Want to know what a 1,600-plus-calorie meal looks like? It's not what you think. It could be covered with lettuce or served with a side of veggies. It's lurking in many chain restaurants, waiting to sabotage your diet, raise your blood pressure or worse. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has just released its 2010 "Xtreme Eating Awards" -- their annual review of entrees with the most calories, fat and sodium served at American restaurant chains. The full list will be featured in the June issue of the Nutrition Action HealthLetter. We took a closer look at some of the most surprising offenders. We suggest you read this before you tuck into your next meal.
The Daily Green wants to remind you that the recommended limit for daily maximum intake is 2,000 calories, 20 grams of saturated fat and 2,300 milligrams of sodium.
P.F. Chang's Double Pan-Fried Noodles Combo
CSPI: You could eat 10 Egg Rolls and not top the 1,820 calories in this dish. "They fry these noodles to make them hard and crunchy, while you end up soft and flabby," says CSPI nutrition director Bonnie Liebman. If this noodle dish does indeed have the 7,690 milligrams of sodium to which the chain confesses, that would be about three teaspoons of salt -- a five-day supply.
The Nutrition Action HealthLetter article quips, "It's always possible that you're stopping at Chang's before starting a three-hour bicycle ride or four-hour hike. But on the off chance that you're not going to burn off the dish's 1,820 calories after dinner, you're going to need some place to store them. How does your belly sound?" "Healthy" menu alternatives include anything that's comes without noodles and is not fried, and keep in mind many of these dishes are meant to be split. If you're craving a noodle dish try these Sesame Noodles. You can live with the 630 calories they'll set you back.
The California Pizza Kitchen Tostada Pizza with Grilled Steak
Photo: Gloria Dawson / The Daily Green
California Pizza Kitchen Tostada Pizza with Grilled Steak
CSPI: With 1,680 calories, 1 1/2 days' worth (32 grams) of saturated fat, and more than two days' worth (3,300 mg) of sodium, ordering the single-serve pizza is like eating a Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizza topped with six Taco Bell Crunchy beef Tacos.
Don't be fooled by this lettuce-covered monstrosity. It's packed with nearly your entire day's worth of calories. We looked around for alternative entrees at California Pizza Kitchen, but we found little for the under-1,000-calorie set. And don't think you're saving tons of calories by ordering the honey-wheat crust for your pizza -- you'll be saving 12 calories. Yes, only 12, and that's not going to put much of a dent in your 1,680 calorie meal. Still craving a tostada? Try this Grilled Vegetable Tostada, with only 580 calories.
The Cheesecake Factory Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake
CSPI: A tower of any food is rarely a good idea. This six-inch-long, three-quarter-pound slab of cake has 1,670 calories and two-and-a-half days' worth (48 grams) of artery-clogging saturated fat. Feel like eating 14 Hostess Ho Hos for dessert?
Okay, so we didn't think a restaurant called the Cheesecake Factory was serving health food. But what scared us was how one splurge could leave such a huge dent in your diet. When we looked for alternative dessert options we found Tiramisu and Fresh Strawberry Shortcake, but at 932 and 878 calories respectively we suggest sharing. Another option is heading home for dinner, it will save you money and calories. Try making yourself this Rich Chocolate Layer Cake. It comes in at a slightly more respectable 618 calories with no saturated fat -- this should still be an infrequent indulgence for sure.
These dishes totally remind us of the Taco Town SNL skit.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.