Dec 31, 2011

A Surprise at Taco Bell

So normally at Taco Bell I get the steak taquito with no cheddar cheese, meaning it's just the meat & the tortilla. Being a picky eater, that's how I like it.

The other day I go to Taco Bell, order Christy's stuff and then order my taquito. The girl behind the counter informs me they've redone their menu and no longer offer the taquito... What?!? Why do places do that? They get something good on the menu and then mess around with it. (Update: They still will sell you taquito... they just don't list it on their menu)

But, I've still got options. They have a steak taco, but it's less convenient to order. With the taquito I could just say no cheese. With the taco I have to say no cheese, no lettuce, no tomatoes and no avocado ranch sauce. This makes it four times more likely that they'll mess up my order. I don't even bother with doing the drive through at fast food places any more. They always goof up the order and I have to go inside anyway.

But, none of this has anything to do with what my surprise was. It's been so long since I've ordered the steak taco, I had to go to Taco Bell's website to see what all is on the taco so I can be sure and list everything they need to not put on it. While on their website, I noticed they have a nutrition calculator. It allows you to build a customized meal and it'll adjust the calories for what you add or subtract.

So I started looking at the side items I get at Taco Bell. I plugged in Cinnamon Twists and learned that they have 170 calories. That's not too bad compared to 230 calories for a small fries from McDonalds, 380 calories for a medium fries and 500 calories for a large fries.

But my big surprise was when I looked at Taco Bells nachos, the ones that come in the little bag with a little container of cheese sauce. I don't do the cheese, but I like the chips. I was figuring that the chips would have less calories that the cinnamon twists since the cinnamon twists have a cinnamon and sugar coating. In fact, I've always kinda considered the cinnamon twist a dessert item.

I was shocked that compared to the 170 calories in the twists, just the nacho chips have 230 calories! I was able to save 60 calories by going with the cinnamon twists over the chips.

While typing this post, I see that McDonald's also has a food calculator. These are pretty handy tools to see exactly how many calories you are getting and where they come from. For example, eliminating the Big Mac sauce from your Big Mac will save you 110 calories. The BBQ sauce for the nuggets carry 50 calories for each little container.

Bottom line: we typically underestimate the calories we are consuming. The only way to really know is to do the research. Oh, and don't be afraid to think outside the bun...

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