When it comes to America”s fast food options, no brand exudes wholesomeness quite like Chick-fil-A. The chain is closed every Sunday because that”s when people go to church. Chick-fil-A”s recipes are intended to taste wholesome, too. The website describes “fresh and simple” menu items, noting the rigorous standards applied to the selection of the chicken, and the use of “real” ingredients, and ethically-sourced coffee, lemons, and potatoes.
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But, let”s talk about Chick-fil-A”s mac and cheese, which is described as, “A classic macaroni and cheese recipe featuring a special blend of cheeses including Parmesan, Cheddar, and Romano.” This kind of menu copywriting makes you think of dinner served on a farm table with a red-and-white checked tablecloth floating in the breeze, maybe a cow or goat roaming in the background. However, let”s not kid ourselves: This is a highly processed food. There is a mind-boggling, long ingredient list for this ostensibly simple dish, which includes soybean oil and sodium phosphate, a food additive that”s right below trans fats on some food experts” watch lists (via The Washington Post).
And speaking of trans fats, Chick-fil-A”s mac and cheese has that, too.
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A medium serving of Chick-fil-A mac and cheese has 450 calories and 29 grams of fat, 16 of which are saturated fat. No trans fat shows up at this serving size, but when you look at the catering trays, you”ll see 3.5 grams of trans fat in the small tray, and 7 grams in the large tray, indicating that indeed, the mac and cheese is not “free” of this ingredient. It”s by far the least healthy side dish at Chick-fil-A, outnumbering the waffle fries in both calories and fat.
Not surprisingly, experts are uncomfortable about recommending this comfort food. “This mac and cheese is made up mostly of refined grains and a blend of cheeses which leads to it being high in both saturated fat and sodium while low in fiber,” registered dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade told Prevention. “Even the small serving contains 9 grams of saturated fat (almost half of your day”s allotment if you consume 2,000 calories per day) and almost one third of your daily sodium intake.”
If you”re truly craving Chick-fil-A mac and cheese, you can make it at home following this copycat recipe. You”re still going to have higher levels of fat from the cheeses, but you can feel better knowing that the ingredients indeed are simple and (mostly) unprocessed.