Wendy's? What's Wendy's doing on my healthy food blog? Yes, I had the same reaction when Wendy's invited me to one of their restaurants to see what was new and different. I was hesitant, but they did mention the word salad and man, I can't tell you how many road trips or running around all day on a Tuesday trips I've done where I thought, can't there be anything fast and healthy I can grab while en route? So I accepted Wendy's offer and went to investigate.
As soon as I walked into the large Wendy’s in Torrance, I was a bit stunned. There were leather chairs, free wifi, overstuffed seats and a fireplace. Fireplace? This was looking like quite the place to hang and get some work done, but would I be able to eat anything in this pretty environment?
I got to cross the iron curtain, or rather, the spotless silver counter, to see what goes on behind-the-scenes. Washed and gloved up, I was taken through a day in the life of one of Wendy's salads. Actually, it starts a little further back in the field and you can click on this video to see Wendy's "Romaine Lettuce Journey" where it all truly begins. Wendy's gets first pick on its produce, meaning they don't take any leftovers on the second or third pass. They only get the best of the best the first time through.
Ok, so we got some good lettuce that is delivered several times a week, fresh, and then Wendys' on site crew does the actual cutting and prepping every single day. In fact, they prep the salads two to three times every day for each meal service. This is very different than other folks who get their green, or rather greenish white lettuce strands, pre-shredded in large bags and then they "assemble" the salads versus hand chop from real lettuce heads and whole vegetables. Wendy's also uses romaine with iceberg, as well as 11 other kinds of greens in some salads, so there's a really nice mix for the toppings to come.
There's some nice looking veggies in these salads too. The Asian Cashew Chicken Salad has fire roasted edamame, cucumbers, fresh red peppers (chopped in this super cool device that I must have), spicy cashews and grilled chicken that is placed on top just after ordering. This one also has the blend of 11 different kind of greens. The full salad has a whopping 36 grams of protein in it and only 380 calories, and let me tell you that the full salad is indeed full and a hearty enough meal for me.
There's a BBQ ranch chicken salad, spicy chicken caesar, but my other favorite was the apple pecan chicken salad. These apples are hand-picked, green and red, from apple-nirvana in Michigan and Oregon. Dried cranberries are tossed about, by me in this case, since I got to make my own salad. There's an option for blue cheese crumbles, but I passed on that, which others can do as well. You can custom create your salad for whatever allergies or preferences you have. The nuts are packaged separately too so there's no interaction with the food and you can pass on those as well, but if you don't have an allergy, the nuts are super tasty and you're going to have a hard time not eating them straight out of the bag.
Wendy's works with Marzetti and has developed their own line of dressings, exclusive to them. There's no boring Italian or Thousand Island dressing here. My Apple Pecan Salad came with the Marzetti® Simply Dressed® Pomegranate Vinaigrette and the Asian Cashew Chicken Salad was paired with Marzetti® Simply Dressed® Light Spicy Asian Chili Vinaigrette. You can also play the mix and match game swapping out different dressings with different salads.
I have to say that Wendy’s has changed my tune on the quick service restaurant scene. Long gone are the days of the salad as an afterthought of flavorless iceberg and 2 carrot strands. With the fresh ingredients they're using and preparing daily, I'm happy to know that I now have a healthy, inexpensive, convenient pit stop for grabbing something fresh on the go, or even stopping in to make it a working lunch with the free wifi and comfy chairs.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.