The Restaurant Rat : Fast-Food Entree


The Restaurant Rat : Fast-Food Entree Salads: New Leaf or Fig Leaf? (FoodArticles)

Posted 16 February, 2004 by PAF-News
By Kathryn Martin
Kathryn Martin has covered dining and entertainment from coast to coast – Los Angeles to South Carolina – for more than a decade. She admits to being picky about what she eats, and where she eats it. Contact her at

Fast-food restaurants have taken a lot of heat recently about their contribution to the nation’s growing obesity problem. Consumer advocates have criticized these eateries for the preponderance of fat-laden choices on their menus, their “super-sized” portions and lack of nutritional guidance to diners.
In an avowed effort to become part of the solution instead of part of the problem, McDonald’s Corporation has taken a first step toward turning the tide of obesity in America – or at least, of its own bad press on the subject.

Last month, the fast-food giant launched a line of entree salads, paired with actor Paul Newman’s signature salad dressings. Patrons at Golden Arches outlets nationwide can now get a choice of Caesar, California Cobb or Bacon Ranch salad, with or without meat, and a selection of Newman’s Own dressings.

For those who rely on fast-food outlets because of time or budget constraints, the news of some healthier menu choices seems encouraging. But has the world’s leading food retailer really turned over a new leaf ─ or merely a public relations fig leaf?
The numbers tell the story, and as usual, the devil is in the details. A plain McDonald’s Caesar salad contains 6.7 ounces of crisp mixed greens, tomatoes, shaved carrots and grated Parmesan cheese and weighs in at 90 calories, with 4 grams of fat. Take the grilled chicken version and you gain about 20 grams of protein, along with 120 calories and 3 fat grams. The chicken, served warm, is tender and pleasantly spicy. Skip the creamy Caesar dressing that comes with it (190 calories, 18 fat grams); instead, ask for the light balsamic vinaigrette dressing (90 calories). The result: a healthy, decent-tasting light lunch for under 300 calories. Not bad for fast food.

Opt for the bacon ranch salad and it’s another story. The basic model, mixed greens topped with cheddar and jack cheeses and bacon bits, has 140 calories, 10 fat grams. Take the grilled chicken option and you’re at 270 calories; go for crispy chicken and it’s 370 (21 fat grams). Toss on a packet of ranch dressing and you’re at 660 calories with 51 grams of fat.

You might as well have a Big Mac (590 calories, 34 grams) or – what the heck? – two slices of pepperoni pizza at Domino’s, a mere 560 calories and 20 fat grams. Salad? No thanks, I’m on a diet!
The pickings are no better – in fact worse – at other fast-food eateries. Burger King’s sole entry in the salad sweepstakes is its chicken Caesar. With Parmesan cheese, croutons and creamy dressing, it weighs in at 495 calories and 27 grams of fat.

Taco Bell gets the prize, however, for least healthy salads. Its express taco salad with chips has 620 calories (31 grams of fat); or go for the taco salad in a fried tostada shell, a whopping 790 calories and 42 grams of fat.

McDonald’s deserves credit for at least trying to offer more wholesome choices. But for those trying to eat a sensible, healthy diet, it’s still a case of “buyer beware.”

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Do you like smoked food? There are things you should know about.... (FoodArticles)

Posted 12 November, 2003 by PAF-News
Mesquite wood is used in barbecuing and smoking foods. It gives foods a slightly sweet smokey flavour. Mesquite is the common name for several small spine hardwood trees or shrubs of the genus Prosopis in the pea family. They are native to the southwestern U.S., Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean Islands.

Although you may like smoked foods, they contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which are known carcinogens. Smoked foods are known to be carcinogenic when eaten as a regular part of a person's diet. Most people do not eat enough smoked foods for this to be a major concern.

HOWEVER, the hotter the wood or charcoal burns, the more polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are produced. And mesquite burns hotter than hardwood charcoal, and produces much more of these dangerous hydrocarbons.

According to a study on the subject, in meat cooked with mesquite as opposed to hardwood charcoal, the cancer causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons is 8 times higher and the benzopyrene - the most dangerous hydrocarbon - 40 times.

Domino's New Wisconsin 6 Cheese Pizza Taste Test

Added Wednesday to
Domino's American Legends Pizza line, the Wisconsin 6 Cheese pizza is the chain's first new product since Domino's changed their pizza recipe last year.

The pizza is topped with mozzarella, feta, provolone, Cheddar, Parmesan and asiago cheeses, making it one of the cheesiest pizzas on the market. According to
Nation's Restaurant News, "Domino's is supporting the new pizza with ads that highlight its use of cheese from American dairy farms. The ads will feature customers in a focus group in what they think is an office until the walls come down to reveal a dairy farm."

We couldn't call Domino's fast enough for delivery this morning and we were lucky enough to have some of our very own pizza aficionados from sister and brother sites
Lemondrop and Asylum to help us out.
Our biggest qualm (and everyone else's) with this pizza was the lack of cheese, surprisingly. Especially when we opened the box and a whiff of asiago permeated the air. The only time we were able to distinguish the cheese was when we ate the crust separately -- then we could taste the asiago. There was not a feta chunk to be found.

Call this a regular Domino's cheese pie -- it wouldn't make a difference. However, we still love the new and improved tomato sauce and garlic bread crust.

Nutritional information was not available for this specific pie on their website. For the other American Legends pies, Domino's gives a range of calories, fat and sodium for all seven pies which goes from terrible to outrageous. The information below is taken from that
nutritional sheet and is based on a large pizza.

Domino's Wisconsin 6 Cheese Pizza
Grade: B
Nutritional Information: 1880-3840 calories, 102-232 grams fat, 3590-9520 mg sodium
Our testers said: "While the pizza wasn't bad itself, it wasn't anything special. I wouldn't think twice about ordering a regular cheese pizza if it was cheaper." "I was really looking forward to tasting the feta, but the other cheeses must have overpowered it (or it was left out)." "Nothing special, but this pizza is still way better than anything the other pizza chains are putting out right now."


McRib is Back

The McRib is Back (Early) -- Taste Test

McDonald's McRib sandwichPhoto: Elizabeth Hait, AOL

McDonald's almost got one by us. Earlier this month, we announced that the McRib would be returning to menus for a short time only, starting November 2nd. But we kept spotting massive McRib ads posted in the windows of various McDonald's locations, and our curiosity spiked. So we hit the McRib locator, made a couple of phone calls, and it was confirmed: McDonald's has sent the McRib into the world (at some locations) a week early.

For those of you who have been hiding under a rock, the McRib is a pork sandwich (not actually boneless ribs, so don't get your hopes up) slathered in BBQ sauce and topped with onions and pickles. After it made its last and brief appearance back in 2006, the McRib has gathered a cult following.
We admit that many of us at Slashfood were McRib virgins until today. And while we all agreed that the pork-patty sandwich was slathered with way too much BBQ sauce (so much so that the bun was soggy), it was actually a pretty pleasant nosh. To take it one step further, check out the McRib deconstructed.

McDonald's McRib Sandwich
Grade: B
Nutritional Information: 500 calories, 26 grams fat, 980 mg sodium
Our testers said: "Ok, while it wasn't a true BBQ sandwich, it was tasty and I found myself wanting more." "If I closed my eyes and you didn't tell me what it was, I could have mistaken this for a BBQ burger." "The onions and pickles get lost, but that could be because of the BBQ sauce." "The pork itself was moist, I would eat this again."


Road Tea

How to follow the tea road?

Tea is a drink of everyday, shared by billions of people, often prepared in a
rudimentary way and yet, far from being ordinary, it offers a magical dimension!
It is because, contrary to the other drinks, tea never tastes the same, either the
same flavour, or the same strength. Different types of teas are found in immensely diversifying flavours, tastes, colours and benefits.

Of all the countries I visited, I discovered a thousand ways to drink tea. Through
the rituals practiced by people, I realized that preparing and pouring a tea was a
relationship to others and nature, the same relationships as those that matter in
our lives. This made the voyage even more enticing, to learn and experience tea
rituals of the lands producing it.

To share my experience of all those feelings and finding magical moments, here
are some of my various travels, including China, Japan, India, Laos, Vietnam, Sri
Lanka, South Africa, Burkina-Faso and Argentina. Not only have I explored teas in these regions but also learnt about plants and flowers that made mixtures, coming from the four corners of the world. This in particular helped the creative tea fanatic inside me to bring out his creativity in designing unique tea mixtures that leave a splendid impact on the drinker.

On the road of organic tea producers, the goal remains the same: to promote
the organic sector by providing direct and fair compensation for producers,
improving incomes, enhancing living conditions, granting social rights and ensuring environmental goodness.

Here is a study of some regions:


China: Region of Yunnan - There is an excellent cooperative, organic
certified in 2004 and FLO in 2007, the cooperative has 250 families of
small producers belonging to the Lahu ethnic group.

Favourite Teas: Pu-erh, Mini Tuocha, Yunnan Dianhong.

China: Hubei region - Another cooperative, organic certified in 2001 and
FLO in 2007, has 500 families of small producers belonging to ethnic Tujia
and Miao.

Favourite Teas: Chun Mee, Gunpowder, Sencha, Jade Cloud, Wulu Premium Kung Fu Congou, Lapsang Souchong.

Laos: Tray of Bolovènes – organic certified in 2007 and FLO in 2009, the
cooperative of my choice has saved the hand-made production scale of 100
families of farmers cultivating traditional tea of high quality.

Favourite Teas: Green, Black Paksong, Celestial Oolong, Mekong.


Argentina: Guiray (Misiones Province) - I visited a small cooperative,
which includes 20 producers of mate. I have partners who have worked for
5 years in creating this production of organic material in the region of San

Plant chosen: Maté


Burkina Faso - I started a development project in 2009 for 2 plants
(hibiscus and neem) in Burkina-Faso with the help of Africa Orange
Blue. This project will support the work of rural women and maintain the
culture of ancient plants.

Plants: HibiscusBusiness Management Articles, Neem.

The road to tea producers has been overwhelming in all ways. Direct
association with the cooperatives and studying tea with small farmers led La
Route Des Comptoirs to where it stands today.

McDonald's Loses Obesity Suit

McDonald's Loses Obesity Suit

  McDonald's french friesPhoto: ChuKi, Flickr

A manager at a McDonald's in Brazil sued the company because he said working at the fast-food chain made him fat -- and he won.

A Brazilian court ordered McDonald's to pay the unidentified plaintiff $17,500, siding with the man who claimed that he had gained more than 65 pounds during his stint with the company, according to

It wasn't just all those complimentary employee meals that caused him to balloon from 155 pounds to more than 230, the man said. It was his fear of "mystery clients" (presumably the Brazilian equivalent of "secret shoppers"). The manager said that he was so intimidated by the prospect that these stealth eaters would find his restaurant's food subpar that he felt he was required to sample menu items every day.

No word whether the court determined that eating too many hamburgers might cause a little paranoia, too.


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