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What to Eat Instead of Fast Food

13 quick-fix ideas to help you drive past the drive-through.

Healthy Meals at Home continued...

Quick Baked Potato: It's a perfect addition to a healthy meal, and you can get oven-baked taste in less time than you think. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash the potato, then microwave on high for about 4 minutes. Rinse it again so it's wet. Finish baking in oven for 10 to 15 minutes. "It's nice and crispy outside, with the texture of an oven-baked potato inside," Fischer says.

Quick Chicken Dinner: Chicken is a yummy beginning to a nice, lean meal, Fisher says. Skin a whole chicken. Then shake on the spices -- lemon pepper, Cajun spice, or paprika. Thyme and rosemary can go into the cavity, if you like. Place chicken in an oven-cooking bag. Then microwave on high for 10 minutes.

"I arrange the chicken on a platter of lettuce, surrounded by fresh asparagus or green beans or both, lots of grapes, orange slices," Fischer tells WebMD. "People can pick and choose whatever they want. It makes a marvelous steamed chicken."

Easy Black Bean Soup: Soup is a great filler-upper and can be a very healthy meal. Heat black beans and corn (frozen or canned) in the microwave. Ladle into bowls. Top with any of these: chopped tomatoes, onions, jalapeno peppers, black olives, shredded reduced-fat cheese, "plus a few lime slices, to make it look really pretty," says Fischer.

"In South America, you might have a fresh whole tomato or fresh avocado at the bottom of your soup," she adds. "As you eat the soup, you scoop bits of tomato or avocado with it. Also, adding some rice makes a thicker soup. It's a really neat, healthy meal!"

Veggie Soup: A quick vegetable soup also works well, says Cindy Moore, MS, RD, director of nutrition therapy at The Cleveland Clinic and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Like Fischer, she relies on canned and frozen foods, as well as quick-cook grains, when pressed for time.

"You're starting with a canned soup that already has some element of flavor," Moore tells WebMD. "But when you add more vegetables, some grains like barley or quick-cook rice, plus beans or fish, you're diluting the sodium and calories. You're also adding fiber and protein."

Pasta Pronto: Put any of these over pasta (either regular or whole-wheat, or a mix of both), Moore suggests:

  • Mix tomato-based pasta sauce (any brand you like) with frozen or canned shrimp, clams, or oysters.
  • Heat frozen spinach soufflé or creamed spinach, and top with Parmesan cheese.
  • Mix frozen spinach soufflé and Lean Cuisine Fettuccine Alfredo.

Super Salads: Salads can be a healthy meal in themselves. With a bit of crusty bread and a little protein like fish, seafood, beans, or lean meat, you've got dinner in a bowl. More ideas:

  • Mix frozen broccoli and corn, chop up red bell pepper, mix with Italian salad dressing, and you've got an easy salad, says Moore.
  • Buy lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes in the grocery's produce section. At the salad bar, buy all the other stuff. "It's quick, and you don't have to spend much," she tells WebMD.

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