Let's face it. No matter how healthfully we try to eat, everyone ends up at a fast-food restaurant at some point, wondering what to order. That's no more true than now, as holiday shopping and errands keep us on the run.
Is there such a thing as a healthy fast-food option?
We asked two registered dietitians in Florida to consider the choices at 10 restaurants. They are Ximena Jimenez, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association who works for Weston-based nutritional consulting company MyRDtoGo Inc., and Cindi Creighton-Reis of Boca Raton's Community Hospital Diabetes & Nutrition Center.
Here's what they had to say. Oh, and both dietitians admit to occasionally eating fast food.
Stick with original menu items such as the Regular Roast Beef Sandwich, which has 320 calories, 13 grams of fat and about 950 milligrams of sodium. Newer sandwiches, such as the crispy Chicken Cordon Bleu, are nearly double in calories, fat and salt.
Add a salad for balance.
Order the regular Flame-Broiled Hamburger. Just say no to the mayo to save 80 calories.
Ask for extra lettuce and tomato. And you're allowed a small order of fries, provided you only eat half or share it with someone else.
This meal has about 500 calories and 8 grams of saturated fat vs. as much as 30 grams of saturated fat in other Burger King burgers.
Order a Double Whopper With Cheese and you're consuming 990 calories and 24 grams of saturated fat.
The Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich has just 270 calories and 3 grams of fat without any mayonnaise. The restaurant offers light mayo; a packet adds just 40 calories and 4 grams of fat.
The Toasted Wrap with Original Recipe Chicken Strip without sauce has 270 calories and 11 grams of fat. Add a side order of 50-calorie green beans for fiber and vitamin A.
The 420-calorie Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich is the best choice. Skip the mayonnaise and you reduce fat intake from 10 grams to 5 grams. But even with the mayo, it's not a bad choice. Finish your meal with a Fruit 'n Yogurt Parfait, for calcium. It has 4 grams of protein and 130 calories without granola.
The Pork TropiChop Combo is a one-bowl meal that includes yellow rice, vegetables (usually broccoli and carrots) and protein. It has 480 calories and 21 grams of fat. You can add a side of black beans for 7 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein.
Steak 'n Shake
Order the 337-calorie, double Marinated Grilled Chicken Sandwich. The difference between the single and double sandwich is minimal.
Add apples and grapes (an unusual fast-food choice) for fiber.
The 6-inch, oven-roasted chicken breast sub on a whole wheat roll has 310 calories.
When it comes time to add vegetables, ask for lots.
You, of course, want to skip the mayo, but add a little oil, vinegar, pepper and oregano or mustard.
Best bets include the high-fiber, original, Regular Bean Burrito and a Fresco Crunchy Taco.
The burrito has 350 calories and 9 grams of fat. The taco has 150 calories, 3 grams of fiber and 8 grams of fat. Always add extra tomato, lettuce, onion and salsa to your dishes.
The Mandarin Chicken Salad With Grilled Chicken Fillet is the best choice, with 540 calories and about 25 grams of fat.
Using just half of the dressing saves you from about 10 grams of fat and 80 calories.
Have a fresh fruit bowl with yogurt or low-fat yogurt and you'll get some calcium and potassium.