Healthy Fast Food-Inspired Cooking Hero

Healthy Fast Food Inspired Cooking

What do you do when you’re craving your favorite chain restaurant, but their ingredients don’t match your lifestyle? You make your own version that’s not only better for you but tastes better, too! Whether you follow a keto, vegetarian or gluten-free diet, we’ve got tips for eating out and recipes to help you indulge your restaurant-inspired cravings at home.

Keto Tips

The ketogenic diet relies on a low-carb, high-fat routine. When at a restaurant or getting keto takeout, skip the sodas, breads and sauces, and opt for sides such as veggies or a salad. Instead of fried chicken, choose a grilled option. If you’re ordering from a Mexican restaurant, turn down the tortilla chips, corn, rice and beans, and load up on guacamole, salads and carne asada. Don’t be afraid to ask about keto-friendly options.

Or, instead of wasting time hunting for keto restaurant food or low-carb fast food that’s actually keto-friendly, you can make your own at home. When cooking keto, base your meals around meats, fatty fish, eggs, butter, nuts, healthy oils and low-carb veggies. For a tasty way to satisfy fast food cravings, swap unhealthy fried onion rings for a diet-approved, bacon-wrapped alternative.

Air Fryer Keto Onion Rings

Inspired by your favorite fast-food restaurant and elevated to the next level, these keto-friendly onion rings swap the carb-heavy breading for a layer of delicately wrapped, delicious bacon.

Serves: 5

Total time: 30 minutes


  • 1 large onion
  • 1 package (16 oz.) Kroger Brand Naturally Hardwood Smoked Bacon
  • 3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. yellow mustard
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. hot pepper sauce


  1. Preheat air-fryer to 400°F. Cut onions into 1”-thick slices; separate into rings that are 2 layers thick. Save inner potions of onion for another use.
  2. Wrap each ring with a slice or two of bacon.
  3. In air fryer basket, place onion rings in single layer; cook 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway, until bacon is crisp.
  4. Meanwhile, stir together mayonnaise, mustard, garlic salt and hot pepper sauce.
  5. Serve onion rings with mustard sauce. Refrigerate leftovers.

Plant-Based Tips

Opening a menu to find an entire section dedicated to vegetarian-friendly food is becoming more common as plant-based diets continue to grow in popularity. Not long ago, a craving for vegan Chinese food might have taken you on a search around the city, but now, thanks to a variety of meatless alternatives, sometimes the hardest part about ordering a plant-based meal is deciding which option sounds most satisfying.

But eating out isn’t always possible, and there are still places where plant-based options are limited. Bypass ingredient anxiety by enjoying a restaurant-worthy, plant-based meal at home. Whip up cauliflower wings for the big game, or enjoy sweet potato and cabbage tacos next Taco Tuesday. Want a better-for-you version of the ultimate American classic? Tempt your taste buds with a vegan-friendly “cheeseburger.”

Plant-Based Cheeseburger

Made with plant-based patties and dairy-free toppings, these “cheeseburgers” please the palates of vegans and omnivores alike.

Serves: 2

Total time: 22 minutes


  • 1 lb. Simple Truth™ Emerge Plant-Based Meatless Grind
  • ½ cup Daiya Deluxe Dairy Free Cheeze Sauce
  • ½ cup Simple Truth Organic™ Red Salsa
  • ½ cup Simple Truth Organic™ Non-Dairy Sour Cream
  • 2 leaves iceberg lettuce
  • 1 Roma tomato, sliced
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • 2 brioche buns
  • Salt
  • Ground pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Form grind into two patties; season with salt and pepper.
  2. In medium pan, heat oil until slightly smoking. Sear patties on one side; flip. Transfer pan to oven; cook 8 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix together sour cream and salsa.
  4. On each patty, spread an even amount of cheeze sauce. In same pan used to cook burgers, arrange buns face-down to toast.
  5. On each bun, layer one burger patty, salsa-cream mixture, lettuce, tomato and onion.

Gluten-Free Tips

Gluten is found in wheat, rye and barley, as well as a wide variety of foods you wouldn’t expect, which can make finding good gluten-free fast food or restaurant options difficult. If you’re meeting up with friends, choose an establishment that has gluten-free options and explain your dietary restrictions to your server. However, for a delicious gluten-free meal, you can always just head to the kitchen.

With a few savvy swaps, you can enjoy gluten-free versions of your old go-to menu items. If a recipe calls for flour, breading or thickeners, swap in gluten-free flour, cornstarch or arrowroot flour. Substitute soy sauce with coconut aminos, burger buns with lettuce wraps and pasta with veggie noodles. Recreate crowd-pleasing chicken nuggets at home by coating them in a simple, gluten-free breading.

Gluten-Free Chicken Tenders

Coated in a gluten-free breading and fried to crispy, golden perfection, these chicken tenders are full of mouthwatering flavor and ready to dip into your favorite sauce.

Serves: 4

Total time: 30 minutes


  • 1 lb. chicken tenders, rinsed, patted dry and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup arrowroot or tapioca starch
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup fine gluten-free cornmeal
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil


  1. Lay out two sheets of waxed paper.
  2. Mix together arrowroot starch or tapioca starch, salt, pepper and baking powder; spread on one sheet of waxed paper. Spread cornmeal on other piece of waxed paper.
  3. In small bowl, beat together egg and milk.
  4. Dredge tenders in starch mixture, then in egg mixture then coat in cornmeal.
  5. In heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat oil to 365°F. Fry chicken tenders until golden, 3-4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

There are always new ways to enjoy the foods you love – no matter your dietary preferences. Visit our specialty diet shop for more recipes, inspiration and foods that support your lifestyle.

Healthy Fast Food Inspired Meal Ideas

Need some recipe inspiration? Here are some delicious healthy fast food inspired meals to incorporate in your meal prep this week.