February 20, 2007

It's Fat Tuesday...and Fat Wednesday, and Fat Thursday, and Fat...

It's Fat Tuesday.

And for most Americans who eat at restaurants it's always Fat Tuesday and Fat Wednesday and Fat Thursday, and, well, you get the idea.

Today -- on the only day named for obesity -- Milwaukee's NBC Channel 4 looked at local restaurants to see how big the portions really were. In just one salad, they found more than a 1,000 calories and enough fat for the entire day...in a salad! How about lasagna that has 1,700 calories and two days worth of fat. And Chili's Awesome Blossom weighs in with 2,700 calories and three days worth of fat. (And, remember, the Blossom is just an appetizer.)

It seems it's always FAT Tuesday when you eat out.

Here's what they found when they picked up dinners from restaurants all around the Milwaukee area:

From the Cheesecake Factory... Jambalaya and a BBQ salad.

From Maggiano's Italian restaurant... lasagna.

Chicken Tequila Fettuccine from the California Pizza Kitchen.

And a huge burrito from Pedro's in Brookfield.

We took our enormous lunches to SF Labs in West Allis to have them analyzed.

The initial response from our food scientist Mark Meuer: "Man this could feed a family of four."

When we asked him to guess the weight of a particularly large entree, he told us "That's over two pounds at least. You can see that, and then this is supposed to go with it too?"

As for our salad, he guessed we'd find plenty of fat hidden among the greens.

The BBQ Chicken salad weighed in at 1,100 calories, and two pounds. A full day's worth of fat too.

The jambalaya: 1,500 calories and 100% of your fat for the day.

Maggiano's lasagna... just like mom used to make? Maybe. If Mom served two pound slices with 1,700 calories and nearly two days worth of fat.

The pasta from California Pizza Kitchen is a relative lightweight, at 1,300 calories and 135% of your day's fat.

But the big kahuna: the aptly-named three pound burrito from Pedro's. Weighing in at 2,700 calories and two full days worth of fat in one meal.

So, you think, you'll just have an appetizer? Think again. Chili's famous Awesome Blossom has as many calories as the burrito: 2,700. And three days worth of fat!

Outback Aussie cheese fries? Better plan to share! 2,900 calories, and another three days worth of fat.

At this point, maybe you want to skip dinner and just have dessert. Just one piece of cookie dough cheesecake has 1,100 calories-- ouch-- and a little more fat than you need in the whole day.

"The bigger the portion the more we eat and the more we eat the bigger we get," dietitian Laurie Meyer points out.

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