Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Closer Look at McDonald's Fruit and Maple Oatmeal

So I had a lot of time in the car this weekend and heard all about the McDonald's new fruit and maple oatmeal.  It is "filled with notes of fresh apples, plump raisins, juicy cranberries, and brown sugar" for a breakfast that is "perfect harmony".  I heard a rumor that this  so-called "healthy breakfast" had more calories and sugar than a Snickers bar, so I had to investigate!

So... what IS in this creation that packs in so many calories?  Let's take a look!  Ingredients include oats, brown sugar, cream, diced apples, raisins, and cranberries.

Nutrition facts: 290 calories, 4.5 g of fat, 2 g of saturated fat, 32 grams of sugar, 57 g carbs, 160 mg Na, 5 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber.

Vs. snickers: (Chocolate, caramel, peanut goodness):
Nutrition facts: 270 calories, 13.6 g fat, 5.2 g saturated fat, 32.6 g carbs, 28.8 g sugar, 140 mg Na.

What's to love... Oatmeal is packed with soluble fiber that helps lower LDL cholesterol and help keep you full.  The raisins are a good source of fiber and vitamins, and cranberries contain lots of antioxidants which may protect you from heart disease!  *You can order it without the brown sugar to shave off 30 calories and 6 g sugar.

What's not to love... This is a sugar packed breakfast!  Although many of the sugars are natural from the fruit, there are 2 teaspoons of brown sugar in here and it tastes even sweeter!  In addition, they use real cream, which packs in extra fat.
- Oatmeal is a cheap staple, at $2.49 a bowl, this seems to be a bit of a rip-off to me! (See below)

Conclusion: Overall, this is a decent breakfast because it is a good source of fiber, has some protein, is moderate in fat, and low in sodium.  Pair it with a coffee with Splenda and skim milk and breakfast is under 350 calories.

Better options: Make oatmeal at home!  Buy instant oats and microwave them for 1.5 minutes and add your own toppings.  This way YOU can control what goes into your oatmeal and you can save lots of money!
-Use fresh fruit as a topping (It is easier to control calories and sugar with fresh fruit over dried fruit)
Ideas include: Chopped banana, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, melons, apples and cinnamon
Other toppings: chopped nuts (watch your portions), Splenda or sweetener, honey.
Nutrition facts for 1 cup of homemade oatmeal with skim milk, 1/2 cup of strawberries, and splenda (optional)
200 kcals, 2.5 g fat, 0 sat fat, 37 g sugar, 7.5 g sugar, 5.8 g fiber, 8.1 g pro, 35 mg Na.

Making it yourself cuts down on calories, fat, sugar, and sodium while adding extra fiber and protein, plus you don't consume any sneaky (yet hidden) additives.
*Instant oats are always a safe bet, but select your toppings carefully.  It isn't a healthy breakfast if it is covered in maple syrup and brown sugar!  If you buy oatmeal in packets look for original, weight control, or reduced sugar to manage your sugar and calories.

Money saver!  A serving of homemade oatmeal costs about $.25 plus your toppings (strawberries about $.50) so you can prepare this breakfast for about $.75!

If you have a sweet tooth... Make an oatmeal dessert!
Add a few chocolate chips and a teaspoon of peanut butter to 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal to hit the spot.

So... reach into your pantry tomorrow and make your own cup of oatmeal.  Your wallet and your jeans will thank you!

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