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Fast Food Salads

When you’re on a road trip it can be tough to stick to a healthy diet. Fast food calls your name at every highway exit,and it can be difficult to turn down that oh-so-tempting burger combo. However, it is possible to have a decent meal at a fast food joint. Or at least one that’s not nearly as terrible for you as say, a Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. Monster Thickburger. I’m all for a splurge now and then, but the Thickburger is just a little too proud to be a whopping 1,420 calories, 108 fat grams and 43 grams of saturated fat.

Thankfully, fresh salads are now readily available and side items such as sliced apples have come onto the scene. Here are a few FBG picks for winning fast food salads.

Wendy’s is my favorite fast food joint. The food tastes fresher to me than other places and it allows you to pick chili or a side salad instead of fries. Try their chili if you haven’t; it’s low-cal and delicious. Plus, Wendy’s has two of my salad favorites.

Of the four salads Wendy’s offers, my two faves are the Mandarin Chicken Salad with Chicken and the Southwest Taco Salad. With all the fixins involved in these salads, they come in at 540 and 640 calories, respectively. When you consider that a 1/4–pound single comes in at 430 calories before fries get involved, you’re already ahead of the ball game. On the Mandarin salad, I rarely use the entire Oriental dressing packet, and if you want to cut down the calories you can also tone down the crispy noodles and almonds. And at least with this 540 calories, you’re receiving good fat from the nuts, getting some veggies in and getting half of your vitamin C for the day. This salad also leaves me full, which isn’t the case with all on-the-go salads.

The Southwest Taco salad comes with a side of chili you dump on it, tortilla strips, reduced-fat sour cream and a 90-calorie pack of chipotle ranch dressing. I find that with the chili and a little bit of the sour cream, I can opt out of the dressing altogether, saving the calories and the 8 grams of fat that comes with it. Plus, with all of the chili and crisp lettuce, you come in at 9 grams of fiber. Because the extras on both salads come separately, you can shave calories off and still have a filling and delicious meal.

Calorie-wise, you can’t go wrong with McDonald’s salads. They all clock in at around 300 calories before dressing as long as you get the grilled chicken (the Caesar came in at 220). But for me, especially if it’s dinner, I need a few more calories.

Under the Golden Arches, I’ve only tried the 390-calorie Asian Salad with Grilled Chicken. While it’s super tasty with its almonds, edamame, snow peas and Mandarin oranges, it’s satisfying in the moment, but I find that I’m hungry about an hour later. Adding the apple dippers might help fill you up, or get a calcium and dessert combo with the 160-calorie Fruit & Yogurt Parfait.

Carl’s Jr.
While CJ’s does have a Charbroiled Chicken Salad that clocks in at just 260 calories, watch out for its sneaky taco salad that packs in 940 calories. Nix the shell and you’re down to 570 calories, but still 33 grams of fat, and 15 grams of saturated fat. Plus, have you seen their commercials? It’s like they try to be as gross as possible. Therefore, I avoid.

Jenn also approves of Chick-fil-A’s Chargrilled Chicken Garden Salad, but I try to pretend that restaurant doesn’t exist because there’s not one near me. I wouldn’t be able to resist their delicious chicken sandwich for a salad anyway.

Even if a salad isn’t an option at a fast food restaurant, just watching portions can be your best friend. Going for a regular hamburger at McDonald’s is only 250 calories and a small fry is 230.

How about you, dear readers? What are your favorite salads? Erin

Photos grabbed from www.photobucket.com.

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  1. tfh says:

    Ironically, I can’t eat many of these salads because I’m a vegetarian. But I think it’s great that all these options exist, and it does sound better to order one of them (sans chicken) than the order of fries and a Frostee I used to get before they had healthier options! (Well. I may still get the Frostee…)

  2. The Dieting Ninja says:

    I try to avoid fast food. Aside from my excitement about the superawesome plastic toy that came in the Happy Meals I never really liked them.

    And the only salads that have ever filled me up have had so many addatives and sauces that I’d probably be eating healthier if I just made myself a sandwich.

    With fresh, warm tomato. And onion. Red onion, smothered in raspberry mustard. And two leaves of perfect non-veiny lettuce. Oooh, now I’m hungry!

    Good thing I have mexican soup for lunch!

  3. groundedfitness says:

    I like Jack in the Box Alcupulco salad. you get tons if veggies and the grilled chicken *seems* very fresh and lean.

    I dont like the chili, though, its too watery and bland for me. Taco Time’s white chicken chili is SO GOOD though. I dont know if they are nation wide or not though.


  4. Mark Salinas says:

    Nooooooooooooo! My wife and I disagree about this stuff. I try to emphasize just staying away period because of temptation. She tells me to “Man Up” and use so will power.
    She always wins 🙂

  5. Marcy says:

    I LOVE McDonald’s Asian Chicken Salad, but ITA in one hr? I’m hungry again *sigh*

  6. Zen Fit Chick says:

    Since I don’t eat meat, those fast food salads aren’t really in my arsenal, but I’m glad to see that fast food chains are offering healthier fare.

  7. Bit's Mommy says:

    I just had Wendy’s ancho ranch dressing that comes with the taco salad…it’s super spicy and yummy. It would be great to spice up their chili or save later for something else. (I used it on a meatless salad and later on some beans and rice.)

  8. Amy says:

    I usually buy the Wendy’s side garden salad, and top it with the small Chili. Very satisfying lunch or dinner for just over $2.

  9. Live Well says:

    I can’t go to Wendy’s unless I’m okay with getting a Frosty. I can’t walk in that place without getting a Frosty. Darn those Frosties!!!

  10. MizFit says:

    *throws her head back and her arms n the air and shouts*


  11. Dr.Edwina.1st says:

    The environment too plays a role in the causes of obesity. The family home is an important place to learn about proper nutrition and enough physical activity. Attitudes, Habits, and beliefs about food selection and how to spend family leisure time are critical factors to forming a healthy relationship with food. Children spend a lot of time in school, their food choices at school become important and it was influenced by the school eating environment. http://www.phentermine-effects.com

  12. Anonymous says:

    The Southwest Taco salad is AMAZING. I actually just finished eating one hehe 🙂 I go to Wendys specifically for it, it’s definatly my favorite fast food ever.

  13. Nicci@NiftyEats says:

    OI went to Carl' Jr earlier and I wish I had known this before going!

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