A Healthy Choice at McDonald's

27     ‹ Older     Newer ›

McDonald's Salad Review

Snack Girl is probably the last person on the planet to discover that McDonald's has yummy salads. I don't get out much.

I avoid McDonald's because the food gives me a stomach ache (I am not making this up). But, recently, I drove from Massachusetts to Chicago, IL (see here: Challenge: Week 3 and found myself looking for healthy food on the New York State Thruway.

What to do? I was in a big hurry so I hadn't filled my car with excellent Top Travel Snacks, so I just stopped at McDonald's and stared at the menu. Then, Super Snack Girl started interrogating the poor teenager behind the counter.

Do they ship you the salads or do you make them here? We mix them here.
Are they made with iceberg lettuce? They are made with mixed greens - there may be some iceberg but there is other lettuce types included.
Is the dressing on the side? Yes, it is.
How many calories are in them? Calorie information is posted on the wall.

Turns out you can order the salad EXACTLY the way you want it. And their website allows you to customize your calorie choices The Southwest Salad section of their site has a nutrition box where you can change the ingredients in your salad to get it to an optimal calorie amount.

It seems that McDonald's has been listening to the healthy eaters out there. So, I had a Southwest Salad, but I didn't eat 420 calories. I ate 220 calories because I only ate 1/2 the chicken, used 1/2 the dressing (they give you a LIME - WOW!), avoided the tortilla strips and the cheese (both yucky).

Next time, I would order it without the tortilla strips and the cheese because they were unnecessary.

It cost $5 and versus a Big Mac, french fries, and a large Coke (also $5), I reduced my calorie intake by 1000 or so. It tasted pretty good - and no stomach ache! Of course, I had to stop to eat it (no forking salad in my mouth when driving a standard), but that was fine.

These big corporations - McDonald's, Nabisco, Kraft, Frito-Lay, etc. are the food manufacturers we rely on for most of our food. Do I want to eat from local farmers all the time? Yes, but is that realistic? No.

It makes me happy that the entire way to Chicago, I could find fresh food. I found a tasty apple at the next rest stop, trail mix, and sparkling water. I managed not to eat a hamburger for a 15 hour drive across New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. I am seriously amazed.

We have the makings of a food revolution in if McD's can make money selling salads. That means enough of us out there are demanding healthier choices.

What do you eat while traveling? Have you tried a McD's salad?

Want to read about snacks?
Potato Chip CRUNCH For One Calorie
Healthy Beach Snacks
Snack Girl Recharges Her Batteries
What NOT To Have For Breakfast



First 20 Comments: [ see all 27 ]

I remember driving cross country four years ago and McD's salads were pretty much the only thing I ate, every day. As a vegetarian I was so happy to discover they had salads because on the road, sometimes McD's is the ONLY place you can find to eat. Did you know you can ask for the salad without chicken and they charge you less? It's not widely advertised but you can get a meat-free salad (yay!). Sadly, though, the salad they had back then was an asian salad with edamame that I really liked and it seems to be gone now, replaced by the southwest one, which is OK, but not as good, IMO. It is a bummer that you can't really eat it on the go (like sometimes you want to drive thru and just keep going, but that is impossible to eat while driving). I wish they had an option for that, but I don't really know what it would be.

on June 15, 2010

Love that McD's has healthier options. It's just too bad that it usually costs more than a larger amount of the unhealthy stuff.

on June 15, 2010

I love McD's southwest salad! The dressing is great- I like that it is Paul Newman's. I don't eat at McDonald's often, but when I do, that's what I try to get.

on June 15, 2010

hate McD's can not even walk into the place the smell makes me sick

on June 15, 2010

I travel for work so I've learned to carry fruit, make the world's quickest sandwich (Oroweat double fiber and sliced turkey) and stop for yogurt if I need to. Even lowfat yogurt will work if all you have is a gas station refridgerator section. For plane rides, I always carry Fiber one cereal because I can throw half a cup on my yogurt with some fruit and I have a meal. I have a couple small coolers to choose from so it's easy. Interesting to read that about McDonald's.. with a young kid that likes the play areas, it's hard not to stop there once in awhile. :)

on June 15, 2010

Whenever I'm stuck at McDonald's on a road trip that salad is pretty much the only thing I will eat. The dressing is a little fatty but it's still better then a big mac.

on June 15, 2010

I always order the "grilled" chicken ceasar - but instead of the high fat ceasar dressing, i get the balsamic vinagrette - of which i use only about 1/4 of the package. The chicken is actually DELICIOUS! I was as surprised as Snack Girl to discover this. It is also a Bargain!

on June 15, 2010

It's interesting to see an article on healthy choices at McDonalds. I dropped 40lbs by paying attention to what I eat - all pretty much based on face-value calories. I didn't care where they came from (though I was smart enough not to eat 1800 calories of ice cream at a sitting and call that a meal). I ate primarily at Chick-Fil-A and KFC, but took the time to understand the menu and to look at the caloric content of the food. If you haven't, run out and grab an App for the iPhone/iPod Touch called Restaurant Nutrition: http://j.mp/aebOUz I use it a lot when eating out to make good choices. :)

on June 15, 2010

I love, love, love the Southwest Salad from McDonald's. Here is a link to a similar recipe so you can try it at home - http://www.recipezaar.com/recipe/Southwest-Salad-Mcswap-260516. I swear that it tastes exactly like the McDonald's version. If I am pressed for time I use a bottled dressing (salsa ranch) instead of making my own.

on June 15, 2010

I really like the Ceasar Salad, the parmesan is actually high quality enough to be yummy.

on June 15, 2010

On a recent roadtrip I had one of their salads, too! I think it was the same one. Mine was just veggies and grilled chicken (I didn't use dressing or cheese etc), and I was really amazed at how deliciously juicy the chicken was. I was quite impressed. I think it was the first time I've had McDonalds in years. I expect the only time I'll be getting it again will be roadtripping, hehe, but even so: I was pleased with the choices.

on June 15, 2010

I love the Micky D's salads, my favorite is the ever elusive Asian salad but the Southwest is pretty much my standard otherwise.
I never use the salad dressing though, the chicken (grilled) is so juicy that it makes it's own dressing.
I take the Paul Newman dressing packs home and use it for a low cal marinade for my home chicken breasts. It's really good!

on June 15, 2010

Well, you've given me hope. We're heading off on a lengthy roadtrip next week, and I was already panicking about what I was going to eat on the road.

I've decided to pack some of my favorite "salads" that travel well -- couscous + sun-dried tomatoes & spinach; chickpea salad w/ tomatoes and cucumbers.

Those things are not going to keep for a week, though, and I'll need something healthy for the return trip. So, I'll try to remain inspired and eat the modified salads at McD's, because I'm sure we'll be stopping there at some point. :-\

on June 15, 2010

Wow, they must have improved. I remember trying their salads last around 2007 or so, and they were HORRIBLE. Wendy's had much better, so if I want fast food salads, i go there. If I ever need a drive-through one, I may give McD's a try again, although I'm leery. I never had a good salad at McD's. Never.

on June 15, 2010

There is one M D's in town that is very good, fresh and tasty - but a couple of nights ago I went to one by a friends house and I was very disapointed. I don't know what happened but the lettuce was limp and the meat was rubbery and not even cut all the way through.
Ever try to cut a chicken fillet with a dorky plastic fork (a forky?)? Not that easy.
So I think it does make a difference with different McD's and different employees.

on June 15, 2010

Good morning. First, I'd like to start out by saying that I do think you offer up value for your readers. However, over the last month or so, I've noticed a shift in some of your writings. Previously, I noticed you sometimes went to great lengths to criticize major food companies for their products and point out their flaws.

Certainly, I understand some of the arguments, although not entirely objective at times. Either way, I always gathered your mission to be that of seeking natural foods, whereas lately I've noticed a shift.

I'm not sure I understand what the reason is. How is it possible to discuss a binge eating spree after the trip related to your grandmother, acknowledging Ranch dressing won't kill you, and now applauding McDonalds, just to name a few? I take this as you trying to "please" both sides, a.k.a. the masses, which may possibly better suit your business endeavors.

However, I will respectfully share that it sends conflicting messages, based on your own words, when you sit on the fence between criticism and acceptance of these corporations. Surely, there are many gray areas in life, food is no exception. Yet, I'm curious to know what the shift is related to in your case.

on June 16, 2010

Blog Commenter, speaking only for myself, and my own problems with this very same issue, I believe it's called "Life". It happens. All of us really would like to be perfect and always eat healthy, but life happens.
We always wasnt to eat natural, but life happens.
We need to roll with the punches and yet still make the best choices available at the time, which might include fast food because of family timetables, or acceptance of our imperfections during a family crisis.
Life happens - you adjust.

on June 16, 2010

Hello Karen. I agree with you 100%. I would never dispute that life happens. If anything, that's why I mentioned in my original comment that I don't think criticisms of major food companies are always entirely objective. My issue is not whether or not someone should or shouldn't eat food from big food companies; I do almost all week.

The point is that I've always known Snack Girl to hone in on the emphasis of eating natural foods and openly criticized the same companies she's been applauding recently either directly or by eating their foods and posting about it. I'm just curious as to what the shift is all about when it comes to her running a blog of this nature, as well as from a business standpoint. It's almost like someone changing their political party right in the middle of a public office race. Doesn't that send very confusing messages to the voters?

on June 16, 2010

Thank you for the interesting critique. Actually, as I write the blog I do sometimes change my view point. I have been very critical of McDonald's for their junk food - but I was happy to see a healthy choice. I believe both viewpoints are valid. I also criticized Frito-Lay's Tostitos - but like their Sabras Hummus. This companies are so ubiquitous that you have to remain open to the idea that they can do good things. I am not anti-corporate - just anti-misleading marketing. I hope this clarifies my view point.
Lisa

on June 16, 2010

Thank you for clarifying your view point.

on June 16, 2010

See all 27 Comments


Add a comment:

(required)

(required, never published)

(optional)


Welcome! I’m Lisa. I write about simple snacks, healthy recipes, and products that help me WIN my battle with donuts!

100+ Healthy Snack Ideas

Get new posts by email

 

SNACK GIRL TO THE RESCUE!

A Real-Life Guide to Losing Weight and Getting Healthy with 100 Recipes Under 400 Calories

Read the First Chapter

Inspirational Advice

100 Recipes Under 400 Calories

I will show you how small, easy tweaks can change your lifestyle to be healthier and happier.

  • Want to avoid the office donuts? Chapter 3: Everyday Temptations
  • Need to unstick your butt from the couch? Chapter 5: Exercise
  • After a stressful day are your best friends Ben & Jerry? Chapter 4: Emotional Eating
  • Know you need to eat more vegetables? Chapter 2: Healthy Cooking

With 100 recipes for fun, quick, and affordable meals and snacks—all under 400 calories and Weight Watchers friendly. The recipes have been tested by home chefs and are delicious, easy, and simple, most have never been published on Snack-Girl.com.

Find out more...