Healthy Fast Food?

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Summer is a time for vacations and out of town travel for my family and me. We often take road trips, and I have to say that I love them! The time spent with my children in the car is QUALITY, with very few distractions compared to when we are all at home and going in many different directions. Some of my fondest memories are of driving with my girls, whether it be to school and back, gymnastics meets and cheerleading competitions, trips to family in Chicago, vacations, etc, and the conversations we would have while traveling. I learned things about my girls’ lives that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been in the car with them.

While we were driving around, we couldn’t avoid eating fast food from time to time. Statistics show that the highest percentage of fast food consumers are people in their 20’s and 30’s. This was the time in my life when I weighed the most and I know one of the contributors to that was not making healthy food choices, especially with fast food.

As I entered my 40’s and became more conscious about healthy food choices in general, I realized that when I went to a fast food restaurant I could no longer order a quarter pounder, French fries and a coke and still feel full of vitality and fit into my jeans! I developed a strategy of finding healthy choices at our most frequented fast food locations. If I wanted french fries, I would grab one or two from someone else instead of ordering my own. Believe me I would only be able to take one or two because my girls would be very possessive of their fries!

Here are my top five healthy food options at some of the most popular fast food restaurants, presented with my favorite last. I hope this helps you to make more healthy fast food choices!

Wendy's chili and side salad.

Wendy’s chili and side salad.

5. Wendy’s chili and side garden salad- A Wendy’s large chili and garden side salad (no croutons) plus fat free dressing has 375 calories and 9 grams of fat with 3.5 g Saturated fat. When my girls were little they loved to go to Wendy’s and get their Frosty’s with a kid’s meal. I would have the chili and a side salad and feel very full and satisfied. The beans in the chili and the veggies in the salad have fiber which adds to that full feeling, and the meat and beans in the chili have protein which helps us feel satisfied.

Taco Bell chicken taco and Pintos and Cheese.

Taco Bell chicken taco and Pintos and Cheese.

4. Taco Bell Chicken taco and Pintos and Cheese- This is another one of my faves when getting fast food. My girls love Taco Bell and when they want to grab a quick bite on the road they will often ask to go there. I get the chicken soft taco and the Pintos and Cheese. The pair comes in at 330 calories with 10.5 grams of fat (3g Saturated fat). Again, the meat, veggies and beans provide fiber and protein for fullness and satiety.

Subway 6 inch club.

Subway 6 inch club.

3. Subway 6 inch club- Subway is another favorite with my girls and when I’m there I will either get a salad (love their salads in which they chop up all the ingredients together!) or a 6 inch club sandwich. I get the club sandwich on wheat with every vegetable they have, no cheese or mayo, vinegar, spicy mustard, salt and pepper. I also get the apple slices as a side. This combination has 445 calories with 6 grams of fat (1.5 g saturated fat). The wheat bread and vegetables gives me fiber and the meat gives me protein. And it tastes great too!

McDonald's Southwest grilled chicken salad.

McDonald’s Southwest grilled chicken salad.

2. McDonald’s Southwest grilled chicken salad- I love this salad and can’t tell you how many times I’ve ordered it. It is delicious and I don’t feel deprived when I’m eating this and others are eating burgers and fries. Now here’s the key to this salad, you have to make sure to order the chicken GRILLED not breaded, and order a low fat salad dressing, I like the low fat balsamic vinaigrette. They give you a little bag of tortilla strips and I only use half of that to save calories. I also love that they give you a lime wedge and when I squeeze it on my salad it makes it taste even better. Can you tell I really like this salad? This salad has 290 calories with 8 grams of fat (2.5 Sat fat). it has 7 grams of fiber and 27 grams of protein. Try it and you will not be disappointed, I guarantee it! And my number one favorite fast food healthy and delicious food item is…

Chipotle brown rice fajita bowl- My fave!

Chipotle burrito bowl- My fave!

1. Chipotle burrito bowl- This is my favorite fast food option, and it makes me happy just to think about it! I order a brown rice burrito bowl, and I vary the meats I choose, but I more often choose the pork carnita meat. I always get the fajita vegetables, pinto beans, lettuce, medium salsa and pico de gallo. I never order sour cream or cheese because these are high in fat and calories.  This bowl does have a whopping 780 calories, however I only eat half because it’s very filling and I save the rest to put in my fridge for the next day. A half serving gives me 370 calories, around 10 grams of fat (2.5g sat fat), 10 grams of fiber and 40 grams of protein. It is a healthy, satisfying and yummy fast food choice!

Now here’s the important thing to remember about my choices, these are things that are favorites of mine but there are many other healthy fast food options at these and other fast food restaurants. Each fast food restaurant will provide nutritional information on request, and there are websites and apps that will also help you make healthy choices. I use an app called My Fitness Pal to track my calories and exercise for each day. It also shows caloric as well as other nutritional information on just about every food you can think of, including fast food.

I hope this helps my readers make healthy and delicious choices while on the go. As always, I welcome your comments. I wish you happy and safe travels!

Valerie

 

 

 

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