Video: ‘Eat This, Not That!’: Salad shockers
Explainer: 5 salads worse than a Whopper
I love Whoppers. I bet you do, too. Meat ... good. Ketchup and mayo ... good. Crunchy pickles ... good. What's not to like?
I know what you're thinking: Dave, how could you of all people endorse the Whopper, a sandwich that perfectly encapsulates everything that's wrong with our nation's dining habits? Well, no one orders a Whopper thinking it's a sensible menu choice. It's an indulgence, an anti-diet food, and everyone knows it. Credit Burger King for being transparent with nutritional information.
Which brings me to my point: Just as you wouldn't order a Whopper because you're trying to watch your waistline, you'd never order a salad because it sounds like the most delicious item on the menu. No, it's a concerted effort to put one of the healthiest foods on the menu into your body, flavor be damned.
Except, more often than you realize, that salad is the worst choice on the menu. Restaurants across the country have learned that "nutrition" sells, so they put these caloric calamities on the "light choice" side of the menu with cute little heart icons that make you think you're making a healthy selection. What they haven't learned, though, is how to make food that is actually nutritious. Here we've rounded up five examples of salads so bad that you'd be better off ordering that Whopper — with its 670 calories, 40 grams of fat and 1,020 milligrams of sodium — after all.
Wendy’s BLT Cobb Salad with Croutons and Avocado Ranch Dressing
50 grams fat (15.5 grams saturated)
2,140 milligrams sodium
Calorie equivalent: 2 Wendy's Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers (700 calories)
Don't be totally shocked by this high calorie count — this salad is sporting two of the biggest culprits when it comes to diet-busting greenery. First, check the avocado Ranch dressing. Any creamy dressing is going to be high in fat and calories. Replace it with vinaigrette and save big. Next, ditch the croutons, which are really just an extra load of totally empty calories and carbs.
Eat this instead: Wendy's Apple Pecan Chicken Salad with Roasted Pecans and Pomegranate Vinaigrette Dressing
27 grams fat (9 grams saturated)
1,590 milligrams sodium
Quiznos' Chicken Caesar Flatbread Salad (with bread)
66.5 grams fat (20.5 grams saturated, 0 grams trans fat)
2,090 milligrams sodium
Calorie equivalent: Three White Castle Bacon Cheeseburgers with 3-piece Chicken Rings (860 calories)
Unless you have proof to the contrary, just assume that any Caesar salad in a restaurant is a bad salad choice. That’s because the Caesar dressing is exceptionally heavy — really, all creamy dressings are. And because most of these salads contain almost exclusively lettuce as the veggie ingredient, they don’t even offer that much nutritional value.
Eat this instead: Quiznos' Raspberry Chipotle Chicken Salad (small)
13 grams fat (6.5 grams saturated)
795 milligrams sodium
Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad
93 grams fat (15 grams saturated, 2.5 grams trans fats)
1,470 milligrams sodium
Calorie equivalent: Almost as much as a McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Medium Fries and Medium Coke (1,330 calories)
Why is this salad so hefty? Part of the blame goes to the "tasty Oriental vinaigrette," for sure (the secret is always, at least partially, in the sauce). Another reason: It's topped with "crispy noodles" (carbohydrate overload). And to complete the triumvirate of dietary doom: Fried chicken to boot. What exactly makes this a "salad" again? Either order the Paradise Chicken Salad, or choose something off of Applebee’s new "Unbelievably Great Tasting and Under 550 Calories Menu."
Eat this instead: Applebee's Paradise Chicken Salad
4.5 grams fat (1 gram saturated)
2,060 milligrams sodium
California Pizza Kitchen's Waldorf Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing
30 g saturated fat
2,082 mg sodium
Calorie equivalent: Wendy's 1/2-Pound Double with Cheese, Medium Fries and Medium Chocolate Frosty (1,570 calories)
California Pizza Kitchen's salad menu is littered with gigantic gut-bombs like this one. There's no reason that this salad should saddle you with three-quarters of your daily allotment of calories. According to the CPK website, it contains: "Field greens, chilled-grilled chicken breast, seedless grapes, Granny Smith apples, candied walnuts, celery and Gorgonzola cheese." When mixed together in reasonable proportions, there's nothing inherently wrong with these ingredients — in fact, most of them are good for you. It's just that CPK jumbo sizes their menu items. Choose the Half Moroccan Chicken Salad instead — just be aware that it's also the size of a solid sandwich, and consider it your main meal, not a starter dish.
Eat this instead: California Pizza Kitchen's Half Moroccan Chicken Salad
4 grams saturated fat
309 milligrams sodium
T.G.I. Friday's Santa Fe Chopped Salad
Calorie equivalent: Burger King Double Whopper, Medium Fries and Small Chocolate Shake (1,800 calories)
This is the worst salad in America. T.G.I. Friday's doesn't reveal full nutritional information, so we don't know how much salt or fat this monstrous dish packs. Here's a hint: Never, ever order a Mexican-themed salad, no matter where you're eating. As in this case, they're usually huge dishes of heavy burrito toppings on a bed of lettuce leaves. The only salad you're safe to order at Friday's is the Cobb.
Eat this instead: T.G.I. Friday's Cobb Salad
Bonus tip: Avoid all items on our list of the worst foods in America.
© 2012 Rodale Inc. All rights reserved.
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