Here’s something I don’t write about very often: FAST FOOD! Despite all the big changes I’ve made in my life over the past seven (almost eight!) years, I haven’t eliminated fast food out of my diet completely. Fast food is a rare treat, but it does happen. And like many of the treats I allow myself to occasionally indulge in, I handle fast food in a very specific way.
I can’t eat fast food spontaneously. If I’m hungry, a last-minute decision to swing through a drive-thru will lead to nothing but trouble. But, if I know that the occasion will arise where fast food may be an option, than that’s OK. I can plan accordingly, and make sure my other meals that day are on target, and make sure I complete a solid workout.
Traveling is one scenario where I may indulge in fast food. It’s an easy and convenient option during a long road trip, for example, and fast food is common in airports where I might have a layover. And even when I know that my next meal will be coming from a fast food counter, I still make good choices.
Earlier this year, when I drove up to the bay area to visit my brother and his family, I stopped at a Subway in the middle of nowhere, and ordered one of my go-to fast food meals, their chopped salad. You can turn any Subway sandwich into a chopped salad, and by doing so, you don’t eat the single largest source of empty calories and carbs: the bread. I typically get a black forest ham chopped salad (although sometimes I switch it up), load it up with veggies, and stick to oil and vinegar as the dressing, and direct the sandwich artist (do they still call them that?) to not add very much. These salads can vary in calories depending on the dressing and toppings, but the ones I eat are probably around 300-400.
I went on a four-hour road trip with my cousin a few months back, and we decided to stop at a Panda Express near an off-ramp for dinner. I can eat very well at Panda, because I always swap the fried rice and chow mein for steamed veggies, and then pick an entree that also has lots of vegetables, and a protein that’s cooked in the wok, as opposed to the deep fryer.
This weekend didn’t involve any road trips, but I still ended up at Arby’s. Why? Because last week I read an article about a promotion where they were selling venison sandwiches for one day only. And, for some reason, that really intrigued me.
I like venison, and I’m sure there are plenty of actual restaurants in my area where I could order it. (I ate it once at a beautiful restaurant in Detroit, but that place closed earlier this year.) Plus, venison is not too hard to find at the supermarket – I’ve bought frozen ground venison before, and venison jerky, and once, while in Sweden, I bought reindeer pate!
Anyway. My point is that a fast food joint might not traditionally be my first choice for trying a game meat, but for whatever reason this one-day venison sandwich peaked my interest. So I ate lunch on Saturday at Arby’s. I ordered the sandwich and drank an iced tea.
And that’s Horsey Sauce on the side, because Horsey Sauce has always been hands down my favorite thing about Arby’s.
The sandwich had a venison steak, which was cool (as opposed to ground venison formed into a patty), and it had fried onions on it, and a Juniper Berry Steak Sauce. It was much prettier on the website that it was in person, but it still tasted good.
I liked that it was pretty simple: just a couple toppings, so you really taste the strong, flavorful venison. Nutritionally, it wasn’t terrible: 490 calories, 50 grams of protein (!), 11 grams of fat, 45 grams of carbs. And since I didn’t order fries, I saved myself hundreds more calories. (A small curly fries at Arby’s is 410 calories, a large is 650.)
It was a fun little outing, mostly for the novelty of it, and I got my Arby’s fix that will last me for a good long while. My other meals that day were healthy, and I had done a killer workout that morning… which I’ll share in my next post!
I thought I’d end this post with a few other of my fast food choices, in case you’re curious. I love breakfast, so I like that McDonald’s started selling breakfast all day. I occasionally get a standard Egg McMuffin with ham – 300 calories. I haven’t been to In-N-Out Burger in a looong time, but when I go, I order a cheeseburger, protein style – there’s no bun, and instead, the burger is wrapped in lettuce. That’ll set you back 330 calories.
My all-time favorite fast food item is chicken nuggets, which you can pretty much get anywhere nowadays. The calories differ slightly from restaurant to restaurant, but you can safely assume that each nugget has 40-50 calories – and bump it up to 60-ish when you add dipping sauce. My go-to dipping sauce, by the way, is honey mustard.
Lastly, one of the big things to be aware of is that most fast food is laden with sodium – often times you can eat an entire day’s worth, or more, in one fast food meal. No need to add extra salt to your fries!
What are your healthy fast food favorites? Pipe up in the comments section below!
Keep it up, David!
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