Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chop't! You have been chopped!

Once I got into my late 20's I noticed that I couldn't eat whatever the hell I wanted. I had to actually be careful. This type of b.s. is what has led me to recently count my calories. Now that I've downloaded the Lose-it app , I've most recently become calorie obsessed. I'm sure my friends are starting to get annoyed at how I point out how many calories their lunch has in it all the time - I think I'm even beginning annoy myself. I recently turned a friend away from eating bagels - the wise choice obviously as one bagel can have about 600 calories in it - but did I make her life better? Questionable.

In my early calorie counting days I'd hover over to a salad shop to get a salad for lunch - assuming that the definition of salad itself meant "low calorie." I was wrong. These days a salad can come with fried chicken in it (no joke!). When I realized upon request you can get calorie menus from most chain establishments around DC, I happened to ask Chop't for their calorie menu and was astonished. How can a salad be almost 700 calories! That is more than half my intake for the day! I'd been operating like a fool for at least 6 months under the false assumption that a salad was a salad.

For my body size and height, my limit is 1350 calories a day if I wish to lose1-2 pounds a week. Therefore, I need to stay in the 400 calorie mark or under. Living in Washington DC, Chop't and Sweetgreen dominate the salad market. Both venues can provide you with calorie menus upon request. However, only Sweetgreen will serve you fresh produce from the weekly farmers market - making your salad all the more nutritious (the less time between the farm and you, the more nutrients it holds).

Chop't feels like a corporate nightmare - the lines are way too long, its loud, chaotic, and you can predictably find bacon in your vegetarian salad because they are so sloppy at the counters. To make it even worse, their salads are gigantic! Just because it's a salad doesn't mean I need twice the normal sized portion that a monster might consume. I mean, look at that thing! Totally unnecessary. So typically American in its over-sized portions. You can't even request a half salad, its a full salad at the full salad price or nothing! Plus, their signature salads are just signature boring. Even their ingredients are simple stock salad ingredients, not much exciting here. Tomatoes, cheese, beans, etc. Booooooo-ring.

Sweetgreen surpasses Chop't any day. It has a more local feel - fitting since they serve local ingredient options like sprouts, apples, and cheeses. It does not offer the oh-so-tempting fried chicken as a topping for your salad, but to make up for it they have the tastiest signature salads to offer. The Santorini is my favorite, sans the grapes (who puts red grapes in their salad?! weird!). Shrimp, feta cheese, mint and a fresh lemon squeeze - just the right thing for summer and less than 500 calories. All of their signature salads are delicious, complex and well thought out concoctions. Making your own? Stick to the fresh ingredients from the market and you're sure to make the healthy, right choice that is uber delicious. I never feel like I have to eat a salad here, it's more like I get to eat one.

To put it over the finish line - I recently found out that Sweetgreen sells Klean Kanteen - made in my very own home town of Chico, California. Woot! Great company, great product. This makes Sweetgreen even cooler in my book.