I was having a conversation with an old work friend yesterday. Both of us used to be fast food addicts. There was a McDonalds underneath our workplace and we'd eat lunch there everyday.
"I can't eat that crap now," he told me. "It makes me feel like crap."
I beg to differ. Both my friend and I try to eat super healthy nowadays, which would usually preclude gorging out at McDonalds, but there is one thing on the menu that I always come back to. Something that's cheap, nutritious and — particularly if you're trying to lose weight — one of the cleanest meals you could eat.
I'm talking about the humble chicken salad.
There are a few different chicken salads at McDonalds so I'll be more specific.
I'm talking about this: the grilled warm chicken salad. There are other salads — there's a breadcrumbed chicken effort, and one with dried noodles or something. These are pointless variants. The warm chicken salad is king.
On its website McDonald's describes the warm chicken salad as 'surprisingly delicious', which is what you might expect to read on a website focusing on guilty pleasures. The salad is — in its own way — surprisingly delicious, but what makes it so interesting is how nutritious it is and how low calorie it is.
It's sort of ridiculous.
At 744 kilojoules, the warm chicken salad packs in 25 grams of protein. It's relatively low in sugar and is low carb. Add balsamic dressing to the mix and you get a satifying salad that is tasty, nutritious and helpful if your goal is to lose body fat or just weight in general.
How does it do it? Well it's mostly a combination of lean chicken breast and the lowest calorie vegetables you can imagine. Both carrot and cucumber are low calories vegetables — the kind you'd want to put in your own salad if you wanted to keep it light. Those veggies alongside iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and red onion, make up the salad. It's super simple, super lean and if you're travelling on a diet it's really the perfect choice. I can't think of another option in a fast food restaurant that can compete if you're trying to eat healthily.
So yeah, eating at McDonalds usually entails sloppy burgers, dry-as-hell buns and a final product that looks nothing like the picture. But I for one am always glad of the option. No matter where I am in the world, if I need to eat lunch, and I need to eat something lean and clean it's good to know that the McDonald's warm chicken salad is out there.