ShopSmart's Best Salad Choices at Chain Restaurants

ShopSmart magazine helps you stay healthy while dining out or in.

December 28, 2009, 2:35 PM

March 16, 2010— -- If you're trying to eat healthy at a chain restaurant, you might think that a salad is always the best choice. But some salads actually pack more calories than a burger.

The food experts at ShopSmart magazine tested the nutritional value of 20 different salads at eight major chain restaurants. ShopSmart's editor Lisa Lee Freeman shared the winners with "Good Morning America" along with advice on how to make a healthy salad at home.

Panera Bread: BBQ Chopped Chicken Salad

(With mild BBQ sauce and no dressing)

Calories: 350

Total Fat: 10 grams

Saturated Fat: 1 gram

Sodium: 610 milligrams

Dietary Fiber: 6 grams

Price: $7.59

The ShopSmart taster said this salad was "moist and tasty," and you don't need the ranch dressing in addition to the BBQ sauce. The dressing packs an additional 140 calories and 11 grams of fat, so stick with just the BBQ sauce.

On the Border Mexican Grill and Cantina: Citrus Chipotle Chicken Salad

(With Mango Citrus Vinaigrette)

Calories: 290

Total Fat: 3.5 grams

Saturated Fat: 2 grams

Sodium: 840 milligrams

Dietary Fiber: 11 grams

Price: $9.24

This salad has corn, peppers, onions, tomatoes, jicama and orange pieces in addition to chicken and greens.

Wendy's Chicken Caesar Salad With Grilled Chicken Fillet

(With home style garlic croutons and no dressing or limited dressing)

Calories: 240

Total Fat: 7 grams

Saturated Fat: 2 grams

Sodium: 810 milligrams

Dietary Fiber: 3 grams

Price: $5.38

The chicken in this salad was "warm and delicious," according to the ShopSmart taster, with "crunchy croutons." The magazine says you can use up to 2 tablespoons of dressing, but not the whole packet because of the heavy calorie and fat count.

Web Extra:

Panera Bread: Fuji Apple Chicken Salad

(With pecans, no dressing or limited dressing)

Calories: 370

Total Fat: 19 grams

Saturated Fat: 5 grams

Sodium: 570 milligrams

Dietary Fiber: 5 grams

Price: $7.19

This salad offers dried apple slices, pecans and Gorgonzola cheese, in addition to other ingredients.

How to Make Healthful, Hearty Salads

More Smart Picks from Other Chains:

Calories: 430

Total Fat: 19 grams

Calories: 320

Total Fat: 9 grams

Calories: 270

Total Fat: 9 grams

Make it hearty by adding elements from your favorite sandwich. It makes the salad more substantial and delicious:

Make it fast by purchasing no-cook proteins:

Make it healthy by making your own dressing. Dressings add flavor, but they also add tons of calories and fat. Skip the store-bought dressing and make your own with less oil:

Use good quality oil which has more flavor so a little will go a long way, cutting calories.

Look for extra virgin grade which indicates higher quality. Add fruit juice or a sweeter vinegar like balsamic or champagne vinegar.

Swap out mayo and cream. Turn pureed avocadoes, thinned with a little stock or water, into dressings. Low-fat yogurt or buttermilk are other good substitutes for mayo and cream.

For even more healthy salad choices and advice on making your own salads, pick up the latest issue of SmartShop magazine and visit

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