Paleo-diet approved fast food from Wendy’s and McDonald’s

Currently I’m on a Palaeolithic diet and it’s really hard to find suitable fast food that is free of complex carbs.

But, there are a few places where you can get Paleo fast food 24 hours a day. Two of these are surprisingly McDonald’s restaurants and Wendy’s. Both have been revamping their menu’s to accommodate the changing tide within the palette of Canadians.

So off I went in search of a 24 hr McDonald’s and a drive-thru Wendy’s. I had to see just what all the hype was about. At McDonald’s I ordered the tasty sounding Cashew Teriyaki Salad with Grilled Chicken for $6.99.

Photo Credit: Jake Sheridan

As usual, the picture on the menu item rarely corresponds to the actual thing. I guess that’s marketing for you.

Photo Credit: Jake Sheridan

I must say I was surprised with the result. The salad was small but adequate, comprised of fresh ingredients of red onion rings, red pepper strips, shredded carrots, romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, leaf lettuce, baby lettuces and baby greens topped off with a lightly glazed teriyaki boneless chicken breast cut into easy to eat pieces.

The teriyaki sauce was not overwhelming, but the chicken tasted like they just nuked it in a microwave. It was supposed to be grilled and I saw grill marks, but they must have grilled it some time ago.

Unfortunately roughly over 60% of the salad was comprised of iceberg lettuce (boring), 20% shredded carrots, 10% edamame (steamed soy beans) and the rest was comprised of meagre portions of other salad ingredients. I mean you really had to search for any other type of greens. I must say though, having soy beans mixed in with the salad did give it a bit of flair.

Now to the cashews. Well, where are they? The staff totally forgot to include them in the order. But I wasn’t about to drive all the way back for them once I got home.

In terms of nutritional content, this salad was small enough to be a good snack but not large enough to be a full meal. McDonald’s was very open with the ingredients and a breakdown of the nutritional information is easily accessible online. With one quick web search I had everything broken down for me. In terms of calories, this salad clocked in at only 300 calories (woohoo), with 13 g of fat, 2.5 g of saturated fat,  550 g of sodium, and only 22 carbs comprised of 5 g dietary fibre and 9 carbs of sugar. The exciting part is that it has a whopping 28 g of protein. So, this salad is great for anybody who wants to exercise and needs a post workout meal or even something to nibble on as a pre-workout snack.

Next I drove through the drive-thru at Wendy’s to try their Asian Cashew Chicken Salad.

Photo Credit: Jake Sheridan

I must say for the full-size salad it’s pricier ($8.49) than the McDonald’s version, but spending an extra $1.90 you definitely get a decent sized meal with a lot more greens and vegetables. Oh, and I got a packet of spicy cashews (woohoo).

Photo Credit: Jake Sheridan

Once again, the menu picture of the salad didn’t really correspond to the actual thing.

But no worries, I was already pleased with the size of my salad. It also had something unique, grilled edamame, quite different and more palatable than the steamed one’s McDonald’s had.

Unfortunately the boneless chicken breast was rather rubbery, as if they just unthawed it from a freezer. However, for $8.49 you definitely can’t expect fresh meat from a fast food joint.

The salad definitely delivered when it came to the fresh vegetables. There were lots more finely sliced red peppers and tons of edamame. Overall I would have to say that 60% of the salad was comprised of iceberg lettuce with a few spring greens thrown in, 20% edamame, 10% chopped red pepper and 10% some other type greens.

The cashews were definitely way too spicy for me, so I ate them separate from the salad.

This salad is currently being piloted by Wendy’s in Canada. Soon it will be rolled out in the USA. However, nobody at Wendy’s can give me a concise detailed breakdown of the nutritional content. I mean, I really tried getting access to that info. I called Wendy’s head office and they didn’t have a clue. I checked their website and they didn’t have anything listed for this salad. And, finally I called the local restaurant where I bought the salad, and the manager on duty could only tell me that it is comprised of 380 calories. Hopefully Wendy’s will update their website and inform their staff of the details of this product, as I see it becoming a favourite for people wanting that low-carb high-protein snack attack fix.

Overall, I give McDonald’s Cashew Teriyaki Salad with Grilled Chicken 2 stars out of 5, and Wendy’sAsian Cashew Chicken Salad 3.5 stars out of 5.

Next up we sample the Paleo-friendly menu options at Taco Time. 


Wendy's on Urbanspoon

McDonald's (King George/102) on Urbanspoon

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