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Tag Archive | "McDonald’s"

McDonald’s Participates in Wreaths Across America


McDonalds Wreaths

Members of the Greater San Antonio Area McDonald’s Owner/Operator Association, their families and crew members participated in wreath-laying ceremony Saturday morning at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, 1520 Harry Wurzbach Road.

The ceremony was part of the national Wreaths Across America event, which has been formed to honor, remember and teach about the service and sacrifices of U.S. veterans, active military and their families by placing wreaths on the graves of fallen soldiers. The local event was one of 850 such remembrances that took place across the country.

In addition to participating in the event, local McDonald’s owner/operators organized a donation of $1,000 for wreaths.

McDonalds Wreaths 2

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McDonald’s Offers the Gift of Reading to Pre-K 4 SA


Mayor Julián Castro and elected officials joined local McDonald’s owner/operators to applaud their donation of 3,000 books to the Pre‐K 4 SA program Tuesday.

Mayor Julián Castro, Ronald McDonald and members fo the Pre-K 4 SA program.

Mayor Julián Castro, Ronald McDonald and members fo the Pre-K 4 SA program.

Castro, District 8 Councilmember Ron Nirenberg, District 3 Councilmember Rebecca Viagran and Pre‐K 4 SA CEO Kathleen Bruck gathered at the North Education Center on 3635 Medical Drive, as local McDonald’s owner/operators presented newly published books for distribution to the nearly 700 Pre‐K 4 SA students enrolled in the program. Another 6,700 books are being donated to students throughout San Antonio.

“The best way to ensure academic success is to make sure that a child is able to read by the third grade,” Castro said. “These books will help hundreds of San Antonio children get off to a great start.”

Through Nov. 14, McDonald’s is offering a Happy Meal that features one of four kid-sized books: “Deana’s Big Dreams,” “The Goat Who Ate Everything,” “Ant Can’t” and “Doddi the Dodo Goes to Orlando.”

“We’re excited to invite families to spend time together and celebrate the joy of reading through these Happy Meal books,” said Pedro Carrazana, McDonald’s owner/operator and president of the Greater San Antonio McDonald’s Owner/Operator Association. “This is the latest step in our ongoing efforts to enrich the lives of families.”

Pre-K 4 SA is designed to improve the quality and quantity of pre-kindergarten childhood education for 4-year-olds citywide focusing on numeracy and literacy as well as providing professional development for pre-K thorugh grade 3 eudcators. Over eight years, Pre-K 4 SA will educate a projected 22,400 4-year-old children.

 

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For National Burger Month, Check Your BQ


Big Bob 50-50 burger 400

This is the 50-50 burger at Big Bob’s Burgers, 447 Hildebrand Ave. Half beef, half bacon. All good.

I don’t remember my first taste of a hamburger. Considering its lofty post on the national foodie consciousness these days, this moment would seem to have seared some imprint on my brain that this, this was what food was all about.

The fact is, burgers weren’t even close to claiming the defining moment of my nascent foodiehood. What I do remember is eating ice cream at the kitchen table in my parents’ first apartment, finishing off the one scoop, then asking my mom for another, specifying that it should be served in a clean bowl.

Burgers did enter the scene a few years after this. It was during the long, fierce blast of an icy winter in Missoula, Mont., while my parents were finishing master’s degrees.  We were, undeniably, poor. The only burgers we ate for months were venison burgers. And venison meatloaf, roasts and casseroles. For Christmas, it was a big, greasy goose. My mother also received a beautiful buckskin jacket that Christmas from the hunter — my grandfather. I recognize now that this food was his gift of love and great care for us, and one of the only ways he could help with our support. Nevertheless, offer me a venison burger now and I’ll probably say no, thanks.

Smashburger-Potranco 4

Smashburger’s Mushroom and Cheese

Somewhere between those days and now, the burger rose from staple to superstar, from a bagful of sliders to monstrous concoctions garnished with gold foil and selling for more than $1,000. We’ve endured seemingly endless television, print and digital discussions of the perfect mix of fat to beef, the perfect grind, the perfect cut to grind, the best cheese. We’ve debated the ultimate toppings, from guacamole and fried eggs to wild mushrooms and bacon jam; we’ve argued about the must-haves when it comes to buns — and possibly even ate (God help us) a burger on a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

Considering all of that, it’s not surprising that I breathe a little sigh of relief just to be served a freshly made burger, half-wrapped in white paper, on a decent buttered and grilled bun with a slab of cheddar cheese, good dills, sliced (unsweet) onion. A great mustard is called for, but in a pinch, plain old yellow American ballpark will do. Ketchup? It’s for the fries.

We don’t go into which we consider the “best” burgers in San Antonio here. We all have our favorites. Here are a few questions, though, to tantalize your burger quotient — and may you enjoy burger month any way you like it.

Neon Burger1. Who said, “When people pile seven things onto one burger, it drives me nuts!”

a) Giada De Laurentiis
b) Alton Brown
c) Bobby Flay
d) Martha Stewart

2. Who said, and where did he say it, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today!”

3. For best results when cooking burgers on a grill, you should only flip them once, and not press down on the meat with the spatula because that squeezes out the juice.

a.  true
b. false
c. false and true

McDonalds Fries4. In what year and what city did Richard and Maurice McDonald open up the first McDonald’s?

a) 1921 in San Francisco
b) 1953 in Kansas City, Mo.
c) 1940 in San Bernardino, Calif.
d) 1948 in Philadelphia

5. A Tex-Mex-style burger was born in San Antonio in the 1960s, called the bean burger — a burger embellished with Cheez Whiz, refried beans and Fritos out of the bag. What was the name of the restaurant where it was introduced?

a) Chris Madrid’s
b) Tink-a-Tako
c) The Malt House
d) Sills Snack Shack

6. Which burger below most qualifies as trendy?

a) Pub burgers
b) Bacon- and cheese-stuffed burgers
c) Kale burgers
d) Burgers sous-vide

7. The English love their fish and chips as Americans love their burgers. But, according to research in Britain, the average English pub sells 160 burgers a week, compared with 90 servings of fish & chips.

a) true
b) false

Answers:
1. c
2. Wimpy, a character in the Popeye cartoon, a glutton for burgers who rarely had the money to pay for them.
3. c. Flip the burgers over a couple-three times if you want, but don’t press them with the spatula.
4. c
5. d
6. a
7. a, true (according to burgerbusiness.com)

(Burger on the cover of SavorSA today is from Feast, on South Alamo Street.)

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Restaurants Want You to Savor the Season in Some Special Treats


It’s the holiday season, and that means seasonal treats in a host of traditional flavors, some with delicious twists.

RustyZipper.com has all sorts of vintage ugly sweaters.

Get out your ugly holiday sweaters

So, remember that holiday sweater some ex-friend gave you that was so ugly it made you long for fruitcake?

Well, it’s time to take it out of mothballs and wear it proudly. Both Max’s Wine Dive, 340 E. Basse Road, and Boiler House Texas Grill & Wine Garden, 312 Pearl Parkway, are having a day devoted to those ghastly knitted creations. On Dec. 14, anyone wearing an ugly sweater will receive a free dessert or small plate under $10.

So, find that sweater that puts the “err” in “merry,” and put it to the only good use there is outside of burning it for fuel.  To reach the Boiler House, call  (210) 354-4644 or visit www.boilerhousesa.com. For Max’s Wine Dive, call (210) 444-9547 or visit www.maxswinedive.com.

If you wish to invest in a vintage ugly sweater, check out RustyZipper.com. You can even find plenty that get more lit than a drunken uncle on Christmas!

Christmas concert at Boardwalk Bistro

On Dec. 20, Boardwalk Bistro, 4011 Broadway, hosts Small World, which will be performing their 20th annual Christmas Concert.

“We are serving our regular dinner menu with Christmas specials,” owner Barbara Hunt says. “The performance is 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., and there is no cover charge. This is always a wonderful event.”

For more information, call (210) 824-0100.

McDonald’s Holiday Pie

McDonald’s decorates its menu with holiday flavors

McDonald’s is offering the following treats through the end of the year:

  • Peppermint Mocha – a milder blend of espresso, steamed milk, peppermint and dark chocolate syrup, topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle
  • Peppermint Hot Chocolate – a blend of peppermint and dark chocolate syrup, steamed milk, topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle
  • Holiday Mint McFlurry – a soft serve vanilla ice cream blended with peppermint candy pieces and holiday mint flavored syrup
  • Egg Nog Shake – a delightfully creamy, egg nog flavored shake with real whipped cream and a cherry
  • Holiday Pie – a sweet custard filling baked inside a flaky pastry with colorful holiday sugar sprinkles on top

Cookie Bites and more at Corner Bakery Café

Corner Bakery Café, 18720 Stone Oak Parkway, is cooking up baked goods trays featured Cookie Bites, Bar Bites and Bundt Bites. Plus, the purchase of a large Cinnamon Creme Cake brings a $5 bonus card valid during the month of January.

Call (210) 441-4547.

EZ’s Pumpkin Latte Shake

Pumpkin treats at EZ’s through the holidays

EZ’s Brick Oven & Grill introduced two seasonal treats for October, and they proved so popular that both were held over through the holidays.

The dishes are the Pumpkin Latte Shake and the Roasted Pumpkin Pizza. both are available at all EZ’s locations.

Click here for more information.

Holiday lunches return to Ruth’s Chris

Both Ruth’s Chris Steak House locations will have holiday lunch hours this December.

The steakhouse at Concord Plaza, 7720 Jones Maltsberger Road, (210) 821-5051, is open now through Dec. 21, 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., while the Sunset Station location, 1170 E. Commercce St., (210) 227-8847, will be open Dec. 17–21, 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

The cost is $50 per person and includes a starter, a choice of entrée, Accompaniment & Dessert

Choose an entrée from Filet & Frites, Sliced Steak Sandwich, Salmon, Chicken Caesar or Mixed Grill.

No other promotions can be used with this offer.

Black-eyed pea tamales at La Fonda Alamo Heights

La Fonda Alamo Heights, 6402 N. New Braunfels,  is combining two holiday traditions under one husk: tamales and black-eyed peas. From now through Dec. 31, you can order black-eyed pea tamales in addition to the usual pork, chicken and beef varieties.

“You are supposed to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck throughout the coming year,” says owner Hans White. “We figured this was a tasty way to do it!”

These handmade tamales can be ordered by the dozen and come ready to steam and serve at your next holiday gathering. Prices range from $8.50 per dozen for pork (with or without jalapeños), chicken, and beef to $12 per dozen for black-eyed pea. Order by calling (210) 824-4231.

If you have holiday restaurant news to share, email walker@savorsa.com or griffin@savorsa.com.

 

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Griffin to Go: Kids and Diet, Good News and Bad News


What's healthy for a child and what's too much?

Parents, dietitians and probably even a few kids were surprised this past week when McDonald’s announced that it would be changing its Happy Meal by reducing the size of its fries and by adding apples to the mix. The new meal, which debuts in September, features 20 percent fewer calories and less fat than before, but it still comes with a toy. (I can hear a few kids breathing easier. The ones who hate apple slices will likely ignore them the same way that those who don’t care for pickle on their burgers simply have them removed.)

The chain announced that the change comes after in-depth interviews with parents and guardians as well as children. And the news comes on the heels of reports that potatoes, especially fried ones, are likely to add to your girth.

Is a child’s order of fries going to make that much difference? Sadly, it could.

The number of obese children in America has doubled over the past 30 years, says PeoplesHealth.com, which goes on to offer a few more facts :

  • “There is alarming increase in the number of children and adolescents developing type-2 diabetes (also termed as adult-onset diabetes) due to being overweight.
  • “The high levels of cholesterol and high blood pressure that are some of the main risk factors for development of heart diseases are found in most of the obese children.
  • “Sleep apnea (interruption of breath while sleeping) is considered as the most severe problem faced by obese children. In rare cases, this sleep apnea may lead to other problems like difficulty in learning and memory.
  • “Obese children are on higher risk of developing liver diseases, orthopedic problems and asthma.
  • “More than 70 percent obese adolescents retain their overweight and obese condition even during their adulthood.”

In other words, too many kids these days are eating themselves into an early grave. So many, in fact, that a doctor from the Harvard-associated Children’s Hospital Boston is advocating the removal of children from their homes if they are so obese that their lives are in danger. He wasn’t speaking of any obese kid, but those whose medical condition has been neglected to the point that it becomes a form of child abuse.

When I was growing up, children were told to eat their rutabagas, no matter how bitter, or those nasty sweet potatoes in an orange cup because of “the starving children in China.” Nowadays, we have to tell children not to eat too much, because of “the children in Boston who are eating themselves to death.”

Something is broke. Adding apples to a meal isn’t going to fix it, but it’s a start.

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At McDonald’s, New Menu Items Are the Result of Teamwork


McDonald's Fruit and Maple Oatmeal

By Chris Dunn

Earlier this year, McDonald’s introduced a new item to its breakfast menu, Fruit and Maple Oatmeal, which has been designated by San Antonio’s Healthy Restaurants Coalition as an official ¡Por Vida! menu choice. The honor is awarded to dishes that suggest a balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy and lean protein.

We spoke with McDonald’s chef Dan Coudreaut, director of culinary innovation, about the product:

How did the idea to add oatmeal to the McDonald’s breakfast menu come about?

Dan Coudreaut

When I looked at our breakfast menu, I stood back and I said, “Where’s our gap? What do we need at breakfast?”  Back when I worked at a hotel or a restaurant, oatmeal was always on the menu.  So, I saw that as a gap.

So how did you develop the idea?

Very collaboratively. … I work with a lot of chefs … the chefs I’m talking about are the supplier community within McDonald’s that support McDonald’s, such as Price’s, McCormick, GFS (Gordon Food Services), Cargill, Fresh Express, Marilyn Farms.  They have culinary resources that are available to us, and a large part of my job is to make sure I’m networking with them.

What happens when you and the other chefs get together?

It’s a very dynamic environment … as we’re working shoulder to shoulder, banter back and forth, ideas only get better.

What were the results that you came up with?

The apples on top were very visually appealing and pleasantly unexpected; the maple brown sugar had a familiar and very comforting flavor profile.  And then we had to go and test it in our restaurants.

So, how do you test market a new item?

What we’ll do is … we’re asking our guest what he thinks: What do you think of the size? What do you think of the value? What do you think of the appearance? What do you think of the taste? We do that at focus groups, we do it at operation tests (which means four restaurants). Then it might get into an advertised sales test — that’s about 500 restaurants, where you’re actually producing a commercial for it and spending a million dollars on that …

(After further studies are made on profitability and to make sure the item is not taking away from sales of other items, then) if everything feels right, we’re in business.

So how long did this menu item take to develop?

It was probably about three years.  The Smoothie took even longer, 4-5 years, because we had to custom build a machine for McDonald’s.

What is the most important aspect of a new item?

Taste is always going to have to be king. You want to put something healthy on the menu, but if people don’t eat it and it goes in the garbage, it’s not doing anybody any good. … So, the challenge I have is how to make it balanced and have good nutrients but also taste good.

Have you ever had an idea for a new item that didn’t work out?

When I was trying to figure out the idea for the Snack Wrap, one of the ideas all the chefs were very excited about was the Tacodilla.  We made a quesadilla, and then we put a piece of chicken in it, then we added some sauce, and we wrapped it up so that you had quesadilla in a taco. And the guests didn’t get it. They hated it.

But I don’t look at them as failures — you build upon them to get you to an answer that you might not have known.

Chris Dunn is a San Antonio-based food writer.

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It’s McOatmeal Time at the Golden Arches


Fruit & Maple Oatmeal at McDonald's.

McDonald’s is adding oatmeal to its breakfast menu, the first addition since 2008.

The Fruit & Maple Oatmeal can be ordered with or without brown sugar. It is made to order and can be purchased all day.

The dish consists of natural whole grain oats and light cream, plus the sugar, if desired. It is topped with fresh red and green apple cubes, tangy dried cranberries and two types of raisins.

According to a press release from the company, Fruit & Maple Oatmeal has 290 calories per serving as well as fiber and vitamin C. It also offers about 25 percent of an individual’s daily fruit recommendation.

“New Fruit & Maple Oatmeal underscores McDonald’s continued commitment and ability to meet San Antonio-area customers’ needs for a variety of meal choices,” said Pedro Carrazana, president of the Greater San Antonio McDonald’s Owner/Operator Association. “With the option of visiting more than 120 locations throughout the greater San Antonio area, our customers will have the accessibility and opportunity to get Fruit & Maple any time of the day.”

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Restaurant Notes & Quotes: New Watermark Chef, Winter Tost Menu, Ruth’s Chris Treats Kids, and More


New chef at Watermark Grill

Philippe Pinon has been named executive  chef of Watermark Grill, 18740 Stone Oak Parkway.

The  French-born chef with more than 20 years experience was most recently at the Four Diamond Award-winning Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove.

“We are thrilled to have a chef with Philippe’s depth and breadth of experience join us,” said Patrick J. Kennedy, owner of the Watermark. “We want to give him the opportunity to put his own personal stamp on the restaurant and look forward to unveiling the new menus on Dec. 15. We are excited and we think our guests are going to be as well.”

The restaurant will close temporarily while Pinon works with the staff to prepare the new menus. It will reopen Dec. 15 with new hours as well as a new menu. Watermark Grill will be open for lunch and dinner 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Saturday.  The restaurant will be open for brunch and dinner 10:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Sunday.

Visit www.watermarkgrill.com or call 210-483-7600 for more information.

New winter menu at Tost Cafe Français

The braised short rib at Tost.

Seasonal items abound in the new winter menu at Tost Cafe Français,  14415 Blanco Road.

A few samplings include Wild Mushroom Soup, Grilled Caesar Salad, Homemade Country Pâté, Acadian Peppered Shrimp in a Fried Onion Cup, Crispy Skin Salmon served on wilted spinach leaves, a large order of fried mussels (Moules Frites) served with french fries and aioli, Pernod Flambéed Shrimp with sautéed fall vegetables, Shiner Beer Braised Short Ribs, Steak Frites with Beurre  Maitre d’Hotel, and Wild Mushroom Risotto.

For reservations call 210-408-2670.

Ruth’s Chris treats kids to Thanksgiving dinner

The Spurs Coyote and Roy Maas resident Leah get acquainted at the Ruth's Chris Thanksgiving dinner.

It wasn’t just dinner at a restaurant — it was Thanksgiving dinner, Nov. 21,  with all the trimmings at Ruth’s Chris Steak House for residents at Roy Maas’ Youth Alternatives. Supporters and even the Spurs mascot, the Coyote, came to dine with the kids on food prepared by chef Chris Brooks and his team.

Lana Duke, who owns both San Antonio locations of Ruth’s Chris as well as restaurants in two other cities, was on hand to enjoy the festivities.

Emcee Sonny Melendez, left, chef Chris Brooks and Ruth's Chris owner Lana Duke host a Thanksgiving meal for residents of Roy Maas' Youth Alternatives.

This marks the sixth year that former foster child Duke has opened the doors of the Concord Plaza location of her San Antonio restaurant to the children of Roy Maas’ Youth Alternatives, and prepared a Thanksgiving feast that they will not soon forget.

The San Antonio steakhouse is the only Ruth’s Chris location to undertake this elaborate endeavor. “For many of these children it is the highlight of their year,” says Duke.

Orange Leaf Yogurt’s 12 Days of Christmas

Nothing says holidays like the rich taste of gingerbread or the creamy smoothness of eggnog. Now Orange Leaf Yogurt is offering you a chance to enjoy those flavors without all the calories.

It’s all part of Orange Leaf Yogurt’s “12 Days of Christmas” contest. For every Gingerbread or Eggnog yogurt you purchase from Dec. 1 until Dec. 24, you can enter your name in the “12 Days of Christmas” drawing for a chance to win one of several terrific prizes.

Orange Leaf Yogurt is at 1207 N. Loop 1604 W., Suite, 103, in The Vineyards Shopping Center.  It is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday.  Call 210-492-LEAF (5323) or visit www.orangeleafyogurt.com.

Sunday Fun Days at McNay

The McNay Art Museum, 6000 N. New Braunfels Ave., is offering Sunday Fun Days throughout the holiday season.

Families and friends can get together from noon to 5 p.m. each Sunday to view the art collection, shop the gift shop and sample food from Wheelie Gourmet, a new food truck in town.

Neil Hajji, co-owner of Wheelie Gourmet, jumped at the chance to be a part of the Sunday Fun Days. “It seemed like a natural fit since we love to promote the arts and we like to think our food is a an art form in itself, being Moroccan-inspired sandwiches,” he says.

Wheelie Gourmet’s food truck is easy to spot because of a mural created by Eric Fonseca of Cofa Productions. There’s also an environmental green aspect to this foodmobile.  “Our truck runs on bio-fuel that we make ourselves.  No kidding! We collect the vegetable oils that we (and other restaurateurs) cook with and turn it into fuel,” Hajji says.

For more information and locations for Wheelie Gourmet, visit www.wheeliegourmet.com.

Grounds and gift shop visitation are free; museum entry-fees apply.  Visit www.mcnayart.org for additional hours and fees. Click here for more information on Wheelie Gourmet.

Golden Arches up north

A new McDonald’s has opened at 3806 N. Loop 1604 E. at Bulverde Road. Call 210-497-4600.

First Saturday buffet at Tommy Moore’s

Tommy Moore’s Café and Deli, 915 S. Hackberry St., is hosting its monthly First Saturday all-you-can-eat buffet from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. this week.

The holiday buffet will include turkey, ham, oyster cornbread dressing and more.

The cost is $10.95 for adults and $6.95 for children ages 6-12. Call 210-531-9800.

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¡Por Vida! — Helping You Eat Healthier, So You Can Live Better


By Chris Dunn

¡Por Vida!

That’s the name of a new program designed to help diners make healthier choices at San Antonio area restaurants.

It was recently launched by The Healthy Restaurants Coalition, a partnership among the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, the San Antonio Restaurant Association, the San Antonio Dietetics Association, the Mayor’s Fitness Council, and interested people in the community.

The coalition hopes to promote healthier food choices in restaurants and better nutrition within the community by identifying those menu items that meet nutritional guidelines developed by The Healthy Restaurants Coalition.

Participating restaurants will display the red and yellow “¡Por Vida!” logo (a yellow fork and spoon intertwined in the shape of a heart on a red background) beside the qualifying menu items.  Detailed nutritional information will also be available on request.

During a conference announcing the program, Dr. Fernando Guerra, director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, pointed to the “tragic trends” of obesity and diabetes especially among children in our community.  He stressed the importance of reaching young children at “a critical stage of development,” citing statistics that, without intervention, 30  to 40 percent of them will be obese by grades 3 or 4.

San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro singled out the unique, cooperative spirit that exists among the participating organizations. “Healthier eating is recognized as a community responsibility,” he said, adding. “Here, restaurants are proactive.”

Charter participating restaurants include McDonald’s, Pico de Gallo, Jim’s Restaurants, Delicious Tamales, Fish City Grill, Carino’s Italian Restaurants and the RK Catering Group.

Professional dietitians worked with each participant to identify or create entrées and side dishes that meet nutritional standards developed by the Healthy Restaurants Coalition. No more than 700 calories, 23 grams total fat, 8 grams saturated fat, 0.5 gram transfat, and 750 milligrams sodium will be in an adult entrée and two side items.  Children’s nutritional standards have also been developed.

A number of local dignitaries praised the program’s goals.

Ruben Cortez, president of the San Antonio Restaurant Association, said, “San Antonio has our commitment.” But he added that, though “market forces are key” for ¡Por Vida! to be successful, the consumer will ultimately determine the success of the program.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said that, along with making healthy choices in what people eat, they must also exercise.  “We need to tie the two together,” he said.

Rayna Wooten, president of the San Antonio Dietetics Association, noted that “San Antonio is in the battle for its life” against obesity and diabetes, while State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte said the biggest problem our community faces is “what’s on our dinner plate.”

Chris Dunn is a contributor to SavorSA and an organizer of ¡Por Vida!

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Griffin to Go: How Effective Are Calorie Counts on Menus?


Do you care what the calorie count of a dish is when it looks this good?

A friend, Melody Campbell Goeken, recently went to New York and was surprised to find the calorie counts listed on menus in the restaurants there.

Perhaps horrified would be more like it. As she posted on Facebook, “Am totally depressed. All of the menus have the calories listed right next to the dee-lish descriptions!! Loaded potato skins, 2070!!!!!!!”

Yet for almost two years now, the city has required that all restaurants include these numbers on their menus.

Does having that information affect people’s choices?

“A menu with caloric information really

makes you think about what you choose,” Melody says. “The downside of listing only calories is that you don’t know other important details such as sodium and sugars. I think the information is very helpful as an awareness tool, but does not explain the full nutritional value — or lack of.”

That’s the view of a visitor passing through, and I might do likewise the first time or two that I would dine out in New York. But I have a feeling I would soon get to be like the diners of fast-food restaurants who participated in a study last year. The results shows that “about half the customers noticed the calorie counts, which were prominently posted on menu boards,” the story in the New York Times says. “About 28 percent of those who noticed them said the information had influenced their ordering, and 9 out of 10 of those said they had made healthier choices as a result.

“But when the researchers checked receipts afterward, they found that people had, in fact, ordered slightly more calories than the typical customer had before the labeling law went into effect, in July 2008.”

What we say and what we do are often two different things. If I really wanted loaded potato skins or a baked potato piled high with cheese, butter, bacon and sour cream, then it wouldn’t matter what the calorie count would be.

I do agree with Melody, however, that the data is incomplete. I don’t pay attention to calories. I try to monitor sugar and carbohydrate content. So, I wouldn’t be ordering potatoes in the first place. But a nutritional analysis on a menu might tell me if the sauce on a pork dish has been loaded with sugar or remind me of why I should stay far, far away from most restaurants’ rice dishes or pasta. For others, it could be fat counts or exposure to gluten or peanuts.

I’m not in favor of requiring each and every one of these on a menu, any more than I am for forcing restaurants to list calorie counts. Do you think it would affect your eating habits over the long haul, especially if you knew the nutritional breakdown of, say, puffy tacos or a plate of cheese enchiladas? You may say yes now, but think of all the studies that have been printed before on these foods and not one has changed affected the popularity of these dishes.

Cracked thinking

McDonald’s is one restaurant chain that will give you a card with the nutritional breakdown of its dishes. I just wish it was a little more willing to change its egg-buying practices.

The American McDonald’s recently voted against a move suggested by the Humane Society of the United States to include at least 5 percent of cage-free eggs in their breakfasts. And that was the end of that. Nobody’s forcing the company to buy anything it doesn’t want.

Yet, at the same time, the European McDonald’s is moving to all cage-free eggs by the end of this year. In the latter case, all of the European Community will be required to use cage-free eggs by 2012, so the company is simply staying one or two steps ahead of regulation. (Click here for more.)

For the past five or six years, I have purchased only cage-free eggs for home use, not just because of the questions of cruelty involved in conventional egg production. The eggs I buy have yolks with the deep orange-y yellow color of a Veuve Clicquot label. The flavor is richer, and so are the results of baked goods I make.

That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped eating eggs. I know that restaurants and taco trucks in the area don’t use cage-free eggs, nor should they be forced to by some unnecessary regulation. But I would be more willing to patronize a place that offered cage-free eggs in the same way I prefer to visit places that offer the freshest sustainable produce and meats.

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