How healthy is your salad?

Salads have become a popular lunch meal choice among the health conscious. Without a doubt, a properly designed salad can enhance the nutritional value and healthfulness of your diet. However, if your typical salad often consists of pale lettuce drowned in dressing, read on, because a salad like that is not helping you stick with your healthy intentions.

andrea hill

Andrea Hill

To create a nutritious salad that won’t break the calorie bank consider some of these suggestions. The following four tips will help turn your not so super salad into a super salad bowl.

Choose dark leafy greens and assorted colorful vegetables: Salads brimming with red tomatoes, orange carrots, purple beets, green broccoli, tri-color sweet peppers and dark leafy greens (like Romaine lettuce and baby spinach) nutritionally surpass those salads made with pale iceberg lettuce. Deep colorful vegetables are also packed with antioxidant nutrients and phytochemicals that protect your health.

Incidentally this class of vegetables also includes white colored vegetables like cauliflower and white onion; crunchy, tasty, and so nutritious!

Include adequate protein: Does your lunch salad keep you feeling satisfied for hours afterward? It should. If you don’t always include a lean protein source with your salad meal you may have noticed that your body doesn’t always stay well fueled into the afternoon. Create a balanced salad meal by including chick peas, kidney beans, black beans, lentils, diced turkey or ham cubes, hard-boiled egg, low-fat cottage cheese, flaked tuna (watch that mayo!), diced tofu, grilled chicken breast or salmon.

Include wholesome carbohydrates: Boost energy levels by topping your salad with wholesome carbohydrates, including green peas, corn, whole-grain pasta and beans (beans supply both protein and carbohydrate). If circling the salad bar in the supermarkets, watch potato and pasta salads drenched in mayonnaise or swimming in oil. These are high in calories and will put your salad in the unhealthy category, especially if you end up saturating your salad with even more salad dressing. If you do choose these salads keep the portion small and avoid adding extra salad dressing.

Watch that dressing: A large salad can easily accommodate six tablespoons of dressing; an extra 60 to 650 calories that still count, whether or not it is fat free! Always keep the dressing on the side as this will allow you to control the amount you consume. A tried and true method is to ‘dip and spear’: dip your fork into the dressing to coat your fork, and then simply spear your salad.

So there you have it! A healthful, high-energy salad that is both balanced and low in fat.

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