You know that person. The, "I'm just going to have a salad," person. Now, some of you who know me are probably like...yeah Megs, that is you...BUT I am a salad eater in the know. That sounded really braggish, that is not what I meant. I just know that unfortunately, there are some BIG salad misconceptions in this day and age.
I have a guy friend who loves to tell me all his "healthy habits" when we go out to eat, (this is a common occurrence when people find out what I do). They seek, "health approval." To be honest with you, I actually love to hear it. I am fascinated by the things that people do to stay healthy, and sometimes I get to laugh a little inside at some of the things people do that are purely ridiculous. I usually try to dispel myths in the nicest way possible, after all I'm here to help, BUT you know the type that don't want to hear it.
Anyways...my salad friend...he usually starts with greens, (perfect choice), get's a plethora of veggies and fruit, (you go boy), some kidney beans, eggs, and ham, (starting to creep up those calories...), and then it's all down hill from here...macaroni/mayo coated salad, hoards of cheese, about an inch of full-fat ranch dressing covering the entire plate, topped off with sunflower seeds, bacon bits, and croutons.
Let's do some math shall we?
Lettuce 2 cups = 20 calories
6 cherry tomatoes = 10 calories
1/4 cup green peppers = 5 calories
1/4 cup peas = 30 calories
1/4 cup cucumbers = 10 calories
1/4 cup pineapple = 30 calories
1/4 cup kidney beans = 55 calories
1 boiled egg = 70 calories
1/2 cup macaroni salad = 180 calories
1/4 cup cheddar cheese = 110 calories
1/4 cup ranch dressing = 300 calories
1/4 cup croutons = 47 calories
1/8 cup sunflower seeds = 100 calories
1/8 cup bacon bits = 60 calories
Grand total? 1,037 calories...hmmm....should have gone with a personal pan pizza. A personal sized cheese pizza has 600 calories...still not the best option, but better than that "healthy salad" you're eating.
Some other shockers...
California Pizza Kitchen's Thai Crunch Salad with Avocado = 2,238 calories
T.G.I. Friday's Santa Fe Chicken Salad = 1,800 calories
IHOP Chicken, Spinach and Apple Salad = 1,600 calories
Cheesecake Factory Chicken Caesar Salad = 1,510
Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad = 1,430
Einstein Bros. Bistro Salad with Chicken = 940 calories
Panera Tomato & Mozzarella Salad (w/fat free dressing) = 920 calories
Quiznos Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard = 1,070 calories
I could go on, but I think you get it.
How to de-calorize your salad.
- Load up on the greens. Go for The leafy greens vs. the ice berg lettuce. They are low calorie and they are GOOD for you.
- Other "low-cal" veggies: beets, peppers, red cabbage, carrots tomatoes, cucumbers, sprouts, onions, peas, mushrooms. You can eat TONS of these for low calorie counts.
- Fruit can be a good option as well. It can be higher in calories, but is still a good choice: Try pineapple, apples, mandarin orange sections, grapes, berries. etc.
- Pick one good source of protein:
Chicken, cottage cheese, eggs, tuna, lean ham, beans, edamame.
(Although you might think it smart to load up on the protein, you are more so just loading up on the calories. Stick with one, and watch your portions.)
- Try to limit yourself with the high calorie add ons...
Nuts, croutons, pasta, pepperoni, fried noodles, any sort of pre-made creamy salad.
- If possible...avoid cheese. It's a waste of your calories, and it's too easy to go overboard.
- Be salad dressing smart! Try to go for fat-free, low-fat versions of salad dressings if possible. It's ALWAYS a better option to get it on the side. I repeat, ALWAYS, get your dressing ont he side. That way you can just dip your fork in and use the dressing at your discretion. If you pour it all over the salad, you'll be eating all of it. That is just the way it is. If you just can't live without your full fat dressing for SURE put it on the side, and try mixing half regular dressing with half low fat. You probably won't even be able to tell the difference!
A healthy salad can be a great meal, and a great way to get in some solid fruit and veggie servings. Just be an "aware" salad eater!