I love gourmet salads, especially in the summer. Cool crisp greens and fresh veggies can make such a refreshing and filling meal on a hot day.
In addition, salads can be very healthy. It seems like salads and diets often go hand in hand. Ironically, although salads can be healthy, a salad can easily have more calories than a traditional hot meal. Unfortunately, added ingredients and your choice of dressing can make or break a diet in a heartbeat.
Recently I took the time to investigate calories in common salad dressings. I was shocked at what I discovered. Store-bought dressings list a serving size as two tablespoons, which can be deceiving because 4 ounces of dressing is a typical serving for a dinner salad. As I began to do the math, I quickly realized how the calories can get out of control fast.
Light dressings begin at 240 calories for most entrée salads where regular dressing, like Blue Cheese dressing, could make up for over 600 calories for the dressing alone. This is quite disturbing since I found many dinner salads that exceeded 800 calories for the salad, not including dressing. Since this information isn't on most menus, we think we are making healthy choices. Meanwhile, that one salad could exceed our caloric allowance for the entire day.
Here are a few tips to make salads healthy choice:
Count calories. The ideal salad entrée for someone dieting should be between 300 - 500 calories.
Make more healthy salads at home and eat out less.
Always use light dressings, avoiding creamy dressings like Ranch, Blue Cheese and Caesar.
Dip your fork in the dressing instead of pouring it on your salad to reduce the amount used.
Avoid, or limit, high-calorie/high-fat items like bacon bits, croutons and cheese.
Include small portions of high quality fats like avocados, olive oil and nuts to help you feel full.
Chop ingredients into small pieces so you have more flavor in each bite.
Copy ingredients used in dinner salads served at your favorite restaurants to help you create your own healthy recipes.
Avoid fat-free dressing, since they often have more calories than "light" or "low-fat" dressings.
Avoid fried meats and bread often served on or with salads. Ask your waiter to leave off the bread to avoid the temptation.
Use less dressing by diluting thick dressings to help distribute the dressing evenly.
Thicken vinaigrette dressings with a little low-free mayonnaise (using a blender) to thicken the consistency.
Use a recycled butter spray container or vinegar bottle with a reducer to help manage the dressing.
Get nutritional information online before you dine out to give you the knowledge you need to help you make healthier choices.
Just because it looks healthy, it doesn't necessarily mean it is healthy. Always remember looks can be deceiving.
Bonnie's Famous Salad (famous to friends and family that is!) (770 total calories)
3 cups mixed greens
1 cup onion, sliced
1 pear, sliced into thin strips
1 avocado, sliced
8 ounces of Turkey, (grilled Teriyaki marinated tenderloin, 44gms. protein)
2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts
Bonnie's Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing (800 total calories, 100 calories for 2oz., 25 calories for 2 Tbsp.)
1 cup Roland Balsamic Vinegar of Modena (Three leaves)
¼ cup water
¼ cup oil
3 teaspoons Splenda
1 packet of Italian dressing
Combine all ingredients except for the walnuts. Lightly drizzle or spray dressing on salad. Sprinkle chopped walnuts on top before serving.
About Bonnie Lee Pfiester
Health Club Owner, Wife to TV Fitness Trainer and Host, Health & Beauty Columnist, Keynote Speaker, Model, Musician, Artist, Automotive/Motorcycle Enthusiast and Community Leader.