There’s no denying the fact that if your goal is to maintain a healthy body composition, fast food won’t be a part of your daily meal plan. While these meals may taste delicious, they leave much to be desired in terms of their macro and micronutrient profiles.
Fortunately, with a bit of creativity in the kitchen and some ingredient swaps, you can come up with substitutes that will serve as tasty alternatives when cravings strike.
Check out a few of the options you can try in your own kitchen.
Craving French fries? At a drive-thru, this carb and fat loaded side is sure to pack on pounds in a hurry. But, if you make your own using sweet potatoes and a little olive oil, and bake them rather than deep frying, you’ll have a delicious carb source that can likely fit your fat loss or muscle building diet plan.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of complex carbs and pack a good dose of fiber and vitamin A. This makes them a solid choice for anyone who works hard in the gym.
1 lb. sweet potatoes, cut into sticks
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Desired spices – paprika, cinnamon, curry powder, etc.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut the sweet potatoes and toss with olive oil. Add desired spices based on your taste preference and shake to coat. Spread in a layer on a non-stick baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray and bake for about 15 minutes. Flip fries and bake for another 10 minutes or so until cooked. If you want crispy fries, broil them until golden brown – just watch they don’t burn!
Serve with low sugar ketchup if desired.
the thicker you cut the potato strips, the longer they’ll take to cook.
If a burger is what you crave, you can easily swap ground beef for ground turkey as a leaner protein option. Ground turkey breast meat is an excellent protein source that will provide very little fat. When combined with oats, instead of conventional breadcrumbs, you can create a burger that serves both your body and taste buds.
Serve this burger between two slices of Ezekiel bread instead of a regular burger bun for an excellent source of carbs. Finally, top it off with some reduced fat cheese for calcium and a bit more protein. This will make for a tasty, lean, muscle building meal any day of the week.
400 grams ground turkey breast
¼ cup oats
1 whole egg, beaten
¼ onion, finely diced
¼ cup low sugar ketchup
1 tbsp. onion soup mix powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 slices Ezekiel bread
2 oz. low fat mozzarella cheese
Mustard, tomato, and pickles for toppings, if desired
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (or heat the grill if you prefer grilled burgers). In a large bowl, mix together the ground turkey breast, oats, whole egg, diced onion, ketchup, and onion soup mix powder. Form into four equal-sized patties.
Place patties on a non-stick baking sheet and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until cooked through. Alternatively, place on the grill and cook for 10-15 minutes or until no longer pink inside.
Once cooked, sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top and place under the broiler, cooking for 30-60 seconds or until cheese is melted.
Serve on top of Ezekiel bread with mustard, tomato, and pickles.
Burritos are another favorite, but ordering one in a fast food joint could yield a lot of calories and carbs. Typically, a burrito consists of a wrap, rice, and beans, contributing to a relatively high carb count. The trick with a burrito is to factor it into your meal plan when you’re in a building phase, or on a high carb day, when you can afford the surplus of carbs. That said, you can adjust your burrito as needed to fit your plan. For example, you could omit the beans and reduce the serving of rice to bring the carb count down. In this healthy recipe, you’ll balance out the carbs with lean protein and a touch of healthy fats for a well-rounded meal.
2 whole wheat soft tortillas
½ cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
¾ cup pre-cooked brown rice
200 grams chicken breast
½ tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Paprika, to taste
½ avocado, sliced
¼ cup kernel corn
½ tomato, diced
1 tbsp. freshly chopped cilantro
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken breast, garlic, and paprika. You can also add cayenne pepper if you like spicy food.
Cook for 4-6 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, then add the rice, beans, tomatoes, and corn. Stir together and cook for another minute or two to allow the flavors to blend.
Transfer your portion to a whole wheat tortilla and top with the sliced avocado and cilantro. Wrap up and enjoy.
While chicken fingers are often found on the kids menu, many adults still enjoy them. With this recipe, you can make a healthy version for everyone. Using coconut flour rather than regular flour for the coating will add healthy fats to the recipe and make it more body composition-friendly. Keep in mind that because the coconut flakes contain fat, you should watch your serving size, especially if you’re on a fat-loss plan. This recipe works well for those who are trying to keep their carb intake lower.
12 oz. chicken breasts, cut into strips
½ cup coconut flour
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. unsweetened almond milk
2 whole eggs
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ tbsp. honey
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out the chicken strips to create flat, thin strips. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, honey, and almond milk. In another bowl, mix together the coconut flour and garlic powder. Finally, place the coconut flakes in a shallow dish. Proceed to dip each strip in the coconut flour, then into the egg mixture, and finish with the coconut flakes.
Place on a baking tray and repeat for the other strips. Once all strips are ready, bake for about 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway through, until no longer pink inside. Serve immediately with a side of sweet potato fries if desired.
You don’t have to turn to unhealthy options to satisfy your cravings. Being creative and thinking of ways to replicate your favorite “cheat” foods in healthier ways will allow you to continue to eat what you love and provide your body with the nutrients it needs. Happy cooking!