Last week I had the honor of attending a Blogger Breakfast arranged by McDonald's® in So Cal (@McDonalds_SoCal on twitter) and a local nutritionist, Monica Montes. Now, you might wonder why I would be going to a “food blogger” event…
As a busy mom with a home office and several businesses, I stay up really late working and then get up early to start work again (calling the east coast and all) and then get the kids ready and off to school. Sometimes, we are running late, ran out of milk, I did not have time to cook, I am driving the kids to school in my PJs … there are mornings that we are so pressed for time where we get in the car, I ask if the kids had breakfast and they both answer, “No”. Really?!
I mean, I do have food in my house! Maybe not milk all the time but there are eggs and oatmeal and fruit and yogurt and all kinds of yummy options! Ideally I'd be some Betty Crocker making breakfast for them every morning and chasing after them to make sure they ate (more than the 1-2 times I already tell them to eat) but that just isn't the reality. The reality is that we pass over 20 fast food places on the way to school, which includes 3 McDonald's®, and with time being an issue, the options all seem unhealthy, greasy, and disappointing. And, the kids are all too happy to visit Starbuck's or any other fast food place and spend money we don't have on breakfasts that frankly, aren't that good, health-wise or flavor-wise.
Now, I am a big skeptic of big chain fast food especially since I worked in a fast food restaurant when I was 16. Things have changed! And wow, was I surprised.
McDonald's® “Commitments to Offer Improved Nutrition Choices”, announced in 2011, provides the impetus behind the release of the new Egg White Delight McMuffin®. Did you know that McDonald's was concerned for our health? Well, now you know! This program also incorporates the My Plate initiative from the USDA to help reset Americans' ideas of portion and plate size to help us have a healthier future. I am definitely glad and excited to see McDonald's® responding to the need and requests for healthier fast-food options with menu items that taste good too!
We were invited to try the new Egg White Delight McMuffin® breakfast sandwich. I have eaten my fair share of egg whites and egg white sandwiches and I was prepared for a bland experience. Let me tell you — it was soooooooooo incredibly flavorful!!! The sandwich is prepared with egg whites, white cheddar cheese, and extra lean Canadian bacon, all on a new whole grain English muffin. Since I am gluten-free, I passed on the muffin so I got the full impact of the egg-cheese-ham flavor profile. I could totally eat this for breakfast when on the go!
The really surprising part of the breakfast was the reaction from my kids. They both loved the sandwich; even 6 year old Matt gobbled it up! As a teenager, Katie is very concerned about health and trying to stay fit so she really appreciated the 250 calorie sandwich's flavor. The egg white can be substituted on any McDonald's® breakfast sandwich, so, if my husband wanted a meatier breakfast, like the Sausage McMuffin® with Egg, he could get that with the Egg White to save a few calories and fat grams. Truth be told, the yolk of the egg is where all of the nutrients are, but, when you're trying to lose a little weight or grab a bite to eat on the go, the egg whites option at McDonald's® is a very practical and tasty option.
Another healthy and tasty option is the Fruit & Maple Oatmeal! Katie is not a big fan of oatmeal (I think I ruined her!) but she tried the McDonald's® Fruit & Maple Oatmeal and loved it. I mean, she polished off the entire cup before I could even get a bite. Teenagers! But really — I love that she loved it! The Fruit & Maple Oatmeal with a coffee and 1 cup of milk (all of which we can get at McDonald's®) is only 400 calories so it is a great option for a teen or moms on the go who want to keep health in mind.
After we sampled the food, we were taken on a tour of the kitchen and witnessed some of McDonald's® food handling practices. I was really pleased to hear that their salads are made fresh daily from 12 different kinds of lettuce. And, after 8 hours, the unsold salads are discarded.
They also have a state of the art filtration system for their frying oil, on the off-chance you want to indluge in a little crispy snack.
Their inventory management system is all computerized so they know what food to make and when to meet upcoming demand and are very adept at not wasting food by preparing too much in advance. In fact, most of their food is made to order except during high demand times, like lunch, when they may make the food 2-3 minutes ahead of when you order it (still faster than my own kitchen!). I was really surprised and pleased to see how far cleanliness, health-consciousness, and food prep have come in the 20 years since I worked at a fast food chain.
The school year will be here before we know it. I mean, how is it almost July already?! And, in the off-chance that I am running late…okay, let's be honest; on the 2-3 days a week I am running a little late, I can stop at McDonald's® and get the kids an Egg White Delight McMuffin®, OJ or Smoothie (the new Blueberry Pomegranate one is delish) and not feel bad about it.
I know you get busy too. I hope this encourages you to reconsiderMcDonald's® as a healthy option for your family during our busy lives.
I also want to send out a HUGE thank you to our tour guides and Monica Montes (left) for sharing with us these new options at McDonald's®. Knowledge is power and now I can feel good about choices that we make in light of our hectic schedules.