Although it may not always be our ideal meal choice, sometimes fast food is the way to go on a hectic day or for a special treat. Most fast food menu options are notoriously not too good for us, nutritionally speaking, but there are some options that are pretty healthful and can be part of a balanced diet. The next time you pull through the drive-thru, suggest one of the following items to your kids. They’ll be thrilled to get fast food and you’ll be happy to know they are eating something you can feel good about giving them.
Lots of fast food places are offering apple slices in place of greasy French fries in their kids’ meal packs. Apples are a great source of vitamins and fiber and most kids like the fun shapes the fast food restaurants cut their apples into. They often come with a small container of dipping sauce that tastes great to kids. Teach your kids that it is OK to eat fries now and then, but apples are great for their bodies and are equally tasty. The apples make for a great dessert option as well. As they say… “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, and now you can find ‘em at your local fast food place!
Many kids love chicken nuggets and fried chicken sandwiches, but all that extra oil used in frying is of little benefit to the body. The great taste of grilled chicken paired with its punch of protein is just as satisfying as fried chicken and is so much better for us. Nearly every fast food joint offers grilled chicken sandwich options and some even have grilled chicken strips and salads. Once you get your child used to the texture and flavor options of grilled chicken, they won’t even miss the fried variety. Explain that chicken, in general, is a nutritious food choice, but it all depends upon how it’s prepared. Go light on the sauce to make it even healthier.
Sure, thick milkshakes, ice cream sundaes and mini pies are scrumptious, but all those calories and fat are no way to top off a fast food meal. Many fast food establishments have a healthy yogurt parfait option on their menu, chock full of low-fat yogurt, diced fruit and a bit of granola. This sweet treat is not only tasty, but it is a smart snack choice at the fast food restaurant. Teach your kids that treats are for special occasions and they can satisfy their sweet tooth with something that is actually good for them, like the parfait instead. Some fast food places also offer low-fat frozen yogurt as an alternative to milkshakes and ice cream as well. Bonus? The parfaits won’t melt!
*If you are keeping kosher, go for the parfait when you aren’t headed out for a meat-based meal.
Salad sounds like a healthy option, but not all fast food restaurant salads are all that good for you. Many places pile on creamy, high-fat dressings, fried chicken, loads of cheese, fried tortilla strips and other high-fat and calorie options that don’t make for a healthy salad. When choosing a salad for yourself or the kids, ask for a low-fat dressing or dressing on the side so you can use just a little. Select grilled chicken vs. fried. Keep the crouton count to just a few. Make sure the salad is full of greens and other colorful veggies and not just a big container of iceberg lettuce. This way, you can show your child what a healthy salad looks like and that all salads aren’t created equal.
Now, go ahead and enjoy your next fast food meal without the guilt!
What are your favorite healthier fast food meals? For more info like this, please visit All My Children blogs.
By: Melissa A. Kay