Fatty pastrami on a charbroiled cheeseburger; chocolate glaze on a deep-fried doughnut and mounds of butter and cheese on pasta — these are some of the signature foods in Utah.
We crave them because they are delicious, but deep down, there’s some guilt in that gut. You see, we know that those tummy treats are loaded with fat, sugar and calories.
The cold, cruel facts can be easy to ignore because — unlike larger chains — smaller mom-and-pop restaurants are not required to list the nutritional content of the foods they serve.
That’s where the experts at Utah’s MD Diet Weight Loss and Nutrition Clinic come in. They analyzed five favorite Utah foods — that The Salt Lake Tribune selected — for calories, protein, carbohydrates, fat and sugar.
Not surprisingly, every dish exceeded the daily nutritional requirements in at least one category. Fortunately, nutritionist Penny Warner also suggested “healthish” ways to have a balanced diet and still enjoy our favorite foods.
As you read through the nutritional information, remember that each day, the average person should consume only 1,700 calories; 80 to 90 grams of carbs; 15 to 20 grams of fat; and no more than 25 grams of sugar.
Pastrami burger at Crown Burgers • This signature hamburger comes piled high with pastrami and 898 calories. It also has 85 grams of carbs and 46 grams of fat. Make it healthier • Order it without the bun and have it wrapped in lettuce, decreasing the calories by 190 and carbohydrates by 34 grams.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara at Sicilia Mia • This dish is a diet buster, with 1,232 calories and 96 grams of fat. Make it healthier • Split this dish with friends, Warner said, because the serving size is too large for one person. If eating this solo, eat a salad first. This at least will help you fill you up on something healthy. Diners also can also ask the chef to add more protein. This will help you feel fuller quicker, so that you don’t overindulge.
Red Iguana’s mole negro with rice and beans • The mole put Red Iguana on the national dining map, but eating it with rice and beans gives this meal 1,645 calories — about what people should eat in a single day. Make it healthier • The serving size is much larger than health experts recommend for one person to consume. Share this dish with another person or take half home for an additional meal later. You could also order the dish without rice, decreasing the carbs and calories.
Dirty Dr Pepper at Sodalicious • The original syrup-filled soda — with coconut syrup and lime — has 115 grams of sugar and more than 443 calories. Make it healthier • Order the diet version with sugar-free syrup, it will save you 443 calories and 115 carbs. While artificial sweeteners are better than sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, their long-term effects on obesity are unknown and some studies have shown a correlation between artificial sweeteners and obesity.
Banbury Cross chocolate-glazed doughnut • This legendary piece of deep-fried dough has 340 calories, and is loaded with carbs and sugar. Make it healthier • There’s really no way to sugarcoat this. While it’s delicious, it’s just plain unhealthy, Warner said. If you do indulge, do so just once in a while and do not make a habit out of it. “Really! Think before eating one of these bad boys,” she added. If you do decide to partake, instead of eating the entire doughnut, eat just until you feel satisfied. And don’t be afraid to throw out the rest.