Satisfy a craving for the drive-through with these healthier versions of your fast-food favorites.
You're in the middle of a gripping episode of Scandal, and a commercial comes on for a mouthwatering burger-and-fries combo at one of the big fast-food chains. Maybe you're hungover from a late night out, maybe you've been trying to cut out the drive-through stops, or maybe you're just a girl who loves a good burger. Whatever the trigger, you're officially craving that combo, but you know fast food doesn't exactly have a nutritional gold star. (Although you can find these grab-and-go lunches from fast-food chains that are actually pretty healthy.)
I'm here to tell you that you can recreate healthier versions of this burger and your other fast-food favorites at home—and it's going to taste even better than the real thing. With a few staples on hand, you can indulge your cravings without ever having to change out of your pajamas.
Instead of having a McDonald's Quarter Pounder, make a Turkey Mushroom Burger.
While I'm not against ground beef (proof: The Bunless Bite-Size Burger Recipe You Need This Weekend), lean ground turkey is a great way to satisfy your burger craving while decreasing that unwanted saturated fat by half. Plus, preparing your burger at home will help in lowering the sodium content (something fast-food menus are notorious for) by as much as 300mg. The trick is to use mushrooms in the ground turkey base. Mushrooms are a great natural way to impart that umami flavor to your burger without needing a massive half-pound meat patty to do the job. Take this recipe to the next level by adding your own "secret sauce" (psst: it's heart-healthy avocados).
What you'll need: Ground turkey, mushrooms, onion, garlic, whole-grain buns, lettuce, tomato, and avocado
Get the recipe: Turkey Mushroom Burger
Turkey burger nutrition: Calories 270; Fat 9g (Sat 2g); Protein 23g; Carb 31g; Fiber 5g; Sodium 400mg
McDonald's Quarter Pounder (w/o cheese) nutrition: Calories 430; Fat 20g (Sat 8g); Protein 26g; Carb 38g; Fiber 2g; Sodium 700mg
Instead of having Taco Bell's Crunchwrap Supreme, make a California Crunchwrap Supreme.
Even the best local, authentic Mexican food is going to leave grease marks on my table—and leave me with indigestion, heartburn, and restless sleep from an unsettled stomach. If you don't have access to real-deal Mexican, or just can't seem to pass by a Taco Bell without craving a soft taco, I'm going to show you how a few simple swaps will let you make your own healthier version of the fan-favorite Crunchwrap Supreme without all that grease. The finished product not only tastes fresh but has half the fat and double the protein. (Next up, try this Instant Pot recipe for Mexican chicken chowder.)
What you'll need: Flatbread, black beans, cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo, avocado, and if you're a meat eater, a protein of choice
Get the recipe: California Crunchwrap Supreme
California Crunchwrap Supreme nutrition: Calories 360; Fat 9g (Sat 2g); Protein 31g; Carb 40g; Fiber 6g; Sodium 800mg
Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme nutrition: Calories 510; Fat 18g (Sat 5g); Protein 19g; Carb 69g; Fiber 5g; Sodium 1160mg
Instead of having KFC's Tenders Go Cup, make Oven-Baked "Fried" Chicken Tenders.
I'm not going to lie: When you're craving fried chicken, it's hard to find a homemade version that is just as satisfying. I spent nearly two years perfecting this oven-baked recipe so it had just the right amount of crunch, like you'd expect in fried chicken. (Yes, you could say I'm committed.) Not only do you knock the calories in half by making these tenders at home, but you'll also shave off nearly two-thirds of the sodium. You can serve them as dippers with your favorite sauces or easily sandwich a couple in a whole-grain bun with lettuce and tomato. Make it a meal by baking up some roasted veggie fries to go along with it.
What you'll need: Raw chicken tenders, whole-grain panko, eggs, butter, canola oil, flaxseed meal, and Italian seasoning
Get the recipe: Oven-Baked "Fried" Chicken Tenders
Oven Baked Chicen Tenders nutrition: Calories 290; Fat 9g (Sat 1g); Protein 20g; Carb 33g; Fiber 5g; Sodium 400mg
KFC Tenders Go Cup nutrition: Calories 540; Fat 27g (Sat 4g); Protein 24g; Carb 50g; Fiber 4g; Sodium 1330mg