Like most moms, I try to feed my family healthy food. I employ the usual tricks — swapping out whole grain for everything possible, keeping lots of fruits and veggies on hand and preparing meals at home. We live by a rule of moderation. We eat carry-out pizza once a week, eat kettle baked potato chips on occasion and serve up a juice box here and there. And like most families, we eat fast food sometimes.
I find that I am actually more prone to picking up fast food when I am alone. Even a quick trip to the grocery store often has me debating if I should pull into Taco Bell for a quick bite or pick up a small fry from McDonald’s to devour before I reach my driveway. The lack of accountability of my children in the back seat certainly makes it much easier to pull up to the drive thru and let my food inhibitions fly.
I also often work from a food establishment when I need a break from my house. This means patronizing the place by ordering food, and sometimes ordering twice. What I have found is that most fast-food and casual dining places DO offer healthy alternatives. It is up to the customer (me) to make the right choices.
|Panera’s Mediterranean Egg White Sandwich|
Here is a short list of healthy, relatively nutritious fast-food options for moms who dabble in an occasional away-from-home meal indulgence.
This sandwich is delish! With 20% of the daily amount of calcium and iron that you need and nutrient-rich veggies like tomatoes and spinach, you can feel good about ordering one. It still has relatively high calories (410) and fat (15g) so don’t go overboard and add it to your daily menu. If you order it without cheese, the calorie count drops to 320 and fat drops to 7 grams. Add a calorie-free blackberry sage tea or honey ginseng green tea for that extra “wake up.”
For right around $2, you can get your day started with 5 grams of fiber and only 4.5 grams of fat. This oatmeal offering is also low in sodium and tastes pretty darn sweet. If you order non-fat chocolate milk, that gives you 9 grams of protein in addition to the 5 grams found in the oatmeal. If you are an OJ kind of gal, switch that out for the chocolate milk and boost your Vitamin C intake. Overall, you are looking at 290 calories and 4.5 grams of fat in the oatmeal, and another 130 – 150 calories and no fat in the drinks.
You have to make a few small tweaks for this one to work, but it is totally worth it. For starters, ask for light or fat-free ranch dressing. Next, ask for just half of the serving size of Swiss and chipotle jack cheeses. Load on the veggies and pick either wheat or rosemary Parmesan bread. With these modifications, you will have a 265 calorie sandwich with only 5 – 8 grams of fat (depending on what kind of ranch you choose). Add a bowl of chicken noodle soup and add only 65 more calories and 1 gram of fat.
Get a mid-day fiber and protein boost with this combo from Wendy’s. Unlike the burgers, which boast anywhere from 15 – 47 grams of fat each (!!!!), you can get a small chili and filling baked potato for only 10 grams of fat and 520 calories. If you feel like treating yourself, add on an original Jr. Frosty for just 5 grams of fat and 200 more calories.
Taco Bell has a “fresco” menu that offers scaled-back versions of favorites like bean burritos, crunchy tacos and burrito supremes. My personal favorite from this specialty menu is two fresco chicken soft tacos with an order of Mexican rice. This meal will only set you back 420 calories and 3.5 grams of fat. Let’s say though that you really, REALLY just need to splurge. It happens. Try a new Doritos Locos taco for just 170 calories and 9 grams of fat.
I don’t know about you, but I have always heard “horror” stories about Fettucine Alfredo and how you might as well just eat a stick of butter if you want to eat the stuff. While that may be true for specialty, sit-down pasta joints, Fazoli’s manages to make it with just 8 grams of fat and 290 calories. Add on a serving of broccoli and fire-grilled tomatoes for another 35 calories and no added fat. Of course, you cannot make it through a meal at Fazoli’s without a breadstick. Stick with just one and you will only add on 150 calories and 7 grams of fat.
|Try a non-fat milk Caramel Macchiato from
Starbucks for an afternoon pick-me-up
Here’s a quick rundown of snacks worth stopping for:
Peach and Granola Sundae, Burger King — 280 calories, 5 grams of fat (but a lot of sugar!)
Grande Caramel Macchiato (with non-fat milk), Starbucks — 190 calories, 1 gram of fat
20-oz Berry Pom Twilight (Lite), Dairy Queen — 230 calories, 0 grams of fat
Milky Way Candy Bar, any gas station or grocery store — 81 calories, 3.1 grams of fat
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Tags: BUrger King