Navigating the Fast Food World: Finding What’s Best

imagesYou know I’m a big proponent of eating more home made meals; you can control sodium, sugar, fat and quality of ingredients as well as portions. But let’s face it, we all have very busy lives; we don’t even have time to sit down at a restaurant…from school pickup to hockey practice to making sure we get home at a decent time for homework, showers and bedtime. So, several times week I find myself at the mercy of, yes, you guessed it: THE FAST FOOD RESTAURANT! The thought of it makes me cringe, and I try my best to prepare meals ahead of time and cook on weekends, but some days there’s just not enough hours in the day!

I get asked this all the time…”WHERE does Doctor Jacq eat out?” What fast food places do you go to and what do you order? Here’s a list of some my favorites, with decent options, better quality food that’s tasty and healthy. If these are not in your area, don’t forget to use healthydiningfinder.com (that’s what I use when I’m outside my area)

  • Flame Broiler- I recently reviewed Flame Broiler, and my favorite is the Mini Chicken Bowl (all white meat), with Veggies and Brown Rice! But even the beef is better quality, and the calories, fat and sodium content are very respectable for fast food.
  • El Pollo Loco- Kids like it, and my favorite dish is the Chicken Tacos al Carbon with Side of Broccoli and Pinto Beans. It has 390 calories, 2 grams of saturated fat, 24 grams of protein, 12 grams of fiber! and 640mg of sodium, which is amazing because they have several dishes that are ok except for very high sodium content.
  • Z Pizza- Around the corner from school, so this is a stop at least a few times a month. Z Pizza menu offers all natural and organic ingredients, fresh produce, dough made from 100% organic wheat flour, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options. At Z Pizza I order the Large California Salad, with greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and avocado. A Note on Salads: I ALWAYS bring my own oil and vinegar; if you know me, you have made fun of me over this. At the hospital, the mall, even work luncheons. The nutrition info on salads usually goes south when the dressing is considered. They are mostly processed, with too much sodium, sugar and preservatives. So I go to the fancy oil and vinegar store, and buy myself the little bottles of yummy flavors like Persian lime oil and honey ginger white balsamic vinegar: ANYTHING tastes good with them! As far as pizza, best options here are Wheat Dough Napoil, Provence, Greek and Thai. 
  • Chipotle – In the category of “fast-casual dining,” Chipotle’s motto, “Food with Integrity” has been a cornerstone of their philosophy. According to their website, they operate with “respect for the animals, the environment, and the farmers.” I love that their website has a Nutrition Calculator, so you can create your own dish and know exactly what your eating in terms of calories, fat and sodium before you even get there!  One tip: AVOID THE FLOUR TORTILLA! It contains almost 300 calories, 10 grams of fat and 690 milligrams without anything in it! I usually choose a Burrito BOWL with small amount of brown rice, loaded with veggies, black beans (pinto beans are made with bacon), maybe chicken or steak, green salsa and avocado. Skip the cheese and sour cream, and know that chips add an extra 560 calories to your order!
  • Pick Up Stix- An Asian favorite at our house, Pick Up Stix has come out with theAsia Fit Menu, with plenty of options for under 400 calories per serving. Choices include Chicken Thai Coconut Curry, Chicken and Vegetables (only 180 calories for half the container and lowest in sodium!), beef and broccoli and shrimp and vegetables. Avoid deep fried wontons and dumplings, and choose brown rice for a fiber boost!

A few more tips:

  • Eat at the Whole Foods salad and food bar, or even grocery store salad bar.
  • Carry your own salad dressing!
  • Limit drinks to water, unsweetened tea or plain coffee

What’s YOUR favorite fast food place and what do you order? Share with us on my Facebook Page and don’t forget to Like my Facebook page! Have a GREAT week!

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInPin on PinterestDigg thisShare on RedditShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+
Comments are closed.