Dieters everywhere immediately think of the salad when they think of eating healthy.
Whether you love or dread the idea of it, there’s one thing I can tell you for sure; just because something is called a salad, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. In fact, most salads are the worst choice you can make. Caesar Salad, Taco Salad, Macaroni Salad, Buffalo Chicken Salad, Greek Salad, Cobb Salad, Potato Salad, Egg Salad, Chopped Salad…the list goes on and on; here’s some straight talk.
Most of these “salads” have more calories, fat, sodium, and sugar than a Double Whopper with Cheese, French Fries and a Small Soda.
True story, my husband loves a Napa Salad at a local restaurant…but we looked up the nutrition facts and HOLY MOLY there is more fat and sugar in this one salad than he eats in an entire day…
Don’t believe me? Here’s the dets...
Napa Chicken Salad
Just think of a female with goals eating that...it contains double the fat grams for a whole day for most women.
Now, I’m not advocating that you speed over to the drive-through and order yourself a Double Decker with a side of Churros... that’s not at all my point. But, it is important to be aware of what exactly is in your food and adjust your thinking about salads.
Salads can be beyond fabulous. I totally want you to check out the list of the best and the worst salads and make your best choices after you know the facts. You can always do better when you know better :)
Best Salad Toppings and Ingredients
Veggies: Think outside the proverbial salad box. Lettuce, cucumber, carrots and celery are great, but there are so many other veggies to try! Beets, kale, collard greens, jicama, artichoke hearts, asparagus, radishes, peas, avocado, bok choy, and green beans - all of these are stellar veggies that pack a lot of nutrients and flavor!
Fruit: Fruit is often a forgotten addition to a “green salad.” Try adding blueberries, peaches, strawberries, pears, grapes, apples, or citrus for a powerful antioxidant boost.
Nuts: Love unsalted nuts, but you should be mindful of the quantity as nuts are high in calories and fat, so go light. Add pecans, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, brazil or macadamia nuts for a little extra heart healthy fat. A little goes a long way especially if you chop them up or personally I like to add shaved almonds and just sprinkle a small amount on top. If getting them at a restaurant, ask for the nuts on the side!
Seeds: Seeds are a quick and easy way to add nutrients. Toasted sesame seeds, poppy, flax, hemp and chia are perfect ingredients for adding both nutrients and flavor. Again, seeds pack quite a few calories and fat so be sure to portion them out according to your goals.
Beans: Black, white or red, beans can provide a touch of extra protein and fiber. Tip: if you’re using canned beans, make sure you rinse your beans well to remove excess sodium.
Dressing: I’m a fan of using light balsamic vinegars, or whisking extra virgin olive oil with lemon or lime and fresh herbs. If you need a quick option, Bolthouse Farms, Simply Dressed,Annie’s Organics, or Walden Farms are all great brands to look into.
Creamy dressings: You can replace your traditional mayo based dressings by using Avocado or Unsweetened Coconut Milk / 0% Greek Yogurt. Looking for a vegan mayo alternative without all the chemical junk? Check outSpectrum Organics Avocado Oil Vegan Mayonnaise.
Worst Salad Toppings and Ingredients
Mayo: Stay away from traditional mayo. The “Real Mayonnaise” is full of calories, sugar, salt, inflammatory fats, and ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid and edetic acid (EDTA).
Croutons: Just a couple of tablespoons will cost you a good run on the treadmill. Croutons are generally filled with sugar, salt and other questionable ingredients.
Bacon Bits: Bacon bits are often not even really bacon. They are a bacon-like-product filled with artificial junk, chemicals and of course sugar. If you really want the bacon, we recommend using organic bacon without added sugar.
Cheese: Another food that can add ton of calories and fat in small doses. We recommend avoiding artificial cheese-like-products. If you really need it, opt for fresh cheese or goat cheese (a great option if you are avoiding dairy).
Sugar Coated Dried Fruit: While dried fruit that is just that (dried fruit) and can be fabulous it has a ton of sugar so certainly avoid the ones that are coated with extra sugar.
Candied Nuts: Again, while raw nuts and seeds are a great way to add those healthy fats, the ones covered in candy don’t cut it! Stay far away from anything candied…
Salad Dressing: If it’s a full calorie and fat version of the dressing, it can pack on hundreds of added calories. If it’s a low calorie, low carb, or low fat alternative, it’s generally filled with artificial ingredients, sugar, fake sugar, and chemicals. Always be aware of what you are eating, and read the list of ingredients found on the label.
Eat real food, feel real good!
Bottom line, eat the good stuff that comes from the earth. Skip the artificial ingredients, including low fat/fat free products that is created in test tubes. AND don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions at restaurants!
5 simple ways to save tons of calories when ordering a salad at the restaurant:
As always, you can do better because you know better :)