That Salad Has HOW Many Calories? Yikes!

I took the kids to lunch yesterday and decided on California Pizza Kitchen in Corte Madera.    It’s very kid friendly and loud so my kids and I would fit right in.

I was reading the kids’ menu to check out the offerings and was surprised that they have increased the variety and options.  This is a good thing.  I also noticed that they included the calorie count next to each item.   What a great idea for a kids’ menu – you can really make sure that you’re providing a healthy lunch for the kids.

While the kids were coloring I turned my attention to my menu.  I was deciding on the salads when I looked more closely.  Yep, those numbers next to each item were the calories per serving.  Gulp!

I normally order a salad.  Because I’ve become one of those “Salad People” that I used to scorn.  I was SHOCKED at the calorie count of some of their salads.  A half-order of the Thai salad was almost 900 calories (give or take because I forgot to stuff the menu in my purse and CPK doesn’t post their calories online).  As the “kids” say these days.  OMG!

Now don’t get me wrong, I think adding calorie counts on menus is a fabulous idea.  My surprise comes because I did not realize how many calories their salads have.  One normally chooses a salad as  a healthy option so what does one do?

1.  Skip the extras.  The wonton strips, crispy noodles, croutons, etc.  If you must have the crunch in your salad, ask for a small bit on the side.

2.  Dressing on the side.  I know, this screams “She’s Dieting” but restaurants tend to overdress the salads anyway.   I won’t ask you to dip your fork tines in the dressing before spearing the salad because I think that’s just dumb.  But be smart about the dressing!

3.  Order a broth-based veggie soup to start.  At around 150 calories for a cup this is a  great way to start the meal that won’t have you diving for the bread plate.  I sampled the cream-free Asparagus Soup that was yummy and kept me out of the bread.

4.  Be aware.  Calorie counts are based on a strict adherence to measurements.   If a kitchen does not follow these guidelines (i.e. 2 tablespoon dressing, 2 oz. chicken, etc.) then the calorie counts can be off.  WAAAAY  off.   This is an even better reason to ask for the fatty extras on the side.

After scanning the menu and trying to find something that would be filling but not break the calorie bank I selected the Chinese or Asian Chicken Salad (half order was about 525 calories).   It was tasty and I was satisfied.  Isn’t that what a good meal is supposed to do for you?

I hope other restaurants start adding calorie counts to their menus.  It’s sticker shock at first, don’t get me wrong.  But if you are trying to stay on a healthy diet, this is an extra tool that can help you stay on track!

Now go run!


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