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How to Keep Calories Out of Your Salad

May 8th, 2013 Healthy Living

Unsuspecting diners may be topping their salads with a host of foods that add calories and salt that takes them well beyond the recommended daily amount. Want to keep your greens healthy? Here are some ways to get started.

Healthy substitutions
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests a number of substitutions for typical salad toppings. Choices like bacon, fried chicken strips and shrimp can be replaced with leaner proteins such as grilled chicken or tuna.

Forego the salty nuts, noodles and cheese. As tempting as they are, these additions frequently pile on the very things you want to avoid in a healthy salad.

Try new ingredients
Instead of staying with iceberg lettuce, try a mix of greens you haven't tasted. The selection is wide open - spinach, arugula, red and green leafy lettuce, romaine, radicchio and bibb lettuce are just a few examples of the variety of leafy greens out there. A mix of greens lends different flavors to any salad.

When preparing salads at home, create a variety of textures by chopping, slicing and dicing the vegetables. Add fruit for natural sweetness. Spinach, red onion, mandarin oranges and a dash of unsalted, sliced almonds are just a few examples of the flavorful combinations one can make with fruit and vegetables.

Other strategies
Always ask for dressing on the side so the salad doesn't become soaked with calories. Ask for a low-cal dressing, but if it comes in a closed packet, check the calorie count and use it moderately. Packaged portions often contain much more than one serving of salad requires.

In restaurants, ask the server if extra vegetables can be added to a salad rather than toppings that increase the fat content of the dish.