- Chick-fil-A has announced that it will be offering a new plant-based alternative to its chicken sandwich.
- The new sandwich, which contains a cauliflower filet, is boasted to be a “stunt double” to the original.
- However, it will initially only be available in limited markets.
- Nutritionists say the new sandwich is a step in the right direction, but there is room for improvement.
“Eat mor … cauliflower?”
Chick-fil-A’s bovine mascots could soon be hawking the versatile vegetable on a roadside near you if the chain’s plans are successful.
On February 9, Chick-fil-A announced that it would be debuting its new Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich, which it claims will have everyone wondering whether it’s the original Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich or “its stunt double.”
Other than the fact that the filet at its center is made of whole cauliflower, the plant-based offering is prepared almost identically to the original: It’s “marinated, breaded with their signature seasoning, pressure-cooked, and served on a toasted buttery bun with two dill pickle chips,” per the press release.
Initially, the Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich will be available in only three test markets: Denver; Charleston, South Carolina; and the Greensboro-Triad region of North Carolina. Starting February 13, people living in these areas can purchase the sandwich through the restaurant’s app or contact their local store for more information about its availability.
While the price will vary by market, the starting price is $6.59, according to a spokesperson.
The sandwich, which took four years to develop, came in response to customer requests for a plant-based entrée with Chick-fil-A’s unique flair, according to Leslie Neslage, who is the director of menu and packaging at Chick-fil-A.
“Our new sandwich is made with the highest quality ingredients and whole vegetables, and we hope it offers customers another reason to dine at Chick-fil-A,” she said in the company’s press release.
While it seems to be ticking the right boxes like “whole-food” and “plant-based,” just how healthy is the Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich? And how does it compare with the original sandwich containing chicken?
A head-to-head comparison of the two sandwiches
Since Chick-fil-A does not yet have the nutritional information for the Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich listed on its website, Healthline reached out to a representative for the company, who was able to provide the following information:
- Calories: 350
- Total Fat: 19g
- Saturated Fat: 4g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Cholesterol: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 42g
- Dietary Fiber: 3g
- Sugars: 8g
- Protein: 7g
By comparison, Chick-fil-A provided the following nutrition facts for its Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich via its website:
- Calories: 440
- Total Fat: 17g
- Saturated Fat: 4g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Cholesterol: 70g
- Carbohydrates: 41g
- Dietary Fiber: 1g
- Sugars: 6g
- Protein: 29g
Is the cauliflower sandwich healthier?
Sharon Palmer — registered dietitian, author, and blogger at The Plant-Powered Dietitian — told Healthline that not all of the information on its formulation was provided, but it appears that the sandwich contains whole cauliflower that is breaded, fried, and served on a refined grain bun.
“I wouldn’t necessarily call this a ‘healthy’ choice, as it’s not a balanced meal. It’s lower in protein, contains a fair amount of fat/sat fat, and doesn’t contribute a great deal of fiber to the day,” Palmer said.
Nutritional benefits of the Chick-fil-A cauliflower sandwich
Palmer did point out, however, that there are some benefits to the cauliflower sandwich.
“[I]t provides a serving of vegetables and offers plant-based options in quick service dining situations, which is a good trend,” said Palmer, “[It’s] better for the environment and if it helps people move more to a plant-based diet, that’s a good thing.”
Palmer further noted that the cauliflower sandwich is lower in saturated fat than other fast-food options and it has no cholesterol, making it a better choice in that respect.
“I’d love to see a few more positive elements added to the sandwich, such as additional vegetables (lettuce, tomatoes, avocado), a good protein source (perhaps a tahini sauce or soy protein), and a whole grain bun,” she added.
It was unclear how much sodium the cauliflower sandwich contains, although the information provided for the chicken sandwich indicates that it contains 1,400 mg of sodium.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests that adults keep their daily sodium intake under 2,300 mg, making this a rather hefty amount for a single sandwich.
Healthier sandwich picks
For those who are looking for a healthier, plant-based way to satisfy their cravings, Palmer said that home-made veggie burger sandwiches like her edamame grain vegan burgers — which contain whole plant foods like beans, lentils, grains, herbs, and vegetables — provide good nutrition without much saturated fat or sodium.
“You can also make healthy, delicious sandwiches layering in vegetables, baked tofu, and whole grain bread,” Palmer suggested. “And grain bowls—layered whole grains, plant protein (beans, lentils, tofu), veggies, and a flavorful sauce are good quick takeaway meal options, too.”
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