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Fast Food Salad Shocker Could Make You Rethink Your Order

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Who makes the healthiest salads? You do, at home, of course. But when you eat out -- ever wonder what the best choice would be?

I was perusing a handly little infographic on eating at the wrong place and time when I came across some surprising information about the Chicken Caesar Salads we get when we eat out. If you had to guess, which salads do you think would be highest in calories -- the salad at a fast food restaurant or the salad at a casual dining restaurant?

If you're comparing the Chicken Caesar Salads at McDonald's, Wendy's, Panera Bread, Chili's, and Cheesecake Factory, the fast food salads come out the lowest in calories! Depending on your definition of healthy, it kind of looks like the fast food salads are healthier.

McDonald's: 330 calories
Wendy's: 440 calories
Panera Bread: 510 calories
Chili's: 630 calories
Cheesecake Factory: 976 calories

I guess the Cheesecake Factory calorie count shouldn't come as a surprise. Everything there is high calorie! I don't even know how they cram so many calories into one dish. But it still kind of defeats the purpose of eating a salad, don't you think?

But what if this is just a fluke?

I decided to take a look at the average calorie counts for salads at a few of these restaurants just to compare. I looked at McDonald's salads, Panera Bread salads, and Chili's salads:

Average salad at McDonald's: 227 calories
Average salad at Panera Bread: 486 calories
Average salad at Chili's: 718 (Quesadilla Explosion Salad clocks in at 1,300 -- yikes!)

Of course, the portion size at McDonald's is much smaller than the portions at Chili's. And Panera serves half-salads, which are probably closer to McDonald's size -- and which put them at the same level, calorie-wise. There's a whole lot more to nutrition than calories. Personally I'm a lot more worried about sugar and artificial ingredients. But there you go. Fast food lower in calories -- who knew?

Do you ever get a salad when you eat out?

Written by Adriana Velez on CafeMom's blog, The Stir.

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