Satisfries and McDonalds Menu - Baby Steps to Healthier Kid Food

The HealthGal Health Guide
  • If you’ve been following recent news, then you probably know that the McNuggets we routinely feed our little kids (and ourselves) contain pretty significant doses of unhealthy fat.   In fact, a new study, which involved dissecting the small coated nugget, revealed that it has very little white meat chicken and a whole load of fat.  So maybe we should at least push to rename them as Fatty McNuggets.  Whether this new ingredient information will lead parents to eliminate the fast food choices they make for their kids or themselves, thanks to the “McNugget unveiling” is to be seen, but there is no doubt that some fast food giants are making some better changes in their menus and recipes. 

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    Burger King has spent years on research and development and recently unveiled their new French fries, which are being called Satisfries.  They have 40 percent less fat and 30 percent less calories, while still maintaining that irresistible crispness on the outside, and hot fluffy potato on the inside.  A serving size of french fries from McDonalds (70 grams) will cost you 226.8 calories, versus a Satisfries similar portion size with 150.5 calories. 


    The newer cooking process uses a special technique that results in less oil absorption during the frying process.  But let’s be clear: You are still eating fried potatoes and the oil being used is high in saturated fat.  This new formulation is still not an invitation from dieticians and nutritionists to “eat this food daily,” but the modification certainly means less saturated fat.  Burger King also introduced a turkey burger in its lineup this past year.


    McDonalds is taking a much bigger step forward on the healthier food pathway, agreeing to make changes on the menus in 20 of the company’s largest markets.  Inspired by The Clinton Foundation and Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the actual timeline projection is implementation of the changes in 50 percent of those 20 markets within three years, with a goal of completing all changes in all 20 by the year 2020. 


    The changes include:

    • A reduction in the advertising of certain food selections to kids
    • More fruits and vegetables on the menu (this already was implemented beginning in 2012-2013)
    • Healthier smoothies
    • More salads
    • Whole grains in the oatmeal
    • Value meals which typically include a sandwich or wrap, french fries and a drink, will now also offer a side salad and fruit or vegetable in lieu of the fries
    • Promotion of 100% juice, low-fat milk and water for Happy Meals, though a customer could still choose the soda
    • Promotion of fruit and vegetable consumption on Happy Meal wrappers and packaging


    Snack companies are also embracing healthy change, converting their traditional sweet snack recipes into better-for-you options.  The Darlington snack company, which has delivered sweet treats to hospitals, institutions, schools and nursing homes across the U.S. and Canada for 30 years, is now offering healthier nutrition bars, crackers and other snacks with a better nutrient profile, in response to the obesity trends.  The company fully understands that the snacks still need to taste good, and owner Hockemeyer and his son credit the in-house chef with a test kitchen that innovated a soft oatmeal bar, sweetened with apples, resulting in lower sugar and less fat. 


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    Another new snack, Spikerz crackers, offers savory flavors to make up for salt and fat reductions.  The moral of the story is that a food company can maintain its financial bottom line, while still accommodating the new health food trends born out of a desperate effort to reduce childhood obesity levels.


    So the decisions now rest with consumers, and especially with parents, who need to begin to take responsibility for the choices they make on behalf of their children.  Certainly when it comes to daily food choices, there is no way a parent can justify regular consumption of soda or for that matter, regular consumption of foods like Chicken McNuggets, which appear to be something other than chicken.  You can now have your fast food, albeit, a healthier version, and choose to eat it less frequently. 


    The question remains: Will you shift to those better selections while decreasing your overall consumption of fast food?


    Amy Hendel is a health professional, journalist and host of Food Rescue, Simple Smoothies and What’s for Lunch?  Author of Fat Families, Thin Families and The 4 Habits of Healthy Families, she tweets health headlines daily @HealthGal1103.  Catch her guest appearances on Marie! on Hallmark and other local and national news and talk shows.  




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Published On: October 08, 2013