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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Give your diet a day off and enjoy these South Bay restaurants

One morning while walking with Labradoodle George before dawn, I had to put on a sweatshirt and a puffer jacket because, well, it was cold! Not cold as I grew up in New York. But as a longtime Los Angeleno, I lost the layer of fat that kept me warm. And those in the know say that my blood is thinned.

I am like a bear who moved from the Northern Forest to the Florida Everglades; My need to gorge on berries for a long hibernation is no longer as strong as it used to be. And yet, walking with George, I was definitely cold. He has a great Labradoodle fluff mop. I have nothing to talk about.

And so I made the decision to put off salads for a while and return to the right food – Chow Chow, which, as they say, puts meat on the bone. But the more I looked at the restaurant dishes, which I was a little (or hard!) Recruited), the more strange the landscape became.

The obvious choices are pasta and pizza, burgers and hot dogs, fries and ice cream. But this is such an old school.

As with exotic sushi rolls, we Americans cannot be alone. The old lily must be gilded. We have to take what does the job and make it do a lot more work. If the dish contains 1000 calories – well heck, with some simple tweaks, it can be increased to 2000, even 3000 calories. Thanks to the networks that make up the Restaurant Manufacturing Complex (RICE), our products are turbocharged. And, frankly, it’s much more fun to plunge into the wonderful world of hearty appetizers, first courses and (God bless you!) Desserts than to cook things that are useful for us.

Search the web for “healthy food,” and you will see the usual characters: lean proteins, stewed vegetables, minimally added salads, fresh fruit, low sodium, significantly reduced sugar, nothing deep fried, all natural and organic – and completely free of high fructose corn syrup, an ingredient apparently made in the deepest depths of Hades. Been there, did it.

But try searching for “the most satisfying restaurant food” and survive on a fun rollercoaster ride through a world of items so mind-boggling, packed with calories, sodium, sugar, and ingredients that seem unpronounceable that the digestive system is overwhelmed. Visitors from overseas often notice that the portions in America are so … large.

What they are missing is that this size pales with layers of delicious trash in every bite. There are cymbals that will kill every button and send your BMI to levels previously unknown. Moreover, they are delicious. And for me, trying to warm up a little, they definitely did the trick. Do I have favorite places to fill my food? Of course I do. To paraphrase Dante: “Give up the diet, everyone included here …”

Explore the various online sites that chronicle the most nutritious food in restaurants – eatthis.com, delish.com, consumerreports.org, mensjournal.com, menshealth.com and others – and the same network reappears over and over again – Cheesecake Factory (with a local branch in Redondo Beach) where cheesecake seems to be one of the most dietary choices. The list of options is long. Think of it: Fish and Chips (1,860 calories, 2,160 mg sodium), Louisiana Chicken Pasta (2,120 calories, 4,030 mg sodium), Shrimp Bistro Pasta (2,010 calories, 3,180 mg sodium), Crème Brûlée French Toast with Bacon (2,180 calories, 1070 mg sodium), chicken parmesan sandwich (2020 calories, 2940 mg sodium), chicken carbonara paste (2340 calories, 4030 mg sodium), Alfredo chicken fettuccine (2290 calories, 2930 mg sodium), breakfast burrito (2730 calories, 4630 mg sodium).

Also keep in mind that (depending on age, activity level, and gender) most of us should eat between 2,000 and 2,500 calories. in a dayand less than 2300 mg sodium in a dayand you get an idea of ​​how many of these individual meals – just one meal – will make our scales moan as they try to tell us how we’re doing in terms of diet. As I said, cheesecake is a dietary meal. Although a little.

Although buffalo chicken wings are not the healthiest food in the world, for the most part they are what they are and nothing more. But on Wild buffalo wings network (with local branches in Torrance, Carson and Baldwin Hills), Boneless Large Thai Curry Wings really manages to push the calorie frontier with 2,790 calories and (hold on to your favorite pens!) 9,680 mg of sodium. How exactly they squeeze this amount of sodium into a relatively modest winged snack basket remains a mystery. Indeed, a real achievement.

By comparison, the cheese, cottage cheese, and bacon burger with fries is a diet meal with 2,940 calories and 3,610 mg of sodium. It certainly doesn’t look like a dietary meal. This is a two-handed burger, too skyscraper-like to bite off in one sitting. Unless, of course, you have a mouth like Joe E. Brown – a name from another era that only those of us who have a polished taste for trifles remember. And wild wings.

V Chile (with local subsidiaries in Torrance, Inglewood, Manhattan Beach and Carson) One meal is all it takes to throw any nutritional dreams into the mist-shrouded distance. And this ponderous creation called Ultimate Smokehouse Combo: smoked sausage with jalapenos and cheddar, ribs (dry grated), Crispers Honey Chipotle from the ranch. With 2,865 calories and 2,820 mg sodium, it is beneficial in many ways. And these elements are themselves overwhelming. Put them all together, and you’ll both be well fed – and very happy.

And, as if three meats weren’t enough, the plate also features chili and garlic toast, garlic and dill pickles, homemade fries, and popcorn.

If you’re still hungry, consider the Bacon Ranch beef quesadillas, which weigh in at a relatively modest 1,830 calories but make up for that with 4,000 mg of sodium. As always, the ability of these foods to store sodium amazes me. It looks like a salt shaker … eaten with a fork and knife.

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Like Chile, red lobster (with local branches in Torrance and Inglewood) stacks it into the finest and most varied dishes in a multicolored and multitude of pieces. This is the Admiral’s Party with French fries, Caesar salad with Caesar dressing … and broccoli. It weighs 2,530 calories and 6,800 mg of sodium. It includes deep-fried shrimp, deep-fried scallops, deep-fried clam strips, and deep-fried flounder. Seafood itself is not a problem. But all that dough and frying makes it quite thick.

This is one of the few weight gaining meals you can find online to include salad, albeit high in sodium. And, of course, there is the secret of broccoli. Which is steamed, not deep-fried, so it looks like a stranger on the plate.

I am willing to assume that many of the orders of the Admiral’s Party are carried away with pristine broccoli. If you’re trying to get better, broccoli won’t help. In batter and served with sauce, yes. But au naturel? This is a stranger in a foreign country.

Menu on IHOP (with local branches in Torrance, Carson, Rancho Palos Verdes, El Segundo and Inglewood) continues in pages and pages, through burgers and bowls, ham and egg melts and Philly cheese steak stackers. There are a variety of eponymous pancake dishes, as well as a wide and wild selection of pancakes and waffles, breakfast burritos and French toast.

And while this is far from a dietary menu, especially if you dive into the miracles of syrup, I’m not sure any dish compares to a pancake cheeseburger omelet, which has 1,990 calories and 4,580 mg of sodium. Add a couple thousand calories of syrup and you have an Olympic product. Even New York Cheesecakes are just 890 calories.

What about cholesterol?

As I studied the various lists of fatty foods, it occurred to me that our old beetle – terrible cholesterol – was hardly mentioned. There has been a lot of talk about calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar. But the cholesterol we used to fear seems to have lost its horror. Or at least the cholesterol threat has been replaced by the horror of saturated fat — sat fat for those in business!

I’m sorry the cholesterol is going away. At one time there was a lot of chatter, in which all the unhealthy cholesterol slimes, mucus, sludge clogging our blood vessels participated. This reminds us that the great A.J. Liebling expressed as early as 1959 in his memoir of French food entitled Between Meals: Appetite for Paris.

In one place in the book, he wrote: “In the heroic era before the First World War, there were men and women who ate, in addition to a hearty lunch and a splendid dinner, an extensive supper after theater or other entertainment. evenings. I have known some survivors, eighty-year-olds with impeccable appetite and invariably good spirits – vigorous, nervous, and devoid of the ulcers caused by anxiety about a balanced diet – but they have not had emulators in France since doctors there discovered the existence of a human liver “.

Liebling then goes on to detail the lives of a number of great old-school eaters who could indeed pack it up and drink large quantities of wine. They all seem to live to a ripe old age, and they all continue to consume the richest of the richest dishes in France without any problems. They often die when they were hit by a car at 94 on their way to lunch. It is clear that we were much healthier before the discovery of cholesterol, which led us to believe that we are completely unhealthy.

Liebling’s thesis would no doubt have been much better had it not been for the unfortunate fact that Liebling himself died in 1963 at the age of 59 from gout – the result of a life built on the pleasures of mass indulgence. table.

But, nevertheless, I think one point should be noted here – sometimes problems do not really exist until we are told that they do exist. That people lived to a ripe old age before cholesterol testing became a dietary pet, and that it is possible that worrying about your cholesterol levels will eventually lead to higher levels you are worried about.

For years, those who followed the diet did not talk about anything other than the state of their cholesterol. And not only their cholesterol, but also their HDL, LDL and triglyceride levels, as well as their all-important cholesterol / HDL ratio. I remember The New York Times spent two days checking the cholesterol and HDL levels of George W. Bush and Michael Dukakis (remember him?) In the boxes on the front page.

Unfortunately, now that the cholesterol phobia seems to have disappeared, it has become the subject of unhealthy nostalgia. I recently got tested and found my cholesterol levels were pretty lousy, which really depressed me. That is, I eat no more than a few eggs a week; I don’t butter my bread; I eat far more fish and poultry than meat; I walk three miles a day. (From office to kitchen. But still …) I’m doing everything right. My weight is under control. And yet, thanks to my cholesterol levels, I felt a mess.

My wife told me we need to fill the closet with oat bran cookies, oat bran cereal, oat bran bread and oat bran caplets – Roto-Rooter for blood flow.

I guess the good news is that my liver doesn’t bother me at all. Compared to the painful effects of cholesterol, liver disease so popular half a century ago seems like a low-fat, low-fat and low-alcohol picnic in the park. Anyway, now that the cholesterol was forgotten, I started to get nervous about my A1C. And, of course, Covid gives us cause for concern. Now that we are awake – speaking of diet – there is always something new.

Merril Schindler is a freelancer from Los Angeles. Email [email protected]

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