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.
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.