In this week’s news: Fast food may make grades sink fast; there’s new evidence that resveratrol in red wine may carry ancient benefits; kids diet for the darnedest reasons (i.e., the best!).
Tag: fast food
Want That Salad Super-Sized?
Watch out Chipotle, a bevy of smaller fast food chains with a healthy bent may soon be nipping at your heels. Tender Greens, LYFE Kitchen, SweetGreen and Native Foods are all among this new crop of health-conscious regional restaurant franchises luring customers with words like “grass-fed,” “seasonal,’ “sustainable” and “organic.” All are reportedly flourishing, so much so that they’ve already garnered a nickname: “farm-to-counter” eateries. The vegan chain Veggie Grill, for example, hit No. 7 on Restaurant Business magazine’s yearly list of the fastest-growing small chains, while Tender Greens (which took in over $40 million in revenue from only 12 stores) came close behind, at No. 10. Also among those to watch may be LYFE (acronym for Love Your Food Every Day) Kitchen, founded by two former McDonald’s bigwigs. Each restaurant grows herbs, uses china instead of plastic and holds its entrees to a 600 calorie maximum.
Sodium Levels? Nothing to See Here.
Until recently, a meal of chicken, stuffing, cornbread and mashed potatoes at Boston Market would have contained about 2,590 mg of salt — or 290 mg more than U.S. guidelines recommend for an entire day. Today, that same dinner tallies up at 2,000. Facing increasing pressure to make products healthier, the restaurant chain has quietly cut down on salt content in many of its dishes. The food giant is far from the only one: Hamburger Helper, Oreo cookies and McDonald’s french fries are just some of the items that have been “stealth health”-ified. You read right. Consumers may know that healthier food options are a good thing, but that doesn’t mean that they’re always excited to partake. Case in point: When McDonald’s started cooking without harmful trans fats, it was flooded with complaints of the fries tasting different — and not in a good way. As a result of such episodes, many brands are trying to make changes on the sly. Nevertheless, even though General Mills went the quiet route, slowly reducing sodium in Hamburger Helper by 50 percent over a six-year period, the product’s sales have been in steady decline since the salt reduction began.
This chain has been popping up all everywhere — there are over 1,000 locations nationwide. Find out what you should order when you stop by this booming burger and fry joint.
ORDER: Simple and “Little”
It’s tough to navigate this predominately high-calorie and high-sodium menu if you’re trying to stick to a healthy eating plan but it is possible.
If you’re itching for the Five Guys famous burger, the Bunless Little Hamburger is your best bet with 220 calories, 17 grams of fat, and 50 milligrams of sodium. Ask for veggie toppings like mushrooms, green peppers, onions, jalapeno, lettuce and tomatoes for between 3 to 10 calories each per serving.
If you’re more of a hot dog fan, the Bunless Hot Dog weighs in at 285 calories, 26 grams of fat and 800 milligrams sodium. Again, add veggies to add bulk to your meal with minimal calories.
Looking for a meatless dish? The Veggie Sandwich has 440 calories, 15 grams fat, and 1040 mg sodium.
You’re stuck on the road, or didn’t have a chance to eat and end up in some fast-food joint that’s all too conveniently placed in your neighborhood. What should you choose? Your best line of defense is to be prepared. I checked out popular fast-food restaurants and found options that can fit any calorie requirements; whether you’re looking for a quick snack or a sensibly-sized meal, I’ve got you covered.
A reasonable lunch or dinner has about 400 or 500 calories, depending on your overall calorie needs.
- Subway’s 6″ Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich: This pretty tasty sandwich is a perfectly portioned for lunch or dinner. Order with a small bag of baked chips and bottle of water. CALORIES: 500
- Arby’s Roast Turkey and Swiss Wrap: Order with a bottle of water or small unsweetened brewed iced tea. CALORIES: 495
- Panera’s Chopped Chicken Cobb Salad with Avocado: Swap the standard Greek dressing with for reduced fat balsamic vinaigrette. CALORIES: 490
- Pizza Hut’s Veggie Lover’s Pizza (2 slices): Enjoy ¼ of a 14” Large Thin ‘N Crispy Veggie Lover’s Pizza with a tall glass of water. CALORIES: 480
When I heard the results of this recent study, I wasn’t too surprised. For years, I’ve been privately counseling folks who fall both above and below the poverty line. I’ve seen the patterns and am glad there is now statistical data to prove it. Cost has always been blamed for poor eating habits, but it’s the middle class folks who are most obese. They’re spending their hard earned money on fast food and other convenience cuisine.
Findings for the 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found:
- Thirty million (or 41%) of obese adults have an income at or above 250% of the poverty level and over 28 million (39%) of obese adults have incomes between 130%-350% of the poverty level while fifteen million adults (20%) of obese adults have an income below 130% of the poverty level.
- For men, there was no significant difference between education level and the prevalence of obesity. For women, however, the prevalence of obesity increased as education level decreased.
- Middle income folks eat at fast food joints most often while 80% of those with a low income cook at home at least 5 times a week.
McDonald’s may best be known for its hamburgers, but the fast-food chain is changing out its trademark beef patties for the potato variety—well, in India at least. The fast-food chain is planning to open two new vegetarian-only restaurants in the predominately Hindu and Muslim country next year; menu items will include locally-inspired dishes like the Mcaloo Tikki, a burger made with a breaded potato and pea patty, special vegetable sauce, ketchup, red onion and two slices of tomato. The restaurant will also offer the McCurry Pan, a dish of curried broccoli, baby corn, mushrooms and red bell pepper that’s baked in a crust.
McDonald’s locations in India already don’t sell beef or pork, and the kitchens are separated into vegetarian and non-vegetarian sections. The new restaurants are set for locations in “northern Indian cities that are pilgrimage sites for Hindus and Sikhs,” according to Rajesh Kumar Maini, a spokesman for the company’s north and east Indian operations who was quoted in a recent article.
To learn more, read the full article.
What do you think about the chain’s vegetarian options? Is it a ploy to get customers in the door, or just a new localized offering?
Car trips are a fun way to spend time with your family, but with most rest stops fronting fast food joints, healthy eating can seem impossible. If you’re tired of continually saying NO to fast food—ease up, there are healthier choices you can make. Check out our list so you’re prepared on your next trip.
It was refreshing to see several healthy options provided on the Wendy’s website including the Grilled Chicken Go Wrap (pictured above) with a side of small chili (totaling 470 calories for the meal). The problem is, I’m not sure I’d want to be in a car with someone who just had chili! Luckily, you can opt for the baked potato instead or even the wrap with a small side salad (also for 470 calories). Looking to cut calories down? Wendy’s allows you to hold ingredients (like cheese or sour cream) so you tailor the meal to your liking.
Check out more healthy Wendy’s options.
Order: Fresh and Light
When it comes to tackling the food court, most malls offer the usual suspects of the fast food world. Use our guides make the smartest choices at McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Subway and Wendy’s.
A salad with vinaigrette dressing (on the side) or a small cup of soup are usually the most sensible options. Check your local mall’s website ahead of time to see which chain restaurants they feature, then download the nutrition info from the company’s website.
Not: Buttery and Sugary
While the smell of butter-drenched pretzels and over-sized chocolate chip cookies are calling out to you, these classic mall goodies can pack in more than 350 calories each. That pretzel also contains more than 40% of the daily recommended amount of sodium, while the cookie boasts 17 grams of total fat and 8 grams of saturated fat. The show-stopper just might be the ooey-gooey cinnamon bun, coming it a holiday-wrecking 880 calories and 36 grams of fat each!
Think sipping on a smoothie or festive coffee drink is better? Think again. A medium-sized smoothie or whipped cream-topped gingerbread latte will also pack in more than 300 sugar-filled calories.
Is veganism on the rise? 7-Eleven sure thinks so; they’re now offering ready-to-eat vegan meals in about 100 locations in four Northeast states. The convenience chain’s stores in Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey are selling Vegan Linguine Tikka Masala, Vegan Pad Thai Noodles, Vegan Asian Linguine, and Vegan Spinach Noodles with Vegetables.
And 7-Eleven isn’t the only chain offering vegan options these days. Johnny Rockets, best known for its milkshakes, serves a vegan Boca burger with grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mustard called the Streamliner.
Order a pie from Pizza Hut and ask for vegan sauce, or try Little Caesars, Papa John’s and Chuck E. Cheese for vegan sauce and dough. Heap on the vegetables and you’ve got quite the veggie-friendly meal.
For even more Italian, vegans can visit Macaroni Grill and chow down on capellini pomodoro with oil and garlic, or order Tomato Bruschetta sans cheese.
Quiznos Subs serves up a veggie sub with guacamole, black olives, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and mushrooms, just hold the cheese and ask for dairy-free vinaigrette or mustard. If lettuce wraps are more your style, stop by P.F. Chang’s for Tofu Lettuce Wraps with mushrooms, green onions and water chestnuts served over crispy rice sticks.
No need to skip dessert, just stop by Dairy Queen. The confectionery boasts Star Kiss bars or cherry, grape, blue raspberry, lemon line, watermelon and kiwi strawberry slushies—all of which are vegan, of course.
What do you think of the vegan convenience-food trend?