Nutrition

How Healthy Is Honeygrow’s Stir-Fry, Really?

We love ourselves some noodles—but are they good for us?

Photograph via Facebook.

When we choose to eat at Honeygrow instead of the closest burger joint, we usually feel like patting ourselves on the back for making the healthier choice. I mean, both Honeygrow’s salads and stir-fries have vegetables in them—so that means they’re good for you, right?

While we have to feel pretty good about ordering a pile of greens topped with more vegetables and a lean protein, we did wonder: Are those noodles and stir-fry bowls as good for you as they’re cracked up to be? To find out, we reached out to dietitian Katie Cavuto and asked for her professional opinion.

The first thing Cavuto pointed out was that though Honeygrow lists nutrition information on its website, the nutrition facts don’t have any portion sizes tied to them (with the exception of the dressings and sauces, which a note at the bottom explains are one or two ounces). That’s kind of a problem if you’re trying to figure out what exactly you’re eating. For example, if you were to take a peek at the nutrition facts for the “fresh egg white noodles” on the nutrition sheet, you’d see that they contain 160 calories. The sheet doesn’t say, however, how big that 160-calorie serving of “fresh egg white noodles” is. Is it one bite? Two cups? One to-go container? No clue!

Given that good understanding of nutrition value requires a good understanding of what the heck it is you’re eating, we reached out to Honeygrow’s team to ask: How big are the serving sizes, anyways? A spokesperson for the brand got back to us, and explained that the noodles and rice come pre-portioned. The rice noodles and brown rice are eight-ounce servings, while the fresh egg white noodles and whole wheat noodles come in five-ounce servings.

While this isn’t an insane amount of pasta, Cavuto’s main beef with the stir-fries is the ratio of carbohydrates to vegetables. Cavuto’s first tip when approaching the dish is to go ahead and save yourself some trouble and ask for just half of the noodles and to replace them with extra vegetables. If healthiness is the goal, she’d rather eat primarily vegetables with a bit of noodles mixed in than a carton of noodles sprinkled with veggies. As a general rule, “half of your plate should be vegetables, with a smaller portion of carbohydrates,” says Cavuto. 

When it comes to the choices of carbs for the stir-fries, Cavuto’s favorite is the brown rice, given that it’s a whole food—meaning you’ll know exactly what you’re getting when you eat it, no mystery ingredients involved. Her second choice is the “fresh whole wheat noodles,” as the “whole wheat” moniker implies that these noods contain whole foods as well. As for the sauces, Cavuto suggests requesting “light” or “light to regular” amounts—which will get you about an ounce or two of it mixed in.

Ultimately, however, Cavuto isn’t about labeling Honeygrow’s noodles as “good” or “bad”—for her, it’s really all about portion sizes.

“With the right amount of balance, the noodles are completely fine,” says Cavuto. “The whole foods—the brown rice or the whole wheat noodles—are going to be more nutrient-dense, which is important if you’re eating them every day.”

If you’re seriously craving some warm, stir-fried food but aren’t looking to overdo it on the grains, you can steal a hack from Cavuto’s playbook: order a lettuce cup stir-fry, which skips on the rice and noodles entirely. To hers, Cavuto adds a bunch of veggies and a protein (her faves are the turkey, chicken, egg, tofu, or shrimp). In place of rice or noodles, Cavuto then asks to add some of the roasted yams from the salad bar—a nutrient-dense carbohydrate that’s packed with Vitamin C and Vitamin B6. While our source at Honeygrow says that not all restaurants will necessarily be able to accommodate this specific request—and the yams will be leaving the menu in January—it’s always worth asking. Warm, tasty bowls a nutritionist approves of? Sounds like a win-win to us!