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Chipotle Sets its Sights on Healthier Options

The company is also using a surprising kind of tech to promote new menu items

Since its inception in the mid-2000s, Chipotle has seen incredible success with its signature burrito bowl.

If you’ve never had the pleasure, allow me to explain. Guests can choose a variety of rice, beans, meat, salsa, and other fixings typically found on a burrito in a bowl. It’s simple, capitalizing on the restaurant’s “make-it-your-way” service style and allowing consumers, for any reason, to opt out of the traditional tortilla option. Combined with the company's status as a purveyor of fresh, quality ingredients, and you've got a great meal option for any eater looking for a healthier fast food option.

Never a company to be left behind, Yum Brands  (YUM) - Get Free Report restaurant Taco Bell has created its own version of the burrito bowl called the Power Menu Bowl. The bowl features rice, chicken, beans, lettuce, cheese, tomato, and guacamole. And thanks to its similar assembly line business structure, sandwich shop Subway is getting in on the bowl action as of this October.

Locations in Canada have launched versions of the bowl, including the Crispy Chicken Bacon & Peppercorn Ranch Signature Rice Bowl, the Green Goddess Veggie Signature Rice Bowl, a Southwest Steak and Avocado Signature Rice Bowl, and the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Signature Rice Bowl.

It's a big time for the bowl -- can Chipotle maintain its grip on its exclusive build-your-own menu item?

Chipotle Rings in New Year With a Healthier Bowl Option

Starting Jan. 3, participating Chipotle  (CMG) - Get Free Report locations across the U.S. and Canada will offer a new Lifestyle Bowls series, which offer seven options for restaurant guests looking for a bowl catered toward a healthier lifestyle.

Many of the new menu options are vegetarian-friendly, like the Veggie Full Bowl, Plant-Powered Bowl, and the Go Half Veggie Bowl. The Balanced Macros Bowl is also vegetarian and catered to those who keep a specific count of proteins, carbs, fats, and sugars -- a practice becoming increasingly popular in food health circles. The Grain Freedom Bowl is, as you would guess, grain-free, while the Wholesome Bowl and High Protein Bowl serve those health-conscious omnivores coming through the restaurant’s line.

It's no surprise the company released these new items at the start of the year -- the "new year, new you" energy is a powerful motivator when it comes to shaping the habits of food consumers. But to keep guests menu-motivated in the long term, the company is branching into augmented reality technology.

Chipotle and Snapchat Team Up to Get Customers Moving

With the help of social media company Snapchat, Chipotle wants to get more involved in the everyday wellness journey of its consumers. The two companies are launching a wellness-inspired augmented reality lens with Chipotle-themed exercises and even mediation prompts!

Now, imagine yourself wrapped up in a soft, fluffy burrito. Isn’t that soothing?

Augmented reality is a service that uses a mobile device to add interactive graphics to whatever the user is viewing through their camera lens. The most well-known example is Nintendo’s game "Pokémon Go", which successfully drew millions of people out of their homes and into the world by enticing them to physically search for collectible characters in real public places. Chipotle will be the first restaurant to use augmented reality to its benefit.