Lunch Break: The Healthiest and Worst Summer Salads at Chop’t, Sweetgreen, Cosi, and Panera

They’re filled with seasonal ingredients, but which ones pack hidden calorie bombs?

Panera Bread's seasonal salad is a winner, thanks to its vitamin-heavy berries, greens, and protein-rich chicken. Photograph via Panera Bread's Facebook page.

Summer is a great time for the health-conscious crowd, thanks to the abundance of seasonal fruits and vegetables such as berries, peaches, and countless greens. At local lunch spots, you can find summer salads stocked with those refreshing ingredients. But while they may be tasty, some salads contain hidden calorie bombs. We did some sleuthing to find out the nutritional data of four seasonal salads at popular lunch spots. Read on to find out the worst, better, and best options to order this summer.

Worst: Cortez Cobb at Chop’t
Without dressing, this adobo chicken salad is already 610 calories—tack on another 130 when you opt for the Tapatio ranch dressing. There’s also 34 grams of fat and a whopping 500 milligrams of sodium. You’re better off with the chain’s other seasonal salad, the vegetarian Melrose. And remember, the optional tortilla bread adds another 300 calories to your meal. 

Better: Smart Fit Salad at Cosi
Cosi’s summer salad is loaded with nutrients, thanks to its wealth of sweet potatoes, kale, avocado, carrots, red pepper, corn, and black beans. At 402 calories and 11 grams of both protein and fiber, you’ll stay full for a few hours. Just be wary of how much honey chipotle dressing you pour on.

Even better: July Seasonal Salad at Sweetgreen
At just 395 calories, Sweetgreen’s peach salad is light, refreshing, and a top contender. Along with the fiber-rich peaches, the salad contains organic mesclun, spinach, basil, and toasted almonds. The goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette add to the salad’s 31 grams of fat, but you can always ask for the dressing on the side to save some calories.

Best: Strawberry Poppyseed and Chicken Salad at Panera
Panera’s summer salad is a winner, thanks to its strawberries, berries, and pineapple. The all-natural, antibiotic-free citrus-and-pepper chicken gives you a hearty 29 grams of protein, while the fruit tacks on plenty of vitamin A and C. The best part? The whole thing is only 350 calories.