The worst dishes and their surprising substitutes
WTOP's Megan Cloherty reports
WASHINGTON -- They are the worst of the worst: the most calorie-packed, sodium- filled, fatty dishes you can order at chain restaurants.
"We surveyed the menus and nutrition information of more than 200 of the top chain restaurants and selected the worst items we can find," says registered dietitian Paige Einstein, with the Center for Science in the Public Interest. She helped compile this year's extreme eating winners.
At the top of the list, The Big Hook Up platter at Joe's Crab Shack.
"It has 3,300 calories and 2 1/2 days worth of saturated fat," Einstein says.
And the Cheesecake Factory's best French toast will put your health in a tailspin, she says. In fact, you could have five Big Macs and still not equal its calorie count.
To see how the dishes compare to other foods, click the gallery to the right.
Some of the worst offenders:
- The Cheesecake Factory's Bruleed French Toast
It packs the equivalent of eating 14 slices of Aunt Jemima frozen Homestyle French Toast stuffed with 8 oz. of Kraft Philadelphia Original Cream Cheese.
- Red Robin's Monster Meal
It delivers a 1,670-calorie burger with unlimited 370-calorie fries, and a Monster Salted Caramel milkshake adds another 1,500 calories on top.
- Chevy's Fresh Mex's Cinco de Maxo
The meal of two enchiladas, crispy hand-rolled pork tamales and chiles rellenos is served with rice, sweet corn tamalito and choice of refried beans made with bacon or vegetarian black beans. If you ignore the chips and salsa, you're packing on 1,920 calories and 36 grams of saturated fat.
While some menus are offering more choices, they can be hard to find, and Einstein says the onus is on restaurants to make healthy meals for customers.
"There's definitely still a lot of bad options out there. Some restaurants do offer a handful of healthier options, but that's after pages of their menu of these really high-calorie items," Einstein says.
Some ideas for eating out in a more healthy way, straight from the Extreme Eating 2014 article:
- Order from the lower-cal menu.
- Skip the beef, bun and fries.
- Lighten your pizza: Order a thin crust. Ask for less cheese. Top with veggies, chicken, or seafood instead of sausage, beef, bacon, salami, or pepperoni.
- Ditch the chips and combos.
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