This is for all those McDonalds critics out there, and you know who you are. Contrary to popular belief, it turns out that a breakfast at McDonalds can actually be quite healthy, if you take some time to find out what to order. Of course, some of the items are obvious: orange juice, milk, or a fruit n’ yogurt parfait will all help get you off to a good start. For something a little more filling, but that’s still good for you, you can always order the hotcakes – just don’t use the margarine.

But the big surprise on the McDonalds healthy breakfast list is the Egg McMuffin. That’s right, the much-maligned “breakfast hockey puck” – invented in 1972 as a portable version of the loftier Eggs Benedict -- is actually a fairly healthy way to fuel up in the morning. Here’s the nutritional breakdown (for the original Canadian bacon version):

Total Calories: 300
Calories from Fat: 110
Total Fat: 12 grams
Saturated Fat: 4.5 grams
Cholesterol: 230 mg
Sodium: 860 mg
Carbohydrates: 30 grams
Protein: 17 grams

So if you must eat fast food in the morning, an Egg McMuffin at McDonalds is a not a bad way to go. At just 300 calories, it's not an outrageous meal. Plus it has a good amount of lean protein from the egg and the Canadian bacon. It is a little on the high side for sodium and cholesterol, so I wouldn’t make a habit of them if I had heart disease or high blood pressure. But otherwise, it’s a surprisingly good option.

And for those of you out there who prefer to prepare your meals at home, here is an even healthier recipe to try:

Ingredients

1 English muffin, split
Butter-flavored cooking spray
1 ounce Canadian bacon
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons fat-free half and half or skim milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 slice fat-free cheese
Yellow food coloring (optional)


Directions:

Spray both halves of English muffins with butter spray. Toast muffin until it is lightly browned. While muffin toasts, spray a non-stick skillet with butter flavored cooking spray. Saute Canadian bacon for about 1 minute. Remove from pan and place on half of the toasted English muffin.

In a small bowl, combine egg whites, half and half, 5-6 sprays of fat-free butter spray and salt and pepper to taste. (If you like the look of whole eggs, add a drop of yellow food coloring to egg mixture.) Stir well and pour into a non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray. (For best results, use an egg ring that has been sprayed with cooking spray. The egg ring will shape the egg to fit the muffin.)

Cook egg until well done and place over Canadian bacon. While egg is piping hot, place slice of cheese over egg and top with remaining muffin half.


And there you have it. Now on a more personal note – and in the interests of fully disclosing any possible personal bias I may have – I do have to say that I’ve loved Egg McMuffins since I was a kid. And here’s why.

When I was twelve years old, my Dad and stepmom had their first child, my sister, Dominique. The whole experience of getting a new sister at that age was terribly exciting for me, and I was obviously old enough to understand pretty much everything that was going on.

When my sister was finally born, my Dad and I stayed at home while my stepmom recuperated in the hospital. Back then, they didn’t kick the moms out until a week or so after the baby was born, so I got to spend a whole week with my Dad at home. And every single morning he took me to McDonalds for breakfast, and I got to share an Egg McMuffin with my Dad.

So I would have to say that the Egg McMuffin is near the top of my list of comfort foods, right along there with macaroni and cheese and meatloaf. Just something for you to consider when evaluating my praise for McDonalds.

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