Chick-fil-A, the notorious fried chicken chain that inspires obsession the likes of which KFC could only dream of, is branching out. At stores in San Diego, New York, New Jersey, Columbia and Washington, D.C., they're testing two new healthy items that involve quinoa, farro and kale, and it's kind of freaking me out.
Like, I'm all for healthy eating, but why would you trust a restaurant that specializes in fried chicken to make a good kale and whole-grain salad? It would be like ordering rib-eye at a vegan joint — chances are, it's going to be terrible.
That being said, the new Chick-fil-A grain bowls do sound tempting. There's a salad bowl consisting of kale topped with red and white quinoa, farro, butternut squash, apples, goat and feta cheese, dried cherries, mixed roasted nuts and balsamic vinaigrette. You can also order it with grilled chicken if you're so inclined.
The breakfast option is equally enticing (though maybe not as much as a McMuffin, TBH). The Egg White Grill Grain Bowl is a blend of scrambled egg whites, cheddar cheese, grilled chicken, red and white quinoa and farro.
It seems like fast food, recovering from a few years of slumping sales, has taken two different paths. You either get the mad genius mashups, like Burger King's Mac n' Cheetos or Taco Bell's Cheetos Burrito (drool), or you get the pseudo-healthy, like McDonald's calorie-, saturated fat- and sodium-laden crispy chicken salads.
Chick-fil-A's bowls seem like they're actually pretty nutrient-dense, though I'd love to get a look at the actual nutrition information (nothing is more validating for supposedly poor food choices than realizing your cheeseburger has fewer calories, saturated fat and sodium than your limp salad with slimy "grilled" chicken). And maybe, considering our trend toward healthier eating, jumping on the kale-and-quinoa bandwagon is a safer long-term move than creating some sort of fried chicken Frankenmonster (though I'd love to see what they could come up with).
In the meantime, I guess I would try Chick-fil-A's new grain bowls if I were on a road trip and dying for a little whole grain and veg. The rest of the time, though? I'll save Chick-fil-A for the times when I'm craving a juicy fried chicken sandwich, and leave the kale to the good people operating the salad bar at my local Whole Foods. Some things are just too precious to sully with virtuous kale and quinoa, and Chick-fil-A may be one of them.
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