Don’t be smooth(ie) talked by your local restaurant.
My daughter wants to take me out to lunch for my birthday. This is an honor I do not want to pass up, even for the sake of my new healthier lifestyle and my juicing journey.
Rather than let her down or postpone it, I thought I would find something, somewhere in the world that I COULD consume with her, while still having access to food she would enjoy. After all, she did offer to pick up the tab.
I knew I could not do that in my 3-restaurant-town, nor my 14-restaurant-county, however a town of about 35,000 people is relatively close, and Knoxville with it’s small urban options made this seem doable.
Eventually, I ended up checking out McDonald’s, after all they offer Real Fruit Smoothies now at our McCafe location.
Yesterday for breakfast I made a Grape, Pineapple, Strawberry, Orange Smoothie very simply. I took 8 strawberries, about 12 white grapes (for sweetness), 1 cup of fresh pineapple, 1 orange and one banana plus ice to make it cold. I rinsed them and through them into my VitaMix. 30-seconds later, Viola! I had a smoothie. It was good, smooth, and all-natural.
All told the strawberries came in at 64 cal., the grapes at 84, the pineapple at 84, 90 for the banana, and 70 in the orange. Total calorie count – 382 calories for about 40 ounces of my juice journey friendly smoothie.
McD’s Real Fruit Smoothie seemed like a reasonable option. So, I would go to my local heart-attack-in-a-sack location and get one of their smoothies and enjoy my time with my daughter. Before I committed to it, I thought I would check out the information. What I learned is that not all smoothies are created equally.
If you check their ingredient list, here is what you’ll find.
Strawberry Banana Smoothie (12 fl oz cup): Strawberry Banana Fruit Blend, Low Fat Yogurt, Ice
Wild Berry Smoothie (12 fl oz cup): Wild Berry Fruit Blend, Low Fat Yogurt, Ice
Mango Pineapple Smoothie (Small): Mango Pineapple Fruit Base, Ice, Low Fat Yogurt
Look out. For those of us on a juice fast, there is a problem. Yogurt. Yogurt is not bad as part of a normal diet, but for me dairy products are verboten. So, that was my first problem. But then, I decided to look up what exactly was a “Strawberry Banana Fruit Blend”.
The meal just went from watch out, to a downright horror story. Here are the ingredients for the SB smoothie as well as for the Wild Berry Fruit Blend.
Strawberry Banana Fruit Blend: Strawberry puree, banana puree, water, sugar, concentrated apple juice, contains less than 1% of the following: Cellulose powder, natural (botanical source) and artificial flavors, xanthan gum, citric acid, colored with fruit and vegetable juice, pectin.
Wild Berry Fruit Blend: Strawberry puree, water, sugar, blackberry puree, blueberry puree, concentrated pineapple juice, concentrated apple juice, contains less than 1% of the following: Cellulose powder, xanthan gum, colored with fruit and vegetable juice, natural (botanical source) and artificial flavors, pectin, citric acid.
Oh, and the ingredients for the yogurt itself:
Low Fat Yogurt (Added to both smoothies) Cultured Grade A reduced fat milk, sugar, whey protein concentrate, fructose, corn starch, kosher gelatin. Contains active yogurt cultures.
If you see the words sugar, corn sugar, corn syrup or any word ending in –ose (like fructose, sucrose, and cellulose) just mentally translate those words “sugar.” So looking over the ingredients the ingredient with the third highest concentration in this “healthy” drink is sugar. When you add in all of the sugars and –oses from the “fruit juice concentrate”, the yogurt, and the minor ingredients, you have almost as much sugar as you do fruit by percentage.
As far as the calories go, remember my breakfast smoothie – 40 ounces for 382 calories. Look at their nutrition guide. There you will find some startling facts, not the least of which is that their SB smoothie, for a mere 12 ounces has 330 Calories. If you do the math, at 40 ounces it would contain 1100 calories!
Hardly qualifies for my strict juicing requirements, or even as a healthy alternative. You would almost be better off drinking a coke.
Hey! Here’s an idea, restaurant world, if you put an item on your menu called a “Real Fruit Smoothie” how about putting, oh, I don’t know…real fruit in it and leave it at that!
I wish that I could tell you things were different for other chains. They’re not. I checked out Jamba Juice, SmoothieKing, Tropical Smoothie and a handful of other local restaurants and smoothie bars. All of those I investigated add yogurt or it comes in a mix and all add sugar.
So here is the take-a-way from my little research. IF you are juicing stay away from these places, their juice is not as our juice. If you live in a larger area you may be able to find a legitimate juice bar, just make sure they aren’t smuggling in any ingredients.
Local stores like Fresh Market, Whole Foods, and independents will often have a deli and can juice what you want. Also you can stop by a convenience store and pick up a bottle of V8 or fruit juice (just make sure you read the label and look out for sugars or other fake stuff.) I know, I know, before you crucify me store bought V8 Juice isn’t great and it is high in sodium, but judging from the other options it may be your best parachute in an emergency.
Juicing is popular right now and marketers will try to lure you in. Don’t be fooled.
It is a tough journey we are on, but the fight and commitment will be worth it.
Juice on; Join the journey. Oh…and btw, I am in my final few days of being able to consume solid foods. So we’re going to Ruby Tuesday’s for lunch and I’ll get a salad. At least there, they have dark green on the bar and they are crispy fresh. (I wonder if they would be annoyed if I brought in my VitaMix.) 😉