While salads are considered to be one of the healthiest foods by most dieters, full of fiber and nutrients, sometimes this low calorie alternative can actually be a high calorie indulgence! Choose the wrong dressings or toppings, and even a basic salad that is filled with fresh veggies and nuts can become full of unwanted calories.
The most popular salads you see people ordering at restaurants are Russian Salad, Caesar Salad, Cobb Salad and Oriental Chicken Salad. But did you know that some of these have as much as 1,000 calories per bowl!
Just Because Your Bowl is Green, Is it Always Lean?
The answer – NO. Many salads are actually very high in calories. And most people think that the culprits are the salad dressings they choose. That’s true to some extent; but then these days you have salad with fried meats, white bread croutons, pizza flavours and toppings and tons of nuts and seeds.
The foundation to a healthy salad is picking the right Greens. These are low in calories, chock full of vitamins and minerals and healthy dietary fiber. A simple rule – The darker the leaves, the more vitamins and minerals they have.
Watch your portion sizes with your proteins and your legumes. Legumes, while full of fiber, are also caloric. Stick with lean proteins (chicken, ham, turkey, or fish) and try to get them as close to their natural state as possible for the greatest nutritional value. For instance: a half cup of grilled chicken has only 61 calories while a half cup of fried chicken has a shocking 194 calories.
Consider your dairy items, nuts, seeds, and other salad toppers very carefully. Aim for low fat cheese and always shred it so that you’re getting a greater volume out of a single portion instead of having it in chunks. Don’t get too carried away with nuts and seeds. While adding protein and healthy fats to your salad, a little goes a long way.
So if you are looking for some tips to make a low calorie salad entree to impress your friends and family that are all trying to cut back on unwanted calories, keep these simple yet effective tips in mind.
The Right Toppings For a Healthy Salad
Salad can be a great appetizer or a complete meal by itself. However, the ingredients you choose for your low calorie salad entree will decide how nutritious and healthy it really is. Make sure that you avoid any high calorie options and add a lot of greens to make your salad more filling. Here are some tips you can use:
– Substitute any high calorie meats your original salad recipe requires with low calorie alternatives. For example, bacon can be replaced with shredded chicken without skin, sausages can be replaced with sliced smoked chicken breast and any fried meats can be replaced with grilled meats. Not only do these changes reduce the caloric configuration of your entree, these also add a wholesome, great taste.
– Make sure that any meats you choose are lean cuts; carefully trim away any fat or skin, cut up the meat in to small bite sized pieces and then roast/grill/poach or broil to retain flavor without having to resort to using oils to cook the meat and adding more calories in the process.
– Add lots of greens to your salad. Salad leaves come in a delightfully extensive variety and you can add a bit of different leaves for the perfect crunch and also create contrasting flavors that blend perfectly with the smokiness of the meats.
– Go big on veggies; after all it’s a salad! If your original recipe demands croutons for crunch, replace that by adding some crunching bits of chopped carrots or cucumbers that make your low calorie salad entree as nutritious as possible. For more flavor and variety, you can even barbeque veggies like corn, mushrooms and peppers in a low fat marinade for some perfect crunch.
The Right Dressings For Your Salad
When it comes to salads, most of the calories come from the dressing itself, especially because all of the popular dressings like Ranch dressing, Caesar salad dressing and Thousand Island dressings are BIG on calories. For a low calorie salad entree, you need to be a little more careful with the dressings you choose, so that you don’t add any unwanted calories to the entree, while also ensuring that these combine perfectly with the toppings for a great taste.
– Avoid any cream or mayonnaise based dressings. The best dressing for low calorie salad entree is a simple vinaigrette dressing. To experiment, try different kinds of vinegars like balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar and cider vinegar.
– If you do need a creamy dressing, opt for low fat versions. Be creative and use low fat cream cheese or low fat yogurt to come up with unique dressings of your own.
– For seasoning, it is best to use a deliberate helping of olive oil and bring in more flavors using herbs like parsley, basil and peppermint.
Salads are a great way to eat the daily recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, but some salads can have more calories than a fast food big burger. Also, most salads served in restaurants are very high in calories as well as sodium, both of which are disastrous for your diet. Creating a salad at home can be a great way to control calories and sodium.
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