Healthy Fast Food Choices from Online Registered Dietitian

 

It’s summer.

It’s hot!

And you’re probably tired of cooking every night. It’s no wonder takeout dinners are often the solution. Unfortunately, over time, takeout has become synonymous with packaged, fried, high-calorie, high-fat, and high-sodium lackluster foods. Combine this with the fact that many families lead more sedentary lifestyles, and we end up with families who aren’t as healthy as they could be.

But fear not! Getting fast food doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your family’s health. In fact, it’s a great way to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your loved ones. Our nutritionist group came together to share our favorite shortcuts for healthy eating — so you can stick to your diet plan through the summer months and reach those weight loss goals. 

Rethink meals and enjoy these smart, quick, and healthy meal choices this summer. You can easily find them at most supermarkets or prepare them in just a few minutes.

  1. Buy a roasted chicken: You can find this staple at most supermarkets. To reduce fat and sodium, remove the skin before serving. Pair it with cut-up summer fruits and a dollop of plain yogurt, sprinkled with cinnamon or drizzled with honey for a delicious, summery meal.
  2. Share the good stuff: Instead of sticking to the kid’s menu when dining out, try having your kids share a meal off the regular menu. Let them pick out two meals, and take home what they don’t finish to eat the next day. This is a great way to get kids used to trying new flavors and textures and encourages them to choose healthier options.
  3. Buy in-season fruits and vegetables: Not only will you get optimal flavor and freshness, but you’ll also save money. Look for in-season produce at your local farmer’s market or grocery store.
  4. Head to the freezer for your favorite flavors — berries, fruits, and veggies. Frozen fruits and vegetables have just as many nutrients as their fresh counterparts, without the hassle!
  5. Make large batches and freeze: If you have a large freezer, consider making large batches of soups, chili, and sauces before the summer months and freeze them for later. This is a great way to have healthy, homemade meals ready to go in minutes.
  6. Eat all the colors: Better nutrition comes from a variety of colorful fruits and veggies.
  7. Learn to read food labels. Teach kids how to read a nutrition label. Clean eating is a new, healthy trend, but it’s important to understand that processed doesn’t mean bad. Some processing is needed to take bacteria and germs out of our foods (like pasteurizing milk). 
    1. Processed foods are any food with a label (which means more than one ingredient was used to make it).
    2. Processed foods are foods that have changed from their original inception (like applesauce or taking bran and germ from grains to make refined breads).
    3. Selecting processed foods can be tricky, but there are a few tips that can help you make informed choices. Firstly, it’s best to avoid purchasing processed foods with unfamiliar ingredients listed on the label. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.  When it comes to “ready-to-heat” processed foods, it’s best to look for products that have minimally added chemicals and artificial additives. These additives can be harmful to your health if consumed regularly. Heat up processed foods in appropriate containers. Metal, glass, and paper containers are safe options for heating up food. Avoid heating up food in plastic containers, as this can release harmful chemicals that can leach into your food.

 

Fast food doesn’t necessarily have to be unhealthy. These no-fuss food options can give you and your family healthy snacks and meals without making you a slave to the kitchen. Online dietitians can provide you with the information you need to make the best food choices for your individual needs. By being prepared with healthy options, you’ll be less likely to reach for packaged snacks like crackers or chips.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad:

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small cucumber, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, cherry tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, and parsley.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
  4. Serve chilled as a light and refreshing summer meal.

This Mediterranean Chickpea Salad is not only delicious but also rich in protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. It’s perfect for a quick and easy summertime meal or a healthy side dish for your next barbecue.