Healthier Restaurant Salads

Think ordering a salad on a restaurant's menu is the healthiest choice? Consumer Reports takes a look at salads you can eat as a meal--you know, the ones with added chicken or shrimp.

Consumer Reports ShopSmart just evaluated salads from restaurant chains like Chili's, Panera Bread, and Olive Garden, as well as fast food joints like Wendy's and McDonald's.

Sue Perry of CR ShopSmart says, "Our testers rated the salads on their overall nutrition. Then we had our taste testers try the healthiest ones to see how good they are."

Turns out, a meal-based salad is not always the healthiest choice.

For example, Chili's Quesadilla Explosion Salad packs 1400 calories and 88 grams of fat. That's almost as many calories as its Classic Bacon burger.

And another salad from Chili's has almost as much sodium as the daily recommended intake.

But Consumer Reports did find some healthy salads that were tasty, too-even without a lot of dressing.

One of the best-Panera's Barbecue Chopped Chicken Salad with Barbecue Sauce. It has 350 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 6 grams of dietary fiber-no dressing needed.

Perry says, "Our taste testers said the barbecue sauce was plenty. Plus skipping the dressing saves 140 calories and 11 grams of fat."

Also from Panera-the Asian Sesame Chicken Salad. Testers liked the sweet and sour dressing but only used about half of it-saving almost 50 calories and four grams of fat.

And On The Border's Citrus Chipotle Chicken Salad is still a nutritional winner-even with all of its dressing.

It has 290 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, and 11 grams of dietary fiber.

If you're looking for a healthy salad from a fast-food restaurant, Consumer Reports says try Wendy's Mandarin Chicken Salad.

Testers found it was tasty, even with just a little dressing, and it also rated good for nutrition.


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