Fast food has not always been synonymous with healthy eating. But in recent years, chains like McDonald's are making strides to step away from the fryer and cater to more conscientious eaters.
As a pregnant mom of three, I spend way too much of my life in the car, hungry. So sometimes a pit stop at a fast-food restaurant is a necessity. While I'm tempted to order a large fry and a shake, I want to make sure I don't gain 600 pounds during this pregnancy, and of course, there's the part about setting a good example for my kids. Thank goodness you can order a healthy and tasty salad at a variety of drive-throughs these days!
If grabbing fast food is also part of your stay-sane strategy, you're in luck. We've taken the guesswork out of selecting a healthy meal by rounding up this list of the top five healthiest fast-food salads. We mainly looked at calories and protein and even added a few tips for boosting the health factor in each. The next time you must hit a drive-through, try one of these healthy-eating-friendly menu items.
- McDonald's Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad: With just 350 calories but 37 grams of protein per serving, you can file this preservative-free fast-food concoction under "winning." You'll nosh on protein-packed black beans and superfood kale; yes, in a meal from McDonald's. Discard some of the cheese and use only half of the lime dressing if you're looking to cut even more calories.
- Panera's Ancient Grain and Arugula Salad: I love how this salad thinks outside the box but still checks the requirement of health on the go. Coming in at 400 calories, this nutrient-packed bowl boasts 32 grams of protein and antibiotic-free chicken. Ancient grains and pumpkin seeds lend interest to the meal, as does a sweet bite of apple. To slash your calorie intake in half, just order a half portion.
- Arby's Roast Turkey Farmhouse Salad: A salad from the home of the roast beef sandwich? Believe it! This menu option is just 230 calories, with 22 grams of protein. Pick out the bacon and cheese to make the salad even healthier. PS This salad is gluten-free.
- Wendy's Power Mediterranean Chicken Salad: I love how you can order this menu option in a whole or half size. A whole portion is 480 calories and 40 grams of protein, and you get to sample a palate-pleasing blend of feta cheese and hummus. If you feel like going meat-free, take off the chicken, or cut calories by eating half of the cheese or going light on the balsamic vinaigrette.
- Subway's Rotisserie-Style Chicken Salad: Did you know you could order a salad at Subway? True story. Actually, you can turn almost any sub into a bread-free bowl. One to try is the Rotisserie-Style Chicken Salad, which boasts 23 grams of protein and is under 400 calories. Honorable mention goes to the Tuna Salad, with 362 calories and 15 grams of protein.
It's also worth noting you can customize your own salad at Chipotle to create the right healthful balance for your specific dietary needs and preferences. Bet you didn't realize you had so many healthy options!