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Starbucks’ New Stuff Roundup

27 May

Starbucks’ New Stuff Roundup

“It’s time to start thinking of Starbucks for great food”.

Or so says the promo material for the new La Boulange line of “artisanal pastries” being offered at the ubiquitous coffee shop.

La Boulange Bakery is a San Francisco institution that has been serving up “fantastic brunches and healthful lunches” in the Bay Area since the 1990s. You may have never been to La Boulange, but if you’ve been to a Starbucks in the past month, you’ve no doubt been bombarded with the advertising blitz featuring the new line of pastries.

Why did Starbucks partner with La Boulange? Well, it certainly wasn’t to improve your health! According to the company’s FAQs, somehow, “Through this great partnership, we are able to make your Starbucks experience more welcoming and satisfying than ever.”

Provided that you consider white flour, butter, and copious amounts of sugar and salt welcoming and satisfying ingredients, you’ll be stoked on these new options clogging your coffee wait pastry case.

To be fair – Starbucks isn’t claiming any of these products are even remotely healthy; but it is somewhat distressing to see that not-a-one is even on the cusp of being a nutritious pick:

  • The average La Boulange pastry at Starbucks contains 7 grams of saturated fat, roughly 1/3 of your daily max. If a pastry represents 1/3 of your daily food intake, that’s fine, but let’s be honest – it doesn’t.
  • The only offering with 3 g fiber or more per serving is the Wheat Spinach Savory Square (4 g fiber/square), but it tops out at 13 g saturated fat and almost 600 mg sodium, which kind of negates the fiber factor here.
  • When taken to task on the high fat/high calorie nature of French pastries, the Starbucks site cites a, “Variety of options – from more indulgent treats to lighter bites with as few as 170 calories”. Problem is, there’s only ONE sub-200 calorie pastry (out of 28 items), and that’s the notoriously light Flourless Chewy Chocolate Cookie. The rest of the treats set you back an average of 330 calories, roughly double the “lighter bite” line.

If you’re looking for a better bet at Starbucks, stick to the old standbys:

The bottom line: if you’re REALLY wondering why French women don’t get fat, it’s because they probably don’t eat at Starbucks.

Are Meatballs the New Fiber Food?

18 Oct

Are Meatballs the New Fiber Food?

Meat is traditionally a fiber-free food. But a doctoral student at the University of Missouri may be changing that.

In a recent experiment, Ayca Gedikoglu from the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources tested the effect of adding citrus fiber to a meatball recipe.

Gedikoglu wanted to see if adding the tangy, sweet powder could boost fiber content of meatballs, without negatively affecting texture and acceptability.

With her adaptations, Gedikoglu was able to produce a restaurant-sized portion of citrus meatballs containing 2% citrus fiber and 5 grams of fiber that retained acceptable taste and texture levels when tested on unwitting subjects. Regular meatballs have 0 grams fiber.

The researcher suggests that citrus powder might be used as a replacement for bread crumbs in meatball recipes.

Citrus powder – which is made from the peels of citrus fruits – can be purchased online, at a relatively cheap price.

Healthy adults should aim to eat roughly 30 grams of dietary fiber per day. Since the average American only gets 15 grams per day, fortified meatballs (especially when made with extra-lean ground beef) might be a tasty, high protein way to bridge the fiber gap.

Starbucks Salads Step it Up

7 May

Starbucks Salads Step it Up

Starbucks new spring menu has much to crow about when it comes to salad selections.

If you’ve grown weary of their sodium-laden breakfast sandwiches (yeah, Sausage/Cheddar Sandwich with 920 mg sodium, I’m lookin’ at you), then you might be interested in these 3 new salad bowls:

  • Hearty Veggie & Brown Rice Salad Bowl
  • Chicken & Greens Caesar Bowl
  • Zesty Chicken & Black Bean Salad Bowl

I recently sampled the Zesty Chicken and Black Bean Salad Bowl – and even using just half the salad dressing, was pleasantly surprised.

The salad bowl posts a pretty solid fiber profile, with 8 grams coming from quinoa, black beans, corn, and jicama.

If you go half-dressing, the numbers work out to 290 calories, 8 g fiber, 19 g protein for 610 mg sodium. Go all the way on the dressing and you top out at 360 calories and 850 mg sodium.

The Hearty Veggie & Brown Rice Salad Bowl also boasts 8 g fiber at 430 calories, but with less protein (10 g) and sodium (640 mg with all the dressing).

These certainly aren’t low sodium selections, but they’re a pretty good fiber buy for lunch on the fly.

Lipstick on a Panda

17 Apr

Lipstick on a Panda

Panda Express announced that starting this week, all 1,500 locations will now serve their fried rice made with brown rice instead of white rice.

Big deal: fried rice is still fried, even if it’s brown.

With a nod to whole grains, the marketing folks behind the aging chain’s “Bright and Fresh” restaurant makeover hope to entice more health-conscious eaters.

Panda’s new fried brown rice has 470 calories, 19 grams fat, and 3 grams fiber per serving. Compare that to its steamed brown rice (a bigger portion) that clocks in at 420 calories, 0 g fat, and 4 grams fiber.

While the steamed brown rice is a better option than the fried, its 87 grams carbohydrate for 4 grams fiber doesn’t meet the new Harvard “10:1″ ratio for choosing whole grains: for every 10 grams of carbohydrate, aim for at least 1 gram of fiber.

Your best bet is to split the steamed brown rice, and load up on veggies.

If you’re counting calories and still eating at Panda Express, look for their WOK SMART entrees which are 250 calories or less per single serving.

The WOK SMART portion sizes are small, and they’re high in sodium, but at least they’re not full of fried whole grains!

Maybe Frightening Food Facts Work?

24 Jul

Maybe Frightening Food Facts Work?

A study published in the most recent issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics indicates that those calorie menu boards you see popping up at sit-down chain and fast food restaurants…they might actually be doing more than just making you feel bad about what you’re about to scarf down.

According to the study findings, being forced to expose what’s in your food makes restaurants tone down their outrageous fat and calorie counts. The study looked at sit-down chain and fast food restaurants.

At sit-down chain restaurants, some positive changes were found in the 37 restaurants in King County, WA (Seattle) that were audited.

Nutrient content checks were made 6 months after a menu labeling disclosure law went into affect and then again at the 18 month mark, with comparisons being made for entrees on the menu at both checks:

  • On average, 73 calories were trimmed from meals (1,044 average down to 970 calories)
  • Saturated fat went down from 18 to 16 grams per meal
  • Sodium declined from 2,100 mg to 1,900 mg

Fast food restaurants fared alright as well:

  • Entrees were reduced from 669 to 650 calories
  • Sodium declined by 18 mg and averaged 1,600 mg on the 2nd check

But despite preliminary, positive changes – problems still exist:

  • 56% of chain restaurant entrees exceed nutrition recommendations for calories
  • 75% had too much saturated fat
  • 89% went over sodium guidelines

The bottom line? Eating out might be less toxic for you due to nutrient posting laws – but you’re still a long way away from the health of home-cooked meals.