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Fast food health - what do you order?

I admit it, I'm a calorie counter. www.calorieking.com is my best friend when i'm selecting a meal for eating out. One of the most pleasant surprises has been to find that many fast food restaurants offer genuinely healthy meal options. I work with teens so I end up at fast food restaurants a lot. I know it sounds crazy, but I'd just rather get my cals from a great homecooked meal or at a better restaurant, so, what do you do when you're in a hurry or stuck at McD's with the kids... etc... Here's some of my faves.

Burger King - Whopper, w/o mayo. This rings in right at 500 calories, and is enough to be a meal.

McDonald's - Salads with GRILLED not crispy (read fried)chicken breast and just a little dressing. Also, a small ice cream cone is just 150 cals.

Anywhere I can get a grilled chicken breast sandwich, sans mayo and/or sauces. Also, almost any place will load you up with veggies if you ask nicely.

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  1. I like Wendy's Mandarian Chicken Salad---no dressing, minimal nuts and noodles or a plain baked potato

    Tim Hortons I get a turkey sandwich on wheat, no dressing or cheese and lettuce

    I do a lot of Wegman's 'supermarket sushi'. Is this considered fast food?

    Then I do my 'crazy' attempts at calorie savings...like picking off ALL the skin at KFC (which leaves about 2 bites of meat), getting the low cal sweet cream ice cream at Cold Stone and "only" getting 2 mix in's (I convinced myself chocolate is a vegetable) and pulling the insides out of bagels.

    1 Reply
    1. re: L_W

      I think it's technically a grain.

    2. My method for eating (somewhat) healthy at chains and still getting my fix is generally based on portion control and compromise.

      Chipolte-I get the vegetarian burrito bowl with lettuce, black beans, tomatillo salsa, cheese and guacamole for 430 calories. I will also get the pork burrito and have them cut it in half and have it for lunch two days (it reheats well IMO)

      Burgers-no cheese and fortunately I don't like mayo. Skip the fries or get a kid's meal with the baby portion of fries

      Taco Bell-get two small items (like regular taco) or just one more substantial item (like the bean burrito).

      1. I don't mind the fruit salad with yogurt at McD's if I have to go there; although, it hasn't always filled me up.

        1. The baked cod plate at Long John Silvers.

          A BK Fish Fillet w/sm onion rings has same nutritional info as a mayoless whopper (except less protein).

          (I like fish)

          1. McD's: the egg mcmuffin is about 300 calories and the caloric ratios are even close to the Zone "ideal" of 40-30-30. Once in awhile, these things just can't be beat - they are culinary genius.

            Avoid the sausage mcmuffin w/ egg, for all its extra tastiness comes directly from an extra 150 calories of pure fat (total of 450 calories).

            1. At Del Taco, tacos del carbon (something like 220 calories a piece and pretty good). Also, if at Taco Bell you can order things "fresco" and they'll put pico de gallo in place of the cheese or other sauce. (Only at the regular Taco Bells, not the KFC Taco Bells.)

              At Rubio's fish taco place there are a couple good salads where you can have fish in place of the chicken and I usually do that and pay for 'double fish'... it jacks up the price but it's tasty and I get a bunch of protein. I tend to go to town at the salsa bar with cilantro and salsas.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Cinnamon

                I love rubio's healthmex burritos. about 550 cals.

              2. Lobster Tacos. What? Fish is GOOD for you!


                3 Replies
                1. re: TexasToast

                  Shrimp is extremely high in cholesterol.

                  1. re: melly

                    wow, you're right... it's worse than tripe. any idea if they are HDL or LDL? my nutrition source (www.nutritiondata.com) doesn't specify.

                  2. re: TexasToast

                    Squid is also very high in cholesterol. But most fast-food joints don't have squid on the menu....


                  3. Subway veggie delight on wheat bread, or, if I'm really stuck in deep-fried fast food land, just a plain cheeseburger or basic taco without sour cream and the works. I sometimes wonder if all those salads fast food places offer are worse than their burgers because of the calorie count after the dressing/garnishes/meat.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: erikka

                      I love seeing my friends order salads at bar/grills ( a la chili's) not knowing they are taking in 1000+ cals

                      1. re: amkirkland

                        I hate to be a killjoy, but that's kind of sadistic. It's not a contest.

                    2. Carl's Junior has a good chicken sand but you need to tell them to hold the barbecue sauce, you can also ask for a side salad instead of fries.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                        Wow, I think the BBQ sauce is the best part.

                        McD's grilled chicken sandwich is pretty good, sans mayo.

                        At Taco Bell, I get two bean burritos, no cheese and no sauce (beans and onions only), then load it up with Tapatio or fire sauce.

                      2. Wendy's classic single with everything and a diet coke. 420 calories.

                        If you want to minimize the damage at fast food places, AVOID THE FRIES!!

                        Someone mentioned the subway veggie delite. I used to eat this all the time when I had little other choice. It's around 200 or so calories, and for an extra 30 calories I got mine smothered in fat free honey mustard. Really good if you load up on the hot peppers.

                        1. At La Salsa or Baja Fresh, I order a side order of charbroiled chicken, and mix it with ample pico de gallo. Baja also makes good healthy salads (dressing o/s), and their tacos are good bang for the buck- calories-wise.

                          Without the granola, the fruit and yogurt parfait is decent at McD's in a pinch.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Emme

                            I'm addicted to those damn yogurt parfaits, they're almost the best thing at McD's with the exception of the apple dippers with caramel. That is the best thing going!

                          2. I used to like the wendys spring mix salad, then they took it away.

                            -fruit and yogurt parfait from mcdonalds or timmys (150 cal)
                            -mcd's ice milk (150 cal)
                            - 6" subway veggie or turkey sub on whole wheat
                            -chicken or veg soup from almost any place
                            -smoothies from booster juice etc
                            - i love egg mcmuffins, but since they usually make me feel like crap after, i try to stay away

                            i stay away from most burgers because I dont really like them. Some food courts usually offer some form of terikayi place where you can get a meat or tofu with rice or noodles and veggies, which is not too bad if you watch the portion sizing.

                            shrimp is good for you! although its high in cholesterol, dietary cholesterol does not affect serum cholesterol very much, and shouldnt be a concern unless you are on a diet designed to reduce cholesterol. eating fiber is the most important aspect of reducing serum cholesterol, as it helps to recycle it. so shrimp occasionally is alright. god i hate school, but i suppose its useful :)

                            1. Have you ever noticed that Wendy's salads use really nice lettuce on the top (arugula, mixed baby greens) but as soon as you dig in it's all ICEBERG! I knew it was too good to be true.

                              Oops, this was supposed to be a reply to the above

                              1. yeah, i try to avoid the fries if I need to eat fast food. my once a week chik-fil-a doesn't seem to take a toll that way.

                                1. The Burger King veggie burgers RULE. No cheese, no mayo, just lettuce and tomato. Yummy!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: katiepie

                                    Yep, one of my favorites. Gardenburgers, the real deal. Just some ketchup, and add some onions too.

                                  2. I really like 'The Teryaki Experience'.. the noodles are a little less calories then the rice, and you can pick from veg, chicken beef or shrimp (the beef is a little more calories then the others).. but since they stirfry in water, you get a big heap of yummy noodles, protein of choice and veggies for only about 500 cal!. A perfect filling meal.
                                    For snacks, i really like yogun fruz's sugar free fat free yogurt. A small is approx. 120 cal.
                                    I also love to get the air popped popcorn at kernels because it comes in alot of different flavours, and is only about 80 cal for 3 cups.. Perfect for when your shoppping around and eating mindlessly.

                                    1. I usually ask for them to put the sandwich fillings on salad greens instead of bread. (not that there's anything wrong with bread per se, but restaurant buns are huge.)

                                      I'll also get sauces, toppings and dressings on the side.

                                      I avoid the fried stuff. And I'm vegetarian, so that cuts out some of the fat.

                                      Best tip, though: I usually eat just half the order in one sitting.