Best and worst restaurant salads. Just when you thought you were doing good.

It’s summer, it’s hot. Doesn’t a nice cool salad sound delicious, light and healthy? And then, WHAMO, you’ve consumed an entire day’s worth (or two) of fat and calories in one sitting. This isn’t fair! Normally, ignorance is bliss, but check out this list of “good” and “bad” salads and see what you’ve been puttin’ down.

Panera Bread

  Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad
This bright and colorful salad is filled with phytochemicals thanks to a healthy dose of strawberries, blueberries, mandarin oranges, and pineapple. One bowlful delivers a helping of antioxidants to keep your heart healthy. A serving of chicken makes it super satisfying too—for only 280 calories and 8 grams of fat. Ask for a reduced-fat vinaigrette or dressing on the side. We like their reduced-fat balsamic vinaigrette for just another 60 calories and 5 grams of fat.

 Tomato, Mozzarella & Basil Salad
While this salad sounds healthy and fresh, the Asiago Croutons jack up the stats to 770 calories, 47 grams of fat, and 1200 milligrams of sodium. Leave off the croutons and you’ll shave 340 calories, 14 grams of fat, and 650 milligrams of sodium.


  Paradise Chicken Salad
As part of their partnership with Weight Watchers®, Applebee’s offers many healthy meals like the Paradise Chicken Salad which weighs in at 340 calories, 6 grams of fiber, and 45 grams of lean protein. Pineapple, mandarin oranges, and fresh apple top the salad along with a blackened grilled chicken breast for a fiber- and nutrient-rich meal.

Oriental Chicken Salad
Like many restaurant salads this one’s simply too big. And it doesn’t help that it’s topped with fried chicken tenders and crispy noodles. The result: a jaw-dropping 93 grams of fat and 1310 calories. And don’t think the Oriental Grilled Chicken Salad is much better. Also oversized, it clocks in close behind with a gargantuan 1,240 calories.

Outback Steakhouse

 Shrimp Caesar Salad
While it’s not exactly diet food, the Shrimp Caesar Salad provides 712 calories and 53 fat grams, slightly better than our Thumbs Down choice. Ask for a side of tomatoes to bulk up the veggies. By requesting your dressing on the side and using only a small amount, you’ll lighten it up even more.

Queensland Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing
Think salad is a healthy alternative to steak? Not when it’s weighed down with bacon, eggs, croutons, chicken salad, and two different kinds of cheese. The Queensland Salad sports a staggering 1,116 calories and more total and saturated fat than most of us need in an entire day.


  Pan Asian Chicken Salad
Quizno’s touts their Pan Asian Chicken Salad on their “Under 500 Calorie” menu (rings in at 430 calories and 17.5 grams of fat), and we agree that this is a healthier salad pick. If you are watching your sodium, use only half the Pan Asian dressing since a full serving contributes 1260 milligrams of sodium. Leave off the crispy rice noodles to knock the calories down to 370 and request extra veggies for your salad.

Chicken Caesar Chopped Salad
It might seem fairly harmless, but this chicken Caesar packs as many calories and more fat than a Big Mac and fries. The reason? A staggering 480 calories worth of peppercorn Caesar dressing which delivers a whopping 50 grams of fat. It’s a sodium minefield too with 2,090 milligrams per serving. One order will set you back 920 calories, 66.5 grams of fat, and 20.5 grams of saturated fat.

Romano’s Macaroni Grill

  Scallops & Spinach Salad
It may sound decadent, but this mix of spinach, prosciutto, roasted garlic, seared scallops, and extra virgin olive oil is the ultimate heart-healthy lunch. Scallops provide omega-3 fats shown to prevent blood clots and keep your heartbeat regular. Low in saturated fat (only 4 grams per serving) and packed with 8 grams of fiber, one serving provides a respectable 330 calories.

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Salad
While this salad is a meal in one, the crispy chicken, cheese, and prosciutto all contribute to the 870 calories and 1180 milligrams of sodium. Ask for grilled chicken instead of fried to reduce the total calories and fat.

Did You Know?
All restaurants, by law, have the nutritional information for each menu item posted on their website. Have a favorite dish or salad at (insert restaurant here)? Visit their website and take a gander and what you’re consuming. You’re either going to pat yourself on the back or quickly find another alternative next time you dine out.


Information from this article was borrowed from Cooking Light Magazine.

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