A post I wrote earlier this year about McDonald’s salads coming back to post-Pandemic McDonald’s menus has gotten a lot of attention. But what I didn’t realize when I wrote it was that the decision to bring salads back is being left to operators at the local level.
Not every McDonald’s in a given market has salads any longer. Some comments on my post alerted me about this. And when I tried online ordering from various McDonald’s in Chicago’s northern suburbs, I found only my favorite location in Winnetka, Il., had the new, slimmed-down salads.
Apparently, having any healthy options on its menu takes too much time and labor for McDonald’s to prepare, so it’s concentrating on unhealthy burgers until the day comes when people aren’t eating them any longer. Sort of reminds me of Sears ignoring the Internet while Amazon ate its lunch and its business. Sad, if my local outlet drops salads, my days of going to McDonald’s will be over.
Healthier foods — that is those low in salt, fat and sugar, have been disappearing off store shelves during the pandemic, as I wrote here. By now though, you’d think we’ve seen the last of disappearing healthier foods. Not quite.
I went to two different Trader Joe’s in the northern suburbs of Chicago today only to find they had no Trader Joe’s High-Fiber cereal. At both, I was told it was not available at this time. That’s been a code in the past for times Trader Joe’s was dropping, like its salt-free marinara sauce.
The manager at the second store I visited, in Glenview, Il., told me it would be back in a day or two. I wondered where he would put it since the cereal section of the store has shrunk and been moved to the very back. There were no empty spaces for high-fiber cereal there.
I was forced to go to a mainstream supermarket and buy General Mills Fiber One, which has twice the fat and almost twice the salt per serving as does Trader Joe’s. It claims to have more fiber but getting that at the cost of more salt is not a trade I wanted to make.
We’ll see if this is just another case of a store ending sales of a lower-volume, healthier item and blaming the pandemic for it.
Rising prices are discouraging people from eating out or from ordering-in from restaurants, according to a new study by bid-on-equipment.com, which sells a variety of used equipment, including restaurant equipment.
The study surveyed 1,008 Americans early this year. It found 50% saying they are eating out less because of inflation.
The impact of the Pandemic was evident in survey responses, 40% of those answering said at least one of their favorite restaurants had closed permanently during the Pandemic.
Local restaurants still are preferred by more people than are chains. When searching for a place to eat, people turn to Google, word-of-mouth, Yelp and other social media, the survey found. (For more survey responses, see the graphic here).
Baked goods like chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake, eclairs, the list goes on, are the hardest thing for me to give up as I try to stay on a low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar diet. Truth is that, especially during the pandemic, I turned to cakes for solace. So I was intrigued by this piece offering a healthier way to bake.
The Cooking Light piece talks about how an award-winning chef reduced the sugar content of various cookies. There’s math and weighing your ingredients involved, but if done correctly you can cut half to 75% of the sugar a recipe calls for.
I find baking a little too much like chemistry, so I normally buy my baked goods already baked. But perhaps I can talk my wife into trying this and report back here. Stay tuned.
When this blog was among the first, if not the first, to write that McDonald’s had brought back salads in U.S. outlets in 2022, the nutrition information for those was not posted either on the McDonald’s website or in its ordering app.
Last week, though, I saw it was now on the bottom of the salad container. So here is your first look:
Total fat: 9 grams
Sodium: 350 mg
Carbs: 15 grams
Protein: 16 grams
The pre-pandemic McDonald’s Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad had 350 calories and 930 mgs of salt, likely because there was much more chicken on it and it had a glaze that included salt. It also had 37 grams of protein, 12 grams of fat and 9 grams of sugar, again all because of the larger chicken serving, I’m guessing.
It had 27 grams of carbs, for the carb counters out there.
So does that make the new salads healthier? You could say that, but remember it’s being done by making them smaller with less chicken.
I’m still buying two to make one decent-sized salad but I’m finding more and more brown-edged lettuce in these pre-packaged salads.
McDonald’s has always had a love-hate relationship with salads, offering them primarily for mothers of small children who came demanding Happy Meals. But for me, salads were the only half-healthy item I could eat at McDonald’s, so I modified them to cut salt and carried on.
When the Pandemic hit, McDonald’s pulled salads completely from its U.S. menu. But as this spring arrives, a new McDonald’s salad offering is on store menus. Here’s a first look at the new Southwest Style Salad.
You can see from my pictures, packaging is radically different than the pre-pandemic Southwest salad. Ingredients are in a little tray that sits atop the lettuce.
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.
“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.
The Pandemic, and how supermarkets and other food sellers have reacted, has certainly made it more difficult to eat healthy. Last Thanksgiving, for example, I wasn’t able to find fresh, low-salt turkeys at Costco for the first time in years.
Readers also keep writring me to tell me low-salt products I’ve written about in the past are no longer aavilable at Trader Joes, so I’ve created the hastag #ShameonTraderJoes.
Here’s a list of items I was able to buy pre-pandemic which are no longer available on store shelves in my area:
Trader’s Joe’s salt-free shrimp sauce.
Trader Joe’s salt-free marinara sauce
Mrs. Dash salt-free teriyaki sauce
Salt-free fresh turkeys at Costco
Low-fat frozen yogurt at Costco (chocolate was dropped pre-Pandemic, but vanilla is gone now too, replaced by ice cream)
Low-salt canned olives at several retailers (others still have them)
Trader Joes salt-free wheat bread (this disappeared before the pandemic, but its worth mentioning for #ShameonTraderJoes)
Stores are stocking the highest volumes products they sell now, and dropping others to simplify thier supply chain problems. And tjhose of us wanting to eat healthy are suffering as a result.
eI’ve turned to more stocking up when I do find items that can be stored. I’ve also done more shopping online at Amazon and Healthy Heart Market, despite the higher prices and shipping costs involved. I’m willing to pay those prices now, I want to survive this Pandemic and that means not letting the virus, or salt kill me.
It’s always fun to speak with someone who is passionate about food. Online nutritionist Healthy Emmie certainly fits in that category. We recently spoke about her expectations for American eating habits post-pandemic, as well as about her philosophy of healthy eating.
“This pandemic is changing everything, it’s making people look twice at taking health into their own hands, ” says Emmie, who began her healthy eating quest at age 19.
Now 26, Emmie, a vegan, offers a program called the Slim on Starch Weight Loss Program. She developed her eating philosophy as she helped her parents become healthier. Seeing it work on them, she now promotes it to the world.
She believes in whole-food, plant-based eating and includes starchy items like potatoes and white rice — which some nutritionists shun — in her diet.
Her theory — eating only greens (as I did after my first heart surgery) will leave you hungry and likely send you back to unhealthy eating habits. Including healthy starches can fill you up and keep you plant-based.
“Starch is to satiety as water is to thirst,” she says.
You can download her sample one-day eating plan from her website by clicking here. Scroll to the bottom of the page to get it.
Plant-based, whole-food eating for her doesn’t include all the imitation meat products coming to market in recent days. I agree, so many of those are high in salt and fat, they really are no better for you than real meat.
I’ve written in the past that I’m not ready to go completely plant-based (my daughter has, she’s leading the family on that front). But I see world eating habits moving in that direction, especially among Millennials and Gen Zers.
As the Pandemic has progressed, Emmie has seen two types of people — those who used the pandemic early on to get a better grip on their health; and those who binged, gained pandemic pounds, and now need to address being heavier than they want or should be. Her business doubled during the Pandemic, says Emmie, who in based in Boston.
“No matter what has happened during the Pandemic, it’s never too late to get started with a healthy diet, start today,” she advises.
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.