Primal-ish at McDonald’s and Wendy’s

May 25, 2011

Photo by MJ/TR (´・ω・)

Most McDonald’s menu items are best avoided (like their Angus burger and grilled chicken). However, if you’re completely stuck and are willing to compromise by ingesting some poor quality meat and vegetable oils, there are some more palatable options available.

It looks like their Angus burger is the only one on the menu that uses additional seasoning:

Angus Burger Seasoning: Dextrose, salt, onion powder, maltodextrin, yeast extract, spice, natural and artificial flavor, beef broth, vegetable shortening (sunflower oil), partially hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oil, garlic powder, caramel color, worcestershire sauce (vinegar, molasses, corn syrup, salt, caramel color, garlic powder, sugar, spices, tamarind, natural flavor), beef fat, annatto, turmeric, not more than 2% calcium silicate added to prevent caking.

All of their other burgers only have Grill Seasoning (salt, spice (pepper), sunflower oil (used as a processing aid)). Although make sure to pass on the various sauces that some of the burgers come with. Their beef patty, though, is just “100% pure beef.” So it seems like the safest bet would be a bun-less Hamburger (beef patty, grill seasoning, ketchup, mustard, onions, pickle slices). If you want something more substantial, you could get the Quarter or Double Quarter Pounder minus the cheese:

Processed Cheese Slice: Cheese (milk, modified milk ingredients, bacterial culture, salt, calcium chloride, microbial enzyme, lipase), modified milk ingredients, water, sodium citrate and/or sodium phosphate, salt, potassium sorbate, citric acid, colour, soy lecithin.

If you insist on cheese, I’d opt for the Swiss variety:

Swiss Cheese: Pasteurised milk, modified milk ingredients, bacterial culture, salt, calcium chloride, microbial

I also wouldn’t add on bacon.

Bacon Slice: Pork Bacon, water, salt, sugar, smoke flavouring, sodium phosphate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite.

If you prefer chicken, you’re out of luck. All of their chicken, even the grilled, is heavily seasoned with crap.

Grilled Chicken Portion: Boneless chicken breast meat, water, seasoning (salt, potassium chloride, trehalose, sugar, rice starch, hydrolyzed corn protein, flavour (autolyzed yeast extract, salt, disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate), spices, dextrose, garlic powder, autolyzed yeast extract, carrageenan, chicken fat, dehydrated cooked chicken powder, silicon dioxide, caramel, onion powder, corn maltodextrin), modified rice starch, sodium phosphates. Cooked on a grill lightly seasoned with trans fat free cooking spray (Canola oil, water, salt, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, soy lecithin, monoglycerides, potassium sorbate, artificial flavour and colour (annatto, turmeric), citric acid, vitamin A, vitamin D3).

But if it’s greens you’re after, you can always add a dressing-free Side Garden Fresh Salad to round out your meal.

Side Garden Fresh Salad: Cucumber, Grape Tomato, Red Onion rings, Red pepper strips, Salad Lettuce Blend, Shredded Carrots, Shredded Monterey Jack & Light Cheddar Cheese Blend

The order: Quarter or Double Quarter Pounder, no cheese, plus a Side Garden Fresh Salad.

What about Wendy’s?

Again, looks like counter-intuitively, the salad plus protein option is not the healthiest. Like McDonald’s, Wendy’s chicken is also bathed in chemicals. However, their beef patties are just beef plus salt.

The order: Plain burger (1/4lb single, 1/2lb double or 3/4lb triple) and Garden Side Salad (Iceberg, Romaine, Spring Mix, Grape Tomatoes, and Carrots).

Primal-ish Enough

So it looks like it is possible to grab something edible from a fast food joint, but clearly not all menu items are created equal. Go for the plainest option available, and it pays to do your homework beforehand. Although these meals are far from ideal, I’d qualify them as primal-ish enough while on the road.

When in a pinch, what fast food spots are your go-to’s?

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