Center 'honors' 9 gut-busting menu items
The Center for Science in the Public Interest identifies selections at 7 popular chains that provide 'Xtreme' levels of calories and fat.
What do you get if you order the pasta carbonara with chicken at The Cheesecake Factory, followed by the Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake?
Answer: 4,170 calories and 133 grams of saturated fat -- more than the recommended limit of saturated fat for six entire days. The recommended daily caloric intake for most folks is 2,000.
These two menu items are among the Center for Science in the Public Interest's nine winners of the 2010 Xtreme Eating Awards. Is there any wonder we're an obese nation? Can the federal requirement that restaurants post calorie counts take effect soon enough to save us from ourselves?
"I wouldn't accuse California Pizza Kitchen or P.F. Chang's of being a threat to national security, but with a quarter of young Americans too heavy to join the military, these and other chains ought to get the extremes off their menus," CSPI nutrition director Bonnie Liebman said in a news release. "At a minimum, they should disclose calories on menus now, even before federal regulations make it mandatory."
Among the other "dishonorees" on the list:
- Bob Evans' Cinnamon Cream Stacked & Stuffed Hotcakes: 1,380 calories and 34 grams of bad fat. "Bob stuffs his hotcakes with cinnamon chips made of sugar and fat; adds a layer of cream-cheese-flavored filling; and tops them with sugary 'cream' sauce, whipped topping, and powdered sugar," the organization says. And that's without syrup.
- California Pizza Kitchen's Pesto Cream Penne (without chicken or shrimp): 1,350 calories, 49 grams of saturated fat, and 1,920 milligrams of sodium. CSPI's Nutrition Action newsletter says, "Some of CPK's pastas reach 1,500 calories …."
- California Pizza Kitchen's Tostada Pizza, without chicken or steak: 1,440 calories, 27 grams of saturated fat and 2,630 mg of sodium.
- Chevys Fresh Mex's Crab & Shrimp Quesadilla: 1,790 calories, 63 grams of saturated fat plus 3,440 mg of salt.
- Outback's rack of lamb, serviced with garlic mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables: 1,820 calories, 80 grams of saturated fat, and 2,600 mg of sodium.
- P.F. Chang's Double Pan-Fried Noodles Combo: 1,820 calories and 7,690 milligrams of sodium. "That's 3 teaspoons of salt -- a five-day supply," the newsletter says.
- Five Guys' bacon cheeseburger (with no toppings): 920 calories and 30 grams of saturated fat. Compare that with a Big Mac (540 calories) or a Quarter Pounder (410 calories). A large fries at Five Guys is 1,460 calories, and 32-ounce Coke adds another 300. Refills there are free.
About those posted calorie counts: Panera Bread has started doing it at some of its stores, and Yum Brands, the owner of KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and A&W, says it will post calorie counts at company-owned restaurants by Jan. 1. The new federal rules will take effect sometime next year.
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