Okay, can we give up the salad charade already? We all know that salads are the sneakiest place for restaurants to hide calories…yet we continue to sabotage our calorie count with each bite. However, before we start restaurant bashing, we need to take a look inside and admit that we know there are calories in blue cheese and eggs and bacon and avocado and nuts and fried tortilla strips and sour cream (should I go on?).
Honestly, the only topping item you shouldn’t be able to count the calories for is the dressing, and even then you can probably take a good guess. Although, admittedly, some dressings can be a sheep in wolf’s clothing. For example Chipotle’s Honey Vinaigrette is hardly a vinaigrette at 260 calories and 25 grams of fat. (Sorry Chipotle, you know I love you, but that is just wrong!)
It’s time we unmask these salads for the ghouls they really are and take a look at the 13 worst restaurant salads as determined by Men’s Health.
If any of these happen to be your favorites, check out my suggestions on how to “salvage the salad,” but be warned, some of these salads are beyond rescuing.
1. Chipotle’s Chicken Salad with black beans, red salsa, cheese and Chipotle honey vinaigrette (photo credit)
- 720 calories
- 41.0 g fat (11 g saturated)
- 2,015 mg sodium
Salvage the salad: Swap the dressing for salsa.
2. Taco Bell’s Fiesta Taco Salad (photo credit)
- 770 calories
- 42 g fat (10 g saturated, 1 g trans)
- 1,420 mg sodium
Salvage the salad: Don’t eat the shell.
3. Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad (photo credit)
- 1,340 calories
- 98 g fat (15 g saturated; 1.5 g trans)
- 1,200 mg sodium
Unsalvageable: Did you order a bed of lettuce under your dressing soaked fried chicken?
4. Panera’s Steak & Blue Cheese Chopped Salad (photo credit)
- 850 calories
- 64 g fat (21 g saturated; 1.5 g trans)
- 1,590 mg sodium
Salvage the salad: Drop the cheese, the dressing…or both.
5. Jack in the Box’s Crispy Chicken Club Salad with croutons and ranch dressing (photo credit)
- 870 calories
- 59 g fat (13 g saturated, 1 g trans)
- 1,710 mg sodium
Salvage the salad: The most obvious (and for me, saddest) item to drop is the ranch dressing.
6. California Pizza Kitchen’s Waldorf Chicken Salad with blue cheese dressing (photo credit)
- 1,561 calories
- 31 g saturated fat
- 1,821 mg sodium
Salvage the salad: Only eat half of this huge salad.
7. Applebee’s Grilled Shrimp and Spinach Salad (photo credit)
- 1,010 calories
- 69 g fat (12 g saturated)
- 2,650 mg sodium
Unsalvageable: Eat something else…seriously Applebees?
8. T.G.I. Friday’s Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad (photo credit)
- 1,360 calories
Unsalvageable: Pecans? Crusted? Sugar-coated cranberries? Blue Cheese?
9. Chili’s Quesadilla Explosion Salad (photo credit)
- 1,400 calories
- 89 g fat (28 g saturated)
- 2,360 mg sodium
Salvage the salad: Don’t eat the garnish…an order of cheese quesadillas!
10. California Pizza Kitchen’s Thai Crunch Salad with fresh avocado & additional Thai peanut dressing (photo credit)
- 1,408 calories
- 10 g saturated fat
- 1,064 mg sodium
Salvage the salad: Skip the fried wonton noodles, the two dressings and save half for tomorrow!
11. On the Border’s Grande Taco Salad with taco beef and Chipotle honey mustard (photo credit)
- 1,600 calories
- 116 g fat (39 g saturated)
- 2,640 mg sodium
Unsalvageable: 38 strips of bacon have less calories.
12. Cheesecake Factory’s Santa Fe Salad (photo credit)
- 1,720 calories
- 17 g saturated fat
- 2,636 mg sodium
Unsalvageable: You might as well choose any of the other 3,000 items on their menu because this has to be one of the worst!
13. T.G.I. Friday’s Santa Fe Chopped Salad (photo credit)
- 1,830 calories
Unsalvageable: Friday’s should be embarrassed that they sell any dish with this many calories, let alone a “salad”.
There you have it, the ghastliest salads out there! Try to remember that when eating lettuce, just like any base food (chicken, burger, steak, beans, etc.) it’s all about what you dump on top of it. And just because it’s called a salad, and could even boast a litany of healthy toppings, doesn’t mean that those nutrient-dense, but calorie-rich items don’t all add up.