Thankfully, there are exceptions. Although many fast foods have been processed, refined or deep-fried, some fast food restaurants now offer healthy options.
To make a healthier selection, look for items that include vegetables, lean sources of protein or whole grains. Additionally, opting for foods that are grilled or baked rather than fried can significantly reduce the calories and fat in your meal. Here are a few of my favorite examples.
Panera: Strawberry Poppyseed Salad With Chicken
This is the nutrient content for a whole serving of Strawberry Poppyseed Salad with chicken.
Calories: 340 Fat: 12 grams Protein: 30 grams Carbs: 32 grams Fiber: 6 grams
Pret A Manger: Coconut Chicken & Miso Sweet Potato Balance Box
This meal meets the criteria for a healthy fast food, as it’s high in protein and fiber, low in calories and includes a good mix of whole grains, vegetables and healthy fats.
McDonald’s: Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad
Though you might not associate McDonald’s with healthy food, they do have a few healthy options on the menu.
In addition to being high in protein, it also contains a few
ingredients that make it especially nutritious, including grilled chicken, black beans, corn, tomatoes, poblano peppers, kale, spinach and red leaf lettuce.
Drizzle it with just a small amount of your favorite dressing to prevent loading up on calories, and opt for some fresh fruit on the side rather than fries.
Fajita vegetables, brown rice and black beans all help enhance the fiber content to make it a well-rounded, filling meal.
Wendy’s: Power Mediterranean Chicken Salad
This nutritious dish contains quinoa, a seed that is packed with nutrients and antioxidants. It’s especially high in the antioxidants quercetin and kaempferol (16).
Some animal studies have found these antioxidants may have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects in the body (17, 18, 19).
In addition to its impressive antioxidant content, this salad is also high in protein and fiber, making it an excellent fast-food choice.
This nutritious salad bowl includes kale, beets, red cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes and butternut squash served on a bed of brown rice. Besides fulfilling a hearty chunk of your protein and fiber needs, this dish is also high in many vitamins and minerals.
Drizzle on some lemon tahini dressing and enjoy this super satisfying salad. This is the nutrient content for one 11-ounce (315-gram) serving of Hearty
Pinto and kidney beans make up the base of this soup, so it’s no surprise that it’s loaded with fiber and protein.
Even just a small cup of soup contains a whopping 16 grams of fiber.
You can also order it in a large size to knock out your entire daily fiber needs, with 32 grams of fiber per serving.
Because beans are rich in fiber and protein, they have been associated with health benefits like better blood sugar control and weight loss (29, 30).
Order a large size for a filling meal, or get a small cup of this chili and enjoy it as a delicious side dish. This is the nutrient content for 16 ounces (480 ml) of Vegetarian Chili from Au Bon Pain:
Calories: 340 Fat: 2.5 grams Protein: 19 grams Carbs: 61 grams Fiber: 32 grams
It contains 25 grams of protein, plus 4 grams of fiber to help ward off hunger and keep you satisfied.
You can add your choice of vinaigrette to enhance the flavor of this salad. Apple cider vinaigrette adds just the right amount of zing.
This is the nutrient content for one order of Grilled Market Salad with Zesty Apple Cider Vinaigrette:
Though it’s ideal to eat a diet with minimal amounts of processed, refined and fast foods, there are times when you might not be able to avoid eating fast food. In these instances, you can choose healthy healthy options.
Look for foods that include a good source of protein, heart-healthy fats, whole grains and vegetables to ensure that you’re getting a well-rounded and nutritious meal.
You’ll enjoy your meal guilt-free, and your body will thank you.