Salad Bar Beware
Ever sit down and eat a 2000 calorie salad? It is easy to do, unless one pays attention closely. It is part of the effort to really improve a diet on a long term basis to add more vegetables to the diet each day. The habit of even having them in the house is an important part of this. When dining out, this effort is equally important. Salad is the obvious choice, when dining out, and in some restaurants are your only real healthy choice (wing house anyone?) Beware, though, the dangers of the salad bar, or even ordering salads off the menu, as they can hold some difficult obstacles to health.
Country salads or chef salads on a menu are often packed with extra carbs, high calorie cheeses and protein choices. A garden salad with added grilled chicken or fish is often a much better choice. Many restaurants will do this even if it is not stated as such on the menu.
Proteins, toppings, and salad dressings are the main health killers on a salad bar, or in ordered salads. Fried chicken, steak, and prepared salads such as tuna salad, pasta salad, or potato salad carry big calorie loads and pack carbs and fat onto the salad plate. Seared tuna or chicken breast is a much better choice, adding no carbs and adding a big protein punch, making the salad more substantial and satisfying.
Toppings such as cheeses can add big caloric loads as well, although it depends on what varieties, as cottage cheese is a much lower fat choice than cheddar, swiss, or blue cheese and adds a nice satisfying protein punch. Fried toppings such as chow mein noodles or tortilla chips also add un-necessary carbs or fats to the salad.
Truth is, adding flavor and crunch to a lackluster salad makes it more appealing. Crunch is best added with some shredded carrot or jicama, or some sunflower seeds or nuts. Flavor is best added with a vinaigrette, and best case there is to dress it with vinegar and oil so it is a known quantity. Salad is a great way to add veggies to the day.
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