Whenever you think about eating something healthy, salad is among the first foods that comes to mind. And that for a reason, as a salad is mostly comprised of raw vegetables, hence low in calories, full of vitamins and antioxidants. All in all a perfectly healthy food.
However, if having a salad for meal is a great thing, there are many ways in which one can ruin it, making a health hazard instead.
So next time you’re standing in front of the salad bar choosing what to add in your plastic bowl try to follow those few simple rules...
Never start with iceberg lettuce
First off, the “base” of your salad should never be iceberg lettuce. Even if iceberg lettuce is green, it has no nutritional value. It’s watery, crunchy but there are no relevant nutrients in it.
Choose instead other greens such as mixed field greens, romaine or, even better, baby spinach. You’ll eventually get something out of those more hearty-healthy options.
Skip the bacon
Crispy and crunchy bacon is tempting but it should never appear on your salad.
And don’t think of it as a source of protein because, truth to be told, bacon id comprised of 70% of fat and just 30% of protein.
And fat is not the only scary part of bacon: the high sodium content if far scarier for that matter.
But that’s not it, when it comes to calories, one slice of bacon has around 65 kcal. So if you’re adding three of slices to your salad you’re getting almost 200 calories. So long for a low calories meal...
Fried meat is a no
It’s always tempting to add fried meat to the salad. Those tasty pieces of meat surrounded by greens, carrots and tomatoes can be that bad??? Well, that’s what you want to think but truth to be told there’s no difference at all between fried chicken served in a bucket and fried chicken serve on some greens: it’s still fried chicken.
If you want to add protein to your salad there are much healthier options such as grilled chicken, turkey breast or hard-boiled eggs.
Fried meats should never be added: they are full of artery clogging fat and grease and they’ll add so many calories that you might as well skip the whole salad thing. Be honest with yourself you want an healthy salad or some greasy fried meat?
Not too much cheese, please!
We love cheese, and we know it goes just so well with the salad. However, one thing is adding a tiny bit of cheese, a completely different thing is when you add too much of it.
Keep in mind that just ¼ cup of shredded American cheese scores over 100 calories.
So you can say yes to cheese as long as it stays in the range of a pinch of it.
Plus choose some real cheese made with only milk with rennet not those plastic ones made with chemical coagulants or colorants.
Avoid the croutons
Now here’s a common mistake: thinking that croutons are just some sort of hard/crunchy bread. They’re in fact made of dried bread, but with a lot of fat added to them (oil, butter or cheese) to make them more palatable and enjoyable.
What they bring to the plate (sorry, salad) is some crunchiness and taste for sure but also lot of carbs and fats (read this a lots of calories) and zero nutrients.
Plus it’s likely that you’re going to eat your salad with a slice of bread and that should be more than enough for your carbs intake.
Choose wisely your dressing
The dressing is probably one of the most important things in your salad. You want some of it but not too much of it.
Healthy fats are necessary so that your body can absorb the nutrients in the vegetables, but too much dressing or the wrong dressing can turn the salad into a calorie bomb.
Let’s start with the absolute no-go: any and all dressings made with cream, mayo, cheese (or equivalents) should be avoided.
Instead use some olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice and salt. A vinegrette made up with such ingredients plus some mustard can also be a good option.
But remember that even when you’re using such ingredients you should only use a small amount of them, or better you should be careful with oil and salt but can use more lemon juice/vinegar if you feel like.
In other words, your salad should be only lightly tossed with dressing, not soak in it.
In a perfect salad you should really be able to taste the veggies and just a hint of the dressing.
Keeping in mind the above tips will save your salad from turning into a health hazard, higher in calories than a burger with a side of fries.
The Iron You