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A Sweet Breakfast Turns Sour

October 26, 2018

Healthful eating isn’t really my thing. Sure, I try to make sure to balance out all the super fatty foods I eat with a diet full of whole grains, legumes, and vegetables. But a lot of that is out of vanity. Some is about trying to avoid a lifetime of prescription medication. And there is even a soupçon about staying, ahem, regular.

That means pancakes are an occasional indulgence. I love pancakes. Especially the ones my father-in-law makes on the farm in Pennsylvania. While I may try to limit myself to one, I usually end up eating at least three.

If I am going to be eating pancakes, they have to be special. The odds of getting a stunning pancake when out and about is slim, so I typically don’t even consider them an option. A large part of the problem is that a vast majority of places that sell pancakes don’t even have real maple syrup in the building.

It’s a crime.

Just today I got an email from the largest kill joys in the food business, The Center for Science in the Public Interest. I think all they eat at home are bran flakes, kale, and avocados smashed onto 100% whole grain bread (with no salt). Historically they are famous for comparing everyday foods to Big Mac’s. So if you know the factoid that a large tub of buttered popcorn is the equivalent of two Big Mac’s, you can thank the good folks at CSPI.

Now they are taking on salted caramel pancakes, which sound fantastic, except for one thing.

My concerns diverge with those of CSPI all the time. I want my food to be delicious, and sometimes that means mountains of fat and irresponsible quantities of sugar or refined grains. Also I’m a big believer in salt. Salt is amazing stuff.

However, if it weren’t for their emails, I never would have found out about the Dulce de Leche Crunch Pancake Breakfast at Denny’s. The breakfast itself sounds fantastic. Because these pancakes skip right past the maple syrup problem by coming with “a pitcher of warm salted caramel for drizzling”. The pancakes, mind you, have whipped cream on them to boot.

Now, forget for a moment that dulce de leche and salted caramel are two different things. What I now want more than anything else is a pitcher of warm salted caramel to pour over pancakes.

And I want it with eggs, bacon, and potatoes on the side too. You need something savory to cut through that sweetness. Plus coffee. Coffee is an absolute requirement.

So what if it’s a day’s worth of calories at breakfast. That breakfast would be a late morning treat, and I’m sure I wouldn’t be hungry come dinner time. Heck, the meal would probably require a restorative nap afterward. For dinner I would probably just wake up and have a small bowl of brown rice topped with some sautéed broccoli.

Although, I won’t be getting this sweet treat at Denny’s.

For starters, I’ve been to Denny’s. Heck, I grew up at Denny’s. It’s just not good. It’s never been good. I can’t think of a single good thing there, even back in the glory days of when it might have been better than it is today.

Even so, I was curious about the ingredients in their salted caramel sauce. Because really, this whole thing hinges on that one innovation. In my research, I happened to stumble across this list of allergens in their food. Even if you have no intention of going to Denny’s it’s worth a look, because it’s demonstrative of a major problem with food today.

Go ahead and click. And let me know if you see it. In the meantime, here’s a paragraph clipped from about one of the things I would order at Denny’s as a kid, the unforgettable Moon’s Over My Hammy.

With its goofy-yet-memorable name, Moons Over My Hammy is a delicious scrambled egg sandwich that can be eaten for breakfast with hash browns on the side, or for lunch with a side of French fries. When you get the sourdough bread for this recipe, try to find a good-quality loaf with large slices.

What that paragraph doesn’t include is that this grilled sandwich is also stuffed with ham, swiss cheese, and american cheese. It sounds delicious on paper. Yet nothing at Denny’s is every quite as good as it reads. You don’t need a secret recipe to make a better version of this at home.

Okay. Hopefully by now you clicked the link to the allergens. Did you see it?

Here’s the problem. Soybeans are in everything. Okay, maybe not everything. But almost everything. They are in the pancakes, the bacon, and the potatoes. They find their way into broccoli, hot fudge, and american cheese. Amazingly, the salted caramel sauce is actually soy free.

It’s not like I have a problem with soybeans either. I know some people do. But give me a hot steaming bowl of Chinese tofu pudding, and I’m a happy happy man. It’s just that when I’m eating soy, I want to be eating soy. And like all things, I think it’s best to consume everything in moderation. That’s hard to do when our modern food system has soybeans in almost everything.

At Denny’s the french toast batter has soy, the cheesecake has soy, and the meatballs have soy. I’m posting a link to that list again, just so you can see the intrusion of soy at just one American restaurant chain. It’s staggering.

Diversity. It’s a good thing. But we’re lacking it in our food system, and that’s a problem. Now you know, and as they say, knowing is half the battle.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. -R. permalink
    October 26, 2018 12:18 pm

    Denny’s nutritional fact: holy sodium !!!

  2. October 26, 2018 6:04 pm

    Wait. The week’s over and you never reported on the donut results. Guess it slipped your mind?

  3. Eric T permalink
    October 26, 2018 8:06 pm

    Even the broccoli has soy? Dear God.

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