Top 5 Cheats to Avoid a Salad Fail

Leafy greens – check

Source of protein – check

Fruits, veggies and healthy nuts – check

That’s where the line for healthy salads should end. However, most restaurant salads include fried foods, mounds of cheese, enough creamy dressing to bathe in (no, I haven’t tried), and many other tasty treats. As long as you can still see the speck of green, it’s still a salad right?

As a society, we have been brainwashed by slick corporate marketing to equate salads as healthy, but not so fast my friends . ‘Healthy salads’ include vegetables, fruit, small amounts of healthy nuts and seeds, and minimal amounts of dressing. Your typical restaurant salad does not always fit the mold. In fact, you may be better off with a burger. Wait! STOP! DID YOU JUST SAY I COULD CHOOSE A BURGER OVER A SALAD?!?! Somewhere Ron Swanson is smiling.

Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s take a look at a few examples.
For starters, let’s go… Outbackin’ and see how their popular Aussie Cobb Salad with honey mustard dressing compares with over 1,200 calories and almost 100 grams of fat. Yes, you read that correct 100 grams of fat!

Photo courtesy of Outback Steakhouse
The Outback Burger has less calories (almost half), less fat and far less saturated fat. I am not promoting the burger – just pointing out some statistics. Remember YOU get to decide based on YOUR nutritional goals and YOUR daily planning.
Applebee’s Oriental Chicken salad clocks in with over 1,400 calories and 99 grams of fat. For less calories and fat, you could eat a full slab of ribs or a triple hot dog (whatever that is…).

Photo courtesy of Applebee’s

Everyone knows The Cheesecake Factory has huge portions and amazing desserts. So, you head into the establishment knowing you want to have a little cheesecake to top off your meal. You pass on the bread; order just water and a Chicken Caesar salad. You’re feeling pretty good about yourself, right? Well, that salad has over 1,500 calories. That’s almost equivalent to the calories in two pieces of cheesecake!!!

Here are some tips when ordering salads:
1. Stay away from the word ‘crispy.’ This means deep fried – look for a grilled lean protein source.
2. Order your dressing on the side. This allows you to see and control the amount of dressing.
3. Do not order a salad because you think it’s healthy.
4. Prepare. Research nutritional information before ordering and compare alternatives.
5. Select a salad with leafy greens, fruits and/or vegetables, a lean protein, and a small amount of healthy fats.

Remember we are all on this journey together, send me your favorite restaurant salad and let’s work together to see how we can make it work for you!

Below are some additional links for salad tips and tricks:
6 Ridiculously Unhealthy Salads
Healthy Salad Recipe – Waldorf Chicken Salad
What to Eat and What to Avoid at the Salad Bar