Guide to the best Fast Foods in the United Kingdom

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Guide to the best Fast Foods in the United Kingdom

What are “fast foods”? Are they foods we prepare ouselves? Are they foods we buy ready made? Are they foods which take very little time to cook? Are they foods which take very little time to eat? Whatever they are should we be eating them?

However we choose to describe them there is no doubt in my mind the best fast foods are ones we prepare ourselves. We get to select the ingredients and, if we have any sense, will be choosing the very best we can afford. Claiming we are “time poor” is no excuse for opting out of responsibility for what we eat. There are thousands of recipes available in hundreds of cookery books that show you exactly to prepare and cook nutritious food very quickly. My own breakfast, the recipe for which is given later, is ready to eat in three minutes.

The list of totally disgusting things to eat masquerading as “fast food” is substantial and the topic of another article. Let us concentrate on food that is nutritious and free from artificial flavour enhancers (why would nutritious food need flavour enhancers?), excessive amounts of salt, saturated fats and transfats.

The original fast food was probably the humble sandwich. Have you seen the contents list for some sandwiches sold in supermarkets and the like? Unbelievable. Chemicals, salt and fats galore – and that’s just the bread. They have to include lots of these to extend the shelf life and avoid wastage but price them up with big margins. Why not make your own bread? Can’t be bothered? “Time poor”? Rubbish. Maximum of ten minutes to put ingredients in bread maker, press appropriate buttons, remove bread when baked and wipe machine clean. Do you honestly have an excuse for not doing this? Not only that you get to choose the flour which is readily available minus the additives that are used by professional bakers. Wholemeal is best but a mix of wholemeal and brown – some machines cannot do 100% wholemeal – is fine. Your machine can make a lot of other things too.

What to put in your sandwich? It is up to you of course but you are free to choose your own quality ingredients. As there is a certain amount of salt and fat in bread these should be avoided in the filling if possible and certainly kept to a minimum. The sandwich remains one of the best fast foods for sure.

Other good fast foods include soups made in advance, portioned and frozen; ideal with your home-made bread. Stir fried vegetables in olive or sunflower oil, ready in minutes with cold or grilled chicken (minus the skin). Or choose a salad with all sorts of leaves, berries, nuts, seeds and fruit drizzled with good olive oil. The list is limited only by your imagination and your perception of “fast”. Is twenty minutes cooking rice or pasta too long – given that you can do a lot of other things whilst they are cooking? There is no need to add salt to any cooking water by the way. Steaming is a quick way to cook vegetables and rice and limits the loss of nutrients; much preferred to boiling.

Despite all these lovely things you can rustle up in minutes the ultimate fast food is fruit. No other foodstuff packs so much nutrition in such a small package and limited preparation is needed. You could argue long into the night which is the best but for me the banana comes out on top just ahead of the apple.

So, for me the best fast food is fruit. Sandwiches made with home-baked bread and any combination of vegetables with grilled meat or fish then salads follow on. Absolutely nothing bought pre-cooked or “ready to eat” in a shop qualifies.

Finally my breakfast recipe. Half a cup of whole grain oats with same volume semi-skimmed milk in a bowl and microwaved for two minutes. Add a handful of seasonal berries, handful of raisins, handful of assorted nuts (almonds, walnuts), two dessert spoons of mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame). That is it. No added sugar or salt. Nutritious and filling.

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