Is Your Salad Fat?

salad with berriesIs Your Salad Fat?

If you were a contestant on the game show, Family Feud, and were asked to name a common food that is eaten by someone who is on a diet, I bet your first guess would be “salad”.  And, no doubt, you’d be right on the mark.

People everywhere, trying to lose weight, have turned to salads to help ease the calorie hit of mealtime. But somewhere along the line, that low-calorie bowl filled with chopped vegetables was hijacked and smothered in bottled dressing, topped with cheese, and sprinkled with Craisins®, buttery croutons, and candied pecans! A salad dressed up like this is in no way a friend to your waistline—in fact, it could be adding to your weight problems.

For me, flavor is king whenever I am preparing a meal—even when I’m looking for a light fare alternative to a heavy midday meal. So I’d like to share with you a few modifications which will resurrect the “health” of your salad while still packing a flavorful bite.

Let’s begin with the dressing. Vinaigrettes contain fewer calories than creamy versions, and home-made versions are even better since you can use extra virgin olive oil and fresh garlic and herbs for a more satisfying experience. Drizzle, rather than pour…

Next, take care as to what you sprinkle on top of your veggies. Cheese made from whole milk contains significantly more fat and calories than low fat versions of the same.  Also, please note that most dried fruits (Craisins® are most common) are soaked in sugar! Pass on these and instead add some roasted red peppers, sliced olives, or fresh berries for enhanced flavor and visual interest.

Finally, if it is crunch you are after, put down the candied nuts and fat soaked croutons. Reach instead for some sliced almonds, raw cashews, or chopped walnuts. (If I haven’t already established this: I am nuts for nuts!)

Hey, if you’re like me and a salad like this just isn’t enough “meal” for you, then join me in adding a chopped, hard-boiled egg, a handful of canned beans or chickpeas, some sliced chicken, or a piece of flaky fish. It’s sure to satisfy!

To return to previous Monday Morning Health Tips, click here.