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Healthiest Fast Food Choices For Your Child

Healthiest Fast Food Choices For Your Child
Posted on November 21, 2016 by CHS

November 16th is Fast Food Day. However, for many of us, we don’t need a special day to eat fast food. Parents and kids today are extremely busy. Between juggling work, school, after school activities, homework, and household chores, at the end of the day, going through the drive thru on the way home may feel like the easiest option.

We want the healthiest food choices for our families and know that the healthiest meals are made at home. However, there are times when it can be tempting to skip cooking and enjoy the convenience of fast food. Luckily, in addition to a few healthier choices offered at some fast food restaurants, there are also homemade options available that don’t require cooking, which can satisfy our “fast food” fix.

When choosing fast food, consider the food’s nutritional content. Most restaurant chains provide this information in the store or online. Look for low total calories, calories from fat, grams of sugar, and sodium content, and high protein and fiber content.

Here is a list of some of the healthiest fast-food choices you can order for your child at popular fast-food chains as well as quick meals to make at home – no cooking required!

Fast Food: Chick-Fil-A

Breakfast Calories Fat Sugar Sodium Protein Fiber
Greek Yogurt Parfait 160 5 g 21 g 65 mg 8 g 1 g
White Milk 90 1 g 11 g 95 mg 7 g 0 g
Total 250 6 g 32 g 160 mg 15 g 1 g

“Fast Food”: Made At Home

Breakfast Calories Fat Sugar Sodium Protein Fiber
Peanut Butter & Banana (PB&B) Tortilla Roll-up 265 9 g 22 g 102 mg 8 g 5.25 g
Total 265 9 g 22 g 102 mg 8 g 5.25 g

PB&B Tortilla Roll-Up Ingredients:
1 banana
1 tbsp. of crunchy peanut butter
1 whole wheat tortilla

Preparation:

  1. Spread peanut butter on one side of the tortilla
  2. Place banana on edge of the tortilla and roll the banana and tortilla inwards to create a burrito-like roll. Enjoy!

Fast Food: El Pollo Loco

Lunch Calories Fat Sugar Sodium Protein Fiber
2 Chicken Tacos Al Carbon 320 12 g <1 g 520 mg 20 g 2 g
Side of Broccoli 25 0 g 1 g 10 mg 3 g 3 g
Total 345 12 g <2 g 530 mg 23 g 5 g

“Fast Food”: Made at Home

Lunch Calories Fat Sugar Sodium Protein Fiber
Mediterranean Pita Pocket 220 5 g 2 g 254 mg 24 g 5.4 g
2 Carrots 50 .2 g 5.6 g 84 mg 1.2 g 3.4 g
Total 270 5.2 g 7.6 g 338 mg 25.2 g 8.8 g

Mediterranean Pita Pocket Ingredients:
½ tomato, chopped
3.5 oz. store-bought, cooked chicken breast, chopped
¼ cup greens (lettuce or spinach), chopped
1/8 cup cucumber, chopped
1/8 cup pitted black olives
1/2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. hummus
¼ lemon
1 whole grain pita pocket, cut in half and opened

Preparation:

  1. Spread hummus on the inside of the pita pocket
  2. Place the chicken, greens, cucumber, tomato, and olives inside the pita pocket
  3. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and squeeze lemon juice on top. Enjoy!

Fast Food: KFC

Dinner Calories Fat Sugar Sodium Protein Fiber
Grilled Drumstick 60 3 g 0 g 220 mg 10 g 0 g
Green Beans 25 0 g <1 g 260 mg 1 g 2 g
Corn on the Cob 70 0.5 g 3 g 0 mg 2 g 2 g
Total 155 3.5 g <4 g 480 mg 13 g 4 g

“Fast Food”: Made at Home

Dinner Calories Fat Sugar Sodium Protein Fiber
Burrito Bowl 247 13.7 g 4.5 g 94.4 mg 5.8 g 7.6 g
Sliced Bell Pepper 7 0.1 g 0 g 0.5 mg 0.3 g 0.3 g
Total 254 13.8 g 4.5 g 94.9 mg 6.1 g 7.9 g

Burrito Bowl Ingredients:
¼ ripe avocado
A handful of grape tomatoes, chopped in halves
¼ cup canned corn kernels, drained and rinsed
¼ cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
½ heart of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 scallion, chopped (optional)

Dressing:
1 tbsp. lime juice
½ tsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. cilantro leaves (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Mix olive oil, sugar, salt, lime juice, and cilantro (optional) in a small bowl or cup
  2. Place romaine lettuce, black beans, corn kernels, avocado, and scallion (optional) in a salad bowl and mix together.
  3. Pour dressing from Step 1 on bowl ingredients from Step 2. Enjoy!

Here are some guidelines to help your children meet their nutritional requirements.

  • Daily recommended caloric intake
    • 1 year:
      900
    • 2 to 3 years:
      1000
    • 4 to 8 years:
      (F): 1200 (M): 1400
    • 9 to 13 years:
      (F): 1600 (M): 1800
    • 14 to 18 years:
      (F): 1800 (M): 2200
       
  • Daily maximum recommended sugar intake
    • 4 to 6 years:
      19g or 5 teaspoons
    • 7 to 10 years:
      24g or 6 teaspoons
    • 11 years and up:
      30g or 7 teaspoons
       
  • The American Heart Association recommends 1,500mg of sodium a day for all Americans for ideal heart health.
  • Per the Institute of Medicine,  on average, the following amount of protein is recommended:
    • 4 to 9 years: 19 grams of protein
    • 9 to 13 years: 34 grams of protein
    • 14 to 18 years: 52 grams of protein for boys and 46 grams of protein for girls
       
  • Serve a variety of fruits and vegetables daily to meet fiber needs, while limiting juice intake. (F=female, M=male)
    • 1 to 3 years:
      1 cup of fruits and ¾ cup of vegetables
    • 2 to 3 years:
      1 cups of fruits and 1 cups of vegetables
    • 4 to 8 years:
      (F): 1.5 cups of fruits and 1 cup of vegetables
      (M): 1.5 cups of fruits and 1.5 cups of vegetables
    • 9 to 13 years:
      (F): 1.5 cups of fruits and 2 cups of vegetables
      (M): 1.5 cups of fruits and 2.5 cups of vegetables
    • 14 to 18 years:
      (F): 1.5 cups of fruits and 2.5 cups of vegetables
      (M): 2 cups of fruits and 3 cups of vegetables
       

Additional dietary recommendations can be found at:

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/ Dietary-Recommendations-for-Healthy-Children_UCM_303886_Article.jsp
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/children-and-sugar-how-bad-it
http://sodiumbreakup.heart.org/sodium-411/sodium-kids/
http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/protein-intake-kids-6426.html

For additional information on nutritional values on all food from the restaurants above, see:

http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Food/Menu-Section/Kids-Meal
https://www.kfc.com/nutrition
http://www.elpolloloco.com/contentAsset/raw-data/ 865b8079-86ee-4266-8f60-a37c85270ab6/fileAsset/www.fda.gov

To calculate the nutritional value of homemade meals, see:

https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp
http://www.myfitnesspal.com/recipe/calculator

For more information on best and worst fast food options, see

5 Best & Worst Fast Food Kids Meal Options

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