Comfort food by definition isn't healthy. But at on Morris Avenue, the hot soups are both comforting and easy on the calorie counts.
At a time of year when we're bombarded with excess—large holiday meals, trays of cookies and little time to go to the gym—a place known for its healthy menu makes an attractive lunch option. Now a national franchise with local roots, Muscle Maker Grill is quick, healthy, tasty and not too pricey.
Though difficult to find on the menu above the counter, the soups here are prominently advertised on the front door as well as on every napkin dispenser. And on a cool or rainy day, a small cup hits the spot. This column has tried bouillabaisse, French onion soup, Mexican vegetable beef soup and pasta e fagioli in recent weeks. Today, we start with a cup of turkey chili at Muscle Maker Grill.
With finely chopped turkey, corn, cannellini beans and peppers, this thick soup has a considerable spicy kick to it. The turkey eliminates several calories—and a lot of grease—from a dish traditionally made with ground beef. Flavor is not sacrificed here; I can say I enjoyed the turkey chili far more than I would have enjoyed ground beef chili. And unlike many of the soups we've tried in town over the last several weeks, this turkey chili is not loaded with salt.
In general, I'm not a fan of substitutions. Like aspartame or margarine, many substitutions end up being more harmful than the original ingredient being avoided. I used to enjoy an occasional veggie burger, but it hardly comes close to the real thing. But for this meal, I not only enjoyed the substitution of turkey for ground beef in the chili, I also enjoyed the substitution of turkey bacon for pork bacon in Muscle Maker Grill's signature wrap.
Unlike aspartame or margarine, turkey bacon is natural, like everything else inside Muscle Maker Grill. And unlike, say, a veggie burger subbing in for a beef burger, the turkey bacon is as satisfying as pork bacon—maybe not at a diner with eggs, but certainly in a wrap. It has more substance than bacon, less grease and almost all of the crispy salty flavor we've come to love.
Besides the turkey bacon, the signature wrap is a healthy mix of grilled chicken breast, reduced-fat cheddar cheese, Romaine lettuce, tomatoes and onions, all held together with a zero-carb signature sauce and a wrap. It all totals up to a healthy 550 calories.
The soups are a seasonal offering and the selection of soups rotates daily. A cup costs $2.95 and totals between 60 and 120 calories, depending on the soup.
At Muscle Maker Grill, a hot cup of soup can be guiltless, too.