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Swiss Chalet’s Festive Special; Naughty of Nice?


DISH: The Festive Special
RESTAURANT: Swiss Chalet
Dozens of locations in the GTA

About the time Christmas carols start wafting through shopping malls, Swiss Chalet begins serving its Festive Special. The quarter chicken dinner, served with a scoop of savoury stuffing, a dollop of cranberry sauce and a selection of chocolate truffles, is for manya long-standing tradition. While we know the taste is holly jolly, few of us likely check whether the Festive Special is — nutrition-wise — naughty or nice. The Dish decided to take on the task using the online nutrition calculator provided by Swiss Chalet. (Like Santa, we made a list, and checked it twice).

Unfortunately, that’s not as easy as it sounds. Despite the meal’s popularity, Swiss Chalet does not provide nutrition information for its stuffing or cranberry sauce. Cara Operations Limited, the company that operates Swiss Chalet, did not provide a reason for this seasonal exception. After repeated requests, the company — through a public relations firm — did provide calorie content for the stuffing and cranberry sauce, but no other numbers. The Festive Special in our photo is made up of a quarter chicken (white meat) with mashed potatoes and gravy, Chalet dipping sauce, a white roll with butter, stuffing, cranberry sauce and five Lindor chocolate truffles has 1,561 calories and at least 55 grams of fat and 2,310 mg of sodium.

For the average woman, that’s 75 per cent of her day’s calories, about 75 per cent of her daily fat allowance and just a tad more than the maximum recommended daily sodium allotment. If you prefer dark meat and fries, the meal is definitely naughty. It has — and remember, this is without a drink or dessert — 1,846 calories. Registered dietitian Shannon Crocker says that is about what some women need for an entire day and about 75 per cent of the average man’s recommended daily intake. “In terms of calories, that is like eating six cheeseburgers from McDonalds. Or, seven Boston cream doughnuts from Tim Hortons.”

The meal Crocker describes has at least 1,310 mg of sodium (remember, that’s not including the sodium in the stuffing or cranberry sauce), or about 90 per cent of the sodium our bodies need in a day. And, Crocker says, the meal’s 81 grams of fat (again, without the stuffing or cranberry sauce) is what you would find in 20 teaspoons of lard. “This meal has double the fat some women should be eating in a whole day and about 100 per cent of that fat a man should get in a day,” she says. “With these numbers, you’ve basically got room for a light breakfast and only this version of the Festive Special — in one day.” The good news for festive special fanatics is there are ways to take the naughtiness out of the meal. Here are Crocker’s tips to making the Festive Special nice:

• Order the quarter chicken with white meat and no skin to save a few calories and between 5 and 10 grams of fat.

• Skip the stuffing to save the 376 calories. It’s also likely loaded with sodium.

• Ditch the fries to save 530 calories and 27 grams of fat. Even eating half will net substantial savings.

• The garden salad with fat-free raspberry vinaigrette is the most nutritious side.

• Swap the white roll for multi-grain to get a smidgen more nutrition out of the bread.

• Consider sending back the Chalet sauce. Yes, sacrilegious to some, but the little pot of sauce has 700 mg of sodium. If you love the Chalet sauce, be judicious.

• Eat just one truffle after your meal and save the rest for later. Consider them a mini advent calendar and eat one a day.

VERDICT: Depending on the choices you make, your Festive Special can be naughty or nice.

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