Updated by Melissa Rudy, 9/20/16
Restaurants can be a dietary danger zone. With deep-fried appetizers, cheesy sauces and super-sized entrees lurking in every corner of the menu, the salad section may seem like a safe haven. You can't go wrong with fresh greens, right? The problem is, many eateries use those greens as a deceptively healthy foundation for a bevy of bad-for-you toppings that can send calorie counts skyrocketing into the four-digit zone.
Next time you head out for a bite, don't be fooled by these 10 scary salads.
1. Applebee's Southwestern Steak Salad
1,020 calories, 68 g fat, 3,040 mg sodium, 65 g carbs
Steak is always a high-calorie and high-fat choice, even when it's mixed with greens. When you add in the tortilla strips and dressing, you have a four-digit calorie count--and the sodium equivalent of 202 cans of soda.
2. TGI Friday's Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad
1,080 calories, 71 g fat, 1,650 mg sodium, 76 g carbs
Boasting such healthy ingredients as cranberries, oranges, glazed pecans and bleu cheese, this salad might initially seem like a wise choice—but with the crispy pecan-crusted chicken and balsamic vinaigrette dressing, it will add nearly as many calories as two Big Macs from McDonald's.
3. Ruby Tuesday's Carolina Chicken Salad
1,103 calories, 84 g fat, 2,298 mg sodium, 67 g carbs
The slew of veggies and bed of fresh greens don't cancel out the crispy chicken tenders, bacon, cheese and croutons that send it well over the 1,000-calorie mark. This salad packs as much fat as six Hershey bars.
4. iHop's Chicken & Spinach Salad w/ Crispy Chicken
1,340 calories, 85 g fat, 2,690 mg sodium, 76 g carbs
Chicken and spinach is better than a stack of hotcakes, right? Not when it packs 1,340 calories and 85 grams of fat, courtesy of the crispy-fried chicken, cheese, bacon, honey-mustard dressing and a side of garlic bread.
5. Buffalo Wild Wings' Mediterranean Salad
1,380 calories, 104 g fat, 2,400 mg sodium, 62 g carbs
When you look beyond the healthy-sounding "Mediterranean" buzzword and the bevy of fresh veggies, you'll find a whopping 104 grams of fat and almost an entire day's worth of calories. Culprits include the pita chips, cheese and tzatziki-feta dressing.
6. Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad
1,420 calories, 99 g fat, 1,530 mg sodium, 96 g carbs
The presence of Asian greens doesn't offset the mammoth calorie and fat content of this deceptive dish. Generally speaking, when fried chicken is the star of the salad, it's best to keep scanning for a healthier option. You'd have to jog at a 12-minute-per-mile pace for 2-1/2 hours to burn it off.
7. Chili's Quesadilla Explosion Salad
1,440 calories, 96 g fat, 2,410 mg sodium, 83 g carbs
Don't let the lettuce fool you—this so-called salad is nothing short of a deconstructed quesadilla. You'd need to walk at a moderate pace for more than six hours to burn off the calories consumed in this salad. Plus, it contains more than the recommended daily intake of sodium.
8. Chevy's Fresh Mex Chicken Tostada Salad
1,500 calories, 91 g fat, 1,290 mg sodium, 91 g carbs
Served in a tortilla shell and topped with sour cream, refried beans and cheeses, this dietary disaster has nearly as many calories and fat grams as three Big Macs. You'd have to do the elliptical machine for 2-1/2 hours to offset the calorie count.
9. California Pizza Kitchen's Moroccan Spiced Chicken Salad
1,500 calories, 99 g fat, 1,380 mg sodium, 128 g carbs
With ingredients like butternut squash, avocado, red peppers, toasted almonds, beets and dates, it's hard to believe this salad has 1,500 calories and just under 100 grams of fat.
10. Cheesecake Factory Caesar Salad with Chicken
1,510 calories, 16 g fat, 1,450 mg sodium, 24 g carbs
It's hard to believe a seemingly innocent Caesar salad could pack more calories than two Whoppers from Burger King. The piles of parmesan cheese, high-fat dressing and croutons make this dish a danger for dieters.
What are some of the best and worst salad choices you've seen when dining out?
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