Black Listed Food – Chick-Fil-A

Chick-Fil-A, I’m afraid it’s time for our unhealthy relationship to end…We got in a major fight back in 2012 when you took the words out of the Christian music that’s playing in your stores. That made me sad, but I was able to get past it. I didn’t even mind this year when you discontinued your “cow calendar” because your app is so amazing. I get so much free food that I won’t even miss the calendar coupons. I love everything Chick-Fil-A, the great promotions, the app, the Styrofoam cups, the caring, wonderful employees, the taste of the food. They say that love is blind, and I guess it is because even though the app is forthcoming with food ingredients, I never bothered to look closely, until today… and I’m sad again because this might mean it’s over for good and I’m really going to miss you.

When you consider the basics of what I generally order, the values don’t seem so bad, especially for fast food! In fact, some of them seem really great (by the way, I’m only including hash browns on here because they’re often free and this information will go with a later post)!

Grilled Chicken Breakfast Filet: 70cal, 1.5g fat (0g sat), 0g carb (0g fiber), 13g protein

Spicy Chicken Breakfast Filet: 140cal, 7g fat (1g sat), 8g carb (0g fiber), 13g protein

Spicy Southwest Salad (no dressing): 440cal, 19g fat (5g sat), 36g carb (9g fiber), 34g protein

Chicken Tortilla Soup: 340cal, 10g fat (3g sat), 37g carb (17g fiber), 23g protein

Hash Browns: 250cal, 17g fat (2g sat), 23g carb (4g fiber), 3g protein

I’ve copied the ingredient list for the foods I love the most at Chick-fil-a, thinking some of them were relatively healthy. The main problem I have is the length of some of the ingredient lists! I’ll bold some of the items that caught my eye. They’re not all bad, just things I want to be aware of. The items that are particularly troublesome for me are in red. I excluded the actual cheese in the salad (it’s in italics) because I don’t eat cheese.

Grilled Chicken Breakfast Filet: chicken (boneless, skinless, chicken breast filet, [seasoning {salt, He monosodium glutamate, sugar, spices, paprika}], water, sugar, soybean oil, orange juice concentrate, distilled vinegar, lemon juice concentrate, dextrose, lime juice, modified corn starch, spices, onion powder, salt, garlic powder, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, and calcium disodium EDTA [to protect quality], xanthan gum, propylene glycol alginate, and jalapeno pepper)

Takeaway – I thought this was healthy protein, only to learn it has MSG, sugars, EDTA (a chelating agent), and propylene glycol alginate. I’m also not a fan of soy, and there’s soybean oil in this grilled chicken. I would much prefer my plain grilled chicken from home. It tastes better and I don’t need to add these weird ingredients.

Spicy Chicken Breakfast Filet: spicy chicken (whole breast filet, seasoning [salt, monosodium glutamate, sugar, spices, paprika], spicy seasoning [maltodextrin, flavor, modified rice starch, tapioca dextrin, salt, cottonseed oil, paprika, contains less than 2% of enzyme modified milkfat, soy lecithin], milk wash [water, nonfat milk, egg], seasoned coater [enriched bleached flour, {bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid}, sugar, salt, monosodium glutamate, leavening, spice, nonfat milk, soybean oil, whey, color {paprika, yellow 6}

Takeaway – I did not know that milk was used in breading the chicken; I’m sure it’s not a lot, but it may explain why I don’t always feel great after eating this. This may be better than the grilled chicken because it doesn’t contain EDTA or proplyene glycol alginate. But, we get both soybean oil and cottonseed oil in this one. I feel like they could choose a better oil.

Spicy Southwest Salad without Dressing: Romaine lettuce, spicy chicken (boneless, skinless chicken breast, seasoning [salt, monosodium glutamate, sugar, spices, paprika, maltodextrin, flavor, modified rice starch, tapioca dextrin, salt, cottonseed oil, paprika, contains less than 2% of enzyme modified milkfat, soy lecithin, modified food starch]), corn and black beans (corn, black beans [water, black beans, salt], poblano chiles, red bell peppers, contains 2% or less of extra virgin olive oil), grape tomatoes, spring lettuce mix, Monterey/Jack cheddar cheese blend (cheddar cheese [pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes, annatto {color}], Monterey Jack cheese [milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes], potato starch and powdered cellulose added to prevent caking, natamycin [a natural mold inhibitor]), carrots, red cabbage Chili Lime Pepitas (pumpkin seeds,vegetable oil [may contain one or more of the following: peanut and/or canola oil], 2% or less of salt, chipotle pepper, spices, tomato powder, jalapeno powder, onion powder, garlic powder, citric acid, spice extractives, lime oil, natural smoke flavor [with barley malt flour], cilantro) Tortilla strips (corn masa flour, sunflower, safflower and/or canola oil, seasoning [lactose, salt, maltodextrin, corn syrup solids, sugar, citric acid, malic acid, lime juice solids, natural flavors, dehydrated parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate], red 40, blue 1)

Takeaway – This is a salad? I thought salads just contained leafy greens, and other vegetables. There’s a lot of “process” going on here for a salad. Granted, most of it comes from the chicken and the tortilla strips. So, take that away, and the cheese (for me), and maybe I should just buy a bag of mixed salad greens and some home-cooked chicken (preservative-free), beans, and seeds for a topping.

Chicken Tortilla Soup: Soup (water, navy beans, onions, black beans [black beans, water], corn, sour cream [cultured cream, enzymes], green chilies [green chili peppers, salt, citric acid], cream, red bell peppers, celery, modified corn starch, chicken fat, sea salt, cilantro, natural roast chicken flavor [chicken fat, natural flavor], corn flour [white corn flour treated with lime], wheat flour, yeast extract, spices, garlic, sugar, lemon juice concentrate, chili powder [chili pepper, salt, spices, garlic powder]), chicken (100% natural whole breast filet, water, seasoning [salt, monosodium glutamate, sugar, spices, paprika], seasoning [maltodextrin (corn, potato), flavor, modified rice starch, tapioca dextrin, salt, cottonseed oil, paprika, contains less than 2% (enzyme modified milkfat, soy lecithin], seasoned coater [enriched bleached flour {bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid}, sugar, salt, monosodium glutamate, leavening {baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate}, spice, nonfat milk, soybean oil, whey, color {paprika, Yellow #6}], milk wash [water, egg, nonfat milk], peanut oil [fully refined peanut oil with dimethylpolysiloxane an anti-foaming agent added]), Tortilla strips (corn masa flour, sunflower, safflower and/or canola oil, seasoning [lactose, salt, maltodextrin, corn syrup solids, sugar, citric acid, malic acid, lime juice solids, natural flavors, dehydrated parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate], red 40, blue 1)

Takeaway – Here we go again with the hidden dairy. Who knew there was sour cream and cream in this? Who also knew that a soup could have so many ingredients? No thanks on the chicken fat, still the same problems with the real chicken in the soup, and I’m going to say no to eating polysiloxanes. The tortilla strips have the same concerns as for the salad and can be removed. But, eventually, you end up with a bean and chicken soup that you can make at home without preservatives.

Hash Browns: Potatoes (vegetable oil [canola oil, palm oil], dehydrated potato, salt, disodium dihydrogen pyrophosphate [to promote color retention], dextrose, high oleic canola oil with Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an anti-foaming agent)

Takeaway – I’m not a huge fried carb person (I do eat them when they’re free), but if I were, I think I could do without the dehydrated potato and unnecessary chemicals, from an eating perspective, and just use potato, healthy oil, and salt to make my hash browns.

I guess the older I get, the less I am interested in reading a list of ingredients filled with weird chemicals, especially when I recognize some of them, like EDTA and polysiloxanes, for their non-food properties. No fault on Chick-Fil-A for any of this because they are definitely on the ball with full-disclosure, like I said, I just never bothered to look. They say ignorance is bliss, but now I know… so I guess this means good bye for now. I still really like your positive qualities, so I’ll stay in touch every now and then, but we really can’t see each other all the time anymore. You’re not healthy for me.

ADDITION (JANUARY 2, 2019) – I was talking to one of the managers that I have become friends with at one of my local Chick-Fil-A’s.  She told me it is possible to order the grilled chicken without the marinade, so that would remove the MSG and other undesirable ingredients.  I was very happy to hear that!!

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