HEALTH/ Healthy Eating/ How-Tos/ RECIPES

Finding Healthy Fast Food

Tis the season to be out and about, finishing up the Christmas shopping and enjoying the season. I try to eat at home as often as possible, but I find myself running around and sometimes in need of a fast meal.

 I thought I would share some of my favorite places to find fast food that is more on the healthy side.  I have been eating a plant based diet the last 6 months, which is why you will see me suggest no cheese or meat and seeking out as much plant based, simple foods, as possible.  Even if you are a meat and dairy eater, it is good to avoid them at times. It gives your digestion system a rest, and cuts calories and cholesterol.

Noodles & Company
Bangkok Curry!
Sweet coconut curry, broccoli, carrots, red pepper, onion, mushrooms, a light portion of rice noodles, served on cabbage with black sesame  I am addicted to this stuff.  I get a small bowl with no meat, and ask for extra broccoli in place of mushrooms.  I am not a mushroom fan.  Most of the Asian bowls are on the healthier side..stay away from the mac and cheese, and don’t be tempted to top your bowl with chicken that is breaded, processed and fried!

Veggie 6 inch sandwich.  Ask for the wheat bread, and use vinegar but no oil.  They now have guacamole at Subway, so I use that in place of mayonnaise.  I ask for extra spinach, and have lettuce, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomato and banana peppers. This has often saved me on road trips! Delish.

Wraps with no cheese, meat or sour cream. Rice, of course. Ask for their fajita vegetables, it adds so much flavor. Use guacamole for creaminess, and beans in place of meat. Salsa is a must!

Taco Bell
This is a tough one! Hmmm.. Fresco bean burrito, no cheese?  Chips and salsa for a snack until you get home?  Careful if you click on the link..the bell rings.  Loudly.  I just about jumped out of my chair.

Bake potato topped with their chili.  YUM!

Find a place that is made to order.  Try to stay away from chains and find a local pizzeria. Load it up with veggies and ask for half the cheese, or if vegan, no cheese.  Make sure to get a side salad with it, but only if it is made with dark green leafy lettuce or spinach.  Go easy on the dressing.

Grocery Store Salad Bar
Eat the rainbow.  Choose dark leafy spinach and greens, peppers, broccoli, carrots.  Top your salad with fruits or eat fruit as your dessert.  Most of these type of bars have soup–steer clear from the heavy, creamy type, go for for the bean soups and chili.

Sounds funny, but I have been taking my girl to therapy for a knee injury at our local hospital.  It is a beautiful place, one that I am very familiar and comfortable with.  We have visited the cafeteria quite a bit. They have a wonderful salad bar, yogurt/granola bar, & veggie burgers.  There is a lot of junk food, too, so you have to be disciplined.  I find the price is really great for what you get in hospitals!

Coffee Shops
I have been drinking my coffee black.  It is so much cheaper than those pricey lattes that are full of sugar. I don’t do dairy or soy, and most coffee shops do not carry almond milk, so black it is for me.  I have slowly gotten used to it, and now prefer it!  Even better, get hot tea.  I personally can’t smell the coffee and not get any, so I save the tea sipping for home.  If you are hungry, ask for oatmeal or a whole grain bagel, skip the cream cheese.  Avoid most muffins, they are usually loaded with white flour, white sugar and oil.

Health Food Stores
I am fortunate enough to live right by a great co-op, and it even has a deli with vegetarian and vegan offerings.  I often get their wraps or veggie burgers.  They have all kinds of salads full of grains and vegetables.  If your local health food store does not have a deli, it still is a great place to stop and get a healthy snack.  Grab a banana or apple, a Larabar and a bottle of Kombucha.  It will keep you satisfied and away from the golden arches down the street!

It seems like a no brainer, but skip the pop.  It is just plain nastiness.  High-fructose corn syrup in regular, and nasty aspartame in diet.  Water is cheap, and once your body gets used to it, you won’t be able to handle highly sweetened or artificially sweetened beverages anymore, and you will crave water.  I was told this and didn’t think it would happen, but it did!

Do you find yourself grabbing fast food often?
Do you have any other ideas for me?

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  • Amy Bowman
    December 13, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    Hello Anonymous,
    Are you the same anonymous as above? It sure would be nice to know your name and see your face 😉

  • Anonymous
    December 13, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    The human gut needs meat. Our guts are similar to those of carnivorous animals. On the other hand, we have absolutely no need for grains. If we were designed to be herbivores then we would have multiple stomachs as grains etc. are harder to digest.

    Just some ‘food’ for thought. 😉

    • Lindan
      December 8, 2012 at 2:23 am

      The meat we can get in a fast food restaurant, nobody’s gut needs. Cows have four stomachs and they should not have grains. Just grass. Look out for grain fed beef fed with gmo soy and gmo corn. Or injected with gmo growth hormones. But yes, I do agree that we should not be eating unsprouted grains and do need animal products and lots of healthy fat. This is from a converted vegan (10 years strict). I am learning more abojt using vegetables for their cleansing and detoxifying properties but they will not help you repair cell damage… you need animal fat. We should be avoiding vegetable oils like the plague. Canola and the like…

  • Kat
    December 12, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Great list! If you have a local mediteranian restaurant nearby and I’ve noticed them sprouting up quite a bit by me you can do a falafel or hummus wrap. They are usually pretty quick and yummy!

  • Amy Bowman
    December 12, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Hi Jennifer! Thank you.
    Mg-you are super sweet, thank you..I will try the salad next time I am in a bind
    the Mrs.–sure love getting comments from you. Love your suggestions and I’m gonna use them. Thank goodness for Trader Joes!
    Anonymous–yes, it is..but this post is about when you are out and about and life is crazy busy and you are hungry and in a bind. These suggestion have much less sodium than a Big Mac and large fry. The whole purpose of this post is when one finds themselves having to find food fast, there are choices you can make that are a bit healthier.
    Kat–great idea. We do have one locally, called The Flying Kite, and their Falafel wrap is to die for. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Anonymous
    December 12, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Packing your own lunch is a whole lot cheaper. Plus a lot of this stuff is loaded with sodium.

    • Lindan
      December 8, 2012 at 2:14 am

      My main concern is not calories, sodium or cholesterol… it is GMOs. Hard to avoid at a restaurant.

  • the Mrs.
    December 12, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Love this post! I have major food sensitivities and can’t eat out much so I tend to just go hungry until I get home unless I’ve found myself on a brilliant day where I’ve planned appropriately. I too saw forks over knives recently and have switched to a mostly plant based diet. Actually so much easier to eat that way with so much less monitoring required for ingredients.
    One of the things I do, at home, is to make sure that I cook lots of extra rice and have black beans at the ready in the fridge as well as Trader Joes salsa. Makes for a fast burrito bowl that is yummy and filling! Or making a taco sandwich with TJ’s chipotle humus, black beans, lettuce, tomato, salsa and avocado slices on a whole grain sandwich flat. YUM. I usually bring a banana in the car for a quick snack to tide me over as well.
    I know….not fast food but it’s a quick fix at home! 🙂

  • :o) mg
    December 12, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    I am so thankful that I found your blog today. And I have to agree, that Baja Salad is ah-mazing!

  • Jennifer
    December 12, 2011 at 1:45 am

    Great advice, thanks Amy!

  • Jennifer
    December 12, 2011 at 12:15 am

    Great post, Amy! I just watched the documentary Forks Over Knives and was so convinced of the health benefits of eating a whole plant based diet. So I am new to this way of eating, and this is so helpful. Have you watched this documentary? It is on Netflix and I also have the book which has many wonderful recipes. Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Lisa Russell
    December 11, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Those are great ideas, but I believe the Chili at Wendy’s has beef in it. Maybe some places you can get it vegetarian? Not here in FL where I live, but that would be a good idea!

  • Amy Bowman
    December 12, 2011 at 12:48 am

    Thanks for the Baja Salad heads up, Jessica! Sounds yummy.
    Jennifer-love Forks Over Knives! I posted about it awhile back right before the movie came out, and I love the book. My advice to a newbie is to take baby steps:) and you don’t have to do it perfectly all the time.

  • Jessica @ This Blessed Life
    December 11, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    I actually have been really, really pleased with the Baja salad at Wendy’s! We travel a lot to visit family and although I’m not vegan or vegetarian, I try to avoid meat whenever possible if I’m unsure of the source (i.e. fast food chains or restaurants). The Baja salad has mixed greens, pico de gallo salsa, cheese, and guac on it. It comes with “tortilla strips” (glorified chopped Doritos, lol), and a yummy dressing (although I haven’t looked at the ingredients in it; I’m just so thankful to have a fast food alternative to meat!).

    It comes with chili on the side unless you specifically tell them you don’t want it. (You can sub a baked potato w/sour cream and chives.)

    This salad is seriously SO yummy. I may or may not get it sometimes when I’m not traveling…..


    • Lindan
      December 8, 2012 at 2:12 am

      Thanks for this tip about Wendy’s Baja salad. Sounds like something that might come in handy.

  • Amy Bowman
    December 11, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Hi Lisa!
    Yes, there is beef in it. I was on a road trip and the options were few, so I got the chili and picked the beef out.:) There was a lot of beans in it, too, which was nice.
    Not all of my readers are vegan, so you will see me suggest some things that are not. Thanks for the comment, though. It will help others who are wondering.

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