Wanda Montoya (left) and Kayleigh King work at Subway, where officials claim to offer healthy sandwiches. CNJ staff photo: Darrell Todd Maurina
Fast-food restaurant officials say they are offering healthier fare these days — meals that will still tempt the tastebuds as the fat and calorie content of their core products come under scrutiny.
McDonald’s recently enlisted the aid of Oprah Winfrey’s personal trainer to promote an adult version of the Happy Meal, according to an Associated Press report.
Instead of Happy Meal standards like a burger and a toy, the new Go Active meal will include a salad, an exercise booklet and a pedometer meant to encourage walking.
Fitness guru Bob Greene has agreed to help promote the Go Active Meal, which is being test-marketed at 150 McDonald’s restaurants in Indiana.
C.J. Cota, area supervisor for McDonald’s in the Clovis area, said he hadn’t received word when or if the Go Active Meal will be slated for the eastern New Mexico region.
Still, McDonald’s offers healthy meals, Cota said.
“We offer the new side salads — bacon ranch, California cobb and Caesar salad, with crispy or grilled chicken, for $1,” he said. “We also have a fruit and yogurt parfait. It’s very popular. We have fresh strawberries, blueberries and vanilla yogurt topped with granola. It’s very good.”
Two weeks ago, U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet in New York dismissed an obesity lawsuit against McDonald’s that alleged it had been hiding the health risks of eating its popular Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets. It was the second time this year Sweet threw out a class-action lawsuit that blamed McDonald’s for making people fat.
Burger King, the No. 2 hamburger chain, just launched a new line of low-fat, baguette-style chicken sandwiches last week.
“Our Santa Fe chicken baguette is low in fat,” said Patti Jimenez, Burger King restaurant manager in Clovis. “The chicken baguette combo lite meal comes with water (in a bottle) and a side salad. It’s a low-fat value. We’ve just started with it, but I’m sure it will sell well. The vegetables are grilled, not fried.”
Burger King also has other healthy offerings, Jimenez said.
“We have the BK veggie burger, with only 11 grams of fat,” she said. “We also have side salads and chicken Caesar salads.”
Wilby Entila, general manager of Wendy’s restaurant in Clovis, pointed to seasonal promotional sandwiches and salads as a way of enticing people to healthier choices.
“We keep salads available for people to enjoy,” he said. “Right now, we have the Southwestern chicken Caesar as a promotion. We have these seasonal promotions every year. And we also have our regular salads, the BLT salad, mandarin salad, spring mix salad and the taco supreme salad. We have a side salad and a Caesar salad.”
Those salad-type meals market well, Entila said.
“We sell a lot of them — especially when they first come out,” he said. “We sold 150-200 salads a day. That was last year, but we still sell between 50 and 100 a day even now.”
Subway restaurants, whose national spokesman once weighed 425 pounds and claims to have lost 265 pounds by exercising and eating Subway sandwiches, offers an entire meal of low-fat foods, said Weston Anderson, a Subway crew member in Clovis.
“We have seven subs that are under 6 grams of fat,” he said. “Almost anything you get here is going to be healthier than at other fast-food restaurants — just as long as you don’t get bacon on a sandwich. That adds it up. We also have diet sodas and baked chips. But I don’t think our cookies are low calorie.”
Anderson said there definitely is a market for the healthier side of lunch.
“During a regular lunch hour, we’ll do 80 sandwiches in one hour — that’s with three people working here — so people like eating our sandwiches,” he said.