Salads—they're good for you, right? With their nutrient-dense veggies and muscle-fueling proteins, they look innocent enough, but sometimes they’re anything but. Chefs sometimes turn to fatty dressing, salty bacon bits and starchy croutons to amp up the flavor. This can turn a once healthy bowl of greens into a diet-derailing dinner. If you’ve been ordering more salads lately (as many people are) in an attempt to slim down, we know this news may be a bit discouraging—but don’t turn your back on the veggies just yet!
Eat This, Not That! recently teamed up with GrubHub, the nation's leading online and mobile food-ordering service, to bring you an exclusive report on takeout trends. Salad orders spike the second and third weeks of January, with orders jumping 6 percent higher than the yearly average on January 15th.
Our well-intentioned interest in leafy greens may start a bit late for New Years resolutions, but it turns out that’s not the biggest problem with our orders; there’s some serious self-sabotage going on with the most popular salad choices. Here’s how some of those seemingly healthy salads are working against your healthy eating efforts–and what to order instead:
Chicken Caesar Salad
A combination of Romaine lettuce, grilled chicken and a dusting of Parmigiana cheese may sound innocent enough, but Caesar dressing packs a pretty hefty calorie punch. Considering Julius was a pretty buff looking guy, we doubt he was dousing his greens with much of this fat-laden goop.
Order This Instead: In lieu of a Caesar salad order a house salad with grilled chicken. Ask for balsamic on the side and throw on two tablespoons before chowing down. This tactic will save you around 500 calories and puts a wider variety of nutrient-packed vegetables on your plate. If you can’t bear to give up your Caesar, request the dressing on the side. You’ll keep about 200 calories off your plate.
Some restaurants douse their Greek salad with up to 450 calories of dressing. It’s unfortunate, really. Prior to the salad sabotage, the veggie-feta cheese combo was a great bed of greens.
Order this instead: If you’re in the mood for Mediterranean grub, try the fattoush salad instead. On average, it will slash up to 320 calories and 34 grams of fat from your order. Comprised solely of tossed greens, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, bits of toasted pita, mint and lemon, it’s hard to go wrong with this dish. We suggest pairing it with red wine vinegar— since it only has three calories per tablespoon, it’s difficult to over do it. Order some on the side so your salad doesn’t get soggy during delivery. If your heart's set on a Greek Salad, make sure to request the dressing on the side. Dressing it yourself can save you as much as 225 calories.
Some antipasto plates carry nearly 1,000 calories and 70 grams of artery-clogging fat! Although you may have every intention of saving half of the platter for tomorrow’s lunch, there are more effective ways to up the health-value of this commonly ordered takeout dish.
Order this instead: A spinach salad often includes things like mozzarella, veggies, croutons, grilled chicken and dried cranberries. If your go-to Italian take-out joint serves theirs with bacon, have them leave that off. To save additional calories, order the dressing on the side and request that the kitchen go light on the croutons and cranberries. Ordering this bed of greens instead of the antipasto will save you about 673 calories—even if it’s dressed in a bit of balsamic vinaigrette!
If your favorite take-out salad wasn’t mentioned above it may be one of the better-for-you orders. Grilled chicken salad, cucumber salad and the delicious and nutritious garden salad were among the healthiest of the most ordered greens on GrubHub. As long as no fried, fatty or sugary add-ins make an appearance on your plate, all three options make for diet-friendly dishes.
For more calorie-saving tricks that can help you slash major calories from your order, check out the previous GrubHub/Eat This Not That! report.
Day or night, rain or shine, with GrubHub, it’s never been easier to order a slimming salad.