It is a common misconception that the salad served at a fast food restaurant is healthier than anything else on the menu. In fact, quite a few of these supposedly healthy greens pack a caloric wallop! Learn how to recognize (or create) healthy fast food salads.
Arby’s(1): Chopped Farmhouse Salad – Turkey and Ham: 250 Calories w/o dressing
Taking the cake when it comes to the best fast food salads is Arby’s offering. The chopped farmhouse salad with turkey and ham contains cheddar, tomatoes, red onions, the meat and iceberg lettuce.
It has 250 calories, to which the diner may add another 130 calories in the form of a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. On the downside, the salad features 900 mg of sodium. For a scant 10 calories more – but 180 mg of sodium less – the chopped farmhouse chicken salad (roasted) may be a better option.
Baja Fresh(2): Charbroiled Steak Baja Ensalada – 450 Calories w/o dressing
Made up of Romaine lettuce, cheese, Pico de Gallo, tortilla strips, sliced tomatoes and of course charbroiled steak, this is the best fast food salad for the steak lover. It contains 450 calories and 1,240 mg of sodium. Be careful when adding the salad dressing! The olive oil vinaigrette adds another 290 calories whereas the fat free salsa verde only increases the calorie count by 15. Who knew?
Blimpie(3): Potato Side Salad – 230 Calories
The best fast food salad that also serves as a side is Blimpie’s potato salad. Weighing in at 135 grams and containing 230 calories, it offers a low sodium count of 490 mg. Sure, it is tempting to reach for the ultimate club salad instead and feel virtuous; after all, it weighs in at 289 grams and only has 260 calories. Do not discount the sodium content, which reaches a whopping 1070 mg!
Boston Market(4): Mediterranean Salad – 670 Calories
Even though 670 calories sound like a lot, consider that this is one of the fast food salads that already include the dressing. The makeup of the dish is simple: lettuce, skinless chicken, a garlic vinaigrette, cucumbers, feta cheese, tomatoes, pita chips and red onions assemble to weigh in at 426 grams. Not surprisingly, this salad is a meal by itself. On the downside, it does contain 1,380 mg of sodium.
Burger King(5): TenderCrisp Garden Salad – 480 Calories w/o the Dressing
Although dieticians would wonder about including the TenderCrisp in the list of healthy fast food salads, the stark reality dictates that skinless chicken only goes so far. For the dieter who wants to be ‘bad,’ Burger King’s salad offers the compromise between lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, carrots and crispy chicken.
At 480 calories, this is not a terrible diet buster. Go easy on the dressing! Adding light Italian makes it an even 600 calories, whereas the honey mustard dressing propels it into the 740 calories range. Using half the dressing to taste only slightly increases the calorie count and the sodium (did I mention that the salad has 1,180 mg of sodium?), which is nevertheless not a healthy eating emergency.