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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 01/21/2011

Is that right? McDonald's oatmeal is 'a bowl full of wholesome'?

By Jennifer LaRue Huget

So McDonald's is selling oatmeal now. They must be up to something, right?


McDonald's restaurants across the land (not just the limited number involved in last year's launch) are serving Fruit & Maple Oatmeal, not just at breakfast time, but throughout the day. You can order it with or without brown sugar and light cream; I skipped both when I had my first cup of the stuff, this morning after yoga class. I say first cup, because I plan to get it again.

For $1.99, I got a just-right-size serving of hot, creamy oatmeal with a hint of maple flavoring (more on that in a moment), topped with dried cranberries and raisins and what actually appeared to be fresh apple chunks. I let mine rest in its covered cup while I drove it home; every so often I picked it up and appreciated how warm it felt (it's REALLY cold outside.) When finally I dug in, I was pleasantly surprised: This oatmeal doesn't taste instant or fake or overly processed. It was pretty darned good.

McDonald's provides very detailed nutrition data for all its menu items (click the Nutrition Info PDF for the full document), including the oatmeal, on its Web site; you can even see how that data changes when you add the sugar and cream. If you include both, your bowl of oats will set you back 290 calories -- nearly as many as a 300-calorie Egg McMuffin.

But for that 290 calories you get bit of fiber (5 grams, compared to a McMuffin's 2g) and hardly any fat (4.5 g, compared to 12g in the McMuffin). One could wish there were more protein here (5g, compared to 18 g in a McMuffin). But if you're cutting back on sodium, the oatmeal's a great choice: the fully dressed version has just 160 mg, versus the McMuffin's 820 mg. The McMuffin delivers more calcium -- nearly a third of the Daily Value, compared to just 10 percent of the DV in the oatmeal -- but the oatmeal serves up all the Vitamin C you need in a day and then some.

(As for that maple flavoring, McDonald's got itself into a bit of a kerfuffle with folks in Vermont, a state that's rightfully protective of the term "maple" and all its implications. After some legal action, McDonald's reportedly has agreed to stop suggesting that its oatmeal contains any actual maple product -- but only in Vermont.)

I'm not big of fast food myself, and I certainly don't think people should depend on fast food to fill out their daily diets. But I do appreciate, as does the writer of this blog, that while other fast-food companies are busy devising concoctions such as KFC's Double Down Burger (which isn't the worst thing in the world, either), McDonald's is trying to offer something nutritionally sound and palatable. And that's why I'll buy their oatmeal again -- to encourage them to keep at it.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  | January 21, 2011; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Is That Right?, Nutrition and Fitness  
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Comments

Having tried this several times during the regional trial (FWIW...I thought that it was already a national menu offering) and really enjoyed it, so my vote is for 'pretty good and the price was right'. It is similar to what is offered by Starbucks, but I think that the McD version is a better value. I, too, was pleasantly surprised by the consistency and flavor. Oatmeal is my breakfast item of choice, especially when I am on the road for business and this works.

The one thing I learned, which is probably true of any oatmeal, is that you need to eat it within 15-20 minutes or it turns into a congealed glob.

Posted by: AlligatorArms | January 21, 2011 8:49 AM | Report abuse

It was pretty good, and the price was right! And for $2?!? Delicious!

Posted by: ZsaZsaATL | January 21, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

You could not make me eat food from McDonalds even if you gave it to me for free. It's food shaped trash, and one cup of something that's actual food doesn't make up for how bad their menu is. Even with this, the maple is fake.

It's also a terrible waste of money & time compared to spending the time parking, waiting in line, being served, and leaving, vs. microwaving some water at home & throwing it in a bowl with store bought oatmeal. Heck most hot water taps put out water hot enough to make oatmeal without additional heating.

Posted by: Nymous | January 24, 2011 10:31 AM | Report abuse

As a mom with a child with food allergies and sensitivities, I checked the nutrition data from McDonalds for this item. It would be so wonderful if the oatmeal were gluten-free and not contain any "food starch-modified, maltodextrin, natural flavor (plant source), barley malt extract, caramel color." Or at the very least, state the derivation of the starch, maltodextrin, natural flavor, and caramel color because some people must avoid corn and wheat products. Most likely the maltodextrin and caramel color come from corn (have you seen the movie King Korn?). Who would think something that could harm you could be found in something as wholesome as oatmeal?

Posted by: fralali | January 26, 2011 7:11 AM | Report abuse

I loved this oatmeal. For mornings when I need a quick on the go breakfast, this is a great option. Especially when I can breeze through the drive through and get a coffee to go as well. Another bonus, I found that this oatmeal keeps me from getting hungry later in the morning. i thought it was delicious!

Posted by: atruly | January 27, 2011 8:20 AM | Report abuse

I loved this oatmeal. For mornings when I need a quick on the go breakfast, this is a great option. Especially when I can breeze through the drive through and get a coffee to go as well. Another bonus, I found that this oatmeal keeps me from getting hungry later in the morning. i thought it was delicious!

Posted by: atruly | January 27, 2011 8:21 AM | Report abuse

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