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You Won't Believe These Insane Chain Restaurant Portions

You Won't Believe These Insane Chain Restaurant Portions

It’s an undeniable fact that over the past several decades Americans’ waistlines have gotten larger. And along with our waistlines, the portions that we’re served in restaurants has increased as well, to astronomical levels.

You Won't Believe These Insane Chain Restaurant Portions (Slideshow)

More than two-thirds of American adults are either overweight or obese, and adult obesity rates have more than doubled in the past 30 years. This is of course due to many different factors, including people living a more sedentary lifestyle and the use of unhealthy food additives like high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils, but a major cause has also been the increase in portion sizes at American restaurants.

When we go out to a restaurant, one of our main priorities is “getting our money’s worth.” But what does that mean, exactly? Does it mean making sure that the restaurant uses high-quality ingredients? Or does it mean that the amount of food on one plate should be enough to feed a family of four? Unfortunately, in the case of fast-casual chains like Applebee’s and Cheesecake Factory, it’s the latter.

The calorie count of some of the dishes served at these chains is astronomical, and even if you order something that sounds healthy, if you finish your plate you’re most likely consuming far more than you should be in one sitting. For example, the average calorie count of the 13 items in Olive Garden’s “Classic Recipes” menu section is 1,009, with an average of 52 grams of fat. At chain restaurants, it’s a good rule of thumb to ask for a second plate when your food arrives, put half of your food on it, and immediately take the rest to go. Out of sight, out of mind.

Just look at these insane portions!

Applebee’s: Provolone-Stuffed Meatballs with Fettuccine

This item isn’t on the menu any more, but it’s never a good idea to top creamy fettuccine Alfredo with cheese-stuffed meatballs and call that a meal. Breadsticks are larger than they appear!

Cheesecake Factory: Chicken Bellagio

This platter of breaded chicken on top of basil pasta with creamy Parmesan sauce, topped with arugula and prosciutto, contains a whopping 1,980 calories and 30 grams of saturated fat.

Click here for 8 more portions that are way too big.

Chain Restaurant Breadsticks Ranked From Worst To Best

There's something mythical about the way fast-casual restaurants treat their bread. Breadsticks, in particular, are the primo offering at any vaguely Italian chain. The mass-produced dough, stretched and cooked to greasy perfection, is frequently slathered in a combo of garlic, butter, and cheese, garnering accolades from many an eater. Plainly put, there is truly no better way to indulge yourself than with an order (or three) of these ready-to-dip sticks.

While breadsticks are unquestionably a must-order at any restaurant, the sad truth is that not every stick is created equal. In fact, some are simply not worth your time, not to mention the calories. In an effort to save our fellow bread-lovers from unknowingly ordering subpar sticks, we took it upon ourselves to search out the absolute best and worst chain restaurant breadsticks and compile them in this definitive ranking of buttery bread. Read on and go towards the light with your next breadstick order.

Bizarre Bacon: 12 Weird Bacon Products You Won't Believe

Bacon cupcake? You bet. Check out these crazy bacon products.

If there is one food I worship, it's bacon. Oh, man! Is there anything that beats the aroma of smoky strips sizzling in a pan? If I could eat bacon with every meal I would &mdash and I'm not alone in this passion. Obsessed food bloggers stir it into cereal (!) while shops like Rehoboth, Delaware's famed Udder Delight scoop out their bacon ice cream by the gallon. Want to know where to find the most bizarre bacon items on the market? Read on to find out!If your tastebuds are begging for more, get out the frying pan and sizzle up these sweet and savory bacon recipes.

Healthy Fast Food Recipes

Instead of Taco Bell: Homemade Crunchwrap Supreme

You can easily veganize this homemade Crunchwrap by swapping the beef for taco-spiced lentils (or TVP or store-bought meatless taco crumbles), and subbing in vegan cashew sour cream and vegan cheese (including vegan nacho cheese for the proper amount of ooze), but if you eat meat, simply using real, identifiable beef or chicken is a big step up from the original, even if you still can’t technically call this health food. Get the Homemade Crunchwrap Supreme recipe.

Crazy Food Trends for 2015 You Won't Believe

In 2014, we saw tea leap beyond the cup and make its way into everything from cupcakes to steeping liquids for rice and noodles. Matcha, a traditional and popular ground Japanese green tea, will reign supreme in 2015, in your mug and otherwise (the tea can be used in a wide spectrum of recipes, from marinades to panna cotta). "There will be renewed interest in matcha, which offers more potent nutrition than in regular green tea because one consumes the ground tea leaf, not just the steeped liquid," explains Kara Nielsen, Culinary Director at the Sterling Rice Group (SRG). "The caffeine is more mellow than many other sources and offers mental clarity. We are seeing more manufacturers offering convenient forms of this tea in ready-to-drink cans and bottles, introducing matcha by name to new users, beyond its use as traditional ceremonial tea." Matcha do about nothing? Between its antioxidant boost and dose of L-Theanine, which is said to offer natural support for alertness and mood, we think not.

Try it: "Brands like Ito En and Motto both have versions that are quite tasty. Republic of Tea also has "Matchia," matcha mixed with chia seeds. New matcha cafes are also opening expect to see renewed interest in matcha lattes and matcha in smoothies and other blended beverages," offers Nielsen. In fact, the New York City area already can boast a specialty matcha cafe, MatchaBar, devoted entirely to the powerhouse tea. Dive into the trend before year's end over the holidays with these matcha-sama Truffles and matcha green tea cookies.

Hops, which are flowers on the hop plant, impart flavor in beer, but 2015 will see many hopping on the hop-less trend . Sterling-Rice Group attributes this to craft brewers' yearning to explore beer styles from medieval times (Oh hey, 700 AD) and over-hopped brewski's, like IPAs, overwhelming the craft beer space. In lieu of hops, seasonings, or gruits, like mushrooms (yes, mushrooms) rosemary, tea, and even reindeer lichen—an organism that comes from algae or cyanobacteria, no relation to Rudolph—will lend your next brew delectable new flavors over hops' signature bitterness. These so-called gruits, are beers typically made without hops, but if you have a hops allergy, always be sure to check. "Consumers are also excited about nuanced flavors from herbal and botanical ingredients not found in many other foods," shares Nielsen. "These beers may go well with aged cheeses, breads, pretzels, crackers and are similar to the hearty, flavorful winter ales and brews."

Try it: Grab a brown bottle from Upslope Brewing Company. Or, for the DIY type, learn how to make gruit ales here. And if you've got any leftover suds, try these genius ways to use up leftover beer.

While the fight to legalize marijuana certainly made headlines in 2014, now it'll also be making its way to your palate in other formats. The trend stems from the maturing of the medical marijuana industry and the newly legal recreational markets in places like Oregon and Washington, DC. But think beyond your average pot brownie and cookie: "We are seeing cannabis and cannabis oils being added to craft products like syrups for cocktails, sodas and dessert, baked goods of all kinds, and even cold-brew coffee," says Nielsen. "Also expect to see fancier packaging, grown-up design and branding, and food packaged with tours, concerts and other pot-centric activities now attracting out-of-towners."

Try it: For those interested in high cuisine, Hapa Sushi (an established Japanese restaurant group in Denver) offers a pot-and-dinner pairing menu. Alternatively, check underground supper club for more information on the nearest chapter of a marijuana-infused fine dining experience.

Chicken and broccoli, step aside! As our collective palates become more adventurous, expect 2015 to usher in a flurry of exciting and hitherto under-explored Asian flavors. In this incarnation of Asian 2.0, your tongue will be tantalized by "unapologetic spice, heat, funkiness and flavor, more fat and more unusual ingredients," says Nielsen. As we say goodbye to trios of tame, sweet and teriyaki-glazed, in store are ". dishes and flavors from Northern Thailand, more exploration of Japanese and Korean cuisine, and deeper dives into Southeast Asian." Ditto for Filipino food, which includes delicacies like arroz caldo, a thick chicken rice porridge.

Try it: Japanese okonomiyaki are wildly versatile cabbage pancakes, traditionally served as street food in their home country. Take it from sidewalk to table with these "as you want ‘em" pancakes, where you have the freedom to fold in whatever leftover veggies and protein you have on hand for a tasty meal.

Prepare to be sizzled away: "Connected to the advanced Asian trend is the deeper interest in grilled flavors, accomplished by different styles of charcoal, whether Thai coconut shell charcoal or Japanese binchotan (kilned oak that burns at 1,652° to 2,192°F). These super-hot cooking media allow cooks to make delicate foods quickly (on skewers, often in the case of binchotan) and add hearty, grilled flavors to tasty foods from Thai cuisine," clarifies Nielsen. "With the marinades and sauces on these foods, the grilled, charred notes marry particularly well and deliver a street-side experience familiar to world travelers. These foods also pair well with beer, and sake and soju as well in the case of Japanese skewers coming from izakayas and robata bars." Activated charcoal is also shaping up to be a health trend in the new year it's used in pressed juices at chains like NYC's Juice Generation's "Charcoal lemonade." Bottoms up!

Try it: This method of cooking allows food to cook fast and retain its natural flavors. Feel the burn with this recipe for Meyer Lemon Charcoal.

12. Bertucci's

If you're in New England, there's a good chance that you're within driving distance to a Bertucci's. This chain has more than 50 locations, all of which are east of the Mississippi River.

The good news is that Bertucci's has relatively extensive menus for both lunch and dinner. If you have a favorite Italian food, there's a strong likelihood that you'll find it on their menu. Moreover, they have a lot of options on their menus for children, which makes this chain a favorite destination for families.

Unfortunately, the bad news outweighs the good news. Most egregiously, the quality of food at Bertucci's is basically what you'd expect from a drive-thru window. The food isn't bad, mind you, but this place is basically the McDonald's of Italian chain restaurants. That alone wouldn't be a deal-breaker but when you factor in the high price tags that you'll find on the menu, it makes Bertucci's impossible to recommend. Decent food for high prices isn't a recipe for success, which is probably why they had to file for bankruptcy back in 2018. This chain is still alive and kicking but it isn't worth your hard-earned dollars.

12. Joe's Crab Shack

Joe's Crab Shack is a safe place to go but, before you do, you have to know exactly what you should order. There are a handful of menu items at this national seafood chain that you should never order. Those items include the shrimp scampi, fried calamari, and the crab and shrimp dip. Additionally, all of their non-seafood offerings, like their pasta dishes and anything with chicken in it, should be skipped.

What you'll be happy with at Joe's Crab Shack is either the Crab Bucket or the Peel 'N Eat Shrimp. If you opt for crab, your sweet tooth would appreciate it if you order the snow crab, as its meat has a surprising amount of sweetness to it. If you want your crab to be tender and have a mild flavor, go for the Dungeness crab instead. As for the Peel 'N Eat Shrimp, it comes blessed with Old Bay Seasoning and you can order it hot or cold.

Cracker Barrel Biscuit Recipe Tastes Just Like The Ones At The Restaurant

Craving a dish from your go-to restaurant, but don’t want to leave the comfort of home? We get it. Whether you are opting to stay home to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19, it’s just too cold outside, or you just prefer to cook at home, copycat restaurant recipes can save the day when you want to enjoy a taste from your favorite eatery.

We’ve featured many copycat restaurant recipes, including Olive Garden’s salad, Chick-fil-A’s coleslaw, and even the now dearly-departed Taco Bell Mexican Pizza.

Now, there’s a recipe that promises to make the perfect copy of Cracker Barrel’s buttery biscuits, and we can’t wait to try to make them. As the chain says on its Facebook page, buttermilk biscuits are “an all-day type of food,” so whip them up for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

These flaky, warm biscuits are one of Cracker Barrel’s most popular menu items. The restaurant sells 210 million of them each year, according to the company’s official website. They are great as a side dish with butter, honey or jam. Or, they make up half of the breakfast comfort classic: sausage gravy and biscuits.

The recipe for Copycat Cracker Barrel Biscuits comes from A Pinch of Ginger on YouTube. This video, which was originally posted in 2017, has more than 10,000 views and makes it look super easy to whip up a batch of these beautiful biscuits.

Bakers will tell you buttermilk biscuit-making is an art form, but the base recipe is so simple, you won’t believe it. Most of the ingredients you’ll need are probably right in your refrigerator or pantry now.

Here’s a basic list of ingredients to make the Copycat Cracker Barrel Recipe:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Cold butter (sticks)
  • Buttermilk

Tip: If you don’t have buttermilk, it’s ok. You can add white vinegar to your regular milk and it will be a perfect substitute for buttermilk.

You will also need either a biscuit cutter or a glass to cut and shape the dough.

The recipe author opted to use the milk and vinegar mixture for her recipe. You’ll need to watch the rest to get the specific measurements for each ingredient, and the steps on how to mix them properly to get the best (i.e. flakiest) results. Spoiler alert: be prepared to get a little messy.

Here’s the video, so you can see the process for yourself:

Not only is this recipe easy, but we like that this baker has a sense of humor and doesn’t mind getting her hands a little dirty for the love of a good biscuit.

And, if you looking for more Cracker Barrel copycat recipes, we’ve got you covered. You can make copycat Cracker Barrel fried apples if you’re in the mood for something sweet. Or, how about the copycat Cracker Barrel hash brown casserole for a hearty side dish?

What do you think of this Cracker Barrel biscuit recipe? Will you give it a try?

30 Mushroom Recipes for a Velvety Smooth Meal Any Day of the Week

These breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas feel SO luxe without all the fuss.

Mushrooms are found in so many classic dishes in kitchens across the world, from swimming in creamy pasta sauces to bulking up our favorite sandwiches and salads. On their own, they have a rich, umami flavor profile that many home cooks can't get enough of. But in other dishes, mushrooms can bring our favorite flavors to new heights. And just like they transcend the pages of nearly every kind of cookbook, you'll find mushrooms on the menu at any time of day &mdash from an early breakfast to a midday snack and finally, in the most delicious dinner you've had this week.

In addition to being downright delicious, mushrooms have earned their heart-healthy halo time and time again. All home cooks, but especially those on low-sodium diets, flock to mushrooms as they contain a compound called glutamate ribonucleotides, which lends them their flavor notes without all of the added sodium. An entire cup of mushrooms only contains 5mg of sodium, allowing you to freely reach for more indulgent add ons, like cheese, dairy, or your favorite crusty bread. Also low in calories, mushrooms are any dieter or flexitarian's dream, as they're rich in essential B vitamins, including folate and niacin, among others.

The best health benefit associated with mushrooms might be their ability to stand up as a true meat replacement in many of your favorite recipes. You can chop almost any mushroom (but especially portobello, cremini, porcini, and button mushrooms of course) into a finer consistency that mimics ground beef, and either replace it entirely or blend it into a smaller amount of your favorite beef dish. Plus, mushrooms can swap for meat in your favorite pasta sauces and in things like quiche and omelets at brunch. If you're interested in eating more plant-forward recipes, mushrooms are going to be your next best friend &mdash try them in any one of these incredibly smart meat swaps today.

42 Easy Breakfast Recipes You Won’t Believe Are Gluten-Free

In an eating plan without gluten, breakfast options can become a little limited.

It’s not that oatmeal, eggs, Greek yogurt with berries, and avocado toast on gluten-free bread are bad — it’s that sometimes you stare so intently at your friend’s stack of pancakes or scone at brunch that she starts to suggest meeting for “just coffee” instead.

Save your friendship and your envious, bored palate by making these gluten-free breakfast recipes at home. Whether you’re craving sweet treats or something savory, we’ve got you covered.

We’re talking baked goods just as delicious as any wheat-filled ones, hearty quiches complete with crust, grab-and-go bars, and even pizza to start the day off right.

1. Cinnamon toast morning muffins

Cinnamon rolls are delicious, but they’re usually loaded with butter and too big for anyone to finish comfortably. These muffins offer that same warm flavor — without the sugar coma. They’re vegan, gluten-free, and even use protein-packed silken tofu for a muffin that’s filling without feeling heavy.

2. Gluten-free orange cranberry scones

Cranberry and orange are basically the Jay-Z and Beyoncé of flavor combinations, so these scones are definitely a hit. Normally loaded with butter and cream, this recipe cuts back on the rich stuff and swaps in some fat-free Greek yogurt. While they bake, practice your Bey dance moves.

3. Gluten-free and grain-free muffins

There’s something about mini muffins that makes them taste even better than the normal-sized ones. And with just seven ingredients, these are as easy as they are healthy.

Most of the sweetness here comes from banana, and the nut butter adds some protein. You’re totally in the clear to enjoy the sprinkle of chocolate chips on top.

4. Gluten-free banana muffins

Like a shrunken version of banana bread, these muffins have every bit as much flavor as the traditional loaf.

With all the banana, there’s no way these muffins won’t turn out moist every time, plus you can likely use less sugar than is called for.

5. Almond vanilla scones

Almond breakfast pastries can lack the flavor they seem to promise (those few slivers of nuts scattered on top are so misleading).

These treats rely on almond flour to ensure they’re safe for those avoiding gluten and that they’ll be packed with nutty flavor. They’re almost like having a macaron for breakfast.

6. Gluten-free blueberry muffins

A classic blueberry muffin is too tasty to give up, and you don’t have to if you’re avoiding gluten. An easy two-bowl method churns these breakfast treats out in no time.

Blueberries score points for antioxidants, and the hint of lemon in this recipe makes their flavor pop.

7. Coconut oil, pear, and oat scones

Scones can be both a little dry and boring. Not these. The fresh pears add moisture and a boost of naturally sweet flavor, while the gluten-free oats bring filling fiber. The little bit of cardamom brings that “I don’t know what that is, but it’s amazing” taste.

8. Maple apple oatmeal muffins

A bowl of oatmeal makes a great breakfast, but it’s pretty easy to get into a rut. Baking up a batch of muffins, however, takes only a little more time, and then you have breakfast for a few mornings.

Sweetened with coconut sugar (which is similar in flavor to brown sugar), maple syrup, and applesauce, these stay out of the overly-sugary zone that many muffins fall into, so you don’t crash mid-morning.

9. Healthy pumpkin scones

Pumpkin bread is a breakfast staple, but portions can be hard to control with a whole loaf staring you down.

Why not introduce the tasty squash to the world of scones?

The puree d pumpkin and brown rice flour in this recipe pack each scone with a great dose of fiber. And it’s much easier to stop at just one scone rather than one (overly) generous slice of bread.

10. Oatmeal chocolate chip cookie pancakes

Some mornings are just hard. For those days, these pancakes are there to brighten things up.

Though they sound decadent, they’re vegan and sweetened with dates and banana. The recipe is as simple as throwing the batter ingredients in the blender, then stirring in the chocolate chips, and cooking. (You’re welcome.)

11. Fluffy gluten-free waffles

The secret to the airy texture in these waffles is whipping the egg whites before folding them into the batter. They may be a bit more work than a typical waffle, but the method is simple.

And be sure to use regular whole-milk yogurt, not Greek — the fat keeps the waffles from being rubbery, but Greek is too thick for this recipe.

12. Gluten-free oat crepes with tomato, basil, and goat cheese

Savory crepes are just as delicious as sweet variations.

In these savory ones, tomatoes pack the antioxidant lycopene, which may help prevent certain cancers, according to one study. With goat cheese and basil (another possible cancer-fighter), they make for a filling that’s juicy, tangy, and irresistible.

13. Vegan gluten-free waffles with raspberry lemon syrup

It’s hard to find recipes for waffles that are vegan and gluten-free. It’s even harder to find ones that actually taste good, so consider this recipe your best friend.

A simple method yields waffles that are both tender and crisp, with a light coconut flavor and healthy fats thanks to coconut oil, flour, and milk.

14. 2-ingredient pancakes

It’s never fun when a craving for pancakes strikes, and you’re out of flour. It might sound totally bonkers, but it’s possible to make fantastic flapjacks with nothing more than a banana and eggs, which add 6 grams of protein into each serving.

Even better than the ingredient list? These pancakes can be on the table in a matter of minutes.

15. Spinach crepes with roasted root vegetables and tahini

Roasting a tray of veggies is great for dinner, and they’re just as good at the breakfast table. Besides, their trip to the oven develops a rich, toasty flavor and frees up some time to prepare the crepes.

Made from frozen spinach and chickpea flour, these crepes come out with a gorgeous emerald color. Though the recipe calls for beets and sweet potato, feel free to use any veggies in the fridge.

16. Gluten-free buckwheat pancakes

Gluten-free pancakes can sometimes have the texture of a hockey puck. This recipe uses buckwheat flour to make a stack that’s light, slightly nutty, and packs fiber and B vitamin, according to Oldways Whole Grains Council.

17. Peanut butter cup pancakes

Candy for breakfast? When it’s these pancakes, we approve (though don’t get us wrong, they are certainly a treat).

Half the batter is spiked with natural PB, while the other half has cocoa added. Cooking the peanut butter mixture on top of the chocolate one creates the bull’s eye effect. They’re rich and fudgey as is, or go over the top and garnish with a peanut butter cup. #Yolo.

18. Orange-spice gluten-free vegan pumpkin waffles

Pumpkin waffles can turn a blah morning into a fantastic day. This recipe mixes cinnamon with our favorite gourd for a comforting flavor that’s brightened by the goodness of orange juice and zest.

You can buy oat flour, but this recipe demonstrates how to make it at home in about 15 seconds. Homemade flour? That deserves a round of applause, or at least an extra drizzle of maple syrup.

19. Banana coconut waffles

For days when choosing between waffles and banana bread seems nearly impossible, these waffles are a winning combination.

The ingredient list is a bit long, but the batter comes together in minutes by quickly combining the wet ingredients to the dry. Any nondairy milk will work, though coconut milk ups the tropical factor.