clean eating

When Good Salads Go Rogue: Five To Avoid

...and if you can't avoid them (we love Panera, too!), try the modifications we suggest.

I’m about all a salad. I just love to stab my fork into a vibrant concoction of veggies and protein smothered in dressing. Especially when eating out, since there aren’t any invisible ingredients that you can’t see, like may be the case with, say, those mashed potatoes.


Sigh. This last sentence is a lie. Turns out you gotta be careful with salads too. How so? Well, do you eat any of the delicious salads from popular chain restaurants below? Yes? You might be eating a Snickers bar in disguise. Never fear, however, we’ve got a fix for making them just a wee bit healthier. (You’re welcome.)

1. Panera’s Power Kale Chicken Salad has only six ingredients (chicken, kale, romaine and parmesan tossed with Caesar dressing and topped with handmade parmesan crisps) but it still manages to pack in 600 calories and 40 grams of fat. (Although a quick props to Panera for increasing the quality of the meats they source!)

Pro tip: Leave off the cheese and/or parmesan crisps with the dressing on the side.

2. The Cobb salad from the Cheesecake Factory has a whopping 930 calories. 930 calories. In a salad. Ummm… ex-SQUEEZE ME?!

Pro tip: Cut the serving in half. I love me a good salad, but nobody needs one the size of a small dump truck.

3. Wendy’s BBQ Chicken Ranch Salad has field greens, diced tomatoes, bacon, chicken breast, corn, shredded cheddar cheese, and a BBQ ranch dressing. Did I mention 1,560 mg of sodium?! (Fun fact: For the amount of sodium in this salad, you can get a hamburger with fries from P. Terry’s and still have 230 grams of sodium to spare, just saying’.)

Pro tip: If you MUST go to Wendy’s and order this salad, opt for no bacon (you know it ain’t nitrate-free) or remove the corn and/or cheese. And always choose an oil-based dressing to lessen the load.

4. A Waldorf Chicken Salad sounds delish right? Think twice before ordering this one from California Pizza Kitchen. It has 56 grams of sugar! Sad fact for comparison: One Snickers bar has 27 grams of sugar. That’s right, you could have two whole Snickers bars and still have less calories than this salad. Don’t get too excited; I’m not suggesting this! Just using this example for dramatic effect. Badum-ching!

5. I went to the Chipotle website for kicks and built myself a salad that had romaine lettuce, chicken, black beans, fajita vegetables, fresh tomato salsa and guac. This is the healthiest option out of all of them.

Pro tip: Still, leave off the cheese and sour cream.

For the most part, a salad with raw veggies and some quality protein will still be the healthiest option. Just make sure you ask the right questions and make substitutions when necessary, or else… you might be eatin’ a Snickers (or two).


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