7 Ways to Make Lower-Calorie Versions of Fast Food Treats ...

Everybody loves to treat themselves to fast food every once in a while. But given that fast food tends to be high in calories and fats, it's not exactly healthy. An occasional unhealthy meal won't do you any harm. But if you want to eat fast-food style without eating unhealthily, you could try making healthier, lower-calorie versions of the fast food treats you love …

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Given their name, we know that fries are very high in calories. Frying anything means that it absorbs a lot of fat. Try baking potato wedges in the oven instead. They'll only need a little oil, although you should baste the wedges several times so that they cook evenly. You could also slice the potatoes thinly and put them under the grill; the close heat source means that they'll crisp nicely.

2. Burgers

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Burgers also bump the calorie count up rather too much, especially if you add cheese. Make your own burgers using minced turkey, which is leaner than red meat, and grill them. Vegetarian burgers are also low in calories, and there are so many different recipes; try using mushrooms for a 'meaty' texture and flavor.

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If you often order a pizza when you're hungry and don't want to cook, make a batch of lower-calorie pizza and freeze. Roll the base out as thinly as possible, and cover with tomato purée and vegetables or chicken. Leave off higher-calorie items like pepperoni and cheese, and serve your pizza with a large salad so that you eat less of the pizza.

4. Chinese Food

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Chinese food is delicious, but ordering takeout can mean a hefty intake of calories. But you can make a tasty, lower-calorie version at home. Make a stir fry in a wok, which is designed to use very little oil, and serve it with plain rice rather than egg-fried rice. You can also make steamed dumplings and a light soup.

5. Curries

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Curry on its own can be high in calories - and that's without the poppadoms and bhajis we often eat with it. Cut the calories at home by choosing dishes like chicken tikka, which is grilled, and lower-calorie curries such as vegetable or chicken (do use minimal oil). Accompany your meal with a cucumber raita made with low-fat yogurt.

6. Southern Fried Chicken

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It may be tasty, but southern fried chicken is very high in fat and cholesterol. Happily it's simple to make a healthier version at home. Start by removing the skin from the chicken, and you've already cut quite a few calories. Then bake the chicken in the oven, spraying it with a cooking spray. Serve with steamed vegetables for a light accompaniment.

7. Muffins

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Do you often grab a muffin for breakfast or as a snack? Delicious as they are, they also tend to be high in calories. Make your own lower-calorie versions instead. Look for recipes with buttermilk, which means less butter is needed. Fruit, nuts and whole wheat flour add bulk without adding too many calories.

We all love fast food, and there are time when it's convenient or we just crave a takeout. By tweaking recipes and using different ways of cooking, you can still eat fast food but without the hefty calories usually involved. What is your favorite fast food treat?

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