Watching your calories and eating at Tender Greens. Our guide to Tender Green calories pinpoints the lowest calorie options on the menu so you can look after yourself as well as the planet.
Tender Greens is a restaurant chain in California, USA. They have 30 stores throughout the State. Its tagline is ‘Changing the way people eat for the better’. They say that ‘Sustainability is at the core of all the choices we make, from our food to our planet to the future of farming.’
That’s a great thing. The food we eat is one of the main contributors to the climate crisis so, choosing more sustainable meals with low levels of processing, lower carbon footprint and less meat and dairy is a good thing.
But, can you do it at Tender Greens while also watching your calories? Becky Scholes’ guide to Tender Green calories finds out…
Is Tender Greens Healthy?
Technically their ethos is to make the plant healthier, not help you lose weight. However, the menu does include plenty of vegetable and protein options which is good and most of it is fresh, natural unprocessed goodness.
Their signature section is the ‘Plates’ part of the menu where you build a meal by selecting a protein, green and side to suit your tastes and, in theory, that should also allow you to customise something lower in calories, but, we were surprised that on the face on it at least, few meals come under the suggested 600 calories that it’s advised a meal should contain for health..
But then, we delved deeper and found that it doesn’t take much to create a whole load of lower-calorie meals at Tender Greens if you know how.
But let’s start with the basics…
The Lowest Calorie Meal at Tender Greens
If you want to be absolutely certain that you’re picking the lowest calorie choice, then the lowest calorie meal on the Tender Greens menu is the Falafel Sandwich on Lavash at 560 calories.
However, if you did go for the ‘Build Your Own’ Plates section of the menu you could have Salmon (160 calories), with baby greens (200 calories) and seasonable vegetables (70-240 calories) for 430 calories (if the vegetables were the lower end of that scale).
If, however, the Seasonal Vegetables were on the higher end of the specified range at 240 calories, it would take it to 600 calories. Quite the difference!
So, What’s Up With The Vegetables?
Basically, one way that you can eat more sustainably is to eat locally and in season and I’m suspecting that Tender Greens do this with their vegetable selection and that’s why they don’t know exactly what they are going to be serving on a given day.
If their selection contains more root vegetables like sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash it’s going to be at the higher end of the scale that if say, courgettes (zucchini) or cauliflower is in season.
So, best advice – chat to your server and find out what’s in the selection. If it’s green and leafy, or white, it’s going to be lower in calories than if it’s orange and starchy or sweet like peas or beets!
Everything else falls somewhere in the middle.
However, things open up considerably more if you read the small print!
One reason it’s hard to go under 600 calories on the Tendergreens Menu is even plain green leafy stuff like spinach in Tendergreens could rack up 200 calories a serving – then I noticed, there’s a listing for calories from fat on the menu.
Closer inspection shows that all the veggies come with dressings and cheese!
As 100g of spinach contains 0.4g of fat (4 calories) naturally, you can assume that all of those fat calories come from these add ons
Lose the add ons therefore and the calorie counts look a little bit more like this.
Baby Greens – 54 calories
Baby Spinach – 59 calories
Baby Arugula – 68 calories
Butter Lettuce – 56 calories
Romaine Hearts – 62 calories
Kale – 75 calories
That’s not exact as I’m only discounting the fat calories and there may also be some sugar or other ingredients contributing calories too.
I’m not sure how prepared the greens are in Tendergreens. If they’re tossed fresh, making this adjustment should be supereasy – if they pre mix the ingredients and add the dressings last, then your best options would probably be the Baby Greens or the Butter Lettuce as they do seem to add most calories through dressings
The higher calorie seasonal vegetables also contain 185 calories from fat which means they’re also dressed with something, or cooked in a fat, but that might be harder to eliminate depending on when that item is added.
Lowest Calorie Plates at Tender Greens
As above the lowest calorie Plates option would be the Grilled Salmon (160 calories) with baby greens (200 calories if you keep the dressing) and seasonal vegetables (70-240 calories).
That tots up to 430 if the vegetables are 70 calories, but it could be anywhere up to 600 calories depending on what vegetables are on offer!
Lose the dressings though and you could also have any protein (except the Fried Chicken, Katsu Chicken or Barbecue Chipotle Chicken) with any leafy green and seasonal vegetables and come in under 600 calories.
If you can get the source of fat off the vegetables as well, then you could also go for those chicken options for your protein.
Lowest Calorie Sandwiches at Tender Greens
The only sandwich that comes in below our 600-calorie cut of is the Falafel Sandwich on Lavash which is 560 calories.
If, like me, you’ve never heard of Lavash bread it is a thin soft flatbread often used for sandwiches and wraps. It sounds very nice to me!
Lowest Calorie Bowls at Tender Greens
At first glance I expected the Bowls to be a low-calorie option on the menu. But they really aren’t!
Which is a shame as they are full of tasty nutritional ingredients.
The lowest calorie choice would be the California Salmon or Togarashi Tuna or Salmon Bowls at 900 calories.
Again you might lose a bit if you cut the dressings, but it would be at most 135 calories as these tend to use the lower calorie dressings.
If you can get them without the sushi rice, my guess is they’d come in closer to 600 calories, but it would depend on your server.
Lowest Calorie Salads at Tender Greens
Again, you would hope that Salads would have lots of low-calorie choices. But there aren’t any options on the menu that fall under 600 calories.
The lowest option is the Chipotle BBQ Chicken at 610 calories. Again, if you could lose, or even just reduce the amount of dressing on this, you’d cut things under 600.
Lowest Calorie Soups at Tender Greens
Soups come in two different sizes, a cup or a bowl. The lowest calorie option is the Rustic Chicken which comes in at 110 calories for a cup or 220 calories for a bowl.
This sounds like a really satisfying low calorie option.
Add a bowl to something like a side of Baby Spinach (even with it’s add ons of goats cheese and nuts) and you’ve got a not bad lunch for 475 calories
Tender Greens Calories at a Glance
Meals under 400 Calories
There is nothing under 400 calories on the Tender Greens menu.
Meals under 500 Calories
Rustic Chicken Soup (bowl) with Greens – 420-560 calories (Baby Greens is lowest, Romaine Hearts highest)
Plates: Salmon (160 calories) with Baby Greens (200 calories) and Seasonal Vegetables up to 139 calories (the range specified on the menu is 70-240 calories).
Plates: Seared Tuna (190 calories) with Baby Greens (200 calories) and Seasonal Vegetable up to 109 calories!
Meals under 600 Calories
Roasted Tomato Soup (bowl) with Greens – 520-660 calories (Baby Greens is lowest, Romaine Hearts highest)
Plates: Salmon (160 calories) with Baby Greens (200 calories) and Seasonal Vegetables up to 239 calories (the range specified on the menu is 70-240 calories).
Plates: Seared Tuna (190 calories) with Baby Greens (200 calories) and Seasonal Vegetable up to 209 calories.
Plates: Togarashi Tuna (190 calories) with Baby Greens (200 calories) and Seasonal Vegetable up to 209 calories.
Falafel Sandwich – 560 calories
So, there you have it. Our guide to the calories in Tender Greens and how you might be able to cut them slightly. With that name we did expect to see some lower calorie choices, but that’s why we write these guides – because, it’s not always the options you expect that have the lowest calories.
If you’d like to see more of our calorie guides, check them out here.