Many of you know that I own a natural-foods restaurant called The Flying Avocado Cafe and one of my many responsibilities involves making sure that the food is as healthy as possible.
One of the favorite items on our menu is our chicken-salad and recently someone asked me about the type of mayo that we use in making the dish. At the time, we used a brand-name mayo which I estimated contributed approximately 180 calories (2 Tablespoons) per serving of chicken salad. The chicken-salad was normally served atop a large bowl of organic field greens and came with a homemade dressing on the side. The majority of the calories in the dish could be attributed to the mayonnaise and dressing which utilized a healthy olive oil as a base. They then asked if it was possible to use a fat-free mayo in place of the standard mayo to bring down the calorie count.
As a business owner, I live by a code…”when your customers talk, you listen” so I went to the local supermarket and evaluated a number of mayonnaise options. After perusing a number of options, I came up with two candidates:
I started by looking at the nutrient facts. In this stage of the mayonnaise battle, the fat-free version came out on top having just 10 calories per tablespoon. The Reduced-Calorie Mayonnaise contained approximately half of the calories of normal mayonnaise with between 35 and 45 calories per tablespoon. Many people end the analysis here as they declare the fat-free version the winner, however, we ALWAYS want to look at the actual ingredients before we choose a product. We want to make sure that we are eating REAL food rather than non-foods built in a laboratory.
Unfortunately for the Fat-Free version, high-fructose corn syrup was one of the ingredients listed. As you may know, high-fructose corn syrup is on the Cutthefatpodcast.com list of BANNED SUBSTANCES! I looked at both brands of fat-free mayonnaise and both contained high-fructose corn syrup as a core ingredient. In my opinion, I would much rather have a few extra calories of a product that contained “clean” ingredients rather than fewer calories of nutritional junk!
Reduced-calorie Mayonnaise wins the battle EVERY time! Incidentally, I brought the reduced-calorie mayo back to the test kitchen and had the chef whip up a batch of the reduced-calorie chicken salad. I then tested the new recipe versus the current recipe which used regular mayo. The majority of people loved both and many could not tell the difference. The Flying Avocado Cafe now offers a reduced-calorie version of chicken-salad for our Fat Cutter clients! I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on healthy eating! Leave your comments below.
Dr. Ray Hinish is a nutritional pharmacist, certified personal trainer, & certified Lifestyle & Weight Management Coach. He currently practices in Baltimore, MD, where he owns and operates a wellness center and natural foods restaurant. His mission is to help folks to live their health potential so that they can pursue their passions with confidence and endless supplies of energy!