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Healthy Fast Food at Home –- In a Flash

Learn to cook healthier fast food at home that will please your wallet and your family.
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WebMD Feature

It’s tempting to cruise the dollar menu at McDonald’s or Burger King and choose to feed your family of four with a $10 bill. But most dollar menu fares will run up the calories, grams of fat, and milligrams of sodium at lightning speed.

The Spicy Chick ‘n Crisp Sandwich from Burger King’s dollar menu will add 450 calories, 30 grams of fat, and 810 milligrams of sodium to your meal total. A dollar will also buy you a McDouble from McDonald’s or a Double Stack Burger from Wendy’s, each of which contributes at least 360 calories, 18 grams of fat, and 800 to 900 milligrams of sodium. And that doesn’t include the side of fries and soda.

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“If it were up to my son, he would eat fast food every day,” says Ann Marie, a mother of two from Martinez, Calif., who now treats her kids to fast food only on special occasions.

Is it possible to cook healthier fast food at home that will please your pocket book and your fast-food loving family?

Ann Marie and her friends did -- and found the kids liked these fast food favorites just as well when they were made healthier at home. Here’s how to make perfectly healthy and fast pizza, burgers, chicken tenders, tacos, quesadillas, and French fries in your own kitchen.

Home-Cooked 'Fast Food'

Perfect Pizza at Home

It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t love pizza. Pizza is actually an easy entree to prepare if the crust is already made. You just spread on the sauce and sprinkle with desired toppings. Making a more healthful pizza starts with a higher-fiber crust, adding reduced-fat cheese, and topping that with high-nutrient vegetables instead processed meat, which tends to be high in fat and sodium.

Easy Prep Tips:

  • Choose ready-made whole wheat pizza crust.
  • Make individual pizzas using whole wheat pitas, whole wheat tortillas, or whole wheat bagels cut in half.
  • If whole wheat crust isn’t possible for your family, use a pop-can pizza crust that you can roll out.
  • Top your crust with bottled pizza sauce, marinara sauce, or pesto sauce.
  • Use pre-shredded reduced-fat cheese, such as mozzarella, Cheddar, or jack, which are usually easy to find.
  • Find vegetable toppings your family likes, such as green onions, fresh tomato, sliced mushrooms, sliced zucchini, black olives, bell pepper, or artichoke hearts.
  • For meat toppings, choose reduced-fat pepperoni, salami, or sausage.

Tacos to Please Everyone

Making your own tacos can be liberating! You get to choose the type of tortilla, the meat, and the fillings. Choosing whole grain tortillas -- corn and whole wheat count as whole grains -- lean meat, reduced-fat cheese, and lots of veggies keeps your tacos lower in fat and higher in fiber.

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