In part II of my restaurant survival guide series I take a look at the menu’s of several of the top grossing fast-food chains in Canada. For one reason or another, many of us will find ourselves in a situation where we need to rely on fast-food. Whether we sit down, take out or order in, sometimes it just makes sense. We probably know it isn’t necessarily the best choice for us, but in the context of our hectic lifestyles the convenience can be hard to turn down. I’m not here today to discourage you from the occasional use of fast-food, rather to help guide you to ensure you are better able to make decent choices when you do choose fast-food. As with my previous article, I will conduct a thorough review of the menus of each of the top grossing fast food chains and come up with what I believe are the healthiest options available.
Keep in mind that these are fast food restaurants and the healthiest items available in most categories may not be overly impressive. I am not necessarily encouraging or discouraging going to any of the restaurants that I analzye, only providing you with what I feel to be the healthiest options to choose if you do happen to be there. As with my previous article, I took into consideration nutritional value, sodium content, food group balance and calorie content when making my selections.
Fast Food Survival Guide
The restaurants that I have analyzed below below are among the highest grossing fast food chains in Canada. I applied the logic that, if they are making the most money, they are probably attracting the most customers, thus making it relevant to the most number of readers, Presented in no particular order, here are 10 of the highest grossing fast food chain restaurants in Canada:
1) Harveys (my personal favourite)
Best Burger – Grilled Veggie Burger – Order it with a multigrain bun for extra fibre.
Best Burger Alternative – Grilled Chicken / Grilled Chicken Wrap – Both decent choices.
Best Salad – Chicken Entree Salad – Greens and protein, can’t go wrong here.
2) St. Hubert
Best Salad/Side: Garden / Bangkok Salad – A tie, both have chicken breast and greens.
Best Sandwich: Grilled Chicken Breast Wrap – Chicken, lettuce and cheese in a wrap.
Best Chicken: Quarter Chicken Breast – Order it with a side of vegetables or rice.
Best Salad: Asian Cashew Chicken Salad – Greens, edamame, cashews and chicken. Wow!
Best Side Salad: – Garden Side Salad – Low in calories and high in fibre.
Best Side: – Plain Baked Potato – If you prefer it topped , avoid the bacon & cheddar.
Best Burger Alternative: Grilled Chicken Wrap – Grilled chicken is always a good sign.
Best Burger: Jr Hamburger/ Cheesy Cheddar Burger – These two are the lesser evils.
4) Mc Donald’s
Best Salad or Side – I’m Greeking Out/ Garden Fresh Side – Both are respectable options.
Best Dessert – Apple Slices with caramel dip – Skip the caramel dip and you have an apple.
Best Chicken – Chicken Snap Wrap – The best among an unappealing chicken selection.
Best Breakfast – Kale & Feta Morning Wrap – Balanced and with a high fibre content.
Best Burger – Basic Hamburger – The best of many less healthful options.
5) A & W
Best Chicken – Chicken Grill Deluxe – In a world of fried chicken, grilled chicken is good.
Best Breakfast – Breakfast Wrap – The healthiest breakfast option among some poor ones.
Best Side – Sweet Potato Fries – Not necessarily any healthier than normal fries, but novel.
Best Burger – Baby Burger – As the name suggests, the smallest and lowest calorie burger.
Best Salad – Veggie Delite/ Turkey / Tuna / Oven Roasted Chicken – Several good options.
Best Breakfast Sandwich – Egg and Cheese – Not great, but the lowest calorie option.
Best Sandwich – Turkey Breast/Roast Beef/ Oven Roasted Chicken/ Tuna – Another tie.
Best Side – Corn – A rare vegetable sighting at KFC, it beats the other sides on offer.
Best Chicken – Toasted Wrap/Toasted Twister – The lowest calorie chicken options.
I am only including two categories for KFC because, after taking a good look at the KFC menu, I came to the unsurprising realization that pretty much everything on the menu is essentialy the same thing in only a slightly different form. The quality of nutrition on offer here is not great so make sure you monitor the quantity you are eating.
8) Pizza Pizza
Best Pizza: Your customized order – See my tips on what to include & avoid below.
Include: Whole grain dough, any/all available vegetables, chicken/beef/anchovies.
Avoid: Extra cheese/sauce/seasoning/crust, salami, pepperoni, meat balls, bacon.
Best Salad: Garden Salad Entree – 50 calories and 4 grams of fibre without dressing.
Best Chicken: Chicken Strips – The best of some otherwise high calorie chicken options.
Best Pasta: Meat Lasagna – The least calories, least sodium and most fibre of all options.
9) Burger King
Best Burger: Morningstar Veggie burger – A refreshing non-meat alternative.
Best Side/Salad: Garden Side Salad – Lettuce , tomatoes, cheese. Hold the dressing.
Best Chicken: Tender Grill Chicken Sandwich- The best choice among chicken sandwiches.
Breakfast: Whole grain oatmeal – Have it with low fat milk & a banana/fruit for a complete meal.
Bakery: Multigrain bagel – Everything else has many more calories than you think.
Lunch/Bistro Boxes: Almost anything – The majority of offerings here are fine choices.
I was somewhat impressed with the great variety that some of the fast food restaurants listed above have started to offer. Clearly the food industry is starting to listen to consumer demands for healthier eating options. Even so, it was very difficult to make selections I felt comfortable with describing as the “best” at some of the restaurants. If I skipped certain categories at certain restaurants , it is because there was no selection in that category that stood out to me. Fast food is fast food at the end of the day. For those of you who may frequent fast food places not listed above, or who just want more insight into how to eat well at a fast food restaurant, I have provided a few fast food survival tips below. Enjoy!