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Eat This, Not That: 7 Healthy Alternatives to Your Favorite Fast Food

carolina style wings
We’ve really enjoyed following former Olympian Summer Sanders’s progress as she writes about training for the Disney Princess Half Marathon over on espnW. One of the most striking things is how intense her regimen is. Reaching your peak physical form isn’t easy!

Of course, most of us aren’t training for a marathon, so we don’t need to do anything quite as trying as what Summer is undertaking. If you’re looking for an easy way to meet more modest fitness goals, in addition to exercising a little more, consider swapping out the most unhealthy elements of your diet with some more nutritious ones. With a little work and planning, you won’t have to sacrifice anything in the flavor department. Here are seven healthier alternatives to some everyday fast foods to get you started.

For more tips from Summer Sanders, check out her videos here.

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  • Don’t Drink a Milkshake. Instead, Make a Smoothie 1 of 7
    Don't Drink a Milkshake. Instead, Make a Smoothie
    A small fast food shake seems like a relatively harmless treat. It comes in such a little cup, after all. But don't be fooled, even a small shake can have nearly 700 calories! And all those calories come with very little in the way of nutrition, since they mainly come from sugar. When you make a smoothie, though, you control the ingredients and you can put together a snack that's actually good for your body. This peanut butter banana oatmeal smoothie provides protein in the form of yogurt and peanut butter, fiber from oatmeal, and potassium from bananas, making a much healthier alternative to a milkshake.
    Make a Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Smoothie
    Image: Kathy Patalsky
  • Don’t Eat Buffalo Wings. Instead, Make Carolina-Style Wings. 2 of 7
    Don't Eat Buffalo Wings. Instead, Make Carolina-Style Wings.
    Fast-food Buffalo wings are a popular option whenever people get together to watch sports, but with sauces high in sugar and salt, even just four wings can have 200 calories and 37 percent of your daily allowance of sodium. If you're going to be watching the game with friends and want to keep your wings healthy, try making Carolina-style wings instead. The flavor comes from vinegar and spices, so these are way less sugary and salty but every bit as delicious.
    Make Carolina-Style Wings
    Image: Brooklyn Supper
  • Don’t Eat a Candy Bar. Instead, Have a Granola Bar. 3 of 7
    Don't Eat a Candy Bar. Instead, Have a Granola Bar.
    Advertisers often promote candy bars as a good way to get a quick burst of energy. And while it's true that you will get a fast boost from the sugar, a candy bar can have more than 250 calories, mostly from sugar. There are much better ways to get a quick burst of energy. Granola bars offer your body something besides sugar. For example, these fruit and oat bars give you complex carbohydrates from oatmeal that will give you more lasting energy. And the fruit means they're still plenty sweet.
    Make White House oat and fruit bars
    Image: Julie Van Rosendaal
  • Don’t Eat a Caesar Salad. Instead, Make Your Own Pomegranate Orange Salad 4 of 7
    Don't Eat a Caesar Salad. Instead, Make Your Own Pomegranate Orange Salad
    Ordering salad seems like it should always be a healthy choice, but dressings and fixings can make some salads as unhealthy as anything else on a fast food menu. A caesar salad, for example, can be loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol. Luckily, it doesn't get much easier than making a healthy salad on your own. Find a combination of ingredients that will look and taste great, go easy on the dressing and fatty fixings, and you can be sure to eat healthy. You can also try using greens like kale which are chock full of iron and vitamin A.
    Make orange and pomegranate spinach salad
    Image: Brooklyn Supper
  • Don’t Eat French Fries. Instead, Make Sweet Potato Oven Fries. 5 of 7
    Don't Eat French Fries. Instead, Make Sweet Potato Oven Fries.
    According to a Harvard study, no food was more correlated with weight gain than potatoes. French fries take this unhealthy ingredient and deep fry it, making it even worse for you. But with a just a little effort, you can make your own fries from sweet potatoes which are packed with nutrients like Vitamins A and C, manganese, and iron. Even better, these "fries" aren't really fried at all, they're baked meaning you can make them without all that fat.
    Make oven baked sweet potato fries
    Image: Julie Van Rosendaal
  • Don’t Eat a Sundae. Instead, Make a Yogurt Parfait 6 of 7
    Don't Eat a Sundae. Instead, Make a Yogurt Parfait
    At 280 calories for a small cup, a strawberry sundae is something you shouldn't be a regular snack (but if you eat one every now and again, we won't tell). If you want a treat that's rich and creamy but without all the sugar, try making a yogurt parfait by layering plain yogurt with fruit. It's a satisfying snack that you won't regret later.
    Make fruit and yogurt parfaits
    Image: Angie McGowan
  • Don’t Eat Potato Chips, Instead Make Kale Chips. 7 of 7
    Don't Eat Potato Chips, Instead Make Kale Chips.
    There are unhealthy snack foods and there are UNHEALTHY snack foods. Potato chips are UNHEALTHY. An 8 oz bag can have more than 1200 calories! And they're high in sodium and fat to boot. For a healthier alternative, try making kale chips, which are much lower in calories and fat, but can still have all your favorite tastes combos, like sour cream and onion or barbecue.
    Make basic kale chips.
    Image: Julie Van Rosendaal

More from Brooklyn Supper on Babble:
25 Super Foods and Kid-Friendly Ways to Eat Them
Healthy on a Budget: 10 Incredibly Cheap Health Foods
20 Savory Citrus Recipes to Get You Through the Winter

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