my fast food story.

by Janetha on September 27, 2010

in Featured,meals

here’s a story.

once upon a time, i ate fast food every day.  in fact, i would often times eat fast food twice a day.  this was back before i knew what a calorie was, my metabolism knew no boundaries, i preferred lifting a can of beer instead of a weight and the documentary “food, inc” was yet to be made. read: i didn’t care about (nor was i aware of) the physical or ethical consequences of fast food. i loved it. i ate it. lots of it.

calorie? what is a calorie?

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fine print: before i really get going on this post, i want to say i am not judging anyone who eats fast food. the food other people choose to eat has nothing to do with me nor do i base my opinion on them by looking at what they eat.  i have to say this, because i am about to talk a whole lotta crap on a particular fast food establishment. this is my opinion. i just don’t want anyone thinking i think less of people if they choose to eat fast food. i don’t. eat whatever you want.  but that doesn’t mean i think it’s good for anyone.

moving on!

among the many fast food meals i consumed, there was always one particular meal from KFC that was my favorite.  i couldn’t get enough of it.

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that, my friends, is the KFC three piece chicken strip meal.  i would eat it multiple times a week.. it wasn’t rare that i ate this four times a week, i liked it that much.

in my go-to KFC meal:

  • 3 chicken strips
  • side of macaroni & cheese
  • side of potato wedges
  • buttermilk biscuit
  • two honey packets (for biscuit—not pictured)
  • one “buttery spread” (for biscuit)
  • three containers of honey mustard (dippage for chicken strips & wedges)

up close & personal:

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looking at that list, it sure seems like a lot of food.  it even LOOKS like a lot of food.  it is quite a bit of food.  in addition to the food, i usually had a large (32 oz) dr. pepper to wash it down.

sometimes i would have this for lunch, sometimes for dinner.. but like i said, i would have this meal regularly.  i ate the whole thing.  and i would be hungry when the next meal time rolled around, about 3-4 hours later.  in fact, i would usually eat some sort of candy immediately after the meal.. i was all about the chewy jolly ranchers.

these days, i don’t eat at KFC. eventually, that pesky metabolism caught up with me and i found myself 25 lbs overweight.  so, i stopped fast food and i started doing body for life.  i gave up fast food except for on my “free day”.  when my free day came around, i did have fast food a few times, but it literally made me sick (on both ends!—sorry for the TMI) and i decided there was a reason i shouldn’t be putting that kind of food into my body.  this was before i knew about the ethical side of eating fast food. i just knew it made my body feel like crud.

body for life taught me a lot about nutrition and macros..  the more i learned the more i wanted to know.  the better i felt after not eating it the more i wanted to NOT eat it.  it was like a wildfire.  so i stopped eating KFC (and all other fast food) and never looked back.

now i want to pass my experience on to my readers, because i feel like shouting this lesson from the rooftops. give up fast food for a month. then eat it. see how you feel. you probably won’t go back, either.

anyway, my dinner from last night (more on that in a moment) had me reminiscing about my old favorite fast food meal.  i was curious just what exactly i was eating, and how it all added up.

enter: fun with numbers!

i made a chart of the nutritional information for my entire meal. i took the information straight off the KFC website.

Calories From Fat Fat Grams Saturated Sodium Carbs Fiber Sugar Protein
Chicken 340 100 11 4 1280 27 3 0 33
Mac & Cheese 180 80 9 3 880 20 2 4 6
Wedges 260 110 13 2.5 740 33 3 0 4
Biscuit 180 70 8 6 530 23 1 2 4
Honey 30 0 0 0 0 8 0 5 0
Honey 30 0 0 0 0 8 0 5 0
Butter 30 30 3.5 0.5 30 0 0 0 0
Mustard 120 90 10 1.5 110 6 0 5 0
Mustard 120 90 10 1.5 110 6 0 5 0
Mustard 120 90 10 1.5 110 6 0 5 0
Dr. Pepper 400 0 0 0 140 108 0 108 0
Totals 1810 660 74.5 20.5 3930 245 9 139 47

holy balls! talk about a wake up call!

1810 calories in one meal.. and it didn’t keep me full for longer than 3 hours?  talk about empty calories.  the calories for one meal add up to about the same number of calories i eat in a whole day. (i don’t count calories, but i am mindful of them and probably consume 1600-1800 calories daily.)

let’s talk sauce. i never had any idea that one of those dinky honey mustard containers was 120 calories. each! combine those 3 containers with my honey & butter for my biscuit and i was up to 450 calories in sauce packets alone. that number made me queasy.  i can eat a whole big, nutritious meal that contains 450 calories and be full for 6 hours (hello, oatmeal and peanut butter).

how about the other numbers?  the fat grams are double what i take in daily nowadays, and none of the KFC fat grams can be referred to as “healthy fat”, like the majority of the fat i eat now.  the carb grams are off the charts and 139 of those grams come from sugar.  all of the carbs are quick digesting, empty carbs: white, refined noodles, deep fried potatoes, buttermilk biscuit, sugary soda.  and the sodium? well, the sodium total makes my whole body puff up just looking at it.  the only upside i can see is the amount of protein the meal contains.

that little math lesson was an eye opener for me.  sure, i quit eating fast food because it made me feel gross.. but after seeing what i was eating and knowing what i know now about nutrition, i cringe.

ANYWAY, onto last night’s dinner!

in the october issue of oxygen magazine, there was a healthy version of mac & cheese.  i bookmarked it and have been meaning to make it for awhile now.  yesterday, i finally did.  i paired it with some healthy baked chicken strips and steamed veggies.  i prepared my own honey mustard and also used an all natural barbecue sauce for dipping.  my meal was very reminiscent of the KFC meal.  granted, it took longer to make than a quick zip through the drive through.. but it was so much better. better on the taste buds, better on the belly, better on the waist line and better on the soul.

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for the mac & cheese (recipe from oxygen magazine: october 2010 issue):

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ingredients:

  • 8 oz whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups low fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup sharp cheddar
  • bread crumbs (enough to sprinkle)
  • salt & pepper, to taste

i cooked the noodles and set them aside.  i then combined the pumpkin and cottage cheese in my food processor.  you could also use a blender.IMG_9988 IMG_9992

once the two ingredients are mixed smoothly, add to the noodles.

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mix well, add salt & pepper.

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add shredded cheddar.

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mix well and put into a 9 x 9 baking dish.

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top with bread crumbs, cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, until warmed through. remove the foil for the last 3-4 minutes in the oven.

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voilà!

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healthy mac & cheese!

this makes 4 HUGE servings.  i only ate 1/5 of the pan rather than 1/4.. and even then, i couldn’t finish it.

for the chicken strips:

slice two 6 oz chicken breasts into strips.  (12 oz total) season with salt & pepper.

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coat each strip in panko breadcrumbs.

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bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until done, flipping halfway through.

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for the dipping sauce, find an all natural barbecue sauce.  for the honey mustard, combine 2 parts mustard to one part honey. IMG_0019

serve dipping sauces alongside chicken.

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add some steamed veggies to make it a meal!

my plate was 1/3 of the chicken strips (4 ounces total), 1/5 of the mac & cheese recipe and 1 cup veggies.  i also used 2 TB honey mustard and 2 TB barbecue sauce.  i washed it down with water.

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up close & personal:

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this entire meal? including dipping sauces, this meal was 525 calories, 8 grams fat, 48 grams protein, 68 grams carbs, 9 grams fiber. and the best part: it’s nutritious. carbs from whole wheat noodles. baked, not fried, chicken. steamed, colorful veggies instead of deep fried potato wedges. low calorie dipping sauces instead of funky ingredient, calorie laden mystery packets of sauce.  oh, and the biscuit? not needed. i couldn’t even finish this  plate of food as it was.  and i was full for the rest of the night.

i guess my point is i am so glad i know what i know now. and i wanted to talk about it.  i wanted to tell you how happy i am to be informed about my food.  because when i was eating this crap every day, multiple times a day, i had NO IDEA how bad it was for me. calories aside, i had no clue what the difference between white pasta and wheat pasta was.. and i rationalize that the potatoes were healthy because they were in wedge form. um.. right.  i didn’t know and i didn’t care to know. i was skinny as a noodle, i could eat anything whenever i wanted, what did i care if it had nutritional value or not?

i am lucky that i stopped eating crappy fast food two years ago.  for me, it wasn’t a hard habit to break, because i was bound and determined to stay committed to my BFL challenge.  i know it’s tough for many to stop the habit of eating fast food. i am sure they lace it with some sore of addictive drug to keep you coming back ;)  but if you are into eating it, at least inform yourself.

what i want people to take away from this post is motivation.  i want to encourage everyone to inform yourself.

no, fast food isn’t going to kill you today.  and probably not tomorrow. but it really could hurt you in the long run.  and no, it probably won’t be too bad if you eat it sparingly.

but please—whether you eat it a little or eat it a lot, learn about the food you are putting into your body.  learn about nutritious carbohydrates vs. empty carbohydrates.  learn how much sodium your body can tolerate. don’t just blindly drive through the fast food line and eat whatever looks good—it could really hurt your health in the long run.

you may be saying “well stop preaching about learning and start informing us.”  but i am not the person to inform you, i didn’t go to school for this sort of thing.   but i did teach myself.  there are endless resources out there and you can learn a lot about nutrition just by talking to trained specialists, reading books and articles (credible ones, of course).

i am no expert, but i am learning more every day.  that’s important to me.

i know my words don’t mean much to several of you because you don’t eat fast food, but — i know a lot of people who want to stop eating fast food, who want to learn more about their health and nutrition, who want, want, want. so this is my encouragement to tell you to do something about it. :)

i won’t even dive into the ethical issues i have with KFC. i think that you can read up on that yourself. i don’t usually get into that sort of thing on my blog, though i do feel strongly about the issues and it is another reason i won’t eat their food.

although.. i did buy the meal photographed above. i have been scouring google images for “the meal” and had no luck.  i wanted to give you all a visual of my old go-to meal, so i bit the bullet and bought the meal. yep, for the photos. yep, call me names. it probably was not the best choice, but sometimes i do odd things “for the blog”. you can throw stones at me, that would be fair.

although… i had a feeling it was a bad sign when i saw the total of the meal…

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talk about irony.

Qs~

1. what fast food / restaurant meals do you make healthier versions of at home? any recipes/links you’d like to share?

2. what have you learned lately about health and nutrition? do you try to stay informed about what you eat?

xo. janetha g.

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{ 136 comments… read them below or add one }

katecooks September 28, 2010 at 10:45 am

i’ve never been a very big fast food eater. i think the homemade meal looks 100x tastier and i bet it was too! it’s mind boggling to me that there can be so many calories in such a small meal. especially when you can eat for a whole DAY and consume that same number. thanks for this post! i thought it was really interesting. reminded me of magazine stories where they write about “eating this” OR “all this.” love those!

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Graze With Me September 28, 2010 at 10:49 am

LOVED this post. My go-to fast food place was Wendy’s and my husband’s was McDonald’s. I haven’t eaten Wendy’s in about 6 years or so and my husband stopped eating fast food about two years ago. I’m so proud of him!

The sodium of that meal scares me too!!

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janetha September 28, 2010 at 12:56 pm

SO proud of your husband and you! marshall quit eating it, too, and i am proud of him.

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ida September 28, 2010 at 11:21 am

Great post! I was wondering where you found the photo of the KFC meal. I’m actually impressed that you bought it for the blog- shows you’re really passionate about your point(even willing to spend $7 that you didn’t have to). Your mac and cheese looks SO good, as soon as i can find some canned pumpkin i’ll be making that!

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Danica September 28, 2010 at 11:22 am

You are so lucky you have an awesome metabolism! I think i would’ve gained weight just looking at it – add a chicken leg to my left thigh, biscuit to my butt LOL.

I LOVE that through your journey you realized so much about your body, your health and you found passion along the way. Your recreation looks AWESOME! I think I need to add it to my list of must tries…..

So, who ate the KFC you bought on 09/27/10? I bet Marshall or the Pups, hmmmmmm :D

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janetha September 28, 2010 at 12:57 pm

sure wish i still had that old metabolism! ;)

i left the KFC at my parents’ house (where i took the pics).. my dad most likely ate it!

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Marg September 28, 2010 at 11:50 am

I grew up on fast food and until recently it was a big part of my diet. I’ve cut back significantly, but find when I’m stressed/busy it’s so easy to go for comfort/quickness. I was just thinking yesterday while driving how I want some Raising Cane’s chicken fingers – I think if I make the chicken like yours and figure out the sauce I’m good (it’s all about the sauce anyway!)

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Shannon September 28, 2010 at 12:11 pm

wow, crazy about the price… but i love your revamped meal. totally trying that mac n cheese!!

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Jeannette September 28, 2010 at 12:42 pm

That mac and cheese looks fantastic! Do you think I could use plain greek yogurt if I don’t have the cottage cheese?

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janetha September 28, 2010 at 12:59 pm

i am sure you could sub yogurt in, but you will have a much tangier flavor and less cheesy. not that that is a bad thing! let us know how it is if you try that :)

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Maren September 28, 2010 at 1:12 pm

oh my gosh how creepy!!! Thanks for your insight! I don’t eat fast food, but the boy likes to go to McDonald’s whenever he has to have dinner without me (which is very rare thank goodness!). This is what he gets: a #1 which is a big mac, with a coke and a 10-piece nugget! How gross! This is his rebuttal: At least I don’t get the 20-piece like I did in high school!! ahh! haha

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Jamie @ Food in Real Life September 28, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Fantastic post!! I love the meal you made too, it looks so good and hearty. And SOOOO much better than the KFC version. I can’t believe how many calories were in the sauce alone. That is crazy!

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Jenny September 28, 2010 at 1:35 pm

I noticed fast food was made me sick a few years ago, so I thankfully don’t have that issue of quitting. But after Food Inc. I have to look at what a I was buying ever at the grocery store. It is tough being on a budget and making health and ethical decisions, but there are images from that movie that are burned into my brain!

One of my vises when we go out is NACHOS! I will make some at home with wheat chips, fresh home made salsa, veggies, beans and guacamole. But I can’t skimp on the cheese. I LOVE cheese. I have tried making them with soy cheese, fat free/low fat cheese and other substitutes, but they don’t cure my nacho craving. I have to go full flavor!

I am learning all sorts of fun new things (and things I needed to be reminded of) from this nifty little blog. I have marked enough recipes to feed us for a year! I am being more aware of my protein intake. I have been eating pretty healthy for a few years, but have NEVER got enough protein. I have changed that (thanks to protein oats and shakes) and have focused my meals/snacks on fruits/ veggies and protein.

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edenseats September 28, 2010 at 1:52 pm

I didn’t know your going to food buzz! yay! I hope to see you!

Anyhow, I haven’t been to many places of fast food other than McDonalds and In n Out (a Southern California chain). My dad is belgian and a “fry snob” but even he loves MickD’s fries! I’m totally obsessed with them too, but I havent had them in years.
I did a faux apple pie on my blog a few month ago using chayote squash (which I heard a rumor is what they REALLY use in the MickyD’s version).
Honestly, I know TOO much about nutrition, its part of my eating disorder. I think a little ignorance is bliss. I’d like to eat some Ben and Jerry’s without knowing the carbs, calories, fat, etc without guilt.

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janetha September 28, 2010 at 8:01 pm

oh i know all about in & out. we have them here in utah, too. i don’t like it but i do like that they use fresh ingredients.

YES i am going to foodbuzz! see you there!

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Valerie September 28, 2010 at 2:31 pm

How did you like the mac & cheese recipe from Oxygen? I made it last week, and I was like meh… not so great. I ate it for leftovers a couple of days later, and spruced it up with a little extra spices and it tasted a little better, but overall, I was disappointed with the recipe. I think it was the texture that threw everything off.

Still heart the magazine though!

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janetha September 28, 2010 at 8:04 pm

i dont have texture issues so it didn’t bother me, i actually liked it! it’s not the same texture as the blue box, but it sure is delicious. i did spruce it up with spices (garlic salt, pepper, etc) as well. i always do before i eat anything!

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Andrea September 28, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Great post I learned a lot!

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homecookedem September 28, 2010 at 2:59 pm

I used to eat fast food a lot too. I’m so glad that my lifestyle has permanently changed for the better. Your meal looks way better than that KFC meal!!

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Tay September 28, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Ummmm making that mac& cheese sometime soon! So unique with the pumpkin and everything.

1. I like to make stir-frys healthier. And pasta dishes. And burgers.
2. I haven’t learned too much recently, and since I’ve always been aware of nutrition related food stuff, nothing really shocks me. Actually I am always shocked when I see the caloric content of pre=packaged mediterranean foods such as hummus, falafel and pita bread platters!

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ytotheummy September 28, 2010 at 4:22 pm

I feel the saaaame way. And what usually happens to me is that I’ll get this bizarre craving for some junk food, and sometimes I’m impulsive and eat before I stop and think about it, but then when I do, and check the nutritional facts…suddenly that 800 calorie cookie ain’t too temptin’. ha! I start thinking “wow, for that amount of calories I could have about 2.5 hearty snacks, or two light meals, or maybe four normal sized desserts, maybe 4tbsp of peanut butter, etc. And the thing is, like you said, all those things I said would actually be tasty AND satisfying. luv it.

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janetha September 28, 2010 at 8:05 pm

so true. i always put things into perspective like that!

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Liz @ Blog is the New Black September 28, 2010 at 4:36 pm

I do healthy buffalo/chicken tenders. Simply baking your food slashes the calories and always still tastes good!

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Mary (What's Cookin' with Mary) September 28, 2010 at 5:00 pm

I used to love getting the Pollo Bowl at El Pollo Loco and was craving one last week… Sooooo I made my own version :D Sure, it didn’t really taste the same, but isn’t that the point ? http://whatscookinwithmary.blogspot.com/2010/09/marys-el-pollo-bowl.html

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BroccoliHut September 28, 2010 at 6:24 pm

This is such an awesome post. I love how you intertwined a little fast food wake-up call with a recipe re-make. You rock!
Anyway, I am so making that macaroni and cheese–pumpkin and cottage cheese are kind of two of my all time favorite foods.
1. I like to re-make Chick fil A sandwiches with vegan chik patties, lots of pickles, and K + M. They taste pretty close to the real thing. I also like to make my own “chicken” fingers with tofu and wheat germ.
2. I learn lots about nutrition everyday in class, but most recently I learned that the calcium in tofu is absorbed very nearly to the same extent that cheese is. Cool!

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nancyrunswild September 28, 2010 at 6:29 pm

When I was a teenager and later a college student, I used to eat fast food ALL the time because it was accessible and super cheap. I first gave up soda about ten years ago, and then I gave up fast food after watching Supersize Me my last year of college. Honestly, it hasn’t been that hard.

This was such a great entry! It was very informative.

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kelli September 28, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Since I was in high school I haven’t eaten fast food or takeout and can’t believe how I never ate veggies!!! In middle school and beginning of high school I ate chicken parmesan and pasta from my fav italian restaurant atleast 2 times a week WOW!! and now I am a vegan veggie lover oh how our tastes change. Also I used to LOVE mcdonalds chicken strips.

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Motivating Myself September 28, 2010 at 8:12 pm

I live in South Central Texas where it is all about the Mexican food which I absolutely LOVE!!!!!! I used to eat out all the time but now I eat the majority of meals at home..but I still eat all my favorite Mexican dishes I just recreate them at home much much healthier!

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Lara (Thinspired) September 28, 2010 at 9:52 pm

I love this post, and I can see I’m not alone! The comments are so interesting. I grew up eating occasional fast food. It was not banned, but it wasn’t encouraged. In college I ate it regularly, I would say, and my weight certainly showed it. Now, I have found balance with it and occasionally indulge in In-N-Out (which I deem to be much more “real” than other mass fast food chains), and Chipotle.

I love your healthy version of fast food and frequently do similar things with my own favorites: Chinese food, macaroni and cheese, and burgers :)

I’ll only be at Foodbuzz for Day 1…I hope we can arrange to meet!

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closet365project September 28, 2010 at 10:26 pm

So much word.

I was totally raised on fast food being a family treat, so I have a lot of emotional attachement to it (It’s comfort food) but the older I get the less I can stomach it. I am grateful that my mother also fed us plenty of whole homecooked food and ALWAYS mades us eat a fruit and veggie with meals at home. I know a lot of kids in this day and age don’t get that luxury.

Admittedly I still eat McDonald’s almost every single free day but I get small portions and it’s enough to satisfy. I am also a huge Subway junkie because it’s the only place I know how to get a healthy meal. Anything else? Gross. I don’t understand how people can live on fast food regularly. It’s just not good fuel!

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hayleycepeda September 29, 2010 at 5:26 am

I was scrolling down to read your previous “Fast food” post until I saw the mac & cheese pictures and I had to go back – HELLO why did I not see this recipe in Oxygen?!? That is definitely on my list of things to make. Holy yumballs…I could go for some of that now and it’s 7am!

All I can say is I love your blog…ok I’ll admit – I love you. You always write in such a fun way and I get so many awesome meal ideas from you…thank you J!!!

XOXO

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fightingwithfood September 29, 2010 at 9:47 am

I was addicted to Taco Bell in high school. In fact, I’d leave school early with an.. ahem.. self-written excuse note so that I could stop at TB and take it home. How stupid is that?!
My husband still eats TB a few days a week with his work buddies but I give him credit for taking the cheese and sour cream off of his chicken tacos. He tries!
The healthier meal looks amazing. I have the Oxygen mag, so I’ll hunt that one down. I might try subbing some nooch to mimic the cheesy flavor. Thanks for the great post, Janetha!

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Sara September 29, 2010 at 10:05 am

My biggest fast food addiction is probably that nacho cheese they put on your nachos at ballparks, the movies, and other such places. I actually saw something on TV once that showed the factory they make it in, and it’s surprisingly actual cheese, but that doesn’t mean it’s not laden with salt, fat, and plenty of calories! I do eat it every now and then when we go to football games, etc, but there’s definitely a stomach ache that follows it!

What bothers me most about fast food is that there’s really not much reason for things to be as salty and calorie laden as they are. My boyfriend and I have long toyed with the idea of starting a food truck with whole foods that are fast and delicious, but just not so full of fat, salt & sugar. People argue that everyone is able to make their own decisions, but I think that when you put fast food in people’s faces, and load it up with enough crap that your body literally craves it, it’s not exactly playing on the same equal level as the lonely apple at the grocery store is.

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Heather September 29, 2010 at 2:08 pm

You know, I was just trying to explain to a friend today how I have no desire to eat out anymore. I always look down at the menu and think, “I could make a version of this so much better at home and probably save a crap ton of money!”

When I was in college, I was the same way you were…ate whatever whenever, and pizza rolls did not stand a chance around me-I would make dinner out of a 1/2 bag of those suckers!

It’s been a progression for me over the last few years to concentrate on different aspects of the nutrition facts on foods. I went a while trying to eat little to no fat…but I always ended up hungry again a few hours later. That’s when I realized…eating fat (good fat that is) does NOT make you fat! Thank you for this post! I think it is great to get the word out to people to snap out of it and start paying attention to the things they are putting into their bodies!!

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Cilla September 29, 2010 at 7:27 pm

[delurks]
Brilliant post, as everybody has said. Fast food also makes me feel ill now. Three months into my weightloss journey, I decided to “treat” myself to a zinger burger from KFC and felt ill all afternoon and struggled to sleep properly. After that, I didn’t look at fast food as a treat any longer. My favourite used to be softserve from McD–I prefer frozen yogurt these days because that soft serve now tastes too sugary.

But I do cook a lot of fast food adaptations for the family. Yesterday was chicken burritos with wholewheat tortillas, self-seasoned (no sodium, in other words) chicken breast, homemade guacamole, greek yogurt as sour cream and salsa fresco. Yum.

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Meg September 29, 2010 at 8:20 pm

What an interesting healthy mac and cheese recipe, I’ll have to try it out! I watched Food Inc. for the first time a few months ago and it really made me think. For the most part, I eat pretty healthy, but once in a while I get a fast food craving. That I always regret. You’re right, it does make you sick!

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andrea September 30, 2010 at 7:05 am

I feel the same about fast food however I make an exception when I travel to states that have a Bojangles (I love that place, thank God I’m rarely in states that have one)!!

This post was great…I love your blog!!

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melissadishes October 2, 2010 at 5:50 pm

LOVED the mac and Cheese. then again, I adore pumpkin, cheese, cottage cheese, AND pasta

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Healthy Coconut January 20, 2011 at 10:39 pm

I bookmarked this recipe and hope to make it soon for me and the fiance. He loves KFC and when we do it there, I try to get a healthier option like grilled chicken, it’s still too salty for my taste :(

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Jennyb August 21, 2011 at 8:06 am

See this is why i love posts like the 7 links post! i’d never have found the healthy mac & cheese recipe otherwise. Plus even if i had just seen in it a recipe index i probably would never have looked at the post because even a healthier mac & cheese just wouldn’t be something i’d be brave enough to try. But this one i hope i will! Especially as i think i now know where i can find canned pumpkin puree in England!

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Becky September 1, 2011 at 8:05 pm

i just found your blog and have been reading all day! i am in love. i feel like we are sort of the same with the high metabolism thing just catching up to you. i never really learned how to eat all that healthy and don’t even know where to start. i work full time and never make time to make a lunch let alone dinner (my poor husband) but who wants to do those things when they get home from a long days work at 7:30 pm. not me of course. i eat fast food so much and want to cut down but don’t know many fast easy-prep lunches to take with me to work. we don’t have the greatest break room so a microwave is the only thing we have with a miniature fridge.

would you have any advice as to where i should start looking for education? a book perhaps? what book? i have no idea. where do i find out how much carbs or sodium i should have in my body.

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Janetha September 2, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Becky, I learned a lot when I did Body for LIFE. I suggest you pick up a copy of that book (it is by Bill Phillips). Also, using a day off as a make-ahead day is great.. make a bunch of brown rices, chicken breasts, etc so you have quick and easy options!

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Jennyb September 11, 2011 at 5:26 pm

finally made the mac & cheese tonight, i wasn’t sure it was going to taste as good as yours looked, i made my own puree from butternut squash as i still haven’t found any canned pumpkin near me. Seems they are very rare in the UK but i have a couple more places to try when i visit my nan next week. Anyway it was fantastic! first hot meal i’ve properly made in ages rather than a ready meal or throwing a salad together, i’ve been getting very lazy & uninspired. So thanks for a fab recipe, fingers crossed i can try it with some canned pumpkin next time too!

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Janetha September 12, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Awesome! THanks for the feedback

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Kelli Schuh May 8, 2012 at 2:39 pm

I was wondering how many calories were in the Mac and Cheese alone when you made it?:)
I know it’s been a long time since posting this, but thank God for Pinterest and allowing me to find you and help curb my mac and cheese addiction!! :):)

Thank you!

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janetha @ meals & moves May 10, 2012 at 11:15 am

I’m not sure! I use thedailyplate.com to calculate.

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Mandy August 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm

The Mac and cheese wasn’t too bad. My daughter loves Mac and cheese, and she liked it. The majority of our meals are fast food crap, so I didn’t think she would go for it. I am stopping this cycle and have made the commitment to stop the fast food, and cook decent at home, so I’m happy to have found this. Thanks!!

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Janetha August 6, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Awesome that your kiddo ate it up! Thanks for the comment!

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Maren August 27, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Just linked back to this from HEAB. I remember reading this! And sometimes I even refer to this story when I’m talking about how terrible fast food is! xoxo

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Janessa October 4, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Can the cheese be left out of the healthy mac and cheese?

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Janetha October 4, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Sure.. just use nutritional yeast!

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Janessa October 26, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Turned out amazing!!!

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Elaine C January 21, 2014 at 2:53 am

How big a can of pumpkin do you use? This is one of your most inspiring blogs, thank you :)

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Janetha January 28, 2014 at 3:42 pm

15 oz :)

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