When you think of “fast food,” it’s probably not in connection with healthy eating. However, it is possible to make healthy food quickly at home, and there are also healthy choices your teen can make at fast food restaurants. Here are some ideas and tips for fast food and your teen.
Yes, pizza can be a healthy, fast meal. If you make your own crust, choose a healthy, whole wheat recipe and freeze the extra dough. Then you can thaw out the dough (or buy a ready-made whole wheat crust) and add healthy toppings – just leave off the fatty meats like pepperoni and sausage, and cut back on cheese. Pizzas only need to bake for 10 minutes or so at 500 degrees F, making them a pretty fast option. Some ideas for toppings include:
* Garlic, spinach, mozzarella and Parmesan
* Tomatoes, onions, olives and bell peppers
* Mushrooms, onions and banana pepper rings
* Green olives, garlic, onion, and bell pepper
* Fresh tomatoes, minced basil, and mozzarella
You can make these patties ahead and freeze them (black bean burgers freeze well) or buy ready-made veggie burgers. Then you can pull them out of the freezer and heat them in a skillet with a little olive oil and they’re ready to eat in a matter of minutes. Serve these as you would traditional burgers, but make sure you use a whole grain bun (or no bun at all).
Pre-packaged, frozen fish sticks are notoriously high in fat and salt (and who knows what else). Keep some mild white fish, such as tilapia, on hand and slice the fillets into strips to make your own fish sticks. Toss the fish with lemon juice, then dip the pieces in whole wheat flour, a mixture of 1 beaten egg and 3/4 cup plain yogurt, and whole wheat bread crumbs or panko. Then bake on a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet for about 12 minutes at 425 degrees F.
When Your Teen Does Get Fast Food…
It’s inevitable that your teen is going to end up in a fast food restaurant at some point. Discuss healthy options with him or her, and share ideas on some ways that he or she can make the healthiest possible choices in such a restaurant. For example, they can order water or unsweetened iced tea instead of soda, or not combine a burger and fries, choosing to order one or the other. Smaller portions should be the rule, unless your teen wants to share a super-size meal with friends. Some other things to consider are:
* Grilled meats are usually lower in calories than fried and breaded items.
* Salads are usually available at many fast food restaurants, and they are usually healthy choices as long as they are not covered with fried, breaded meat and croutons.