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McDonald's new kale salad has more calories than a Big Mac

Justina Huddleston is an editor and the head writer for TDmonthly Magazine. She has been a freelance writer for several years, though her real passion is cooking. You can see the recipes she creates on her vegan food blog, A Life of Litt...

Just because it's a salad doesn't mean it's good for you

In its quest to bring the people what they want — namely, a kale salad that doesn't taste like yard clippings — McDonald's has gone above and beyond.

Above and beyond the calorie count of its Big Mac, that is. The Keep Calm, Caesar On salad has 520 calories before you even use salad dressing, which is nearly the same calorie count as the Big Mac (563). Plus it has 31 grams of fat and 1,140 milligrams of sodium.

Once you add salad dressing (and let's be honest — who eats salad without dressing?), it's even more caloric. The Pure Kraft Asiago Caesar Dressing has 210 calories and 22 grams of fat, and the "Calorie-Wise" version still has 150 calories, 14 grams of fat and actually contains 120 milligrams more of sodium than the original dressing has.

More: 25 Reasons kale is still our favorite vegetable

What on Earth goes into this salad?

A look at the ingredient list tells us all we need to know. There's not a lot of that nutrient-rich kale in its mix of greens: It includes bacon and Parmesan, both of which are high in fat, calories and sodium; it includes crispy chicken (itself made of 18 ingredients); and there are croutons on top of everything else.

McDonald's isn't the only company that calories up its supposedly healthy menu items like this. But it serves as a good reminder to always look beyond the health halo of foods like salad and examine the nutritional information before you make a choice.

And you should know, it's actually really easy to make a lighter, more nutrient-dense kale salad that tastes indulgent too. The key is cutting the kale into small pieces so that it's easy to eat and massaging it with extra-virgin olive oil to help make it more tender.

More: Kale Caesar salad

Super-simplified Tuscan kale salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch Lacinato kale
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

Directions:

  • Slice the kale into very thin ribbons.
  • Drizzle with EVOO, and massage gently through the greens — yes, with your bare hands. That's the fun part!
  • Toss with as much grated Parm as you want.

Feeling fancy or in the mood for something a bit sweeter? You can go one step further and make this kale and orange salad or this major alternative, kale Caesar salad with roasted chickpeas.

Either way, there's really no reason you should have to rely on fast food for your daily vegetable intake.

More: 20 Creative kale salads

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