Oscars, Emmys, Webbys -- these are desirable awards.
Xtreme Eating Awards -- not so much.
The nutrition and food safety watchdogs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest conferred its Xtreme Eating Awards Tuesday on nine items from seven American restaurant chains.
To put these calorie counts into context, keep in mind the average American should consume about 2,000 calories per day with no more than 20 grams of saturated fat. (Tip: Check with Calorie Lab and read restaurant reviews before you go.)
So pass the Pepto-Bismol and check out the top nine heavyweights (in order of calories) found on chain-restaurant menus. Bon Appetit!
9. The Outback New Zealand Lamb
Saturated Fat: 60 grams
Sodium: 1,340 mg
The menu description is hard to resist: “A rack of tasty New Zealand lamb (cooked to order) with a rich Cabernet wine sauce. Served with garlic mashed potatoes and fresh seasonal veggies.” Each rack includes about eight lamb chops with nearly a day's worth of sodium (1,340 mg). Add the side dishes and you're looking at 1,820 calories, 80 grams of saturated fat and 2,600 mg of sodium.
8. California Pizza Kitchen Pesto Cream Penne (without chicken or shrimp)
Saturated Fat: 49 grams
Sodium, 1,920 mg
Pasta is a calorie magnet for sauces and toppings. That makes it tough to find a pasta dish with fewer than 900 calories at California Pizza Kitchen. (The 720 calorie Portobello Mushroom Ravioli topped with tomatoes, basil and garlic is your best choice.) Some of CPK’s pastas reach 1,500 calories, primarily from white flour.
7. Bob Evans Cinnamon Cream Stacked and Stuffed Hotcakes
Calories: 1,380 (plus 200 calories for four tablespoons of syrup)
Saturated Fat: 27 grams (plus seven grams of trans fat)
Sodium: 1,980 mg
Bob pumps up two pancakes by stuffing them with a touch of fruit or cinnamon chips, vanilla cream cheese, a sugary topping (like cinnamon cream) and a whipped topping as the "coup de grease." How before Bob adds pepperoni and bacon to this caloric catastrophe?
6. Five Guys Bacon Cheeseburger and Large Fries
Calories: 1,460 (without toppings)
Saturated Fat: 30 grams
Sodium: 1,400 mg
Five Guys handcrafted masterpieces are divinity on two buns, but just one bacon cheeseburger equals two of McDonald's Quarter Pounders (410 calories each). A large order of Five Guys' fries contains triple the calories of a large order of fries at McDonald's.
5. The Cheesecake Factory Chocolate Tower Trouble Cake
Saturated Fat: 48 grams
Sodium: 2,400 mg
You gotta admit this is truth in advertising. You're in real trouble with this chocolate monstrosity that stands over six-inches tall and weights three-quarters of a pound. The über desert includes six layers of fudge cake with chocolate truffle cream and chocolate mousse.
4. California Pizza Kitchen Tostada Pizza with Grilled Steak
Saturated Fat: 32 grams
Sodium: 2,630 mg
This steak and pizza combination includes nearly two day’s worth of saturated fat and two-plus-day's worth of sodium (3,300 mg).
3. Chevy's Crab & Shrimp Quesadilla
Saturated Fat: 63 grams
Sodium: 3,440 mg
This Quesadilla is more of a Cheezilla. The Frisbee-sized concoction contains a touch of crab and shrimp buried under roasted corn, a habanero-pesto cream sauce, melted cheeses, guacamole and sour cream -- all wrapped in two giant tortillas. Ay caramba!
2. P.F. Chang’s Double Pan-Fried Noodles Combo
Saturated Fat: 60 grams
Sodium: 7,690 mg
Chang's fries their noodles to make them hard and crunchy. The result is a noodle dish that's just making you soft and flabby. The chain admits each combo contains a five-day supply of sodium.
1. The Cheesecake Factory Pasta Carbonara with Chicken
Saturated Fat: 85 grams
Sodium: 1,250 mg
And the highest calorie menu item is (drum role please) The Cheesecake Factory's "heart attack on a plate." Just one order contains four cups of white-flour pasta, smoked bacon, chicken, Parmesan cream, butter sauce and a healthy dose of peas for more saturated fat than one should eat in four days. To consume 2,500 calories you'd have to eat the Factory's onion-ring-topped Grilled Rib-Eye Steak with fries and a slice of Tiramisu Cheesecake.
If you're not grossed out enough yet, read our post on "40 Gut-Busting Restaurant Challenges for Free Food."
The good news is that a health-reform law enacted in March gives the Food and Drug Administration a year to propose a regulation specifying how restaurant chains with 20 or more outlets should disclose calories on menus and menu boards. The law will also require chains provide diners with information about saturated fat, carbohydrates, sodium and other nutrients upon request.