Fast food you should eat.

Fast food you should eat.

Convenience, cost, and taste are why Americans choose fast food. Fast food consumption has increased dramatically – up 5x since the 1970s, and now 1 in 3 children eat fast food daily, according to a study in Pediatrics. Fast food is clearly meeting a need. Parents are busy. Budgets are tight. Families need quick, convenient low-cost food options, and fast food delivers. So I say, “Go ahead, eat fast food!” – but with a caveat.

What if wholesome, nutritious, healthy foods were fast? What if you could prepare a healthy meal in less time than it takes to drive to McDonald’s and order a Big Mac? I’m a busy mom just like you. Most nights I’m lucky if I have 15 minutes of uninterrupted time to prepare a healthy meal. If it’s going to make it in our house, it needs to be fast AND healthy. Instead of fighting the tide, I decided to assemble a no-fail list of healthy, fast foods. Foods that I can prepare and cook in a matter of minutes, and are guaranteed to be home runs at our family table.

My current favorite is kale chips. They are an easy, healthy fast food that your kids are sure to enjoy (their nutty flavor is akin to seaweed).  Start with a fresh bunch of dark green kale – preferably lacinto (“dino”) kale.  Bonus: They are easy enough for a 5 year old to prepare, which wins them more points in my book. This is the kind of fast food I can get into.

Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: about 15 minutes

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F
  2. Wash kale.  Peel or cut leaves from center stalk. Chop into medium size pieces. Pat dry.
  3. Toss in 1Tbsp of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt.
  4. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  5. Bake about 15 minutes, or until crisp. Cool then serve.


Fruits and veggies may not beat fast food on cost, but they can definitely compete on speed. Healthy food can be fast food too! For more ideas and a free set of printable healthy, fast food recipes your kids can cook visit

Jennifer Tyler Lee

Jennifer Tyler Lee is the author of The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year (Penguin Random House/Avery 2014) and the creator of the award-winning series of healthy eating games, Crunch a Color®.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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