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McDonald’s Oatmeal with Modified Foodstarch, Maltodextrin, Barley Malt Extract and Caramel Color

12 Jan

McDonald’s Oatmeal with Modified Foodstarch, Maltodextrin, Barley Malt Extract and Caramel Color

America’s favorite fast food joint rang in 2011 with a new breakfast offering: McDonald’s new Fruit and Maple Oatmeal. Now keep in mind this is the same McDonald’s that has a treasured history of half-heartedly offering healthy menu choices and then citing low sales as the impetus for their certain and often rapid removal. Remember the McLean Burger?

While the concept of oatmeal is commendable, leave it to McDonald’s to louse it up. Wherein a typical 1 cup cooked oatmeal serving made with water would have just 150 calories (and maybe an extra 50 calories with some berries), McDonald’s bumps it up to 290 calories (and 60 grams of carbohydrate!) by adding sugary dried fruit, brown sugar and then mixing it with light cream.

Even the “oatmeal” component of the breakfast (which should consist of “rolled oats”) has the following:

  • Modified foodstarch
  • Maltodextrin
  • Barley malt extract
  • Caramel color
  • Natural maple flavor (but no maple syrup…)

The serving size is larger than it needs be – a 12 oz cup of cooked oatmeal – that, even with all the additives, still tastes kind of bland and watery. The whole thing emanates an odd citrus flavor – likely from the ascorbic acid (vitamin C) preservative used to prevent the packaged apples – the same packaged apples used in their Apple Dippers – from turning brown.

If you’re looking for someone else to make you oatmeal in the morning, a better tasting option is Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal. While Starbucks’ version does have some added ingredients, it comes a lot closer to tasting like it’s worth $3.00.

And lastly, while McDonald’s in the US pretends to get healthier – check out today’s Wall Street Journal article about what McDonald’s is doing in Japan. The McDonald’s executives there have no qualms about beefing up – and bragging about – their already-bulging burgers that now feature tortilla chips, fried hash browns and chili toppers!

Burger King’s Whole Grain Ciabatta Bun: Where’s the Fiber?

29 Aug

Burger King’s Whole Grain Ciabatta Bun: Where’s the Fiber?

By way of a press release, Burger King recently announced that its Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich will now be served on a ciabatta bun made with whole grains. While the new bun makes for a sandwich lower in calories, fat and sodium than the original – there’s not really any significant fiber boost.

Burger King’s press release touts the revised bun has “eight grams of whole grains”, but no info on how many grams of fiber this equates to or how it compares to the original. The bun no doubt remains your typical highly-refined white bread product with some whole grains thrown in for good measure.

Their online nutrition information tracker (pictured above) does not include dietary fiber and as of this posting, the  company’s web-based nutrition information does not reflect the new changes.

While Burger King can be commended for focusing on increasing the number of choices under 650 calories available in their BK Positives Steps program, they’re not breaking any ground with fast food fiber content.

McDonald’s “Real Fruit” Smoothies

20 Aug

McDonald’s “Real Fruit” Smoothies

Things in smoothie-world have been on fire with the recent introduction of Real Fruit Smoothies from McDonald’s. But how much “real fruit” is actually in a McDonald’s smoothie?

Both flavors – Strawberry Banana and Wild Berry – have fruit puree as their first ingredient, followed up by sugar in 2nd place, low fat yogurt (which also has added sugar) and ice.

A large (22 oz) Wild Berry Smoothie has 320 calories, 4 grams of fiber and 69 grams of added sugar. If you’re not sure what 69 grams of added sugar looks like, it’s slightly more than a 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Compare that to a McDonald’s small Chocolate Triple Thick Shake which only has 63 grams of added sugar!

McDonald’s Real Fruit Smoothies are basically fat free milkshakes. They’re lower in calories than the shakes, but they are by no means a health food! There are 2-4 grams of fiber in a smoothie – but for 210-330 calories, it’s hardly worth sucking that down just for the fiber. Your average piece of fresh fruit has 4 grams of fiber for less than 100 calories.

McDonald’s does sell Apple Dippers – which even after the smoothie introduction – remains their only “Real Fruit” offering.

Breakfast Sandwiches: Coming Up!

30 Jun

Breakfast Sandwiches: Coming Up!

Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day – but until recently, it had been pretty hard to get a good-tasting, moderate-calorie, high-fiber option on the go. Two ubiquitous outlets – Subway and Starbucks – now have high-fiber breakfast offerings that nutritionally outperform almost everything else in their market.

When choosing a breakfast item, the two key nutrients are fiber and protein. These are the “satiety-inducing” nutrients – those that will help keep you fuller for longer than say, eating a high-carbohydrate, low-protein, low-fiber breakfast.


Subway, “What were you waiting for?!” Your breakfast sandwiches are genius (at least the Egg White Muffin Melts are). For somewhere around 200 calories you get 12-16 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. And at $2.50 for a sandwich and coffee combo, you’re spending less than you would for a sandwich alone at Starbucks. You can read more about the nutrition information for the breakfast sandwiches here.

A word to the weight-watchers: stay away from the flatbread versions. Even though Subway doesn’t post nutrition info for those breakfast sandwiches, judging by their size and weight and other info on Subway’s website, they likely have about 100 calories more than the ones on English muffins.


These sandwiches are a bit pricier, from both a monetary and caloric standpoint – but they do keep you fuller for longer than do Subway’s. The two best breakfast sandwich options at Starbucks:

  • Reduced fat turkey bacon sandwich: 340 calories, 10 g fat, 22 g protein and 3 g fiber
  • Spinach, roasted tomato, feta & egg white wrap: 280 calories, 10 g fat, 18 g protein and 6 g fiber

Depending upon your location, a Starbucks breakfast sandwich sets you back about $3.50. And Starbucks also has instant oatmeal (avoid the oatmeal condiments) – featured in a previous post.

Numero UNO! – Pizzeria Uno’s Five Grain Flatbreads

7 May

Numero UNO! – Pizzeria Uno’s Five Grain Flatbreads

Pizzeria Uno Chicago Grill is bringing a commendable high fiber option to the table. Uno’s Five Grain Flatbread Crust has 4 grams of fiber per approximate 300 calorie serving.

The fiber in the Five Grain Flatbread comes from, well…..Five Grains:

  • Stone ground whole wheat flour
  • Hulled sesame seed
  • Toasted wheat germ
  • Oat bran, and
  • Flaxseed

Now, keep in mind you have to share that flatbread with two other friends to keep to the serving size, which is 1/3 of a whole flatbread; but, considering the dearth of high fiber options at most chain restaurants, the Uno Five Grain Flatbread makes for a high fiber – and pretty delicious decision. The flatbread crust is thin, tasty, and it maintains a good crunch under all the toppings.

Five Grain Flatbreads are available as BBQ Chicken, Roasted Eggplant Spinach & Feta, Spicy Chicken, Mediterranean, Four Cheese, Harvest Vegetable. Wild Mushroom & White Cheddar, Cheese & Tomato, Lobster BLT, Pepperoni, and Sausage varieties.