Most of us are aware that salads are not always healthy, and this is especially true for restaurant salads. If by “salad” you mean a small plate of fresh leafy greens, a few slices of tomato, and a drizzling of olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, then yes, that’s healthy and low calorie.
But “salad” at restaurants often means a huge plate filled with lettuce, croutons, chicken cubes, cheese, and half a cup of full fat dressing. That’s not healthy, and the calorie count for this type of salad can be higher than even the most nutrition savvy among us can imagine.
Case in point: the salads at California Pizza Kitchen, a popular U.S. chain restaurant.
We love eating out at California Pizza kitchen. It’s a family friendly restaurant, definitely a few notches above fast food, service is decent, and the food shows consistent quality. Their pizzas are very good.
On our last visit there I noticed they started providing nutrition information on their menu. I’m guessing they were forced to do that since they’re a chain restaurant, or maybe they started providing the info voluntarily. Either way, looking at the caloric values of the items on their menu is a real eye opener, especially when it comes to salads:
I thought these values were especially interesting compared with caloric values for desserts:
Even when you order half a salad, the Thai Crunch salad still comes to a whopping 1,000 calories – for HALF AN ORDER. The full order is 2100 calories! Keep in mind that the average adult male burns about 2000 calories with normal activity each day and the average female burns about 1600 calories.
The best way to defend your waist and your arteries against these attacks by restaurants is to control your portions – in this case definitely choose half an order, or share a salad with someone. Another great way to handle restaurant salads is to ask for the dressing on the side, since most calories and fat come from that. Also, go over the ingredients and see if there are any fatty ingredients you can live without, then ask to get your salad without them.
I’m not saying you should never indulge. Of course you should. I often do! But restaurant salads are something many people order not to indulge but simply because they are hungry and want to make a better choice. In my opinion, serving them a 2000-calorie salad is atrocious.