Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 21st
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Lighten Up

dining_hotplateIn my columns I focus on the best edibles our local cooks and chefs have to offer, and avoid chain restaurants, especially national ones. I rarely eat fast food, anyway.

But, there are extenuating circumstances, like when the kitchen was being remodeled and I needed a quick breakfast for the school kids, or when the "low on iron" buzzer signals a Whopper Junior emergency. Now you've met the skeletons in my closet.

On one clandestine visit to McDonald's, I was intrigued by the ads for smoothies, yogurt parfaits and oatmeal. I scoffed, recalling the introduction of Caramel Frappe and its 450 calories, for 12-ounces! Could McDonald's actually smaller-size me?

The icy, sweet and tart 12-ounce, 210-calorie Strawberry-banana Smoothie ($2.29) is made with low fat yogurt and a fruit blend, offering two grams of fiber, and 70 percent Vitamin C RDA. Compared to a similarly sized 420 calorie strawberry shake, it's worth a try.

Next stop was Fruit and Maple Oatmeal ($1.99). About a half cup of oatmeal, a quarter cup of crisp apples, raisins and dried cranberries, and a little light cream, it's a 290-calorie breakfast with five grams of fiber and 130 percent Vitamin C RDA. And (surprise) it was really good!

Low fat granola and vanilla yogurt, strawberries and blueberries make up the Fruit and Yogurt Parfait ($1) for just 160 calories and another gram of fiber.

Comparing nutritional websites, Mickey D's is ahead in light options. Even most of the competitions' salads are more caloric and fatty. And for the little ones, hide that 70-calorie caramel dip for the apples. There's less sugar in a 15-calorie sugar packet. And McDonaldland cookies? Truly a 260-calorie "steer-clear". | KP

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