When I was younger, nutritional information was really never considered when I ordered. Chicken fingers, endless bread baskets, fried anything, desserts - you name it and I didn't really think twice about my ordering habits. Why would I? I was young, active and care-free!
Fast forward to just the past few years and now when dining out, I attempt to make more sensible choices. Grilled chicken, fish or lean meats. Baked potato or sweet potato over the choice of fries. Or, if I really feel like being "good", I order salad.
Salad is a safe choice, right? Vegetables. Maybe a few croutons or something crunchy in there that somewhat resembles a carbohydrate.
What could be so bad?
So, one of my last few trips to Applebee's I snuck a peek at their calorie information out of curiosity.
Worst. Choice. Ever.
My favorite salad - the Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad was not as healthy as I had anticipated.
Darn these handy iPhones.
My salad that is so tasty and delicious - that I actually looked forward to eating - was literally most, if not all, my daily calorie allowance. Say whaaaat?
That's right - this one salad consisting of pecan crusted chicken, atop a bed or romaine, with celery, craisins, blue cheese crumbles (which I always had them leave off) and candied pecans with a delicious honey balsamic vinaigrette packs a whopping 1350 calories and 80 grams of fat (17g saturated fat) and 2610 mg of sodium.
So, what's a dieting girl to do?
A-ha. Make it myself!
So, off to the grocery store I went and compiled the ingredients myself.
Hearts of romaine. Check!
Grilled chicken. Check!
Delicious dressing from Applebee's that I have no clue how to make or what brand it is. Hmmm.
Problem. That was, until now.
Enter Ken's Chef's Reserve Honey Balsamic dressing. CHECK!
Did you hear that? Or was that just Hallelujah music playing only in my head :)
I think if I thought ahead a bit more and got some candied pecans to make it even more similar to the fat-laden pecan crusted chicken, it might have made the salad a bit crunchier. However, even without that ingredient, this salad is fresh, sweet and filling and most importantly, way less than even half of the calories and fat of the Applebee's version.
Applebee's version: 1350 calories
My version: 300 calories give or take (depending on how much dressing, chicken and craisins you add)
So, what's the lesson here?
Any salad prepared at home is likely a safe choice. One that is ordered at a chain restaurant - not so much.
Do you have a favorite salad at a restaurant? Would love to hear about it or any favorite salads you have!
Note: I do not have anything against Applebee's. You may find all of their nutritional information here. They really do have some healthy options to choose from - I just happened to not be choosing those options!