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Taco Bell drops Lorena Garcia items, adds 'Cantina Power'

This face of Taco Bell is being downplayed.
This face of Taco Bell is being downplayed.Provided

Taco Bell is backing away from thinking "celebrity chef," instead thinking "Cantina Power." That's the title of a new menu change the fast-food chain today announced it will roll out next week.

It will replace the current "Cantina Bell" menu with dishes that double the amount of meat compared to dishes on the regular menu, as well as reducing the calorie count. In addition, Taco Bell will begin testing "Power" options for breakfast beginning Monday, August 4. They will include a new Greek yogurt with granola, and higher-protein versions of breakfast steak burritos and bowls.

Brian Niccol, Taco Bell Corp.’s president and soon-to-be chief executive, said the move is part of the chain’s ongoing attempts to become more relevant and meet the needs of Millennials. He said members of that generation often are seeking higher-protein options as a more healthful alternative.

The timing of the new efforts comes shortly after ranking Taco Bell's burritos were rated dead last in a Consumer Reports survey of 32,405 subscribers with an aggregate of 96,208 dining experiences at 65 chains.

The "Cantina Power" menu items each have more than 20 grams of protein and fewer than 500 calories. Its burrito includes a double portion of protein with the option of marinated and grilled chicken or steak, along with romaine lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole, Cheddar cheese and reduced-fat sour cream wrapped in a tortilla. It has 29 grams of protein. The bowl offers the same ingredients served on a bed of black beans and Latin rice. It has 28 grams of protein.

The two items replace the previous Cantina Bell burrito and bowl, which were developed in part by celebrity chef Lorena Garcia in 2012 and featured upgraded ingredients. Two of Garcia’s "gourmet" ingredients, roasted corn salsa and creamy cilantro dressing, will be dropped from the menu.