Salads make a great appetizer or meal. Salads can also be the Venus flytrap of healthy eating for those trying to keep it light. This is particularly true when eating out, since it can be hard to know exactly what ingredients are used or how the food is prepared. So, without further unnecessary intro, here are 5 ways to keep salads healthy:
1. Order salad dressing on the side. Dressing can turn your healthy salad into a caloric black hole. Just 2 tablespoons of Caesar Salad dressing, for example, is 150 calories and a whopping 15 grams of fat. And we all know that restaurants never put just two tablespoons of dressing on a salad. Nope, they dress those babies up to the nines. Best way to make sure you’re not at their mercy? Order the salad dressing on the side so you can control the portion.
2. Do the fork dip. If you order the dressing on the side and then plunk the whole gravy boat on your greens, you have accomplished very little. Instead, try dipping your fork tongs into the dressing before each bite of salad. Doing this provides all the flavor of the dressing with each bite while limiting the amount of dressing you’re actually eating.
3. Not all salad dressings are created equally. Some dressings are made with olive and other heart healthy oils, which make them high in good fats (note: #1 and #2 still apply). Vinaigrettes, which come in roughly a million varieties, are a great example. Other dressings are made with mayonnaise and sour cream, think thousand island and ranch, which are fattening but in a bad way. Best to limit these (and definitely adhere to #1 and #2 here).
4. Just because it comes on a salad doesn’t make it healthy. Deep-fried wantons, taco shells, and noodles. Processed deli meats. Fatty cheeses and fried chicken. Just because you got it from your salad (anyone else hearing “got it from your mama” in their head?), don’t make it healthy.
5. Portion control. Other more caloric salad toppings are fine so long as you portion control. Love a little feta or goat cheese? Want a little bacon crunch? Can’t have a salad without some lean meat? Ask the chef to add lightly, or take it upon yourself to remove excess amounts.