A huge bowl of greens can be filling and chock full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. But what you top it with can turn it from diet delight to diet disaster.
Whether you’re at home or facing a tempting all-you-can-eat salad bar at a restaurant, these tips will keep fat and calories in check.
Creamy dressings can have more than 130 calories per serving, nearly all of them fat — and not the healthiest type of fat, either. Ranch, cheese and mayo-based dressings are all culprits. Instead, a drizzle of vinegar and a spray of olive oil will dress your lettuce with few calories.
Protein can turn salad into a meal, but stay away from fatty meats, bacon and fried chicken or shrimp. Try grilled salmon or chicken instead.
Cheese may be the worst of the salad bar mistakes — mounds of shredded cheese add hundreds of calories. If you want some cheesy taste, sprinkle on a tablespoon of grated Parmesan. Even better, add a few chunks of fresh avocado for its healthy fats and creamy feel.
Croutons and crispy noodles add crunch, but little nutrition and lots of calories. A few nuts and seeds can provide the same type of crunch plus great nutrients. But use a spoon, not a ladle, to add them judiciously because they’re relatively high in calories (due to healthful fats). Just make sure they’re not sugar-glazed or overly salty.
Finally, if you’re ordering a salad from a menu, watch out for the vessel it’s served in. A bread or taco bowl, for instance, is just like eating extra servings of carbs and fat. Enjoy the contents, but not the shell.
Consumer Reports has a great guide for new ways to eat leafy greens.
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