Poutine Nutrition [Science]

2010 May 6
As a poutine lover, I need to vent for a bit about the bad rap poutine gets nutritionally. Nobody's going to argue that it's health food but it doesn't deserve dramatic descriptions like:
"Heart attack on a plate!"
"Deep fried potatoes, loaded with artery-clogging cheese, and drowned in sauce full of heart-stopping sodium."

Seriously, it's no worse than any other fast food. Everything in moderation! Don't believe me? Okay, let's compare a regular NY Fries poutine against a Big Mac with Medium Fries. The comparison is valid because most people eat a poutine as a meal.

Restaurants: NY Fries vs. McDonald's
Menu items: Poutine vs. Typical Meal (Big Mac + Med. Fries)
Calories: 950 vs. 900 (560 + 340)
Fat: 50g vs. 46g (30 + 16)
Saturated: 13g vs. 17g (10 + 7)
Trans: 1g vs. 3g (1.5 + 1.5)
Cholesterol: 60mg vs. 100mg. (80 + 20)
Sodium: 1320mg vs. 1450mg (1010 + 440)
Protein: 25g vs. 29g (25 + 4)

So there you have it! Very similar numbers. In fact, if you're worried about heart health, you might even be swayed towards the lower saturated/trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium numbers of the poutine option...

And please don't forget that even a large chip-wagon poutine is likely no worse than a large Quiznos sub: www.foodfacts.info/quiznos/

2010 May 7
It sounds like you're trying to justify a guilty craving... :)

2010 May 7
I enjoy poutine on occasion and for me, it is what it is, certainly the last thing on my mind is how many calories are in it. To equate it as something similar to a fast food meal seems about right to me; if it is your lunch everyday you might have to think about it more closely but as an occasional indulgence, no big deal.

What does bother me, however, is this relatively recent phenomenon of poutine as Canada’s contribution to “haute cuisine”. I’d really like to thing that it's not and frankly, I find it a bit embarrassing. I recognize that I might be in the minority here as I have had some seriously heated discussions/arguments with friends about poutine’s gastronomic ceiling.

Regardless of whether you use artisan potatoes from Peru, raw milk curds from cows eating only hand selected grass, heritage veal demi glaze, whatever; it’s still french fries, cheese and gravy, nonetheless delicious and often really satisfying, but I just don’t buy the trend of pimped out fast food...I think it just reinforces unpleasant stereotypes.

Somewhat ironically, one of my personal idols, Martin Picard, started the whole trend when he plopped a slab of seared foie gras on a poutine and the rest is Canadian culinary history...

Well that’s the end of my rant! Thoughts?

2010 May 7
everyone knows how i feel about foie gras. a foie gras poutine is just... there are no words. poutine is not haute cuisine, stop trying to make it happen - it won't. that's all i have to say.

i try to ignore calorie counts on the whole. i just eat what my body tells me it wants and exercise regularly. way less stressful!!

2010 May 7
Personally, if poutine is Canada's contribution to haute cuisine then we're in some serious trouble. I suppose that it is something uniquely Canadian so that we want to promote it. However, the best way to do that would be to sell it as is. A fat, indulgent, immensely tasty food, best eaten usually after a night of carousing. See the popularity of the doner kebab in Germany (now the best selling street food), or the curry carts in England (most popular food in England) etc. Those street vendors etc didn't try to make a doner kebab with a goat raised on the south slope of Mount Kilamanjaro eating only wild flowers and given a massage by 13 different people every night.

On to your other point, there seems to be a trend overall in taking something pretty common and elevating it some new level. And quite frankly, it bothers me. Now granted, this is a completely personal opinion, but it's almost like the snooty/rich and famous want to slum it, but not all the way.

Take for example, those $100 burgers. "Ooooh, I'm eating a burger, I feel like the common man".

The common man doesn't eay wagyu beef with Perigord truffles...

... and that's the end of my rant.

2010 May 7
PDC Foie Gras poutine... Yummm! Need to make a trip to Montréal soon :-)

2010 May 7
my cardiologist buddy said that poutine as well as junk food are detrimental on your cardiovascular as well as overall health. the junk calories from fat + carbs + blood pressure effects from the high hit of sodium intake are a train wreck waiting for you in the short and long term.

measure your blood pressure:

if it is below 120/80 proceed with a poutine then immediately follow with intense exercise to burn it off. that is if you can bypass the blood sugar spike and coma. it would take 1000 cal to burn it off. the sodium intake is another story and will adversely affect your blood pressure that can't be burned off so easily.

if it is above 140/90 seek medical attention. you'll also be shocked that your insurance agent will gangbang you six ways from sunday with over the top life insurance premiums upon this knowledge. so think of your kids and your dependents. good luck to you! oh i bet with these stats, you're not the hard lovin' man/woman all night long, sucker. junk foodies anyone?.

2010 May 7
Your comparison is one of crap vs crap, FF! Personally, I wouldn't touch either one with a 10 foot (oops, meter) pole, but feel free to rationalize your way to bad health. If you're lucky, at some point you'll get a gentle reminder to change your ways, rather than something more final.

2010 May 7
I think most of you missed my point completely, so I likely wasn't clear enough. Poutine is not healthy! BUT, it's not magically worse than other fast food like so many people pretend it is.

Moderation please!

2010 May 7
I think poutine itself isn't so bad, but I know over used deep frying oil is very bad for your health.
How about eat poutine with a glass of red wine. Do the French paradox trick!

2010 May 7
For goodness sakes people - of course poutine or any other junk food would have terrible consequences if you were eating it every day. But everything in moderation! For a person who eats healthy and leads and active lifestyle there is nothing wrong with having that stuff from time to time.

2010 May 7
Hi Guys! I love my small poutine once in a blue moon but I also strongly believe in a maintaining a daily health routine which is very important to me. It is also my impression that most foodies may have a food disorder or perhaps some psychological disorder in some shape or form and need to put more effort on a correct route to physical and mental fitness. I can tell you that after eating healthy for weeks, my body just reacts poorly and I almost feel sick after satisfying a simple poutine craving. Try it! Just a switch from clean eating to one piece of junk food and there's that total body regret...

Cheers :) KC

2010 May 8
lol @ food/psychological disorders. sounds like you're one of those narcissistic holier-than-thou types who frowns upon the poutine-eaters of the world.

how's the view up there from your high horse?

2010 May 8
brb, popping popcorn

(air popper - no oil/salt/butter)

2010 May 8
BTW, I would wager that many of the meals you get in a restaurant are no better than poutine for fat and sodium content, and other factors. Even in fancy-pants places. Eating out pretty much equates with eating unhealthily unless you go to one of the minority of places that serve healthy meals.

And back to poutine - it is actually possible to make it significantly better for you than what comes from the chip trucks. I made some a few weeks ago where I baked the fries, and made home made gravy from chicken fat and home canned chicken broth from brined chicken. The gravy was only maybe 1/5 fat or so, and of course the fat being an unprocessed whole food is arguably better for you than, say, highly processed olive oil. The only ingredients in the gravy were chicken fat, chicken broth which had salt (a fair bit), pepper, and a few other herbs, and flour.

So served in moderation the whole thing probably was not that bad. But still I'd still keep it to once a month or so, at most.

2010 May 8
Zym, I was thinking the same thing while reading this discussion. Fast food is high in fat and sodium, but the same goes for most "fancy-pants" food. Unless people are extremely careful (and what's the fun in that?) eating out a lot is bad for your health.

Your home made poutine story is intriguing. Along similar lines, I've always thought that one would be much healthier by deep frying extensively at home (where you have control over the quality and freshness of your oil) and never, ever eating anything deep fried outside of the home.

For the record, commercial gravy isn't typically high in fat. Sodium yes, but not fat -- check the nutritional info on a can sometime. Many chip wagons use veggie gravy too, so you can be sure that all the fat is coming from the frying medium and the cheese curds. Gravy gets an unfair rap, which I blame on the rich creamy Southern sausage gravy. When I make gravy from drippings, I use a gravy separator (see photo) to avoid most of the fat.

2010 May 8
BTW KC, speaking of psychological disorders and mental fitness, judging by the way in which you like slagging others on this site, I would wager your own state of mental fitness is no where near as great as you like to believe it to be. Someone who is truly in a state of harmony with themself is in a state of harmony with everything - and someone in that state simply does not say bad things about others.

In saying this, of course, I fail my own teachings. But at least I know I've failed so I'm not lying to myself. Here is a story I always like to go back to at times like this :


In the several years after O'Sensei's passing, one high ranking teacher was making plans to split away from Hombu Dojo and start his own group. During those years, he and his followers said many negative and demeaning things against 2nd Doshu, but Doshu never made any comment - to the point that even his supporters were becoming very frustrated and disappointed in him. One day, I couldn't stand it any longer and went to Doshu and said, "Why don't you say something back against this person or defend yourself against such remarks, it is so painful to all of us to hear such things."

Doshu became very stern and reprimanded me saying (literally), "We practice Aikido, we do not say bad things against others." And he turned and walked away.

I was so ashamed of myself (as frustrated as I still was) but I so admired Doshu that he truly was enlightened into Aikido and its teachings as no other person I have ever met. After all these years, I still have not mastered his valuable lesson to me. But I know that, as far as Doshu was concerned, people who practice Aikido do not speak ill of others whatever the circmstances and that is it.

2010 May 8
You sure seem to take offence to everything that KC says...maybe you need some Pam spray. It'll help the comments slide off your back a little easier. Maybe her comments rub you the wrong way, but I think there's a better or more productive way to reply than to make personal remarks.

2010 May 8
This is exactly like saying athletes should be an example to young kids who are into sports. You know what? Not really. It's not their job. Their job, and why they got there, is their talent.

Foodies love food. In general, and in theory, it makes us somewhat of experts on good places to eat and some good meals to cook up. That's as far as it goes. We love different flavors, cuisines, style of foods, we go to different standard of restaurants, some value atmosphere and service more than others, some try to find variety in food for health reasons(healthy food), some ignore certain categories of food(vegetarians) etc

AS a foodie, I have a certain view on all of these categories and they are not the best views, just mine. And I try hard to find the places that would satisfy this craving. I would never try to push someone to believe what I believe when it comes to food.

2010 May 8
So Bobby, with regards to "personal remarks", is there a reason you do not seem to have an issue with the copious ones that KC seems to be throwing around?

EDIT: I reserve my personal remarks for those who like to throw them around about others. Sure, that may make me no better, but at least I know where my flaws are. As they say in AA - the first step is admitting you have a problem.

2010 May 8
I absolutely agree, FF, that the best policy is moderation - but your original post didn't really make that point. No doubt the occasional indulgence isn't going to seriously damage your health, if it really is occasional... but that can be a slippery slope.

Zym also makes a good point that a meal at a fancy-pants restaurant may well be just as unhealthy as the stuff that we commonly characterize as junk food. Still, when I have my occasional indulgence, I'll go for something interesting at a good restaurant rather than wasting it on something mundane like poutine. :-)

Of course, it's easy for me to diss junk food, because most of it simply doesn't appeal to me. Some years ago, when I first had my cholesterol tested, the numbers were rather alarming. Longevity doesn't run in my family (my father died of a heart attack when he was only 46), so I resolved to do something about it. The main thing was to reduce the amount of fat in my diet, by eating less meat (especially fatty stuff like hamburger), avoiding deep-fried food, and so on. The interesting thing is, after a period of adjustment, you find that you don't crave most of those things anymore - in fact, eating a dish that's very high in fat tends to make me feel queasy now. Fortunately, there are still plenty of good things to eat that don't invoke that reaction.

So, my approach to food has a lot to do with self-preservation. We all have to find our individual comfort zones, but moderation and prevention are always good things to keep in mind.

2010 May 8
"is there a reason you do not seem to have an issue with the copious ones that KC seems to be throwing around?"

Give me a break. I didn't have a problem with her comments either. Bobby Fillet's comment is correct, let it go.

Somewhat back on topic: I tried and am hooked on Fritomani poutine, in Orleans.

"I can tell you that after eating healthy for weeks, my body just reacts poorly and I almost feel sick after satisfying a simple poutine craving"

I agree. It makes me feel a bit queesy after eating it, but it tastes so damn good, so once in a while I indulge.

2010 May 8
So Peter, you think it is OK to say things like "most foodies may have [...] some psychological disorder"?

And I'm the bad guy for calling someone out on that?


If someone wants to make a comment which accuses the majority of readers of this site site (by definition) of having a psychological disorder, I may not even have a problem with it if they'd support this claim somehow. And if their support in any way made sense. But as it stands, that was just a frivilous over-the-bow potshot at the patrons of this site, without the slightest argument to support it.

Sorry, but that ain't cool. That's personal attacks.

From what I've seen so far, FC is what on usenet used to be called a "Visigoth". And that term is so obscure that a google search does not even seem to bring up any results for it. I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure it out ...

2010 May 8
If you are a usenet regular, like I am, you should have thicker skin.

2010 May 8
I often say "it's not what you say, but how you say it", so maybe I'm just interpreting her comments differently than you are. I take it that she means that most foodies are quirky...I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I'm also a member of the audiophile community, which I find that at least in Ottawa (speaking of dealers) they are a quirky bunch to say the least. I don't think I'm looking down on anyone by saying this though. I don't think she was saying that Ottawa foodies chase their meals with Prozac...but I could be wrong.

However, your comments left much less interpretation.

2010 May 8
Zym: Doshu followed the Bushido...I understand the way Doshu acted upon the slander.
Samurai used to live by the sword also die by the sword. If you pull out the sword,you cannot put it back without using it...you have to be very responsible for what you do, or what you say. The Japanese culture is very strict...well I guess I have to say "used to be very strict"... Anyway, my word is honor and I never want to misuse it.

2010 May 9
WOAH. Me a slammer? Talk about taken to the extreme! We're just supposed to just have fun and talk about our passion for good food, speaking our minds freely. I still love you guys!!!


2010 May 9
Poutine disagrees with my system but I indulge in it by begging a bite or 2 from my dining dates-another quirky trait either loved or hated! Luckily my 2 most frequent dining partners are also "sharers"! (I am very careful who I ask for a bite.)

2010 May 9
WC: I get what you're saying about being a "sharer". My husband is not, and it took me years to figure that out.

2010 May 10
whats with the poutine places in TO...first Smokes (opening in Ottawa soon) and now check out Poutini's

last year we introduced a poutine potato and poutine wedges at the Ottawa FM, but the strict jury committee rejected them! I thought they worked well together and were a very good combination.
We used veggie gravy with no msg or lard...maybe thats why it failed?

2010 May 10
Spud Guy - mushroom gravy w/ poutine works better than veg gravy.

2010 May 11
Oof, I get what you're saying about being a "sharer" as well. My partner has no problems giving and taking bites or sips but personally, I get pretty peeved when people ask for bites of my food or sips of my drink. Maybe I have a psychological disorder? :P