Food & Drink

Chain Restaurant Salads With 1,000 Calories ... Or More

Never trust salad again.
10/30/2014 07:00am ET | Updated November 1, 2014

Oh how deceptive a salad can be.

One would think that ordering a dish in which vegetables are the main event would be a more healthful choice than say, half a rack of baby back ribs. But, for many chain restaurant menus, this is not the case. Once virtually calorie-free leafy greens are dressed to the nines with cheeses, meats, nuts and creamy dressings that really do add up.

A pecan-crusted chicken salad sounds innocent enough, but TGI Fridays' version contains more than 1,000 calories and 71 grams of fat and 1,650 milligrams of sodium. For some perspective, a McDonald's Big Mac contains 530 calories, 27 grams of fat and 960 milligrams of sodium. The Institute of Medicine recommends the average female adult ingest anywhere from 44 to 78 grams of fat a day -- Fridays' salad alone gets you there, and then some.

Listed below are salads from seven chain restaurants that absolutely tip the scale when it comes to calories, fat and sodium. Before you look, know there are a few ways to beat the system -- meaning you can order a salad and make it more nutritionally sound (sure, you'll have to be one of those pesky customers who asks for substitutions, but your stomach will thank you). For starters, request your dressings on the side. This move alone can spare you anywhere from 50 to upwards of 300 calories. Choose meat or cheese, and whenever possible, ask that the protein be grilled rather than fried. Okay, here we go, folks -- hefty, frightening salads:

TGI Fridays Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad
Calories: 1,080 Fat: 71 g Sodium: 1,650 mg Protein: 39 g Ingredients: Pecan-crusted chicken breast, mixed greens, dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, sweetened pecans and blue cheese tossed in balsamic vinaigrette. (Source)
California Pizza Kitchen's Moroccan-Spiced Chicken
Calories: 1,500 Fat: 99 g Sodium: 1,380 mg Protein: 43 g (Source) Ingredients: Chicken, roasted butternut squash, dates, avocado, toasted almonds, beets, red peppers, chopped egg and dried cranberries served with Champagne vinaigrette.
The Cheesecake Factory's Chicken Caesar Salad
Calories: 1,510 Fat: 16 g Sodium: 1,453 mg Protein:Ingredients: Chicken, croutons and parmesan cheese served with caesar dressing. (Source)
Ruby Tuesday's Carolina Chicken Salad
Calories: 1,102 Fat: 47 g Sodium: 1,643 mg Protein: 61 g Ingredients: Southern style chicken tenders, fresh greens, peas, cheddar cheese, bacon, croutons, almond slivers, tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots. (Source)
Chili's Quesadilla Explosion Salad
Calories: 1,430 Fat: 95 g Sodium: 2,600 mg Protein: 64 g Ingredients: Grilled chicken breast, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, corn and black bean salsa, crispy tortilla strips served with citrus-balsamic dressing. Served with freshly toasted 3-cheese quesadillas. (Source)
Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad
Calories: 1,390 Fat: 98 g Sodium: 1,610 mg Protein: 39 g Ingredients: Asian greens, crispy noodles, toasted almonds and fried chicken tossed in an oriental vinaigrette. (Source)
Red Robin's Crispy Chicken Tender Salad
Calories: 1,300 Fat: 86 g Sodium: 2,282 mg Protein: 57 g Ingredients: Chicken fingers, hard-boiled eggs, hardwood-smoked bacon, tomatoes and cheddar cheese, served with garlic focaccia. (Source)

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Salad Recipes