Thursday, June 6, 2013

McLovin' It? Surprisingly, Yes #FlipYourMorning

Recently I was invited to join a group of my SoCal Lady Bloggers at McDonald's for a tasting, nutritional info presentation, and tour breakfast. I said yes, because I love meeting and hanging with my blogsisters, plus it was just about in my backyard, but McDonald's? Really? [insert outraged tones and hifalutin' sneer here] Are you McCrazy?

There were bloggers Trina Finton, Melissa Dell, AJ Feuerman, Carolyn West, and me, plus Registered Dietician Monica Montes, publicist L.CaCera Richmond, and her colleague Elicet Vega.  Plus some hungry kids and husbands.CaCerichmond

"Your group is meeting inside the crime tape." Does this bode well?

The place was filled with balloons and announcements for the new! Egg White Delight (which we were trying out).  Luckily they fed us, before expecting us to digest any information.
This is what THEIR Egg White Delight Looks Like
I paused briefly in inhaling mine long enough to take a picture.
Generally, egg-white anything strikes me as bland, but it was quite tasty.
Damn straight I asked for hash browns, too.
I also had a Pomegranate Blueberry Smoothie.

I totally stole this picture from Melissa Dell's post.
She wrote an awesome post with all kinds of
nutritional tips.

I'm not much of a Tweeter, but we had it covered.

SoCal Lady Bloggers co-founder Carolyn West, Tweeting away. Like mother, like daughter.

Monica shared a lot of very good information about nutrition and several handouts, much of it centered around MyPlate.

You'll be shocked (not!) to know that Americans tend to overbuy and overeat. 

Many of us were taught to clean our plates, no matter whether we were hungry or not. As a result, we need to relearn the signals of hunger and satiation rather than shoveling it in until we feel miserably overstuffed.

Part of moving towards a healthier lifestyle (not a diet) is knowing what a healthy meal should look like, both in portion sizes, and in balance.

Protein can be meat, or it can be fish, nuts, soy... Whole grains are healthier than grains that are more processed. Dairy does not have to be cow's milk - alternatives like soy and almond milk generally are fortified to meet the same nutritional standards as cow milk. There's also goat milk, and yogurt, cheese (which as a born cheesehead I crave WAY too much of.)


Say It With Me: "Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day."

Actually, they're all important. But people tend to skip breakfast more than any other meal, which is too bad, because a healthy breakfast speeds up our metabolism, fuels our brains, and puts us on track for the rest of our day.

Where the Egg White Delight fits in, especially if paired with a fruit smoothie, orange juice, or some raw veggies, is that it offers a quick, easy way to grab a mini-balanced meal, with less fat, calories and cholesterol and more fiber than a regular Egg McMuffin.

A regular Egg McMuffin has 300 calories 12 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 260 milligrams of cholesterol, 780 milligrams of sodium, 4 grams of fiber, and 18 grams of protein. An Egg White Delight has 250 calories, 7 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 800 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of fiber, and 18 grams of protein.

McDonald's now offers egg-white-only choices for all their Breakfast Menu choices.

As +AJ Feuerman, Queen of the #GetLeid group, said when tasting Egg White Delight, it's the perfect hangover food. I really liked mine, and will probably order it again. Especially if I am hungover.

Is it the absolutely healthiest thing you could eat? Of course not (it's a full third of recommended daily sodium, for one thing); but if you are too rushed to make breakfast at home, it is far healthier than skipping breakfast altogether and just doing coffee.

For more ideas on eating healthy, follow this link for a tip sheet.

So, we were fed, we were eddicated... on to the tour...

What Lurked Behind The Counter at McDonald's

Everyone was required to wash their hands coming into the kitchen areas. Everyone, even including us visitors, who weren't going to touch anything. Employees who used the restroom are required to wash their hands in the restroom, again when they come into the kitchen, and then periodically while in the kitchen. (There's a timer for that. More on that later.)

A few at a time, McDonald's manager Yaretd (who looked about 16 and adorable, with braces, but who was a 14 year employee) led us on a tour of her operation.

I am only surprised I did not exit with a "use or dispose of by" date sticker on me, because EVERYTHING is marked with one. Syrups for the McCafe's and other drinks? Stickered. Refrigerated products like cherries and chocolate chips for the McLatte's? Stickered. Cases of frozen hamburger patties? Stickered.

As far as prepared foods, everything has not a sticker, but a timer. XX much time for deep fried items like hash browns, fish patties, McNuggets. (Oh, and French fries. I was happy to see that the Happy Meals now still give kids fries, but a MUCH smaller container and a packet of apple slices, as well.)

Once food is prepared, there's a timer for how many minutes it can wait in the warming bin before being discarded.  Yaretd uses a sophisticated computer system that tells her the number of hamburger patties sold between time A and B on the previous Sunday. Factoring in other conditions like weather, sporting events, etc., she then determines if the staff will prepare the same, fewer, or more burgers in the same time frame.

After they are cooked, the food handler (wearing disposable gloves in addition to all the hand-washing) uses a device to sprinkle a pre-measured amount of salt & pepper on each burger. (You can special order them without salt & pepper, if you prefer.) They are then placed in a tray that is slotted into a warming area, where the assembly handlers will add lettuce, onions, tomatoes and condiments as the burgers are ordered. Handlers who handle cold items only wear different gloves than those who handle hot foods.

So, you do the math. There's a timer for the drive-through, to make sure the customers have their orders taken within XX minutes, and another to make sure the order is filled within YY minutes. Each food has a timer for cooking, and another timer for when it will be disposed of. Then there are timers to indicate when the staff must wash their hands again.

This means there are, like, a billion timers in every McDonald's. If you had an abnormal fear of timers, working at McDonald's would be akin to a Herpetophobe scoring a job at the zoo's Reptile House.

Part of the "swag bag" I received.
I will always think of McD's when I think of timers now.
So, more interesting and informational - and tasty - than I expected. That'll larn me to be a snob!  Btw, I was not required to write or Tweet or do anything in return for this post. Sharing because I want to.

Have you tried using MyPlate?
Have you ever worked in or toured a fast food restaurant?
Have you tried an Egg White Delight yet? What did you think?