A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a blogger event at the Rancho Cucamonga location of McDonald’s here in SoCal. It was an opportunity to learn more about McDonald’s healthier menu options and newer additions that I’d never heard about nor tried. It was also my first blogger event back in Southern California and I was very excited!
I’ll admit upfront — I am not a fast-food person and I hadn’t been in a McDonald’s to eat in a very long time. I’m sharing this because I want to be clear that my blog still is very much about natural living and most fast food does not fit into that category. (Yes, I also blog heavily about cupcake baking and design, but for me, natural living is anti-preservatives, anti-additives and anti-artificial ingredients…not anti-sugar…so it does all fit!) That said, my lack of recent fast food experience does not mean I’m ignorant of its availability and the need for fast, convenient food. In fact, I do keep my eye on what’s offered in restaurants as there are times that we’re out and about and have no choice but to stop and eat somewhere, so it’s important for me to know what options we’ve got for restaurants.
The first criteria for a fast-food restaurant is that it has healthy options, and is transparent about its ingeredients. McDonald’s did not disappoint. After 90 minutes, I not only had a full stomach, but I’d made blogger friends, enjoyed a very information nutritional lesson from a dietitian, and I’d gained a new respect for McDonald’s.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by two very friendly public relation staffers. (I am SO sorry, I cannot locate the business card or your names! I blame the fact that we’re still living in the RV for 2.5 more weeks and I’ve had to get very creative with storage, which in some cases means I won’t find things until we empty it out when we move in on August 1. My sincerest apologies, as you put on a very fun event and I hope to participate in more!) We were offered coffee, hash browns, and a new egg white McMuffin.
The hospitable McDonald’s manager
In a word, yum. I am a huge coffee person, and not just any coffee will suffice. While I like my coffee strong enough to strip paint and grow chest hair on the most feminine of women, my biggest requirement is that it be strong, flavorful, fresh and not bitter. McD’s coffee was all of those! The hash brown has always been a favorite menu item of mine, as it’s a great car food; it doesn’t spill all over my lap and I don’t need to dunk it into a messy sauce for flavor. This was the first I’d had in a very long time!
The egg white McMuffin was excellent! I was afraid it would be bland or lacking in substance, but it was neither. It was seasoned appropriately and definitely made me feel as though I’d had enough food without overdoing it. Would I recommend it, especially to someone looking to eat healthier while on the run? Definitely.
As we were munching, we had a chance to get to know each other. I love meeting with other bloggers! You GET me! Then the dietitian began a brief but informative discussion about nutrition. Despite nutrition and fitness being a big focus in my personal life for many years now, I came away with so much new information! I really wish I’d had my kids there to listen. (Vegetables being your internal brush? A new daily catch phrase here!)
The extremely entertaining licensed nutritionist, Monica Montes
Have you ever visited Choosemyplate.gov? It’s a site to learn about the United States Dept. of Agriculture and United States Dept. of Health and Human Services dietary guidelines as of 2010. I’d had no idea they had changed so much! Utilizing their info, I realized I had a few changes to make in my own diet, even though I think we were pretty healthy to begin with.
(Who knew that a serving of protein was only half the size of your palm, when the traditionally-accepted size had been the size of your palm? Protein is the building block of everything, but you need less than what used to be the norm. Something to keep in mind!)
The tide is changing in another area, too: obesity. It has leveled off in children, it is down in men, but in women? Sadly, still rising. There is more curvature of the spine due to lack of exercise, and the biggest group of people who watch food tv shows? Kids! Who knew, right?? (I am proud to say that all four of my kids love food tv!) The tech lifestyle has also contributed to less exercise, and the cooking lifestyle has lost its edge; a generation ago, cooking and baking was considered normal, and now, the skills just aren’t being passed along as they used to be. It’s up to us to make a concerted effort to bring that back!
We were having a group discussion about kids being picky and food, and I suggested that it had something to do with moms catering to their kids. In our house — four kids of varied ages over a 12-year-range — I don’t have time to be a restaurant. “Here’s what we’re having. Eat it, or don’t, but if you don’t, you will have nothing else unti the next meal I make.” It’s amazing how much children will eat when you don’t cave into their requests and make them something else. It may be ugly that first time or two, but in the end, you will have children who have more varied tastes, are more cooperative to eating what and when you say, but you will have more time to yourself AND the bonus of a less costly grocery budget. Something to think about.
McDonald’s is working within the recommended guidelines of 600 calories per meal, for three meals a day, and two 100-calorie snacks. They offer options for all meals of the day, and with each of those meals, you have choices. Check it out next time you’re in the drive-thru, or better yet, come inside and take some time to look at your options!
I also had the opportunity to try one of their new fruit smoothies. It was delicious! I have to say, I ate more than I would normally eat in the morning, as I’m not a breakfast person at all..unless you count coffee as a breakfast…but I enjoyed it all. They even gifted us with a bag of goodies, and a full serving of apple cinnamon oatmeal as we headed out the door. I had that for lunch later that day and thoroughly enjoyed it.
McDonald’s, you have earned a place back in our fast food roster. While we don’t eat out a lot, as it’s costly for a family of our size, there are times we have no choice. There are also times it is a special treat, and McD’s is now in our rotation. I thank you for your hospitality and the tour — and the smiling faces of all the employees I ran into!
Below is a selection of photos I took throughout the event, including the tour behind-the-counter. I’ve added a few notes under each photo, as I took SO many, I can’t include them all but wanted to share my favorites and those that surprised me…like the whole oil filtration system. (Who knew it was now so techno??)
Thank you, McD’s, for your interest in bloggers and sharing your new healthier options with the masses. We’re so glad you’re listening to the needs of your customers and I’ll be visiting you again soon!
Save the date: on September 10, they are hosting a back-to-school breakfast giveaway from 6am-9am. Keep an eye out at your local McDonald’s! (Our school starts in August, but it won’t stop us from making a drive-thru run that morning. I guarantee it will get my kids out the door faster!)
Bet you didn’t know that the oil is on a filtration system? No worries that your oil has sat or not been cleaned! So technologically advanced!
There’s that very busy drive-thru counter, and impressive to me was the camera watching the play area all day to ensure safety!
Yum! Making fresh food!
So much goes on back here….
Fresh hot-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies. It smelled SO good.
And while this isn’t a food item, check it out — a hand-wiping sanitizing station to use upon exiting the play area. Such a good idea! I wish every play area offered this.