McDonalds’ Chef Considers Menu to be Healthy

McDonald’s senior director of culinary innovation, “chef” Daniel Coudreaut, was recently interviewed by Lisa Abraham, a Beacon Journal food writer.

Besides chef Coudreaut’s crazy statement that he “doesn’t see anything on the menu that’s unhealthy,” he was promoting the “healthy” items on McDonald’s menu.

It made me giggle that he’s an actual “chef” – a chef??! at McDonald’s??? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

He should be refer to himself as a chemist, because there is nothing chef-like about creating the “food products” at McDonald’s, and there certainly isn’t anything healthy about them either.

It’s all about choice, balance and moderation. There are healthful items on the McDonald’s menu — oatmeal, yogurt parfaits, salads, grilled chicken and low-fat milk.

Stop right there! These are what he considers the healthful items at McDonalds? Oatmeal, yogurt parfaits, salads, grilled chicken and low-fat milk?

Time to dissect each one!

McDonald’s Oatmeal

Yes! In our nation’s current obesity crisis, oatmeal with 32g of sugar is something to be proud of. I suppose it beats the 42g of fat in a double quarter pounder!

Sure, you can order the oatmeal without brown sugar & cranberry raisin mix, but what average McDonald’s patron is going to do that? They see the word oatmeal, and it immediately brings to mind something healthy.

And McDonald’s preys on that misconception!

In reality, what is the difference between their loaded up oatmeal and any one of the sugar-laden dry cereals like Honey Smacks or Fruit Loops?

McDonald’s Yogurt Parfait

McDonald’s Yogurt Parfaits are probably one of the sneakiest items on their menu. At least with a Big Mac, you know what you are getting!

Just like oatmeal, consumers have considered yogurt synonymous with a healthy food item, but most commercial flavored yogurts are loaded with refined sugar; McDonald’s yogurt parfaits are no exception, with 23g of sugar in their 5.2 oz (149g) serving.

Even if you just ate their yogurt “plain”, you’d still be getting 16g of sugar because they’ve added refined sugar PLUS fructose in their ingredients. And it’s only a 3 oz serving.

In comparison, a container of low-fat plain Stonyfield yogurt is 6 oz and contains 11g of sugar (natural dairy sugar). That’s 5.5g sugar if you match McDonald’s 3 oz serving. So, if you opt for McDonald’s yogurt, you’re getting 3x the sugar! What is healthy about that???

McDonald’s Salads

Next is Salads. Yeah, we all know how misrepresented salads are in restaurants. It’s been repeated over and over in a trillion different ways on TV and in print! But we still don’t listen.

Actually, it’s really not the salads that are unhealthy, it’s the dressing slobbering all over the salad that makes it unhealthy. Can you believe that 2 fl oz of Newman’s Own Creamy Caesar dressing (that’s 2 Tbsp) is 190 calories: 18g fat and 500mg sodium. All for a “healthy” salad!

McDonald’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich

You probably thought I could give McDonald’s Grilled Chicken a pass, right? Wrong. Grilled chicken, made at home, can be healthy, if it’s just plain chicken.

But add a McDonald’s white flour bun & cheese, slap on some mayo and you’ve got 400 calories with 13g of fat, 840g sodium, and 8g of sugar. Yikes!

If you think that eating just their chicken by itself would be a healthy choice, you’d also be wrong.

Look at the ingredients in one piece of grilled chicken:

Chicken breast fillet with rib meat, water, seasoning (rice starch, salt, sugar, yeast extract, canola oil, onion powder, maltodextrin, chicken skin, paprika, flavor, sunflower oil, chicken, garlic powder, chicken fat, spices), sodium phosphates.

Prepared with Liquid Margarine: Liquid soybean oil and hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oils, water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, salt, soy lecithin, mono-and diglycerides, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (preservatives), artificial flavor, citric acid, vitamin A palmitate, beta carotene (color).

They’ve even sneaked some sugar in the “seasoning” and I just love their “liquid margarine” – GROSS!

Low Fat Milk

Okay, I will give the low-fat milk a pass, although I’m not convinced that low fat dairy is all that healthy, but that’s for another discussion.

Junk Food is Still Just Junk Food Even with Fancy McMarketing

So, I’m not going to lie and state that I never ever go to McDonald’s, but when I go, I’m not fooling myself into thinking I’m eating something healthy.

It’s junk food. It’s ALL junk food.

From the oatmeal to the fish filet, it’s junk food and it’s time we STOP allowing corporate Food’s CEOs and “chefs” to continue feeding us their misleading marketing myths!

Wake up and smell the oatmeal!

Resist Trader Joe’s Jarred Roasted Red Peppers from Peru

I was perusing the new Fearless Flyer from Trader Joe’s and saw their jarred roasted red peppers were being showcased.

I normally try to buy organic peppers (unless it’s from a local farm), since peppers are on the Dirty Dozen list of conventionally grown produce to avoid. I’ve seen these jarred roasted red peppers at the local Trader Joe’s stores, and while the cheap $1.99 price tag was very tempting, I’ve always resisted.

Their Fearless Flyer description “They’re grown in Peru, where the strength of the sun’s rays gives these peppers a brilliant red hue” — wow, they make it sound so good, right? I can picture a quiet field of peppers quietly growing in the Peruvian sun.

I googled Pesticides on Produce from Peru and found that there is a scary amount of imported produce contaminated with illegal pesticides. Peru is on the list to avoid, along with, of course, China and Mexico, and other countries like Guatemala, Dominican Republic, and India.

Now I’m glad I’ve resisted, and I will continue to buy jarred organic roasted red peppers instead, or better yet, I should try making my own and freeze. Sorry Trader Joe’s.

Slow Down, Relax, Enjoy Food

Lately, I have had a terrible habit of eating way too fast. I’m downing my meals so quickly, I barely have time to taste them. I’ve noticed that I’m also more hungry lately too, like hungry right after I’ve eaten a full meal. I know it’s because I’m not allowing myself to enjoy what I’m eating and not giving enough time for my stomach to tell my brain that it’s full.

I used to be a better/slower eater, but for some reason, the last few months, I’ve backtracked.

So, just a few minutes ago, I ate a banana for my mid-morning snack, and I s-l-o-w-e-d down and savored the taste and texture of the banana. I’m going to make a conscious effort to try the same with all my meals.

900 Days of Logging at MyFitnessPal

Today I am celebrating my 900th straight day of logging into Next month, it’ll be 3 years since I started on my healthy journey! What a wonderful experience this has been!

It all started with a quote on a Facebook friend’s wall on July 20th, 2009:

God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.

After various unsuccessful attempts to “get healthier”, I saw her post, and for some reason, it clicked! I knew this time would be different, I knew this time I was going to stick to it no matter what!

I started tracking my calories on, but a few days later, I found that was better, so I copied all my food info from fitday. Ever since then, I’ve been logging in and tracking my food, even before MFP kept track of the total log-in days. I don’t think I missed more than one or two days of tracking, even while on vacation.

I wasn’t always perfect in the foods I chose, but I logged them anyway, and now looking back, it’s awesome to have a record of my food diary, and how I’ve evolved through the years.

In fact, here is a screen shot of food diary on July 21st (click for larger version):

first day of food diary

During the last 3 years, I have lost (and maintained) 65+/- pounds. I’ve never felt healthier! I’m going to be 50 this year, and I didn’t feel this good, with so much energy at 30!

Life is good! Happy 900th day, next stop 1000!

Project Food Budget / My Healthy Budget: June Month 8 / Week 1

Project: Food Budget Weekly total: $148.31

My healthy budget goal is to eat seasonal (local if possible,) home-cooked meals while sticking to a $400 $350 $400 monthly budget for all food including groceries, dining out, entertaining, vitamins/supplements, and gardening.

There’s two of us eating (mostly) 3 meals per day. My husband occasionally eats take-out lunch at work, & that $ comes out of his personal cash stash.

June – Month Eight, Week One

This week, I’ve spent $148.31. (It’s always a big first week of the month, but wow, this was a doozie!) That leaves $251.69 for the rest of June.

I’ve decided to stick with my original monthly $400 budget to give myself some leeway. If I can remain under $400 for June, I’ll be happy.

Dining Out: $20.00
Entertaining: $0
Gardening: $0
Groceries: $91.80
Vitamins/Supplements: $36.51

Store % Spending

This week, I received an email from Whole Foods for an online survey, and one of the questions asked the percentage of shopping I do at Whole Foods. I initially assumed it was around 75%, but it got me thinking. How much DO I spend at Whole Foods Market?

I dug into my reports in MS Money and discovered that from Jan – May 2012, I spent 45% of my grocery dollars at Whole Foods, along with 23% at Market Basket, 10% for my meat CSA, & 9% at Trader Joe’s. Hmm, interesting.

Still curious, I dug deeper, and during the same time-frame last year (Jan-May, 2011), I spent a whopping 84%of my grocery dollars at Whole Foods and 11% at Market Basket. Wow! What a difference a little frugality makes, huh?

I am now more conscious of my spending; I’m planning my shopping lists, looking for sales/coupons, tracking prices, and carefully deciding which store(s) will give me the best choices that week!

Spending Details

Phew, I always spend a lot the first week of the month, but this week was really over the top! I bought fish oil supplements, some grains, and lots of fresh produce! Plus, I’m trying to use up some of the CSA meat in the freezer. Big big first week! If this keeps up, I will be over my budget in week 3! (affiliate link) $54.11 – they were offering 14% VIP discount! I ordered Nordic Naturals DHA (180ct) fish oil capsules, (2) 5lb bags of Bob’s Red Mill WW flour, Bob’s corn flour, Bob’s 7 Grain cereal, Bob’s pealed barley, Bob’s bulgar (& fish oil for dogs’ which is on a separate budget)

Wilson Farm (large local farm) $32.28: their-own radishes (w/ greens), their-own sugar snap peas, (2) their-own lettuces, their-own extra large eggs, HUGE bundle of NJ beets w/ greens, (2) pints CT strawberries, 3+ bag o’ GA vidalia onions, organic SC nectarines/peaches, and a few plums.

Trader Joe’s $22.88: seedless watermelon, (5) bananas, 5lb bag o’ organic potatoes, (2) peanuts (found out later he didn’t charge for one), almonds, organic raisins, red wine vinegar, feta cheese, organic half/half (DH), and I had a refund for the dry/bitter grapefruit from a couple of weeks ago.

Meat CSA $19.04: pork baby back ribs and 1 lb ground beef(Luckily, products from the Meat CSA are paid in full, so technically no real money is actually spent, but I apply the cost to my budget as we consume it.)

Week of Meals

  • Thursday: baked scallops (local) with brown rice, roasted onions, and a special salad from my garden!
  • Friday: Fried egg topped over frozen corn, with huge fresh salad with green leaf lettuce, radish greens, snap peas, celery & carrots
  • Saturday: Take Out
  • Sunday: Baby back ribs with roasted potatoes & onions and a big veggie salad (lettuce, radishes, snap peas, carrots)
  • Monday: Brown rice & beans veg soup with tomatoes, beet greens, jalapeño pepper
  • Tuesday: Leftover soup with leftover rice & beans & an added fried egg and a small lettuce radish salad
  • Wednesday: Beef oat flax burger with brown rice, steamed beets & small lettuce radish salad

Want to Join the Project Food Budget?

project food budget

It’s never too late to join the Project Food Budget!

If you’d like to participate, get the details and let Emily know you’re on board!

Here’s who else is budgeting this week:

No CSA For Me – Regrets? Or Not?

No, I didn’t sign up for Farmer Dave’s vegetable CSA this season.

Part of me is experiencing remorse, reading their newsletters, remembering the exciting “countdown” to the first pickup.

I remember the first joy of eating raw snap peas fresh from the farm. Because of the CSA, I learned about so many cool veggies like garlic scapes, husk cherry tomatoes, and kohrabi. In fact, one of my favorite foods is now tatsoi, a vegetable that’s rarely sold in conventional grocery stores. I also realized that I really like the taste of radishes and turnips.

first csa pickup from farmer dave

Yes, I am a little regretful that I didn’t register, but another part of me is thrilled by the freedom to try other local farmers markets and the ability to purchase exactly what I need when I need it.

I’ve participated in the CSA for the prior two years, and while it was totally worth the $ spent, I couldn’t ignore the negatives were beginning to outweigh the positives.

My reasons for not joining this season:

  1. There was a lot of produce to process (wash, store, etc) and at times I found it overwhelming, coming home with a large bundle late in the afternoon, when it was time to also start preparing dinner. It will be nice to shop in the morning, on my “own” time.
  2. It was difficult to create new & different recipes for the same produce week after week. Greens, greens, greens! We were getting tired of so many leafy greens!
  3. I had cravings for other produce like carrots, broccoli, or cabbage, but there usually wasn’t enough time/space to buy much of anything else before the next CSA pick-up.
  4. Sometimes, the produce we’d get one week, would last us well into the following week and worse, some of it had to be thrown out, which is shameful! I need to take back control over the amount of produce coming in, so I can eliminate waste!
  5. Whether I need to shop once or twice a week, or even every 10 days, I will be in charge of exactly what I need and when I need it. If we are going on vacation, it will be so much easier to plan my food.
  6. Lastly, if all goes well, I’m hoping my own vegetable garden will reward me for all my hard work with some delightful edibles. I might not need to buy so much produce this season! whoo hooo!

Don’t get me wrong, I still do highly recommend CSA’s, especially if you haven’t tried one before. They are a wonderful way to support your local farmer and you really do get to experience a vast amount of awesome (and unique) produce!

It’s just, for me, after two years, I needed a break.

We’ll see how it goes this season. I might be begging to come back to Farmer Dave’s CSA, but then again, maybe I’ll have found my gardening niche and next year, I’ll be self-sustainable. Ha, now wouldn’t THAT be cool!

Want to learn more about Farmer Dave and their CSA? Read my reviews from 2010 and 2011:

Recycling Bags, Jars, and Other Containers

Today, I found a great article with tips on washing, drying and storing plastic bags.

I created my own drying rack this morning and it works really well! I used a taller glass jar filled with old dried beans (saved in case I wanted to make a pie crust someday! ha!) and 4 metal skewers. See article for details and photo!

Reusing Plastic Baggies

I always try to reuse my plastic zip bags, especially the freezer bags, but there is so much more to do.

How about produce bags from the grocery? I keep a stash of gently-used produce bags along-side my re-usable grocery/shopping bags so I always have a bag ready when I pick out my produce every week.

I’ve also found that it’s easy to also re-use citrus mesh bags for produce as well. Either at the store, or in the fridge to keep veggies like lettuce, celery or carrots fresh. The mesh allows the produce to “breathe” – and you can keep on using them again and again! I usually cut out the UPC barcode to prevent the cashier from accidentally scanning it again.

It’s also helpful to the local farmer if you bring your own produce bags to the farmer’s markets and farm stores. And speaking of farmers, I also try to give back the little berry/tomato pints & elastics so they can re-use for next time. If your local egg farmer wants their egg cartons back, be sure to do that as well.

One more use for older baggies is for your dog walks, especially ones that you don’t feel comfortable using again, like bags containing raw meat or oily substances. We have a little pouch filled with used plastic bags to pick up our dogs’ “business” – works great!

Glass Jars & Bottles

My buddy Angela over at Test Kitchen Tuesday reminded me that it’s also important to reuse glass jars.

I was saving my glass jars, but rarely used them for anything except to pour cooking grease for the trash. I was under the impression that jar covers were retaining the stronger odors, like salsa or jelly. Angela converted me. I’m now re-using my glass jars for storage: dried beans, grains, nuts, coconut, seeds. In the fridge or in the pantry, it all works!

As for retained odors, I have found that good air circulation is very helpful when the jars are empty. Don’t keep the lids tightly on the jar when you aren’t using them.

Glass jars and bottles are also great salad dressing shakers. And if you have too much dressing, you can easily store what’s left in the fridge.

One thing to keep in mind is most glass container lids do contain BPA, so be careful when re-using. I believe that it’s heat that causes the most problems with BPA, but you never can be too careful.

Other Plastic Containers

And one more item I like to reuse is plastic containers, like the ones from the bulk isle at Whole Foods; they’re great for storing dry goods, and also handy at parties when guests want to bring home leftovers. Empty quart-size yogurt containers are excellent for freezing soups and stock.

I like to think I’m a pretty good recycler, but I’m sure there are things I can improve on. I’m working on that.

Does anyone else have any ideas for reusing?

Gardening Diary: Food!

Got another harvest of lettuce yesterday AM, along with a few pea tendrils, and sprigs of basil & parsley. We each feasted on a small side salad for dinner.

I can’t wait for my garden to take off, but in the meantime, Wilson Farm (a local large farm) is offering their own fresh produce, as well as a few other offerings from states closeby.

I scooped up some of their own sugar snap peas, radishes, lettuce along with strawberries from CT.

Life is good!