Most people believe that having a salad is a healthy food choice. But, what are they putting in their salads? Is it a salad made of Iceberg lettuce with candied nuts, tons of whole milk cheese, croutons, fatty meats and tons of commercial dressing? Or is the salad mostly fresh vegetables, across a bed of dark greens, with a lean animal protein, and an olive oil-based dressing, which is used in moderation?
Calorically, the examples above can be very different, too.
Here are some tips to make a healthy salad:
a) Avoid adding whole milk cheeses, high fat meats (like ham or bacon) and most commercial salad dressings. This are high in saturated fats, high in sodium and may contain chemicals and hormones that we may not be aware of. Choose leaner versions of these foods like, cheese that is partially skimmed, chicken breast or shrimp, and / or dressing made from herbs, juices, vinegars and a little olive oil.
b) Use a mix of darker greens, as there is more nutritional value in them than in Iceberg lettuce. Examples include; spinach, kale, and spring mix.
c) If you are adding fruit to the salad, add fresh, not dried. Fresh is higher in volume and water. Dried may have added sugar.
d) If you are adding nuts or seeds, do so, in moderation. Choose the unsalted version.
e) If you are adding a starch or grain, bread and croutons can be replaced with different kinds of beans, peas or quinoa.