How to turn fast, convenience food into healthier food

The first thought that springs to mind when we mention fast food is McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut and similar chains.  A quick and easy meal; eating-in, take-out, or possibly a home delivery after a day’s work.

Burger and chipsTo this lot I would like to add the various forms of convenience foods that come frozen – pizzas, lasagne, pies, burgers, fish in batter. Pop them into the microwave, et violà supper ready in 10 -20 minutes … fast enough?

But can you really get away with this kind of food, long-term? It’s high in calories, fat, salt and sugar. Your body will hand you the bill, sooner or later.

6 Tips how to turn fast, convenience food into “healthier” food

  • bake not fry
  • do not use saturated fats
  • go for olive oil dressings instead of mayo
  • add a salad by  the side
  • avoid breaded stuff or food in batter
  • avoid large portions

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Tip #1 – bake not fry

Oven baked chips contain less fat than mashed potatoes with milk and butter.  Better still, why not cut up a sweet potato into wedges, add a table spoon of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes in a hot oven?

Tip #2 – do not use saturated fats

Margarine, lard, butter, ghee, coconut oil, palm oil – this lot is not good for you. Avoid deep frying at any rate; shallow fry or sauté instead.

Tip #3 – go for olive oil dressings instead of mayo

Olive oil dressings are so quick and easy to make:  put one part extra virgin olive oil in a screw top jar, add one part vinegar (balsamic or apple cider) or lemon juice, crushed garlic, a piece of fresh ginger, good dallop of wholegrain mustard, salt and pepper and shake.

For a creamier option take two tablespoons olive oil dressing and add to Greek yogurt; mix well.

Tip #4 – add a salad by the side

Replace the fries for a side salad. Alternatively add lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes to your burger and remove the processed cheese.

Tip #5 – avoid breaded stuff or food in batter

The breadcrumbs covering breaded fish or chicken absorb too much oil.  Batter also absorbs oil as a result of the white flour it contains, turning food which is good for you – fish  or chicken – into a health risk.

Tip #6 – avoid large portions

As with everything else – moderation is key!  Avoid super deals, double or triple burgers when you’re at your favourite chain.  You are not doing yourself any favours.  A large burger with fries and a drink can easily pack 2000 calories – a whole day’s worth!

Let me know if you find the above tips useful.  Next week I will look at how you can make better choices when eating at fast food chains.

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