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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Some restaurant dishes go to fat, calorie extremes!


Diners beware: There are some extremely high-calorie, high-fat land mines on restaurant menus.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based consumer group, today announced its annual "Xtreme Eating Awards."

On the list:

The Cheesecake Factory's Pasta Carbonara with Chicken, 2,500 calories.

• Bob Evans' Cinnamon Cream Stacked and Stuffed Hotcakes, 1,380 calories.

• P.F. Chang's Double Pan-Fried Noodles Combo, 1,820 calories.

"You can't even split these and have a decent meal — the numbers are just off the charts," says Bonnie Liebman, the center's nutrition director. Liebman says big portions have become the norm at restaurants.

"You can find giant pasta dishes with cream sauces in many chains now. When did it become normal to have an entire pizza by yourself? It used to be a slice of pizza. It's as though we have become numb to the enormous portion sizes that restaurants put on our plates."

Mike Donohue, a spokesman for the National Restaurant Association, an industry group, says the report "paints a distorted picture of restaurants based on a single menu item."

"Certainly there are indulgent items on menus, but there are more diet-conscious items on menus than ever before, and our customers know it," he says. "The restaurant industry is committed to providing healthier options and the detailed information consumers want to make the decisions that are best for themselves and their families."

Liebman says the average American should consume about 2,000 calories a day and no more than 20 grams of saturated fat. And most adults — including those with high blood pressure, African Americans, the middle-aged and the elderly — should consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day, according to the dietary guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

On the Extreme Eating Awards' list in the June issue of the public-interest center's Nutrition Action Healthletter:

• The Cheesecake Factory's Pasta Carbonara with Chicken, which, in addition to the 2,500 calories, has 85 grams of saturated fat. That's more saturated fat than a person should consume in four days, Liebman says. The dish has four cups of white-flour pasta, smoked bacon, chicken, and Parmesan cream and butter sauce.

• Five Guys' Bacon Cheeseburger without toppings, 920 calories and 30 grams of saturated fat. That's like twoMcDonald's Quarter Pounders, Liebman says. A large order of Five Guys' french fries, 1,460 calories — about triple the calories of a large order of fries at McDonald's. The bacon cheeseburger and fries tally 2,380 calories.

• P.F. Chang's Double Pan-Fried Noodles Combo, 1,820 calories, 7,690 milligrams of sodium.

• Bob Evans' Cinnamon Cream Stacked and Stuffed Hotcakes, 1,380 calories and 27 grams of saturated fat and 7 grams of trans fat. A fourth of a cup (about 4 tablespoons) of syrup is another 200 calories.

California Pizza Kitchen Tostada Pizza with Grilled Steak, 1,680 calories, 32 grams of saturated fat and 3,300 milligrams of sodium.

• California Pizza Kitchen's Pesto Cream Penne, 1,350 calories, 49 grams of saturated fat and 1,920 milligrams of sodium.

• Chevys' Crab and Shrimp Quesadilla, 1,790 calories, 63 grams of saturated fat and 3,440 milligrams of sodium.

Outback Steakhouse New Zealand Rack of Lamb with garlic mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables, 1,820 calories, 80 grams of saturated fat and 2,600 milligrams of sodium.

• The Cheesecake Factory Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake, 1,670 calories and 48 grams of saturated fat. "A tower of any food is rarely a good idea," the center's newsletter says.

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