Fast Food Redemption: McDonald's Execs Launch Health Food Chain

They can't erase years of creating double chins with their famous double arches, but McDonald's CEO Mike Roberts and Chief of Operations Mike Donahue are finally doing national cuisine a favor: they're starting a healthy fast food restaurant chain.

To make it work, the execs are pairing up with entrepreneur Stephen Sidwell and former personal chef to Oprah Winfrey and two-time James Beard Foundation Award winner Art Smith.

The new restaurant—planned to be one of 250 within the next five years—will open in Palo Alto with the name LYFE Kitchen, an acronym for Love Your Food Everyday.

It's no small irony that the men who brought high-fat, high-calorie food to the world in disposable containers through a drive-thru window are now planning to source their ingredients responsibly and locally, when possible, all in eco-friendly packaging. Given McDonald's track record of unabashed world domination, LYFE could very well succeed in making reality out of an idea health advocates have been tossing around since the days of the Big Mac's inception.

According to the Chicago Tribune, "butter, cream and high-fructose corn syrup are banned, and none of the food is fried. Sweet potato fries, for instance, are oven-baked. All of Lyfe's menu items contain less than 600 calories....The desserts are expected to be dairy-free."

LYFE's Facebook page reveals a sneak peek of the menu:

Sweet Corn Chowder: With cashew cream, vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh chives  

Wild Mushroom Flatbread: Goat cheese, aged balsamic and choice of Italian turkey sausage or Gardein Italian sausage

Art’s Unfried Chicken: With all-natural BBQ sauce, roasted kaboucha squash, Brussels sprouts, or substitute Gardein chicken

Tals Ancient Grains Teriyaki Beef Bowl: A blend of steamed brown rice, ancient grains farro and quinoa, topped with teriyaki beef tips and stir-fried vegetables with your choice of beef or Gardein beef

Mmmm...sure beats the Big 'N Tasty. It's about time, too. As Los Angeles Times writer Emily Bronson York puts it, "Americans have never been fatter, nor have the trumpets of moderation ever been sounded so loudly."

Photo: williamcho/Creative Commons via Flickr

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  • steve kauf

    i would happily provide numerous doctor's research and commentary that there is quite a difference with High Fructose Corn Syrup HFCS and other more natural sugars such as regular table sugar. It should be noted that white chemicalized sugar is quite undesirable but not as bad as the aforementioned. These things absorb at duifferent rates and have there own unique acidic PH. Saying the are the same is like saying there cannot possibly be a difference between commercial hamburger and grass fed pasteured hormone free steak. There is all the difference. Only some folks opinions are the same. That is their choice in freedom to believe as they like with food but not to be brainwashed by those who purport to be in authority and are so obviously self interested. I have no connection to the food industry but i do eat.

  • Audrae Erickson

    Consumers are being misled into thinking that there are nutritional differences between high fructose corn syrup and sugar, when in fact they are nutritionally the same. Whether it’s corn sugar or cane sugar, your body can’t tell the difference. Sugar is sugar. They all contain four calories per gram. Switching out a kind of corn sugar for table sugar is not for health and it is not for science.

    According to the American Dietetic Association, “high fructose corn syrup…is nutritionally equivalent to sucrose. Once absorbed into the blood stream, the two sweeteners are indistinguishable.”

    The American Medical Association stated that, “Because the composition of high fructose corn syrup and sucrose are so similar, particularly on absorption by the body, it appears unlikely that high fructose corn syrup contributes more to obesity or other conditions than sucrose.”

    As many dietitians agree, all sugars should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced lifestyle.

    Consumers can see the latest research and learn more about high fructose corn syrup at Audrae Erickson
    Corn Refiners Association

  • Stuart Bogue

    It is my understanding that the much lower cost of corn syrup has led to the proliferation of sweetening products not normally associated with sugar and doing it in levels made affordable due to the cheapness of the sweetener. which is to say that if sugar were used,it would be used in less roducts in reduced volumes. Which is to say the difference between HFCS and natural sugar is not about what happens inside the body,but on the bottom lines of manufacturers.