Food & Drink

You can save on calories and fat with this mandarin chicken salad

To satisfy demand for lighter, fresher fare, many restaurants toss mandarin chicken salads onto their menus.

But you might get more calories and fat in one of those salads than you expected.

Wendy's mandarin chicken salad with almonds, crispy noodles and Oriental Sesame dressing contains 540 calories and 25 grams of fat.

I wanted a healthier mandarin chicken salad that I could make at home to save money as well as calories. The biggest challenge was creating a tasty dressing that's lower in fat.

To shave calories and fat grams, I substituted light mayonnaise for the real thing and stirred in Splenda instead of sugar. I also used a little less sesame oil and a bit more soy sauce. My alterations to a recipe from Todd Wilbur's “Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2” slashed the calories by 43 percent and the fat by 42 percent.

My mandarin chicken salad has 29 percent fewer calories and 41 percent less fat than Wendy's version, saving 156 calories and about 10 grams of fat.