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Jul 192011
 

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

A mozzarella stick grilled cheese sandwich? A burger topped with pork belly smoked cheese AND a fried egg?

What will American restaurants not do to entice us to belly up, literally?

Apparently, despite all the warning bells about American obesity, shortened lifespans and soaring health care costs, they won’t tone it down, or help you tone up.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has turned a spotlight on menu trends, discovering that mainstream American eateries continue to roll out over-stuffed, grease-packed new concoctions in an apparent competition to out fat the competition.

What the nutrition advocacy found might make your mouth water, or cause you to gag, but whichever it is for you personally, someone out there is eating this stuff or it would be vanishing from menus instead of proliferating. And that’s food — a lot of food — for thought, given this nation’s capacity for wasting food (and building waists).

Denny's new cheese on cheese grilled cheese.

Here then, for the sheer gross fun of it, are the CSPI’s winners of the Xtreme Eating Awards, peppered with select witticisms by CSPI (their words, not mine below) from its just-released report Extreme Eating 2011:

  • Denny’s Fried Cheese Melt: In the chain’s own words, it is “four fried mozzarella sticks and melted American cheese grilled between two slices of sourdough bread.”  And in the chain’s own numbers, this cheesy collision, with its side of French fries and marinara sauce, has 1,260 calories and 21 grams of saturated fat (a full day’s worth), and 3,010 mg of sodium (two days’ worth). “The possibilities are wide open,” says Denny’s.  “They’re wide, all right,” says Nutrition Action. Eating this meal is like eating two Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizzas.
  • The Cheesecake Factory Farmhouse Cheeseburger:  This burger is “topped with grilled smoked pork belly cheddar cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato, mayo and a fried egg.” Red Robin, Denny’s and IHOP have similarly embraced the idea of topping burgers with eggs.  But to take the spotlight, this Factory-farmed burger boasts 1,530 calories and 36 grams of saturated fat topped with 3,210 milligrams of sodium.  That’s assuming you just eat the burger:  French fries bring an additional 460 calories and 1,460 mg of sodium. Eating this would be the equivalent of eating three McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with cheese.  Add another Quarter Pounder with cheese if you eat the side order of fries.
  • Cold Stone Creamery PB&C Shake:  Even people accustomed to 1,500-calorie burgers wouldn’t expect 2,000-calorie shakes.  A 24-oz. “Gotta Have It” size shake of peanut butter, chocolate ice cream, and milk has a day’s calories (2,010) and three and a half days’ worth of saturated fat (68 grams).  Cold Stone’s Web site says, without a whiff of irony, “Your Health – Just as Important as Taste.” One large Cold Stone Creamery PB&C Shake is like drinking two 16-oz. T-bone steaks plus a buttered baked potato.
  • Applebee’s Provolone-Stuffed Meatballs With Fettuccine: Spaghetti with meatballs was never diet food.  But Applebee’s stuffs provolone cheese into these meatballs and simultaneously tops the underlying fettuccine with a marinara sauce and a Parmesan cream sauce.  With a piece of garlic bread, the four cups of pasta, two sauces, and cheese-injected meatballs deliver 1,520 calories,  43 grams of saturated fat (two days’ worth), and 3,700 mg of sodium (more than two days’ worth). It’s like eating two of Applebee’s 12-oz. Ribeye Steaks plus a side of

    Cheesecake might be delicious, but it packs a calorie wallop.

    Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

  • The Cheesecake Factory Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake: Why stop at a slice of red velvet cake when you can top it with a layer of cheesecake, top that with another layer of red velvet cake, and top that with another layer of cheesecake?  And then top that with cream cheese frosting, chocolate shavings, and a small silo of whipped cream? Weighing in at three-quarters of a pound, this dessert packs 1,540 calories and 59 grams of saturated fat (three days’ worth).  Eating one slice of the Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake is like eating one Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizza plus two Quarter Pounders with cheese except the cake has an additional days’ worth of saturated fat.

So if you’re looking for healthier food, the first thing to do is split that lovely cheesecake three ways — at least. Then look for some healthier dining spots.

It might just be safer to eat at home.

Copyright © 2011 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network