Is There Such a Thing as Healthy Fast Food?

That is the million dollar question… As a busy mom working and running errands all day long, you may be tempted to pick up fast food for your family from time to time in a pinch. Guilty!

Yet if you know how to eat smart, you can purchase healthier items from fast food restaurants to reduce the calories that you intake and ease the guilt of eating unhealthy foods at the same time…

More and more fast food restaurants are beginning to offer healthier choices; you just need to know what to look for. As a rule of thumb, it is best if a meal does not exceed 500 calories to keep your calorie count low and balanced throughout the day.

  1. McDonald’s: When you visit the Golden Arches, order a plain hamburger and a side salad. This will give you a serving of vegetables, healthy carbs, and protein to keep you full, and the whole combo only has 270 calories. BUT adding dressing can add hundreds of calories, so eat your salad dry or with lemon slices.
  2. Taco Bell: Try to order the fresco crunchy taco with a side of veggies or fresh fruit. The taco itself only has 150 calories, and you can add as much hot sauce as you would like since it has 0 calories per serving!
  3. Wendy’s: At Wendy’s, check out the crispy chicken nuggets and a baked potato with only chives and sour cream. This is a satisfying meal that will weigh in at around 500 calories. Of course, the more sauces and toppings that you add to your baked potato, the more calories that you will be eating.
  4. Subway: Subway is full of healthy choices, but your best bet is to order the oven roasted chicken breast salad with a yogurt on the side. This will give you plenty of veggies and can benefit your heart if you drizzle the salad in olive oil. The entire meal is only 130 calories, making it an ideal afternoon snack.
  5. Chipotle: Chipotle is famous for their giant, delicious burritos, which actually pack a serious punch in the calorie department. Try the veggie fajita burrito, and save half for later. When it comes to Chipotle, it is all about portion control. Splitting this burrito will only cost you 280 calories and will keep you full for the rest of the afternoon.

Yes, it really is possible to eat healthy when you are forced to grab fast food on the go. Also, many restaurants now make their nutrition information available online or in iPhone apps. Stay educated and aware to maintain a healthy weight… no matter where you decide to eat!

About the Author

Bethany Ramos is a beauty and health writer that co-owns her own website, The Coffee Bump. For a great selection of the Bunn Coffee Maker, check out Bethany Ramos’ website today!

Veggies, veggies, and more veggies! These spicy tacos are made with Harmony Valley Vegetarian Hamburger Mix, and an assortment of fresh vegetables, herbs, and gooey cheese. Trust us, you won’t even miss the meat!

Poblano Tacos

Ingredients

1 package HARMONY VALLEY VEGETARIAN HAMBURGER MIX

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

½ teaspoon salt, divided

¼ teaspoon black pepper, divided

2 cups thinly sliced white onion

1 teaspoon oregano

2 teaspoons minced garlic

½ teaspoon ground coriander

8 oz mixed wild mushrooms

1 Poblano pepper, sliced

8 corn tortillas

½ cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

½ cup fresh salsa

Preparation

  • Prepare HARMONY VALLEY VEGETARIAN HAMBURGER MIX according to package instructions.
  • Spoon ½ of the mix onto a sheet of waxed paper.
  • Pat down to form a square, top with a second sheet of waxed paper and roll to ½ inch thickness, cut into 1 X 2 inch pieces, (makes 24 pieces) sprinkle the pieces with ½ the salt and ½ the ground pepper.
  • Repeat with other ½ of mix.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet (preferably non-stick).
  • Add ½ of the HARMONY VALLEY VEGETARIAN HAMBURGER MIX to the skillet and cook to brown on each side.
  • Remove to plate and repeat with the rest of the pieces.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan.
  • Add the onion and the next 6 ingredients (oregano, garlic, coriander, mushrooms and Poblano pepper).
  • Sauté for 5 minutes or until the vegetables soften.
  • Add the cooked HV pieces to the pan and cook 1 minute.
  • Heat tortillas according to package directions or for a char-grilled flavor, cook over an open gas flame or a grill pan. (use tongs to flip).
  • Spoon about 1/3 cup of the vegetable mix into each tortilla, and serve.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Harmony Valley.*

The Learning Channel’s most recent show, “Extreme Couponing,” is beaming a bright spotlight on a coupon trend that’s growing by leaps and bounds. Once the province of Depression Era mothers, the recession has made the game of couponing more popular and mainstream.

Some extreme couponers save over $20,000 a year through their efforts, while other happily use coupons to shave $5 to $10 off their weekly grocery bill.

With the start of TLC’s latest “Extreme Couponing” season, it’s a good time to review some basic tricks that these coupon pros use plus look at ways to make your coupon clipping a little more eco-friendly. Read on for seven ways you can save like an extreme couponer while still being green.

1. Start Small

Don’t try to go extreme all at once. Take it step by step, rather than show up at a checkout with 50 coupons and little idea what you’re doing. Don’t clip or print every coupon you see-it’s a waste. Just pick a few that will apply to your shopping list.

2. Never Pay For Coupons

There are some things in this life you just shouldn’t pay for, and a coupon is one of them. Paying someone to clip or organize your coupons defeats the purpose of living frugally. Instead, surf Sunday newspaper ad supplements for coupon savings; ask your neighbors for their unwanted papers; or dive inside a recycled dumpster or two. Also, free online coupon sites like CouponSherpa.com give consumers access to a multitude of coupon codes and printable coupons for thousands of merchants.

3. Get Organized

A little organization can go a long way. Always create a shopping list and have your coupons and shopping strategy organized before you even enter the store. Use an expandable coupon binder to sort coupon inserts by date, categories and expiration dates. Transfer to a small couponizer only those you’ll need for a specific shopping trip. Better yet, use a mobile phone app to avoid wasting paper. Cellfire is a great one for grocery coupons.

4. Location, Location, Location

Where you shop is a key factor in making the best use of your time and coupons. Only shop at locations that allow coupon stacking and combining coupons with in-store offers. Don’t be afraid to call and ask about policies before you show up. You don’t want to wind up embarrassed at the checkout line with a handful of useless coupons that will just be dumped in the trash. Plan certain shopping trips based on your daily commutes to reduce gas and energy consumption. Otherwise, you could end up driving all around town to take advantage of the deals.

5. Shop Online

Countless studies show that consumers who shop online consumer 35% less energy. Not only is that great for the environment, but also great for your monthly gas expenditures. Most local grocery stores offer online shops where you can buy groceries with just the click of your mouse. The sites offer the same in-store deals and sometimes even exclusive Web offers. Check out Amazon.com and big box chains like Walmart or Target for other online deals and don’t forget to enter a virtual coupon or promo code at check out for additional savings.

6. Loyalty Rewards

Always take advantage of club membership rewards. These programs are usually free and have many savings perks, like rewards points, cash back programs, and double points for every certain amount you spend. You can find store coupons on many supermarket websites. The stores even allow you to upload coupons directly to your loyalty reward card so you can save paper since there’s no need to print the coupons. The coupon discounts will be automatically deducted from your grocery bill at check out by scanning your card.

7. Be Green, Not Greedy

This is often where extreme couponers cross over into the world of hoarding. Only shop for items you actually need, products you can stock up on that aren’t perishable, and those you can donate. Remember, a bargain is only a bargain if you can actually use the purchase. If your pantry has expanded into your living room and the kids are sleeping on rolls of toilet paper, you’ve probably reached hoarder status.

About the Author

Consumer savings expert, Andrea Woroch, has appeared on ABC News NOW, NBC’s Today Show, FOX & Friends, MSNBC and has been quoted by SmartMoney, Kiplinger Personal Finance and many more.

Cascadian Farm, a leader in the organic food industry, recently launched its “Change Flows” initiative, asking Americans to join the company in an effort to restore and preserve our valuable rivers. How can you help the initiative?

  • From now through April 30, consumers can help make “Change Flow” by visiting www.CascadianFarm.com to “like” the U.S. region they think is most deserving of a river cleanup.
  • The region with the most “likes” will receive a river cleanup sponsored by Cascadian Farm, in celebration of the company’s dedication to sustainability.
  • Cascadian Farm is contributing $50,000 to American Rivers, a non-profit committed to restoring and preserving our country’s water sources.
  • A pioneer in converting conventional farms to organic, Cascadian Farm understands how precious water is to life, vitality and growth.

To encourage support for clean water, Cascadian Farm is offering one Tiny Green Mom reader a package of Cascadian Farm cereal and a water bottle! From April 15th – April 30th, you can enter to win daily on Tiny Green Mom!

First, visit www.CascadianFarm.com to “like” the U.S. region that you think is most deserving of a river cleanup.

To obtain extra entries:

Follow Tiny Green Mom on Twitter.

Share your favorite memory of being at a river or stream.

Blog about this giveaway. You must have a link to this giveaway in your blog post. Please leave a comment with the link to your blog post.

The Cascadian Farm ‘Change Flows’ Giveaway ends on April 30th, 2011 and is open to the US only. Please leave your email address in each comment, and make sure to leave a separate comment for every each and every entry that you make so that they will count for you!

Thank you! “Mom” at Tiny Green Mom can’t wait to announce the winner of this fabulous giveaway!

*Image and giveaway courtesy of Cascadian Farm.*

Raisins and other dried fruits get all dressed up in this FREE downloadable recipe booklet from Sun-Maid! Their Fruit & Sunshine Recipe Book contains delightfully healthy fare such as Sunny Whole Wheat Currant Scones, Quinoa with Raisins & Caramelized Onions, and Raisin-Orange Salsa.

To download your own free copy, or to check out the other free recipe books offered on their website, visit www.sunmaid.com.

*Image provided by Sun-Maid. This is not a paid advertorial. Please see disclosure.*

For an afternoon pick-me-up, a post-workout shake, or an easy recipe to make to start the day, this smoothie graced with both chocolate and açaí really hits the spot!

Chocotein Açaí Shake

Ingredients

1 cup of milk (“Mom” prefers Soymilk or Almond Milk)
1 pack of Amafruits Pure açaí purée (frozen)
2 tablespoon of low fat cottage cheese
1 scoop of chocolate protein powder (you can use other flavors as well)
1 banana

Preparation

Add everything to blender except banana. Blend for 30 seconds on medium setting. Add banana and pulse blender to frappe the shake. Drink and enjoy!

*Recipe and image courtesy of Amafruits.*

Head on over to Five Accessories to pick up some colorful & bright reusable shopping bags in time for Earth Day! Now through April 3oth, they are offering 20% off your entire purchase. Use the promo code ECO to save today!

Visit FiveAccessories.com to take advantage of this eco-fabulous deal.

*This is not a paid advertorial. Please see disclosure.*

Imagine – cereal, your way! That is exactly what Hajo Engelke aimed to deliver when starting Custom Choice Cereal in 2009. Spurred on by a friend who suffered from severe gluten intolerance, Hajo has now created a company that lets you custom-make your own fabulous gluten-free cereal, which is then delivered right to your door! With over 2.5 billion combinations, we think you will find something that suits your unique taste and needs!

An Interview with Hajo Engelke, Founder of Custom Choice Cereal

Tell us about your eco-inspired company!

Inspired by a gluten-intolerant friend’s frustration with the limited breakfast options available to him, I started Custom Choice Cereal. It is my mission to make living gluten-free a fun & enjoyable experience. What better way than to start with breakfast as the most important meal of the day? Since tastes are different, we let everyone create their personal gluten-free cereal online. Over 2.5 billion combinations and an automatically updating nutrition label ensure that taste and dietary needs are met. All cereal is mixed from the highest quality ingredients in our dedicated gluten-free facility and shipped conveniently to the customers’ doorstep.

How do you choose to go green in your own life?

All of our custom cereal comes in a re-sealable stand-up bag that we package in sturdy cardboard boxes made from recycled material for shipping. For my own cereal, I save the box and thus reduce the waste I create. At the company, we have recently replaced all light bulbs with energy efficient ones and of course, we recycle all of our trash.

My life has also been influenced significantly by growing up in Germany. As a result, it is completely normal for me to recycle paper, cans and plastics and compost natural waste. In addition, my parents always told us to switch off lights (and here also fans) when we leave a room, so that’s become a natural behavior for me as well. I also run any errand I can on my bicycle. Some people here in the South look at me funny when I tell them that I go grocery shopping with a big bag on my bike but I really enjoy it; I don’t have to worry about parking, it helps me to stay fit, and I help to keep the environment clean. A nice side effect of taking my big bag is that it allows me to avoid having to use any plastic bags for my groceries.

Guilty green pleasure?

It actually is a pleasure for me that I can interpret traffic laws a little bit more “flexible” when I am riding my bike. I am extremely pleased when I roll past the cars during rush hour 🙂 Besides that, I am a sucker for locally raised organic meats and vegetables from the farmer’s market. They are a little bit more expensive but I am convinced that my body will thank me in the long term for feeding it well. It also simply tastes better.

Can you offer any encouraging words for those with a small sustainable business?

If you are passionate about what you do and believe in it, you can definitely do it. Persistence will always eventually pay off! Along the way there will definitely be some tough times, and a few people will also ask you why you put yourself through the difficulty of starting your own business instead of following the path of least resistance.

However, people who haven’t experienced it themselves cannot understand the truly overwhelming feeling of knowing that you are doing something good, even if it might just be on a tiny scale. Because quite a few of Custom Choice Cereal’s customers suffer from celiac disease or are intolerant to gluten, they haven’t been able to enjoy a variety of tasty gluten-free cereals for quite some time. They are literally close to tears and thank us for what we do. Receiving an email or call from such a happy customer is one of the best feelings in the world and definitely makes up for the frustrating and stressful times of running a small sustainable business.

Kick-start your morning with this power-packed smoothie courtesy of Whole Foods Market! “Mom” prefers using Soymilk or Almond Milk in place of the skim milk called for in the recipe.

Whey Protein Breakfast Blast

Ingredients

3/4 cup frozen 365 Everyday Value® Blueberries
1/2 banana
3 tablespoons 365 Everyday Value® Vanilla Flavor Whey Protein Powder
1/2 cup skim milk (or non-dairy substitute)
2 teaspoons honey (optional)
3 ice cubes
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

Preparation

In a blender, thoroughly combine berries, banana, protein powder, milk and honey by pulsing a few times. Add ice cubes and blend until very smooth. Pour into a 16-ounce glass and sprinkle with ground flaxseed.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Whole Foods Market.*

CalNaturale Svelte realizes the importance of being green all year long, which is why they choose all-natural, organic ingredients and eco-friendly/100% recyclable Tetra Pak containers for their protein shakes! In celebration of Earth Month, CalNaturale Svelte will be hosting a giveaway every Monday on its Facebook page for those who do their part to make our Earth cleaner and greener, and we will also be giving away a few of their branded reusable totes filled with Svelte shakes on Tiny Green Mom!

To enter, please tell us about a lifestyle change you have made to help the planet in a comment below for a chance to win daily on Tiny Green Mom from April 13th – April 20th, 2011.

In case you haven’t had a chance to sip on Svelte, it is a multi-functional, all-natural sustained energy protein shake dedicated to providing great taste, positive nutrition and increased vitality through pure and simple ingredients. Made with organic and all-natural ingredients, CalNaturale Svelte shakes are also non-dairy, cholesterol-free, certified gluten-free and certified kosher – the perfect pre/post workout or on-the-go treat. They offer a natural alternative to other sustained energy, protein and meal-replacement beverages in the marketplace.

Here are some additional Earth-loving tips from CalNaturale Svelte that you can follow this month, and be sure to visit Facebook and Twitter for some additional eco-friendly prizes leading up to Earth Day:

  • Eat Meatless on Mondays – Search #MeatlessMonday on Twitter for some awesome recipe ideas!
  • Purchase products with renewable and sustainable packaging
  • Buy products made with organic and all-natural ingredients
  • Make use of reusable grocery bags
  • Spread the word – educate your friends, family and online followers!

To obtain extra entries:

Follow Tiny Green Mom on Twitter.

Leave a comment on another Tiny Green Mom post. Leave a comment below with the name of the post you commented on.

Follow CalNaturale Svelte on Twitter. Leave a comment with your Twitter name to let us know that this has been done. This is only valid for one entry.

Blog about this giveaway. You must have a link to this giveaway in your blog post. Please leave a comment with the link to your blog post.

The CalNaturale Svelte Giveaway ends on April 20, 2011 and is open to the US and Canada only. Please leave your email address in each comment, and make sure to leave a separate comment for every each and every entry that you make so that they will count for you!