McDonald’s new “Create Your Taste” kiosks allow you to build your own burger. But is it healthier? (Image: McDonalds)
Several fast food companies and chain restaurants have made very public moves recently to create more transparent, healthier options for consumers.
And now, McDonald’s is changing, too. The fast food giant, which announced last year that is will be eliminating eight items from its menus as well as getting rid of some ingredients, is rolling out a new feature that allows customers to build their own meal.
The program, dubbed “Create Your Taste,” is currently out in Australia and a few select McDonald’s in the U.S. This year, the chain plans to expand the program to 2,000 U.S. locations, a McDonald’s executive told USA Today.
“Create Your Taste” features touch-screen kiosks that allow customers to choose from 31 ingredients to build their own sandwich (you can check out the offerings here).
Among the options: The ability to ditch the traditional bun and make a lettuce burger. Customers can also opt to add very un-McDonald’s-like ingredients to their sandwiches such as guacamole, grilled pineapple, and sliced beetroot.
You can use the new “Burger Builders” to create your own sandwich, and select from a host of healthier toppings. (Image: McDonalds)
“Create Your Taste” is a bit pricier than other McDonald’s options. A DIY quarter-pounder sandwich is about $5.99, the Associated Press reports, and takes up to 10 minutes to prepare.
While McDonald’s hasn’t exactly been known as a health food vendor, experts say this is a step in the right direction.
“Offering more whole foods is never a bad idea,” registered dietitian nutritionist Beth Warren, author of Living a Real Life with Real Food, tells Yahoo Health.
Related: What Diet Experts Eat at McDonalds
Of course, customers also have the ability to load up on unhealthy choices, such as opting for a larger bun and adding as much bacon, cheese, and fried egg as they want to a burger, which registered dietitian Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet, is wary of.
“They’re offering more vegetables than they’ve ever offered but a person can still lay on too much cheese, mayo-based dressing, or a large bun — nobody needs to supersize their bun,” she tells Yahoo Health. “At the end of the day it’s going to come down to calories.”
But what about that lettuce wrap? While Gans says there’s nothing wrong with eating a bun, Warren says it’s a great option since, most likely, the buns used are not 100 percent whole grain (and therefore don’t contain a lot of valuable nutrients).
If you visit a “Create Your Own” kiosk, Warren recommends choosing the lettuce wrap with an egg for your protein source. Load it up with the vegetable options offered, sprinkle in jalapeno for an added kick, and use the guacamole for a dip.
“Skip the cheese, mayo-based dips, and the meat,” she says, adding that if you want a burger, take a pass on adding the egg.
While Warren doesn’t think health-conscious eaters will suddenly scramble to visit McDonald’s, she says this is a step in the right direction.
Gans says she’s “excited” about the healthier options, adding, “I’ll be curious to see if people get on board with it.”