Healthful Fast Food

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I really like Mark Bittman. His cookbook  How To Cook Everything Vegetarian taught me how to make eggplant that is not too chewy, slimy, mushy, or oily (dry fry it whole until the flesh collapses!); applesauce ideas (add savory flavor like garlic, cumin, or pepper!); and so much more. I regularly refer to his 2009 article “101 Simple Salads”. So of course I was happy to read his current NY Times Magazine article  “Yes, Healthful Fast Food is Possible. But Edible?”.

I’ve been thinking about the differences in fast food restaurants, such as McDonald’s and Burger King, which I never go to, and places like Chipotle, Potbelly’s, or Panera Bread, which I go to on occasion. I don’t have the illusion that the latter restaurants are healthful, but they do seem to be better than the former. (Plus they have vegetarian options on the menu). It was interesting to read the categories these restaurants fall into- quick serve, fast casual, premium fast casual…

I agree that food does not have to be vegetarian to be healthful, and that minimally processed foods are better options than imitation meats. I disagree, though, with his vegan friends’ argument that Americans aren’t ready for rice and beans, or chickpea and spinach stew. I think that a fast food restaurant, I mean, a fast casual or premium fast casual restaurant, that served quick lunches like that would be a hit! I would much rather have a stew, salad, or casserole made with vegetables, beans, and grains over an imitation meat product.

What are your thoughts?

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