Posted by: Kennedy | April 23, 2010

Bob Evans, I love your biscuits: 24 hours of eating south of the border

Recently I took a road trip to the States to take advantage of the (currently) almighty Canadian dollar and visit our beloved American outlet stores.

During this overnight trip, I had zero access to a kitchen or grocery store. I had to rely on restaurants and fast food fare for – horror of horrors – four meals in a row.

Now, it’s time to come clean and face the music.

Friday night: dinner at Denny’s. I had water to drink, and no appetizer – though the waitress immediately offered us pop, juice, coffee, nachos, and chicken wings as options. My meal was half a turkey bacon sandwich and half a smoked chicken melt, with fries. I couldn’t decide between the two, so my friend and I decided to share. The chicken melt was tastier, but definitely more fattening. Neither one included more veggies than a measly slice of tomato on top of the delicious mess of meat and cheese.

Saturday breakfast: At the hotel coffee shop. Whole wheat bagel with peanut butter, coffee. Again, zero fruits or veggies.

Saturday morning snack while shopping: Apple. If I hadn’t brought it with me from the hotel, my snack options would have been VERY limited. Probably would have ended up at Dunkin Donuts or Ben & Jerry’s – while delicious, these certainly wouldn’t be the best source of energy to fuel Part Two of my shopping spree.

Saturday lunch at outlet mall cafeteria: Subway. 6-inch veggie sub with M&M cookie and more water. I took advantage of the opportunity and loaded up on cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and green peppers.

Saturday dinner: Bob Evans. Water to drink, no appetizer. Again, we were given various choices from our waitress: smoothies? Spinach dip? Onion rings? I’m sensing a theme here. Option of note on appetizer menu: Apple Pie Fries. Wow. You won’t find that combo at your average pub in Toronto.

I ordered the chicken & broccoli pasta, ‘savor’ size (small). I assumed this would be like ordering the regular dinner size at a Canadian chain restaurant – also far more food than anyone needs. But, I was pleasantly surprised. It was a modest serving of pasta, closer to a lunch portion. I pretty much polished it off and still had room for a buttermilk biscuit with apple butter…. Mmmmmmmmmmmm. You CAN’T go to Bob Evans and not get the biscuits. They’re epic.

When I returned home safely across the border, I was almost afraid to look up the nutritional information on the Bob Evans website. But I did it – in the name of blog research. Here’s the damage:

Buttermilk biscuit:

Calories: 260

Fat: 13 g (7 g saturated)

Sugar: 2 g

Protein: 5 g

Carbohydrates: 32 g

Fibre: 1 g

Sodium: 859 mg

Chicken and Broccoli Pasta, savor size:

Calories: 470

Fat: 24 g (9 g saturated)

Sugar: 6 g

Protein: 30 g

Carbohydrates: 35 g

Fibre: 6 g

Sodium: 1157 mg – eek! Imagine if I’d had the full size…. 2183 mg… before the biscuit!

Grand total:

730 calories

37 g fat (16 g saturated)

8 g sugar

35 g protein

67 g carbohydrates

7 g fibre

2,016 mg sodium

This actually wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. Yes, there are some frightening stats in there – especially considering I also ate two normal-sized meals in addition to this. But because this is my second time ever in life eating at a Bob Evans, I’m not going to freak. I know this is not my norm.

The sodium figure scares me the most – no wonder so many of us in Canada and the U.S. are consuming far too much salt in our diets. If you eat out even a few times a week, you’re probably consuming way more than the daily maximum sodium intake of 2,300 mg on those days. Talk about an incentive to cook your own meals.

I also happened to glance at the item listed above my pasta dinner on the website: the deceptively unhealthy “Chicken Salad Plate.”

Primary ingredients listed: CHICKEN SALAD, SALAD MIX, BANANAS, CANTALOUPE, GRAPES, PINEAPPLE, STRAWBERRIES, APPLES, PECANS

Well, whatever is in the suspiciously vague ‘chicken salad’ and ‘salad mix’ must include a lot of lard. This meal has 774 calories, 57 grams of sugar and, somehow, 48 grams of fat!!! Oh, and 1,099 mg of sodium. THIS is why I don’t trust the “Healthy Options” on the menus of major chain restaurants. Until Canada adopts policies that require restaurants to post nutritional info on their menus, I say stick to what you know. And please – make your salads at home. Or, at the very least, make sure the amount of veggies outweighs the amount of meat and dairy products in them.

So. I think I did alright fending for myself in the fast food nation. Aside from the crazy-high sodium intake in one, relatively normal-sized dinner. Nothing against you, per se, Bob Evans. I know you aren’t the only culprit out there. Please don’t take your delicious biscuits away from me!

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