Saturday, January 31, 2009

20 Worst Restaurant Foods

I signed up for a weekly newsletter from the people that wrote the book Eat This Not That... and I thought I'd share some of the information with you.

20 Worst Restaurant Food Items:

20. Worst Fast-Food Chicken Meal

Chicken Selects Premium Breast Strips from McDonald's (5 pieces) with creamy ranch sauce
830 calories
55g fat (4.5g trans fat)
48 g carbs

The only thing "premium" about these strips is the caloric price you pay. Add a large fries and regular soda and this seemingly innocuous chicken meal tops out at 1,710 calories.

Change Your Chicken: 20 McNuggets have the same impact. Instead, choose Mickey D's six-piece offering with BBQ sauce and save yourself 530 calories.

19. Worst Drink

Jamba Juice Chocolate Moo'd Power Smoothie(30 fl oz)
900 calories
10 g fat
183 g carbs (166 g sugars)

Jamba Juice calls it a smoothie; we call it a milkshake. In fact, this beverage contains more sugar than two pints of Ben and Jerry's Butter Pecan ice cream.

Turn Down the Power: Seventy-five percent of this chain's "power smoothies" contain in excess of 100 grams of sugar. Stick to Jamba's lower-calorie All Fruit Smoothies, which are the only menu items that contain no added sugar. And always opt for the 16-ounce "small."

18. Worst Supermarket Meal

Pepperidge Farm Roasted Chicken Pot Pie(whole pie)
1,020 calories
64 g fat
86 g carbs

The label may say this pie serves two, but who ever divided a small pot pie in half? Once you crack the crust, there will be no stopping.

Pick a Better Pie: Swanson's pot pie has just 400 calories.

17. Worst "Healthy" Burger

Ruby Tuesday Bella Turkey Burger
1,145 calories
71 g fat
56 g carbs

We chose this burger for more than its calorie payload: Its name implies that it's healthy.

The Truly Healthy Choice: Skip burgers entirely (few at Ruby Tuesday come in under 1,000 calories). Instead, order a 9-ounce sirloin with a side of steamed vegetables.

16. Worst Mexican Entree

Chipotle Mexican Grilled Chicken Burrito
1,179 calories
47 g fat
125 g carbs
2,656 mg sodium

Despite a reputation for using healthy, fresh ingredients, Chipotle's menu is limited to king-size burritos, overstuffed tacos, and gigantic salads—all of which lead to a humongous waistline. (Oh come on... we in Texas can find more fattening Mexican Food than this!)

Make Over the Menu: There are two ways to make a Chipotle burrito healthy enough to eat:
(1) 86 the rice and tortilla and request your meat, vegetables, and beans served in a bowl, or
(2) Bring a friend and saw the burrito in half.

15. Worst Kids' Meal

Macaroni Grill Double Macaroni 'n' Cheese
1,210 calories
62 g fat
3,450 mg sodium

It's like feeding your kid 1 1/2 boxes of Kraft mac 'n' cheese.

Your Best Option: The 390-calorie Grilled Chicken and Broccoli.

14. Worst Sandwich

Quizno's Classic Italian (large)
1,510 calories
82 g fat
3,750 mg sodium
106 g carbs

A large homemade sandwich would more likely provide about 500 calories.

Cut the Calories: Isn't it obvious? Order a small—or save half for later.

13. Worst Salad

On the Border Grande Taco Salad with Taco Beef
1,450 calories
102 g fat
78 g carbs
2,410 mg sodium

This isn't an anomaly: Five different On the Border salads on the menu contain more than 1,100 calories each.

The Salad for You: The Sizzling Chicken Fajita Salad supplies an acceptable 760 calories. But remember to choose a noncaloric beverage, such as water or unsweetened iced tea.

12. Worst Burger

Carl's Jr. Double Six Dollar Burger
1,520 calories
111 g fat

Carl's brags about this, but also provides convenient nutrition info on its Web site—so ignorance is no excuse for eating it.

A Simple Solution: The Low Carb Six Dollar Burger has just 490 calories.

11. Worst Steak

Lonestar 20 oz T-bone
1,540 calories
124 g fat

Add a baked potato and Lonestar's Signature Lettuce Wedge, and this is a 2,700-calorie blowout. (Umm... can I just say that even before my weight loss surgery I couldn't eat 20 oz of meat, a potato, and a salad!! They probably give you bread too!)

Make the Cut: Stick to fillets and sirloins in steakhouses—they're the two leanest cuts of beef.

10. Worst Breakfast

Bob Evans Caramel Banana Pecan Cream Stacked and Stuffed Hotcakes
1,540 calories
77 g fat (9 g trans fat)
198 g carbs(109 g sugars)

Five Egg McMuffins yield the same caloric cost as these sugar-stuffed flapjacks. (Holy COW!)

Order This Instead: The Western Omelet has 654 calories and 44 grams of protein.

9. Worst Dessert

Chili's Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream
1,600 calories
78 g fat
215 g carbs

Would you eat a Big Mac for dessert? How about three? That's the calorie equivalent of this decadent dish. Clearly, Chili's customers get their money's worth. (Well, when you tell me it's like 3 Big Macs... then no - I wouldn't eat it... but ignorance is sometimes bliss...in all seriousness though - I haven't ordered a dessert at a restaurant since I can remember. I might have a bite of someone else's but that's it. How many calories are in one bite?)

Don't Overdo It: If you want dessert at Chili's, order one single-serving Sweet Shot; you'll cap your after-dinner intake at 310 calories.

8. Worst Chinese Entree

P.F. Chang's Pork Lo Mein
1,820 calories
127 g fat
95 g carbs

The fat content in this dish alone provides more than 1,100 calories. And you'd have to eat almost five servings of pasta to match the number of carbohydrates it contains. Now, do you really need five servings of pasta?

Pick Another Noodle: P.F. Chang's Singapore Street Noodles will satisfy your craving with only 570 calories. Or try the Moo Goo Gai Pan or the Ginger Chicken & Broccoli, which have 660 calories each.

7. Worst Chicken Entree

Chili's Honey Chipotle Crispers with Chipotle Sauce
2,040 calories
99 g fat
240 g carbs

"Crispers" refers to an extra-thick layer of bread crumbs that soaks up oil and adds unnecessary calories and carbs to these glorified chicken strips.

Switch Your Selection: Order the Chicken Fajita Pita: At 450 calories and 43 grams of protein, it's one of the healthiest entrées you'll find in a chain restaurant.

6. Worst Fish Entree

On the Border Dos XX Fish Tacos with Rice and Beans
2,100 calories
130 g fat
169 g carbs
4,750 mg sodium

Perhaps the most misleadingly named dish in America: A dozen crunchy tacos from Taco Bell will saddle you with fewer calories.

Lighten the Load: Ask for grilled fish, choose the corn tortillas instead of flour (they're lower in calories and higher in fiber), and swap out the carbohydrate-loaded rice for grilled vegetables.

5. Worst Pizza

Uno Chicago Grill Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza
2,310 calories
162 g fat
123 g carbs
4,470 mg sodium

Downing this "personal" pizza is equivalent to eating 18 slices of Domino's Crunchy Thin Crust cheese pizza.

4. Worst Pasta

Macaroni Grill Spaghetti and Meatballs with Meat Sauce
2,430 calories
128 g fat
207 g carbs
5,290 mg sodium

This meal satisfies your calorie requirements for an entire day.

Downsize the Devastation: Ask for a lunch portion of this dinner dish (or any pasta on the menu, for that matter), and request regular tomato sauce instead of meat sauce. You'll cut the calories in half.

3. Worst Nachos

On the Border Stacked Border Nachos
2,740 calories
166 g fat
191 g carbs
5,280 mg sodium

More fat and sodium than you should be getting in one meal, let alone in a single appetizer.

Nix the Nachos: Start with a Chicken Soft Taco instead. At 250 calories apiece, this entrée is as close as you'll come to a healthy starter.

1. The Worst Food in America

Outback Steakhouse Aussie Cheese Fries with Ranch Dressing
2,900 calories
182 g fat
240 g carbs

This weapon of mass construction is the caloric equivalent of eating 14 Krispy Kreme doughnuts, before your dinner arrives. Even if you split this "starter" with 3 friends, you'll have downed a meal's worth of calories.

Super Substitution: Both the Seared Ahi and the Shrimp on the Barbie offer a big dose of protein, which helps diminish hunger without putting you into calorie overload.
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