By Elizabeth Hoskins, RD

 

Salad. The word sounds deceptively healthy. While a basic salad has mostly nutritious ingredients like tomatoes, onions, romaine lettuce and cucumbers, extras like cheese, deli meats, mayo, sour cream and fat-laden dressings, can push the calorie count to as high as a fast food burger meal. Salad remains a favorite food of low calorie dieters, but some variations are nothing more than a 1000 calorie splurgefest on a bed of lettuce, not to mention add-ons like guacamole and blue-cheese dressing really spike the calorie count. If you’re trying to lose weight, these kinds of salads could really sabotage your efforts.

 

But, if you’re careful, a salad can be a healthy and nutritious mainstay of your diet. Just watch out for these sabotage ingredients listed below, and try the substitutes recommended to build a better salad and enjoy it without the guilt of added calories.  

 

Sabotage Ingredient #1:  Cheese
Limit portion sizes of cheese to one ounce per serving and choose lower fat options. Although Cheddar cheese is often desired for salads, one ounce can have 120 calories. Instead choose lower fat cheeses such as feta or goat cheese or even low fat cottage cheese which contain 50-80 calories per ounce. 

 

Sabotage Ingredient #2:  Processed Proteins
Bacon and Ham are frequent flyers on the salad bar; however, these easily add excess fat and sodium. Instead choose grilled chicken, turkey, seafood, hardboiled eggs, unsalted nuts, or beans which will be lower in calories, sodium, and fat, and leave you feeling more satisfied. 

 

Sabotage Ingredient #3:  Dried Fruits
Dried fruits are much higher in sugar and lower in fiber than fresh fruits. Choose half a cup of fresh berries to add to the salad which will provide more satisfying fiber and less sugar than the dried version of the fruit. 

 

Sabotage Ingredient #4:  Salad Dressing

Dressings are a major culprit of hidden calories in salads. Some of the creamy prepared dressings have over 200 calories per serving. Make your own dressing to keep the calories low. Try this recipe below for a homemade salad dressing everyone will love!


Greek Style Salad Dressing
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
an ounce or two of feta cheese
a clove of garlic
some fresh or dried oregano and freshly ground black pepper.
Puree all ingredients


Fresh Balsamic-Lime Dressing
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil