The Lure of the 99 Cent
eDiets - The online diet, fitness, and healthy living resource
In the bold take-no-prisoners maneuver,
Burger King launched its 99-cent value menu. This 11-item offering blurs the
line between the burger giant and its competitors by offering new items such as
baked potatoes, chili and tacos.... yes, tacos.
Frankly, I kind of like the idea of
one-stop shopping for my fast food fix. Of course, TASTE will play a big part
in whether I start getting my tacos from BK rather than Taco Bell, or my baked
potato and chili from BK rather than from Wendy's. I haven't tried any of the
value menu items yet, but I am sure the day will come when I succumb.
Speaking of succumb... Scruffy, the tiny
goldfish my son Jonathan won last week at the Bloomsburg Fair, has gone
belly-up. In a touching memorial service, we placed him (her? it?) in his paper
towel-lined bank check box coffin and buried him in the back yard last evening.
Scruffy leaves behind a few fond memories, but no survivors... as far as we
know. Jonathan wept over the loss, but we eased the pain of Scruffy's passing
by promising a replacement fish soon.
Now here's a question for you, the fast
food aficionado: Will your diet go belly-up if you succumb to the lure of
Burger King's new offerings? Well, YES... and NO. Any diet can survive an
occasional fast food outing. Simply choose wisely and watch serving size. You
can get by just fine with a normal serving rather than a super-de-dooper,
eat-it-with-a-shovel serving. Honest.
That being said... how much badness
accompanies this fast food goodness? Well, the official Burger King website
(www.burgerking.com) lists the nutritional info for the new offerings which
include a grilled sourdough burger, bacon cheeseburger, onion rings, side
garden salad, flame-broiled chili, 2 crispy tacos, ice cream shake, baked
potato, soft drink, 5-piece chicken tenders, and fries.
Researchers tell us the average person eats
outside the home something like 4 times a week. Whatever your individual case
may be, why not have it your way when you dine out and opt for the healthiest,
tastiest fare out there? I know cost plays nearly as large a role in your
choices as taste, but there's no such thing as a free lunch... not to mention a
healthy 99-cent one either. For our "cover shot" of the confused consumer
besieged by BK's new menu offerings, we summoned our ever-ready model Nick
Dominguez. You may recognize Nick. He's to the eDiets Worst of the Worst Foods
mailers what Pamela Anderson is to Playboy (they got the better deal,
believe me). Nick returned to the office feeling like he'd just left the Fast
Food Confessional... the magic screen where you whisper (or shout) the foods
you lust for.
The next time you drive by a Burger King,
keep driving by. I don't know about you, but when I am confronted by a bunch of
yummy-sounding foods, I tend to over-order and then overeat. Hey, it's only
a buck, John... have one. Oh, and we have some loose change in the car
console... let's put it to good use: a couple -- not just one, but TWO -- of
tacos would really hit the spot... OK, so maybe it is just me, but someone
is keeping the nation's fast food joints in business.
Bottom line: enjoy an occasional fast food
lunch or dinner -- just don't make it a daily occurrence. Yes, breaking this
habit may mean you'll need to actually set foot in a grocery store and do a
little cooking. But, I bet you'll discover a whole new world of great-tasting,
good-for-you foods awaits.
One more thing: I will have the nutritional
numbers for the rest of BK's value menu offerings next week... if the corporate
office serves 'em up to me.
Alas, my friends... I have failed in my
quest to sample the infamous deep-fried Twinkie that's being touted as this
year's must-try Fair food. While eating my way through, around and across the
Bloomsburg Fair last week, I did not encounter this dastardly delight. However,
thanks to my new friend Mary Jane, I can share the honest-to-badness recipe for
deep-fried Twinkies. WARNING: Eat at your own risk. My intent here is to show
you food marketeers can take a bad food and make it badder...
Mary Jane tells me this recipe for diet
disaster appeared in the St. Petersburg (FL) Times.
Ingredients (for Twinkies): 6 Twinkies,
Popsicle sticks, 4 cups vegetable oil, and flour for dusting.
1 cup milk, 2 Tbsp. vinegar, 1 Tbsp. oil, 1 cup flour, 1 tsp. baking powder,
1/2 tsp. salt
Preparation: Chill or freeze Twinkies for
several hours or overnight. Heat 4 cups vegetable oil in deep fryer to about
To make batter: Mix together milk, vinegar
and oil. In another bowl, blend flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk wet
ingredients into dry and continue mixing until smooth. Refrigerate while oil
heats. Push stick into Twinkie lengthwise, leaving about 2 inches to use as a
handle, dust with flour and dip into the batter. Rotate Twinkie until batter
covers entire cake. Place carefully in hot oil. The Twinkie will float, so hold
it under with a utensil to ensure even browning. It should turn golden in 3 to
4 minutes. Depending on the size of your deep fryer, you might be able to fry
only one at a time, two at the most. Remove Twinkie to paper towel and let
drain. Remove stick and allow Twinkie to sit for about 5 minutes before
serving. Makes 6.
And speaking of "bad foods," here's another
sampling of your Worst of the Worst emails...
I used to work with a girl who, as a
child, liked to eat raw bacon. She'd filch a piece or two from the pile her mom
was frying for breakfast, just about every day. Yes, she was hospitalized for
worms. My personal favorite is a peanut butter and dill pickle sandwich, on
toast. (Hey, don't knock it until you try it!)
As kids we made a "Dagwood" sandwich of
our very own. We started with toasted commercial white bread, butter on one,
mayo on the other, 3 slices of bologna, lettuce, potato chips and radishes.
There were also toasted spaghetti sandwiches and white bread with butter and
covered with sugar for a snack.
After the bars closed, and the
after-hour parties were through, my guy friends would head over to Maryanne's
Diner, which was an open 24-hour grease pit. The specialty at 4 a.m. was The
Stack: a pancake rests at the bottom, next a cheeseburger topped with eggs
anyway you like them, another layer of cheese, hash browns soaked in grease,
and top it off with sausage gravy. It's a local favorite.
My brother-in-law used to go run 5 miles
and then come home, melt a stick of real butter over an entire Sara Lee coffee
cake and eat it all in one sitting. My mouth is drooling at the
NEWS 'n VIEWS
ITEM: Eggs, bacon and sausage for breakfast
are making a comeback
THE SKINNY: According to NPDFoodworld's Breakfast
in America report, the traditional breakfast meal -- eggs and bacon or
sausage -- is coming back into fashion. The consumption of these foods is
reportedly up at a 10-year high. "Americans have probably wanted bacon and eggs
all along," says Arnie Schwartz, vice president of NPD's National Eating
Trends. "What has changed are attitudes. Taste is more important, health
concerns have diminished and making a traditional breakfast at home is making a
GUT REACTION: Good morning graduates of Cholesterol High.
Please ignore the early morning banging noises -- it's merely our arteries
slamming shut! Don't get me wrong. I am a meat lover from way back, but
news like this makes me want to crawl inside a bowl of high-fiber breakfast
ITEM: Our Eating Attitudes
An American Dietetic Association survey indicates 38 percent of Americans claim
to have changed their diets to eat healthy. Thirty percent know they should eat
better but haven't done it, and 32 percent are not concerned with healthy
eating. GUT REACTION: The latter group is obviously made up of Arnie's friends
(see above). Ladies and gentlemen, I applaud those of you who have chosen the
path to a longer, happier life. As for the rest of you, what are you waiting
for? Thanks to eDiets, there's never been a more perfect time to say so long
fat, hello healthier lifestyle. Get started now and you can actually plunge
into the food-choked holiday season with head -- and belly -- held high!
ITEM: 'Fat Man' lawsuit against fast food
chains dropped; kids are new plaintiffs
THE SKINNY: Advisers to Caesar
Barber, the overweight New Yorker who earlier this year filed a lawsuit against
four fast food restaurants for allegedly making him obese, have publicly
dismissed the suit. Overweight children will be the new plaintiffs in future
litigation. George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf says a new
lawsuit -- one that will argue that children are being lured into fast food
restaurants with playgrounds and kids' meals and now are overweight as a result
-- is being prepared.
GUT REACTION: Banzhaf has vowed to "sue them and sue
them and sue them" (them being the so-called Big Food industry) in hopes
a sympathetic jury and a multi-billion dollar payday will eventually follow.
Have it your way, John. But wouldn't it be more productive to target parents
and guardians... and get them to skip the drive-thrus and better steer their
children's eating habits in the right direction?
ITEM: New meat analog cutlet designed to
replace pork, veal and chicken in recipes
THE SKINNY: Meat industry
observers say a few faux meats are giving meat competitors a run for their
money. Most recently, Portland-based Gardenburger introduced a new soy-based
Herb Crusted Cutlet that it says was designed to offer a versatile, meatless
makeover for recipes that call for breaded pork, veal and chicken preparations.
"Increasingly, contemporary cooks are looking for alternatives to meat, whether
for health, safety or ethical reasons," said Wendy Preiser, vice president of
marketing for Gardenburger.
GUT REACTION: While meatless meat ain't quite a
treat for yours truly, I applaud this proliferation of pork-free patties,
beef-less burgers and veal-shy vittles. Do me a favor: don't turn your nose up
at a meat analog (they DO need a better term here) and refuse to try it. You
may be surprised. I was stunned recently by a meatless breakfast sausage that
mirrored the real deal in both the taste and texture departments. So don't be a
meat snob. Your gut reaction may very well be... well, a smaller gut down the
The thing you mentioned about picking up
a hobby rather than a snack has proved to be a boon to my dieting. Instead of
sitting with a package of popcorn or potato chips while watching movies with my
husband, I've been crocheting gifts for weddings, for babies or for Christmas.
This year I'm making scarves for my whole family (including in-laws). I am
rarely without a project and it's helped a lot!
I couldn't agree more with your last
column (The Secrets of Successful Dieting). I have been
watching my diet for about 6 months now and working out 5 to 6 days a week. I
started off sticking to my diet every day but after the 2nd week I decided to
splurge a little bit here and there. I now diet exactly the way you do. I don't
even think of it as a diet anymore -- this a way of life. I eat healthy
probably 85% of the time and the rest I allow myself to enjoy any type of food
that I like in moderation. I have still lost weight and I've lost a ton of
inches with the workouts. I don't miss any of my favorite foods because I allow
myself "free times" to eat something I enjoy. Because of this I know I will be
able to get the weight off and keep it off because this is a way of life now. I
don't feel deprived at all and never feel guilty when I allow myself to
splurge. I know the 15% of the time I eat junk food isn't going to sabotage my
weight or my good habits and it's so much better this way.
Pizza without the cheese is a great
option. When I first started ordering it, everyone looked at me like I was a
freak. But now, many of my co-workers are hooked! (I never get meat toppings,
either. Toppings such as pineapple, spinach, artichoke hearts, onions and
mushrooms make for a pizza with lots of flavor.) Your readers ought to give it
LEAVE 'EM LAUGHING
Harry and his wife happen to pass away on
the same day and as they await their interview with St. Peter at the Pearly
Gates they're approached by an angel.
"Hello," says the angel in a voice that
sounds like TV game show announcer Don Pardo. "I'm your host Lyle and welcome
to Heaven World. In a few moments you'll be entering through our famous Pearly
Gates for the most exciting adventure of your afterlife. Your admission coupon
entitles you to chauffeur-driven limousine service anywhere in the universe,
plus deluxe accommodations at our luxury hotel with all amenities -- pool,
Jacuzzi, indoor tennis courts, private trainers and more. Then after your day
of fun and relaxation, dine at any of our 5-star restaurants savoring the
finest of every cuisine known to man."
At this point, Harry elbows his wife in the
"What did you do that for?" she cries.
Harry shouts, "If it wasn't for you and
that stupid oat bran, we'd have been here 10 years ago!"
ETC., ETC., ETC.