McDonald’s other new 2022 salad –chicken Caesar — no hailing Caesar with this one

Brown lettuce in my McDonald’s Caesar Salad, shame on you McD’s.

I’ve been writing about the return of salads to McDonald’s menu in 2022. My first try was its new Southwest salad, a pale reminder of the Southwest salad it once had. Today, I review its other new salad, a Caesar salad.

The packaging is the same as for the Southwest salad and has a use by date on the top, showing these are made somewhere offsite from McDonald’s stores. So they’ve been sitting somewhere waiting to be served. The one I bought had been sitting long enough that lettuce in it was brown, not very appetizing.

Unseal it and you see a tray with ingredients that include chicken, bacon and two compartments of cheese. That has to mean a lot of salt, both in the bacon and the cheese. The bacon bites tasted like real bacon, not some substitute. There are also croutons, likely also high in salt.

Continue reading “McDonald’s other new 2022 salad –chicken Caesar — no hailing Caesar with this one”

Healthy fast food alternatives — not exactly but better than some choices

Lists of healthy, or at least the least unhealthy, offerings at fast-food restaurants seem to pop up every year. That’s because those places are ubiquitous. If you’re out and about, it’s hard to avoid them. Plus, if you’re on a restricted diet like I am, every once and a whole you want to feel normal again by eating where the masses eat.

My new tiny oil and vinegar bottles for eating out.
My tiny oil and vinegar bottles for eating out.

This year’s list comes from Good Housekeeping, The 35 Healthiest Fast Food Orders You Can Get at Every Chain. A lot of salads make the list, beware of salt in those and in dressings though. I usually carry my own oil and vinegar in small plastic bottles to avoid salt-laden dressings.

It’s fun to see the classic White Castle slider on this list. “You don’t have to feel bad about enjoying a couple Original Sliders from White Castle — it scores better on the “healthy” scale than even the chicken or fish sliders. But here’s a surprise: if you’re looking for a vegetarian option, go with the Veggie Slider over the Impossible Slider to consume less overall calories and fat,” the article states. It doesn’t;t say anything about having six sliders at a meal as I sometimes do.

Oh well, happy eating.

A culinary gem in Milwaukee — yes, Milwaukee

When I attended college in Milwaukee during the early 1970s, upscale eating out primarily meant German food in one of the legendary big-three German restaurants there at the time (Mader’s, Rausch’s and Ernst’s — only Mader’s remains open today).

Other than that, there were chain restaurants downtown like Ponderosa and Perkins.

But boy, have times changed. Milwaukee this year has nine James Beard Award semifinalists.

We were back in Milwaukee recently and some dear friends took us to Story Hill BKC, whose owners are Beard semi-finalists for Outstanding Restaurateur. The food was excellent. I highly recommend it. You may find yourself going off your heart-healthy diet while there, but it’s worth a splurge.

BKC’s amazing steelhead trout.

We began with buttery biscuits that were so flaky and buttery that adding the generous dollop of butter that came with them seemed superfluous.

Dishes here are meant to be shared, although you might want to go back to have a meal all to yourself sometime.

A pasta special with hollow noodles and a light mushroom sauce was so good, we were at a local Italian grocery store the next day looking for the hollow noodles (bucatini) so my wife could try to duplicate the recipe at home.

For me, the star of the meal was a steelhead trout served on a cedar plank with a waffle. Here’s how the menu describes it: “smoked maple mustard glaze, everything potato waffle, dill creme fraiche, trout roe.”

The depth of flavor of that dish was truly special. While we shared it, I could have eaten several portions of it all by myself.

Milwaukee’s restaurant renaissance is much in evidence in trendy neighborhoods near downtown like the Third Ward or Walker Point. BKC is in a neighborhood called Story Hill, not far from the stadium where the Milwaukee Brewers play, so you may need to search for it. The trip will be well worth it.

McDonald’s salads are sneaking back onto menus

Are McDonald’s salads back? Could be.

I’ve written a lot about all the low-salt, low-fat and low-sugar food items that have disappeared during the pandemic as processors and restaurants concentrate only on their highest volume offerings. McDonald’s salads were an early pandemic food casualty.

But I think they’re coming back. I recently stopped at a local McDonald’s for some diet Coke, really the only thing I’ve ordered there since they dropped salads and yogurt.

My order came with a flyer listing a ‘buy a salad, get one free’ offer at some local McDonald’s (presumably all owned by the same franchisee).

I checked my app for my local McDonald’s and see one salad, the Ceasar chicken, again available for order. The Southwest Salad is listed as not available.

Let’s be clear, there are many, many other lunch choices that would be healthier than a McDonald’s salad which is still loaded with salt. Healthier lunch choices would be things you make yourself so you can control the salt, fat and sugar content.

My new tiny oil and vinegar bottles for eating out.
My new tiny oil and vinegar bottles for eating out.

But if you have to buy lunch at McDonald’s, the salad is the least unhealthy choice. Don’t use the dressings, there add even more salt. Carry your own in small plastic bottles like I used to do pre-pandemic.

Read my reviews of the new southwest salad and the new Caesar salad. Click on the embedded links in the salad names here.

If you find yourself at a fast-food outlet, remember this list

Fast food is not a friend to people trying to eat low-salt, low-fat or low-sugar. I’ve written in the past about such troubles. But let’s face it, fast food outlets are ubiquitous and now that we’re all getting out more, you’re likely one day to find fast food is your only alternative.

McDonald's third-pound sirloin burger has too much salt and fat for me to eat it.

If that happens, review this list 19 Options for Low Sodium Fast Food from Healthline.com. It will give you some least-harmful choices like a baked potato at Wendy’s or soft tacos at Taco Bell (hard shells normally are loaded with salt). A lot of what’s on this list I wouldn’t eat (oatmeal, really?).

But if you do, remember this final warning from the story:

“Be sure to enjoy these foods in moderation, as most are still high in fat, calories, or added sugar.”

For more options when eating out, check my Eating Away from Home Page.

Fake chicken is following fake beef into restaurants and supermarkets

Plant-based chicken options are joining plant-based beef and plant-based fish in the American food cornucopia reports The Food Institute. Both KFC and Burger King are offering plant-based chicken offerings in various parts of their worldwide networks, The Food Institute notes.

A Burger Kind UK ad for vegan chicken.

“Plant-based chicken has huge potential because chicken is such a well-loved, versatile and common protein in consumer’s diets,” Marie Molde, a registered dietician at Datassential, told The Food Institute. “Chicken is ubiquitous on restaurant menus, it’s found on 95% of menus in the U.S. today (whereas burgers are found on roughly half as many menus) and is also globally popular.”

Demand apparently is out there for plant-based meat alternatives.

“One in five adults say they want more plant-based foods in their diets, according to The NPD Group’s Darren Seifer, who will be presenting at an upcoming Food Institute webinar on January 18 entitled 2022 Outlook of Plant-Based and Next Gen Protein,” The Food Institute reports.

No word on how much salt and fat will be in these plant-based chicken products.

Where food stores are headed — no help and lots of help

Food retailers, from supermarkets to tiny convenience stores, are changing as consumer tastes change and as the pandemic brings about changes in food shopping behavior and at-home eating. Where will it all end?

This piece I read recently looks at two extremes evolving in today’s food retail space — stores with virtually no customer-facing employees and markets that look more like restaurants with lots of employees interacting, and selling, to customers.

No surprise that the store with few employees is from Amazon which is always trying to sell everything faster. Eliminating things like store checkout lines can do that in a supermarket. So Amazon has begun opening stores called Amazon Fresh where people check themselves out as they shop.

At the other end of the spectrum is Dom’s Kitchen in Chicago, started by former executives for the Mariano’s chain (and the defunct Dominick’s chain before that) and embodying a lot of concepts first tried by East Coast-favorite Wegman’s years ago. Dom’s is full of counters where you can buy cooked food to take home and eat. It has some packaged grocery items too, but they definitely play second fiddle to the take-out food.

Continue reading “Where food stores are headed — no help and lots of help”

Pandemic Food Casualties: Costco sheet cake, McDonald’s salads, yogurt parfaits

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a lot of food purveyors, whether retailers or restaurants, to cut back menus and just concentrate on their top sellers, or, for restaurants, on items that are quick to prepare. So several of my favorites have fallen by the wayside.

The most painful loss is that McDonald’s has cut what I considered the two healthiest items on its menu — salads and yogurt parfaits. I was a regular at a local McDonald’s before the pandemic, ordering a salad, side salad and two parfaits. The staff came to know me by my order, which I usually placed ahead of time through the McDonald’s ordering app.

What had been my weekly Costco lunch is no more. Who dumps chocolate from the vanilla-chocolate combo? Shame on you Costco.
Those were the days my friend — gone now. No frozen yogurt at Costco, no salads at McDonald’s.

With those options gone now, there’s no reason for me to stop at McDonald’s, even if it has reopened for eat-in service.

On the other end of the food scale — totally unhealthy but delicious, Costco has stopped selling its giant sheet cakes. Those were a mainstay when we had large parties, there was inevitably enough to freeze for ourselves to have on later occasions as well.

Costco already broke my heart when it dropped its fat-free chocolate frozen yogurt for the trendy acai. I used to eat lunch there once a week, getting a salad (bringing my own oil and vinegar to avoid it’s fatty dressing) and a yogurt swirl. I had shifted to McDonald’s salads after that. Now with both gone, there’s I am confined to eating lunch at home.

By the way, Costco also has dropped acai from its food court! Ha!!!!

Happier times — let’s talk about eating in Hawaii

Early this year my wife and I took a long-talked-about dream vacation to Hawaii, spending a week in Honolulu and another week on the island of Kauai. It seems a million years ago now with a pandemic sweeping the globe.

But I hope that reading about wonderful places to eat in Hawaii will brighten some people’s days and turn their thoughts to happier times.

I’ve already written that there’s a lot of junk food in Hawaii, especially in the heavy tourist areas like Honolulu. But there also are some wonderful restaurants featuring fresh seafood.

My Hula Grill dinner.

One we enjoyed was the Hula Grill Waikiki. It’s in a hotel, but much better than the average hotel restaurant. It offers a wide range of seafood option, including nightly specials, and fish you don’t see on the mainland like opah and monchong.

And both mahi mahi and ahi are on the menu, fresher there than you’ll taste on the mainland as well. Pictured here is my dinner, which as I recall was a nightly special, I think of ahi.

Help your local restaurants with a meal Tuesday 3/24

A lot of people have been posting on social media about helping their local restaurants by ordering take-out  and delivery meals. Some of the delivery services are even offering lower or no fees for a few weeks to encourage it.

Now, a large group of national restaurants wants to take the idea across the country with what they’re calling The Great American Takeout on Tuesday, March 24. And yes, of course, there’s a hashtag  #thegreatamericantakeout

Many. many people are out of work right now and likely can’t afford such luxuries, but if you can afford it, ordering from your favorite restaurant with a takeout meal Tuesday is a great way to show support.

I’ve been doing it locally in Evanston where I live with meals from Dave’s New Kitchen and The Celtic Knot, two of my favorite local establishments. Continue reading “Help your local restaurants with a meal Tuesday 3/24”

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