Rich, creamy salad dressings, piles of cheese, bacon, nuts and seeds are all delicious, but they add calories and fat to an otherwise healthy salad. And restaurant salads? They offer some of the worst offenders. Some of them have more than 1,000 calories!
For example, Panera’s Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Salad packs a whopping 770 calories, 47 grams of fat and 1,200 milligrams of sodium. Instead, try their Strawberry Poppyseed and Chicken Salad. It’s full of antioxidants and the protein in the chicken will keep you feeling satisfied – all for 280 calories and 8 grams of fat. Check out this Cooking Light article for more restaurant salad comparisons.
If you’re building your own salad either at home or at a restaurant salad bar, keep these tips from the American Cancer Society’s Healthy Living (PDF) in mind:
- Choose a variety of fresh, colorful vegetables at their peak flavor, like dark green spinach leaves, red bell peppers, orange carrots, and red onions.
- Skip fatty toppings like cheese, bacon, nuts, and seeds. If you must indulge, use only a little bit and choose those with greater nutrition value. For example, sliced almonds are a healthier option than bacon.
- Use less salad dressing. In restaurants, ask for the dressing on the side.
- Experiment with parsley, garlic, basil, chives, and other herbs; sprinkle them on your salad for a flavor boost.
- At the salad bar, pass on the high-calorie and high-fat add-ons like coleslaw, potato salad, and creamy fruit salad.
- Add variety to your salad with high-fiber, lower calorie items like beans, raw vegetables, and fresh fruit.
- Add protein to your salad for energy and to keep you feeling fuller longer. Try chickpeas or kidney beans, boiled eggs, or lean meats such as grilled chicken or tuna.
Struggling to enjoy your salad (or get your kids to eat it)? Try these healthy appetizer and side dish options from the American Cancer Society.