Recreate your favorite fast foods at home

Many people are now choosing to cut out fast foods - or at least, commercially produced fast foods, because they fear that their favorite burger or pizza is doing them more harm than good, or because they have ethical concerns about the sourcing and/or production of the food. However, even the most ardent fair trade food enthusiast or health fan can experience those fast food hunger pangs when a burger or pizza or taco is required and nothing else will suffice. So, what to do?

Fortunately, with a little thought and effort, you can make delicious 'fast food' that is just as good - if not better - than the kind you may have been buying in fast food joints for years.

Insider knowledge

Rick Schaden and his father purchased Quiznos in the early 1990s, turning it into a multi-million dollar concern, and he knows a thing or two about both food and sports, which are two key ingredients for a healthy life. Rick has been involved with a number of successful food businesses, among them Live Basil Pizza and Smashburger. He is also a keen cyclist. In 2011, he launched the USA Pro Challenge, a professional cycling event that attracts huge crowds and interest. You can find out more about Rick Schaden on LinkedIn and read about some of his previous work in the food industry and other business ventures.

When it comes to food, both at his restaurants and at home, Rick strongly favors simplicity and old school food values over modern time-saving, profit-focused technological approaches. This is most clearly seen in his blog, where he shares wholesome and healthy recipes that blend 'fast food' flavor and appeal with healthy values and ingredients.

For example, Rick suggests that readers cook their own pizza at home, making tomato sauce simply by pulping tomatoes with a little salt. This is the old fashioned approach, and the key difference between it and many modern pizza sauces is simple: the old fashioned version is not laden with sugar, so it is better for your health. Similarly with the pizza crust: mass-produced pizza dough is often full of fat and sugar, so to get the genuine pizza experience, seriously reduce the fat and sugar in your dough recipe - an added benefit is that if you do this, your pizza crust will cook very quickly in a hot oven, giving you a much more authentic, tasty result. Sometimes, simplicity is all you need for better health and better taste.

You can take a similar approach to burgers. Rick advises using raw Angus beef, which has not previously been frozen and has not been through an industrial extrusion process, because it makes for a much more flavorsome, tender burger. Once the burger patty is made, put it onto a really hot, buttered grill (you can put it onto a piece of buttered foil on top of the grill, if you prefer) and when it's done, add healthy toppings such as avocado.

Vegetarian options

The taco is another fast food that is easy to make in a healthy form at home. You can increase the nutritional value by using good-quality meat, but why not ring the changes with a vegetarian version? Lentils, beans and falafel all make great taco fillings. In fact, if vegetarian options appeal to you but you just cannot give up on fast food, you may also be pleased to know that vegetarian and vegan doughnuts are very popular, and there are lots of recipes on the internet.

With Americans eating nearly 50 million burgers each year and 17% of all US restaurants being pizzerias, it is clear that the nation's love for fast food remains strong. However, with the rise in obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease all being associated with inadequate nutrition, it makes sense to temper that fast food love with some homemade, healthy versions. Why not look up a few recipes online today and indulge your urge for fast food without damaging your health or social conscience?

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