So the weather’s getting warmer and you know what that means; picture this: you’re on the road on the way to the cottage and the whole family is hungry. The easiest thing to do to quiet the chorus of “are we there yet” and “I’m hungry” is with a quick detour through a drive-thru. We don’t usually have huge qualms about letting our kids have fast food once in a while, but for adults, it can be a different story. Don’t worry though, you can make that fast food stop and satisfy the kids without starving yourself. There are actually some healthy options at almost every fast food establishment now.
Since Canada passed a legislation that requires food chains with more than 20 stores to provide calorie counts on all their menus, it’s been easier (and harder) than ever to see what’s healthy and what’s not. There were some shockers — did you know a Tim Hortons’ blueberry muffin is 340 calories?!–but overall, it’s nice to see what you’re getting into. Now we can make informed choices instead of just assuming “it can’t be that bad.”
Here’s a look at the healthiest options from a few fast food locations (and a few tips on how to make them a little healthier).
Healthy doesn’t have to mean boring. The small chilli from Wendy’s is full of flavour and protein and it’s only 170 calories. Get a side salad with it and throw a little chilli on the lettuce to avoid the extra fat from the dressing. Alternatively, the new Strawberry chicken salad is loaded with good fruit, veggies and chicken, and a half salad is only 270 calories. Cut that down further by only using half the dressing that comes in the package. You can save that for a homemade salad later.
Remember, those lattes and frapps can get pretty heavy. One of those can clock in around the same amount of calories as you want your meal to be. A great, healthy choice for a light meal or mid-morning snack is the peach-raspberry yogurt parfait. At 300 calories, this can give you a nice boost of protein. Pro tip: ask for a package of the nut medley for a healthier alternative to the sugary granola. If you’re looking for a bigger meal, try the protein bistro box. It includes a hard boiled egg, pita, cheese and fruit, and is only 360 calories.
This place has quite the reputation for fatty, unhealthy food, but in recent years, McDonald’s has added quite a few healthier options to its menu. Their Asian sesame fusion salad with grilled chicken is only 250 calories for a decently sized meal. If it’s that new all-day breakfast calling your name, don’t worry, you can have that too. The classic egg McMuffin with Canadian bacon is actually only 290 calories. Who knew? You can make it even healthier by foregoing the cheese or eating it open-faced. See? Even McDonald’s has options for you.
Sorry, we’re not going to reveal that a maple dipped is actually only 100 calories (we wish!). The “healthiest” doughnut at Tim’s is actually the sugar loop at 180 calories. If you’re looking for a light lunch, your best option (and the one with the least sodium) is going to be the vegetable harvest soup at 80 calories. You can pair it with a garden salad for just 140 calories more. Plus, look at all those veggies! If you’re looking for something a little more substantial, try the chipotle chicken grilled wrap for 430 calories. You can customize this one to make it healthier by asking them to replace the chipotle sauce or cheese with more veggies.