Though we all may agree that salad can’t be the first reason of you visiting these fast food chains, I’d like to bet that for the sake of seeing your desired number on a weight scale, you totally would come for the garden plate.
And despite the fact that McDonald’s, Burger King, or Wendy’s are the last places you should be getting the menu from, sometimes it’s never wrong to choose salads over their much-unhealthier menus, isn’t it?
Since it’s summertime now, I’ll give you my favorite list of 5 best fast food salad options you can eat to cool down this summer heat—that seems to keep rising, ugh!
Carl’s Jr.: Original Grilled Chicken Salad
I didn’t mention this fast food joint above, but Carl’s Jr. is surely one of my favorite…for burgers—I even have a list of my faves there! But their salad is something I never try—and actually don’t want to. Yet I did buy one and it quite impressed me.
One serving of this salad goes for about 280 calories. There are sprinkles of grilled chicken that has been cut into squares on top of the spring mix—yes, that one salad that needs to die.
I mean, we all know how basic spring mix is—it’s just full of different types of lettuces who probably don’t remember their own names right after you put the ranch dressing on.
Though Carl’s spring mix is typical like other healthy fastfood salads out there, it comes with quite huge slices of onions and tomatoes, especially its fresh, crunchy cucumbers. The chicken seems to be grilled for not too long which makes it tender.
Burger King: Garden Salad With Grilled Chicken
I’d like to say that Burger King maintains the top spot in my favorite list of fastfood chain who offers healthy fast food salad, along with Wendy’s and McDonald’s. Most of its salads are way too simple but it’s enough to satisfy your taste bud.
Like its sibling—King Club Salad, Garden Salad also comes with two variants; grilled chicken topping or crispy chicken one. I frankly prefer crispy chicken for meals than the grilled one, but the latter got stronger spices I truly love that’d beat you to the punch!
The veggies itself mixes green leaf, crunchy green romaine, croutouns, and iceberg lettuce with lots of cheddar cheese, tomatoes. It may be the cheese or the plump, chewy chicken, but the calories it got per serving goes up ‘till 340 (and higher if you choose crispy chicken).
Wendy’s: Apple Pecan Chicken Salad
As I’ve said above, Wendy’s is absolutely the on-the-go fast food place I will visit for salads. Not only because they don’t do spring mix, but each composition per serving is perfectly matched in both portion and flavor.
But this one is actually my favorite. From texture and flavors; it’s just perfect!
Like the name, this salad has of course, crunchy apples and grilled chicken laying on top of the salad with sprinkles of shredded blue cheese, pomegranate vinaigrette, pecans, and cranberries on the very top.
With those mixture, I’d like to say that Apple Pecan Salad may be the best salad Wendy’s ever had, especially for those who loves to have sweet, sour, and salty sparks combined in one savory bite.
The grilled chicken is tender but chewy, while the apples are in charge of sweetness and crispness; roasted pecans for its homey, crunchy warmth; cranberries and pomegranate for tiny hints of acid; and lastly the blue cheese. There you get a heavenly package of salad!
The down side is, however, half serving of this Apple Pecan Salad contains 340 calories. That’d be 680 calories in total. Too bad.
My recommendation is to buy the half-sized portion since it’s already more than enough to keep you away from hunger for 3 hours.
McDonald’s: Southwest Salad With Grilled Chicken
This is it. McD’s Southwest Salad with chicken is officially ranked in the top 5 of my list.
What I love from this salad is the fact that they give you tortilla chips to double the crispness beside its already-crunchy-lettuce and friends. The grilled chicken somehow reminds me of their famous McNugget, while the dressing got you feel as if eating a Big Mac, since it taste much alike with the big burger’s secret sauce.
Despite being a cheese lover, the shredded cheese addition on its top somehow got me frowning for seconds. It doesn’t match the whole flavor at first, but the more you eat it, the more it gets better.
There’re also black beans in McD’s Southwest Salad even though I don’t find it helpful for the taste. Besides, they’re a bit tiring to chew so my suggestion is to ask for a no-beans version on your next order. (I still love black beans in soups, though!)
Chick-fil-A: Grilled Market Salad
If you’re on diet, Chick-fil-A offers you the best salad with the lowest amount of calories per serving. With an enormous amount of greens and proteins, it only weighs for 200 calories!
Collateral to its name, this one salad does look like a market at certain angles. Like its fresh, vibrant look, I can even label this as Wendy’s Apple Pecan Chicken Salad—if not, twins.
But Chick-fil-A’s is probably the upgraded version in both ingredients and savory level. Instead of using vinaigrette, they give blueberries and strawberries to this salad. They also provide you romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red and green apples. The grilled chicken breasts are also thinner (and got a stronger kick of spiciness) but is in perfect cut if you want to experience each ingredients distinctive flavor in one bite.
You will also find blue cheese, roasted nut blend, and even granola. But don’t try to find iceberg leaves here; you won’t find any! Why? Cause long time ago, Chick fil has once vowed to get rid of iceberg lettuce due to its low nutrient and health benefits.
Instead, they offer us a tempting privilege:
Choosing your own dressing.
I went for balsamic vinaigrette and it tasted like heaven!
The chicken’s tenderness, the whole salad’s crunchiness with superior marinade and seasoning, all wrapped in the perfect dressing. It absolutely won’t disappoint!
Not only eating Grilled Market Salad got me feeling incredibly healthy, but it also made me realized that seeking happiness within a plate is never impossible.
Frankly said, other salads from McDonalds, Taco Bells, and Jack Jr. until Wendy’s Taco Salad could’ve made it in the list. Unless, it’s going to take ages to jot down the whole list of my favorite, healthiest fast food salad.
Yea, I have plenty of them and ranking the best fastfood salads to help you choose the perfect candidate is a pleasure to me. So I’m gonna discuss them thoroughly in my next article.
Are Fast Food Salads Healthy?
You may or you may not realize, but fast food salads have significantly rose in sales these past months. It became sort of trends in fast food chain restaurants to serve the best salads they can offer.
The negative side is, even if they serve chunks of veggies you won’t even be able to name it all, the toppings or dressings (which holds the essential part in combining the salad’s overall flavor) are the main culprit behind your overloaded calories.
Now, all you need to know is how to order the right salads and extras to minimize the risks, and still able to devour your tasty but healthy green plate.
10 Tips To Choose Your Healthy Fast Food Salads
- First, go to one of the fast food joints who allows you to choose your dressing or provides the reduced fat dressings; like Wendy’s Creamy Ranch. Or you can make it yourself at home and bring them along if you’re doing to dine in.
e.g. McDonald’s low-fat Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing contains 1.5 gr fat and 20 calories per half serving.
- If you have suceeded in choosing the right dressing, don’t ever try using the whole package. Half of it is enough to light up your entire salad.
e.g. using only half packet of Lite Ranch dressing from Jack in the Box is gonna save you 9 gr of fat, 95 calories, and 350 mg of sodium.
- Take a careful look at the kind of greens your favorite salad has. It’s advised to choose the ones with dark green lettuce which contains more minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals.
e.g. Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad.
- Besides those greens, it’s also important to look for the ones with colorful vegetables; peppers, red cabbage, carrots, or tomatoes.
e.g. Wendy’s Side Salad.
- Now, it’s time to consider the amount of nuts inside. If your salad got beans or nuts or any seed, it’d be a better option since they have lots of fiber and protein.
e.g. Black beans contain 15.2 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber. The complete list of beans and the nutrients they hold are available in my previous post.
- Make your salad perfect by adding lean protein such as meat or seafood, or choose low fat chicken.
e.g. Subway’s Roasted Turkey Salad would be perfect, it consists of 16 gr of protein with only 3 grams of fat inside.
- Crispy or grilled chicken? Which one will give you more calories? It’s best if you choose your meat grilled or roasted instead of fried. Don’t even try to order breaded meat or crispy ones ‘cause they’ll add another 100 calories for you.
e.g. The crispy version of McDonald’s Chicken Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad has 370 calories while the original only has 270 calories (without dressing).
All set! Now, you can start telling your friends which fast food salads are the best partner for their healthy living and weight loss program. It could be use as fast food breakfast too. With the tips above, grabbing your healthiest salad whose taste’s gonna grow your eyes big would be twice easier!