, 6 grams of fat or less, on wheat or honey oat bread, $3.79 – $4.79 each.

Wok & Roll – Japanese Noodle Soup, $6.76 – $7.79 with your choice of vegetable, meat or seafood. Sushi varieties, prepackaged or custom (Seaweed Salad, $5.73; Squid Salad, $5.73; Cooked Soy Beans, $3.24)