Life in the Fast Food Lane

by Leanne Ely, C.N.C.

If you're like me, there are times in my week where fast food is an absolute necessity. But here's the rub: I don't do drive-thru's. Instead, I make my own fast food. Consider how much it costs on a weekly basis to do drive-thru--even if you go cheap and get water to drink--it really adds up fast. And when you consider the health hazard awaiting you at Mickey D's--one pass through the drive thru can add up to a whopping 82 grams of fat if you order a super-sized meal--it just makes more (dollars and) sense to eat at home.

Now for the fast part of the equation. I have one dinner that I call the 911 Emergency dinner. It just plain could not get any faster than this. But what's great about it, is that it's healthy, low in fat and absolutely delicious--no kidding.

Here's the recipe:

Emergency Dinner!

Serves 3

  • 2 1/4 cups brown rice -- use Uncle Ben's Instant variety unless you have some already cooked.
  • 15 ounce can of black beans, -- drained (or equivalent of homemade)
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, lowfat -- shredded

Cook rice according to directions and heat the beans up. By the time the beans have heated through, the rice will be done. This meal takes 3 minutes to make.

Divvy up and serve, top with cheese, salsa, and low fat sour cream. If you're really gonna get crazy, give 'em a warm tortilla with about living la vida loca...

Per serving: 652 Calories (kcal); 6g Total Fat; (7% calories from fat); 21g Protein; 127g Carbohydrate; 2mg Cholesterol; 499mg Sodium

While beans and rice may not be the most exciting, thrilling recipe on the block, it wins hands down over a Big Mac or other nutritional nightmare, any day of the week. The addition of cheese, salsa and sour cream make it an often asked for meal in our house. If you are in a huge hurry, you could even throw this in a plastic bowl and let the kids eat it in the minivan on the way to soccer practice.

I cannot guarantee the cleanliness of such a proposal, however. You're on your own there.

Leanne Ely is a New York Times best selling author of Body Clutter and the popular Saving Dinner cookbook series. According to Woman's Day Magazine, she is the expert on family cooking.

Leanne's syndicated newspaper column, The Dinner Diva can be found in 250 newspapers nationwide and in Canada. Her vast broadcast experience includes media satellite tours, QVC several times as well as guesting on several national television shows, including HGTV's Simple Solutions, ABC Family's Living the Life, Ivanhoe's Smart Woman, Small Talk for Parents and Talk of the Town. She has guest chef-ed on the cooking show, Carolina Cooks and has taught cooking classes all over the country for Bloomingdale's.

In addition, she is a seasoned radio personality. Leanne's own radio show, Heart of A Woman aired during drive time in two major California markets, Los Angeles and San Diego. Her current show, The Dinner Diva is one of the top Blog Talk Radio shows on the Internet.

On the Internet, she pens the Food for Thought column for the immensely popular,, with over half a million readers weekly. She has been featured in Woman's Day magazine, the Chicago Tribune, St. Petersburg Times, Orange County Register - to name a few. Additionally, she is a sought after speaker and has spoken all over the country, with keynote addresses to corporate and non-profit entities. Visit Leanne Ely on Google+.

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