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Archive for July, 2011

Lots of calories in restaurant foods!

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer advocacy group who also puts out the terrific newsletter Nutrition Action Health Letter announced its most recent Xtreme Eating Awards. To summarize: “Stacked, Stuffed, and Topped” is the trend at Applebee’s and other chain restaurants.

Many of the “winners” contained nearly as many calories as American’s should eat
in an entire day. And that is without the drinks, side dishes, and desserts. These “winners” ranged in calories from 1200 to 2500 calories. (The average American should eat around 2000 calories daily.) Huge portions are also to blame for many of these jumbo calorie counts.

Here are some of the winners of the X-Treme Eating Awards:

The Cheesecake Factory Farmhouse Cheeseburger: This burger is “topped with grilled smoked pork belly cheddar cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato, mayo and a fried egg.” It contains 1,530 calories and 3,210 milligrams of sodium. That’s assuming you just eat the burger: Adding a side of Fries will add another 460 calories! As CSPI indicates, eating this burger is “equivalent of eating three McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with cheese.”

Cold Stone Creamery PB&C Shake: A 24-oz. “Gotta Have It” size shake of peanut butter, chocolate ice cream, and  milk has 2010 calories, equivalent to an entire day’s worth of calories (2,010).  And it is just a drink!! As CSPI indicates, this is equivalent eating “two 16-oz. T-bone steaks plus a buttered baked potato.”

Applebee’s Provolone-Stuffed Meatballs With Fettuccine: This dish contains four cups of pasta, two sauces, and “cheese-injected” meatballs and delivers along with garlic bread 1,520 calories 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 Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

The Cheesecake Factory Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake: This slice weighs in at three-quarters of a pound and contains 1,540 calories and 59 grams of saturated fat (three days’ worth). As CSPI indicates, eating one slice is like equivalent in calories to eating one Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizza plus two Quarter Pounders with
cheese.

My suggestion if you insist on ordering such dishes is: share, share, and share!! And be sure to do plenty of exercise.

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Eat local, drink local.

This past weekend, Dan’s Paper, the Hamptons’ weekly newspaper, launched its first annual food and wine event–Dan’s Taste of Two Forks–celebrating the terrific variety of local wineries and restaurants on the North and South Forks of Long Island, New York. The theme was “40 restaurants, 20 wineries, one night.” It was truly a terrific event and celebrated the myriad of local food talent on Long Island. The event took place in a tent at Sayre Park in Bridgehampton and highlighted wonderful culinary talent from over forty East End restaurants, Long Island wineries, premiere local purveyors, and local brewers. It featured a wide array of foods and drinks, for all appetites. A huge crowd attended (the event was sold out!) and the weather cooperated. A portion of proceeds benefited the East End food pantries through Have a Heart Community Trust.

As a nutritionist, I was quite pleased with the large selection of healthy offerings as well as the emphasis on choosing locally grown food and drink.

Here were some samples of tasty–and nutritious–offerings:

  • Yellow tomato gazpacho with watermelon, yellowtail, and tortilla chips from Blue Parrot
  • Tuna Tabbouleh from Race Lane
  • Gingered avocado and cucumber soup from Babettes
  • Poached salmon with cucumber sauce on quinoa

If you had room left for dessert, many participating restaurants had yummy treats made with local ingredients. One of my favorites was Gurney’s Pasticceria and Beach Bakery which offered a selection of scrumptious baked goods. The berry cobbler was out of this world. Moderation, of course.

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Does diet soda lead to weight gain!?

Does diet soda lead to weight gain?

According to several new studies from researchers at University of Texas medical school, drinking diet soda leads to increased waistlines and may boost blood sugar levels. The research, presented at a recent American Diabetes Association conference found that people who drink diet soda—which contains virtually no calories and no nutritional value!—experienced a 70% greater increase in waist circumference over a decade than non-diet soda drinkers. And, the more diet soda people drank, the more weight they gained. For people who drank two or more diet sodas daily, their waist was five times larger than those who did not drink any diet soda!!

What is going on??  Diet soda has no calories, so there must be several other variables at play.  As I am quoted in the NY Post, diet soda drinkers may also be prone to other unhealthy habits. Instead of eating an apple with their diet soda, they may be eating a bag of chips. I’ve also seen many people use artificial sweeteners in coffee just to give themselves permission to indulge in a brownie or candy bar. Some scientists also suggest that perhaps artificial sweeteners trigger appetite.

Take away message: Drinking diet soda does not give you license to indulge in a fattening food along with it. Skip the diet soda, and enjoy a cool glass of water or flavored seltzer. Herbal iced tea is also a tasty beverage, especially in summer heat.

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