8 things you probably shouldn’t eat at a chain restaurant


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Some American chain restaurants give new meaning to the term ‘extreme eating.’ We’re not talking about downing 60 hot dogs in a contest or even finishing an extra large pizza by yourself. Depending on where you dine, that Tuesday night burger dinner might help you achieve your daily recommended food intake in just a couple of bites.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Nutrition Action Healthletter highlighted the top eight restaurant winners in its Extreme Eating Awards this month. The list highlights dishes that are high in calories, fat and sodium and includes items from popular chains such as the Cheesecake Factory, Applebee’s and Denny’s. Get ready to break out the scales, here are your 2011 Extreme Eating Award Winners:


  1. The Cheesecake Factory red velvet cake cheesecake has a whopping 1,540 calories and 59 grams of saturated fat. (An entire quart of Breyers all natural homemade vanilla ice cream has 1,680 calories and 60 grams of fat.)
  2. IHOP’s monster bacon ’n beef cheeseburger, which includes two patties of mixed bacon and beef and provolone cheese on a romano-parmesan bun, has 1,250 calories, 42 grams of saturated fat and 1,590 milligrams of sodium. Add the onion rings and tack on an additional 620 calories.
  3. Denny’s fried cheese melt has 1,260 calories, 21 grams of saturated fat and 3,010 milligrams of sodium. Those extra calories might have a little something to do with the mozzarella sticks in the middle of the sandwich.
  4. The Cheesecake Factory farmhouse cheeseburger is a hamburger topped with pork belly, cheddar cheese and a fried egg. The calorie count for this bad boy is 1,530 with 36 grams of saturated fat and 3,210 milligrams of sodium.
  5. Coldstone Creamery’s PB&C (peanut butter, chocolate and milk) shake has 2,010 calories and 68 grams of saturated fat in each 24 fluid ounce cup.
  6. Applebee’s provolone-stuffed meatballs with fettuccine and garlic bread comes in at 1,520 calories, 43 grams of saturated fat and 3,700 milligrams of sodium.
  7. At Great Steak, an extra large order of the great fries weighs about 1 1/3 pounds and has 930 calories and 2,490 milligrams of sodium.
  8. Morton’s steakhouse porterhouse steak dinner with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach has 2,570 calories, 85 grams of saturated fat and 2,950 milligrams of sodium.

Now that’s extreme eating.

-- Jenn Harris

Everything, and we mean everything, gets fried at the Orange County Fair

My L.A. Street Food Fest regret