Thursday, July 05, 2012

McDonald's Is Changing Up The Face of Fast Food (& Giveaway!)

About a month ago, I had the chance to meet with McDonald's Head Chef Daniel Coudreaut, aka Senior Director of Culinary Innovation. That's a really long title that means he's the guy in charge of creating all of the new menu items for McDonald's.

Now, I know that when you think of health food, McDonald's probably isn't the first thing to pop into your mind. It probably doesn't even make the top ten. Chef Dan is working to change that perception, however. We sat down for lunch together where he explained to me and the other bloggers and media present how his goal is to make the McDonald's menu more nutritional while still making it a great choice for fast, tasty and reasonably priced meals.

Before we go any further, I want to add: there are a lot of tasty-yet-not-so-healthy food options at McDonald's. I know this, and I'm in no way trying to claim that McD's is THE place to go for health food. My family visits McDonald's about once a week, and the kids consider it a treat. I strongly believe it's all about moderation, and while I'm featuring some of the new, lower cal and all-natural menu items here, I'll add that I don't believe there's anything wrong with treating yourself now and then, either. You'll never take away my french fries...I'll just have a small size instead of a large now.

Many of the newer menu items have been developed with an eye for more fresh produce, natural ingredients and fewer calories. Chef Dan's most prized creation thus far, he said, is the oatmeal - packed with whole grains and already a popular breakfast item.

Chef Dan explaining the process of developing a new menu item

We got to sample the summer fresh Blueberry Banana Nut oatmeal (only 290 calories) and I have to admit it was really good. Sweet, but not too sweet, and not at all soupy or mushy. The oats had a great consistency and the blueberries were ripe and perfect. I never would have considered fast food oatmeal before trying this, but now I can see choosing this for a quick breakfast on the road without the guilt of greasy breakfast food.

After the oatmeal we were introduced to the Grilled Chicken Southwest Salad with a spicy Southwest dressing. The salad has a roasted corn and black bean salsa with tortilla strips and a lime wedge. It was deliciously spicy with flavors of pepper and cilantro. 

 Words cannot describe how sinfully delicious this is.

Chef Dan explained that not only was this a tasty lunch item, but the premium salad contained three cups of vegetables in a serving! I couldn't even finish my salad even though I really, really wanted to. Since then this salad has become a regular for me when my family has a dinner out at McDonald's.

The biggest shocker for me, though, was the new Cherry Berry Chiller. I love this blended fruit juice and ice drink, but the bright red color made me leery of giving it to my children. My oldest can't have artificial colors and I generally steer clear of artificial flavors, too. Chef Dan's shocker for me: the Cherry Berry Chiller is ALL NATURAL! No artificial colors, no high-fructose corn syrup, no artificial flavors. Just fruit concentrate, ice, fruit and vegetable juice for coloring and citric acid - that's it! Suddenly I feel guilty for not sharing with my kids. (Well, only a little...these drinks are delicious!)

Cherry Berry Chiller paired with a fruit & yogurt parfait

I love that McDonald's is creating new foods for their menu that are packed with whole grains and natural ingredients. Yes, they'll always have the Big Mac and french fries, but the emphasis is about choices, not forcing nutrition on people. It's great that I can go to McDonald's now and put together a meal under 500 calories that is tasty and filling, or I can still choose to have a double cheeseburger if I want.

The changes to Happy Meals are another decision I can fully support. All Happy Meals now come with a kid-size box of fries (we call them a "shot" of fries) and a bag of apple slices. My kids no longer have to choose between two sides that they like, and the combo shaves nearly 100 calories off of the old meal with fries alone.

Providing greater variety in a fast food setting is a great idea and I love many of the new selections coming from Chef Dan and McDonald's!

Want to try McDonald's new oatmeal for yourself?

I have three coupons for a free McDonald's oatmeal to give to three lucky readers. (Note: they expire in August 3, so please be aware of timing.)

To enter, just leave a comment below telling me your favorite food item from McDonald's - easy-peasy, right? Make sure you leave an email address so I can contact you if you're a winner.

One entry per person, US residents only. Entries close on Tuesday, July 10 at 11:59pm ET. I'll randomly select 3 winners and then get your free oatmeal coupons in the mail for you to enjoy!

Good luck!

Full disclosure: I enjoyed a complimentary lunch while talking with Chef Dan, as well as coupons to redeem for other free menu items. I'm also a member of McDonald's Family Arches Community and have received free food items in exchange for feedback. All opinions are my own, including my wish that there was an addiction support group for the cherry berry chiller.

37 comments:

Amber said...

I love McDonlad's Oreo McFlurry!
Thank you for the giveaway :)
hurdler4eva(at)gmail(dot)com

Anonymous said...

I like the chicken club sandwich.

Delamere at embarqmail dot com

Amy said...

McCafé Frappé Chocolate Chip - YUM!

cwboylver17 at aol dot com

Jen said...

I like the double quarter pounder

HilLesha said...

I love their grilled chicken sandwiches. :-)

HilLesha@gmail.com

debbie said...

I like their chocolate sundaes.
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

llinda29 said...

I like the small hamburgers

Brandon Bethea said...

I really like their new chocolate dipped ice cream cones!

crystletellerday said...

sweet tea crystletellerday@yahoo.com

cyndi br said...

I like there pancakes and sausage for breakfast
clbjcb50@cox.net

kroch said...

I like their fruit and yogurt parfait

Katie R.
dancehottie1621 at aol dot com

Aimee Fontenot said...

I like the chicken nuggets w/ BBQ sauce.

Editdebs Talks said...

I like their smoothies after a workout. They are fewer calories than the Burger King smoothies--so I always choose McDonalds.

Diane52 said...

I love their fish sandwiches yum
Diane Baum
esldianegmail.com

Meaghan F. said...

I love the pumpkin pies when they have them!

susan1215 said...

I love their fries and Big Macs

s2s2 at comcast dot net

Erika P. said...

Their Sausage Biscuits are my favorite.
805chick7 at gmail dot com

meganmariemorgan said...

You cant go wrong with a big mac, its a classic! :)
megan.morgan8749 at gmail dot com

Erica C. said...

I like the bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit.
ericacarnes(at)gmail(dot)com

rebeccaeee said...

Love the fruit and nut oatmeal! Will now be trying the berry chiller. rebeccaeee at yahoo dot com.

Breanne said...

french fries

wombatz cazz said...

Shamrock Shake (in season)
wombatpurple(at)yahoo.com

Carolyn Daley said...

I love their soft serve vanilla cones
darkmysticnight(at)hotmail(dot)com

Nicole C. said...

Caramel Frappe

choateorama(at)gmail(dot)com

sparkedcat said...

I like the Filet-o-fish

Julia B. said...

I really like the Spicy McChicken but I'm not sure it's offered everywhere yet!

juliabaxter at ihmail dot com

amy16323 said...

i love their big macs
amy16323(at)gmail(Dot)Com

Ms Penny Pincher said...

My favorite McDonalds item is chicken nuggets!

PDWinner523 at gmail.com

Sarah G. said...

I like their ranch chicken snack wrap

susansmoaks said...

i love the oatmeal
susansmoaks at gmail dot com

Melanie Montgomery said...

Chicken NUggets with Sweet Chili sauce!


clarkmurdock@yahoo.com

laurasloves said...

I love their Chicken sandwiches.
lauraemerson17 at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

Ginger b.
Timelyone at hotmail dot com

I like their pancakes.

corey1971 said...

I love Big Macs! (coreyolomon at gmail dot com)

Jim said...

i love the quarter pounders

jim.coyne2@verizon.net

Tabathia said...

the fish filet
tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com

Lisa said...

I like their Fish Filet

Peachesncream887(at)hotmail(dot)com