Want to keep your salad healthy? Avoid these ingredients which can add tons of extra calories to your otherwise healthy meal.
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Add the wrong toppings to a salad and you can double or even triple the calorie count! The salad bar can be a tough thing to navigate — use these tips for what to avoid on your next lunch break for a healthy, low-calorie meal.
These are probably the worst dressings you can
choose. Take ranch dressing, for
example, one serving of two tablespoons has 140 calories — and 130 of those
calories are coming from FAT. Other dressings like blue cheese, Caesar, parmesan, or chipotle all fall under this category of dressings to avoid. Not
only are they loaded with fat, but they also have high levels of sodium and
very little nutritional value.
Alternative: Stick to vinaigrettes — though even some of these
can be high in sodium levels, too. I prefer to use just a small amount of extra-virgin
olive oil with balsamic vinaigrette. If you don't want to give up your beloved
ranch dressing, just drizzle a small amount over your salad or have a taste of
it to suppress your craving. You could also use this old dieting trick: Dip the
tip of your fork into the dressing before you put it in the salad to get just
enough taste with each bite without drowning it in dressing.
Nuts are healthy fats and a great addition to any
salad — that is, until they're kettle-cooked and glazed with sugar. A lot of
companies sell glazed walnuts and pecans, and you can find them sprinkled on an
array of salads at restaurants across the country. Are they the worst topping
on this list? No, but they're not that great for you either.
Alternative: Stick to dry-roasted nuts to save on calories. I
like to add sliced organic almonds to my salads, but chopped organic pistachios,
pecans, and walnuts are a good addition too. Remember: Add nuts as a light
topping — don't overdo it. An ounce or
two can pack in a lot of fat depending on the nut you choose.
Crunchy Tortilla Chips or Shells
Wherever Mexican food is sold, people always
order something like a "Southwestern Salad" thinking that they're making the
healthier choice by not ordering tacos or other Mexican dishes. They couldn't
be more wrong! These salads are loaded with cheese, creamy dressings, and high-calorie
tortilla chips — or worse — served in a tortilla bowl! The Quesadilla Explosion
Salad at Chili's (which already sounds like a diet buster!) contains tortilla
chips and clocks in at 1,360 calories with 88 grams of fat. Whoa! I want you to
stay far away from these kinds of salads, and especially tortilla chips or
shells, from now on.
Alternative: You can still order a Mexican-inspired salad, just
make some modifications. Request balsamic dressing on the side instead of ranch
and hold the tortilla chips and cheese, but keep the rest of the healthy
goodies like black beans, corn, and tomatoes.
Fried Chicken or Shrimp
I encourage you to always add some sort of
protein item to your salad, but steer clear of anything fried. These additions
are packed with unnecessary calories and loads of sodium. It's not just fried
chicken I'm referring to here — this covers fried onions, fried falafel balls,
fried seafood, and anything else fried. They will turn your healthy salad into
a total caloric splurge. Wouldn't you rather save your calories for dessert?
Alternative: If you're going to add some protein to your salad,
choose grilled items only. Consider healthier protein options like shrimp, tuna, egg whites, or a veggie burger.
First let me clarify, cheese isn't ALL bad. Three
or four daily servings of low-fat dairy products can boost your body's
fat-burning potential. Studies have shown that organic dairy-rich diets may
help weight loss and the body's ability to burn fat. Yet when some people add
cheese to a salad, they really pile it on — and that's why it's on
this list. But some cheeses are more nutritional than others, and there are
HEALTHY ways to add them to your salad.
Alternative: Feta is a great choice for salads because it is
lower in fat and calories than most cheeses. Another idea is to buy string
cheese (part-skim mozzarella) sticks and add one to your salad by cutting it up
into pieces, which will also help you practice portion control.
Craisins, or dried cranberries, are a fruit, so
that means they're good for you, right? Well, not exactly. I know these are
everyone's favorite sweet treat to add to any salad — but they have more sugar
than you'd think! Craisins and their cousin, raisins, are called "nature's
candy" for a reason! Though they are fat-free and relatively low calorie at 130
for a ¼ cup — they're full of sugar — 29 grams to be exact.
Alternative: If you can't give 'em up, I suggest counting them
out and only adding 10 or so to your salad. Otherwise, why not add other
seasonal fruits to sweeten up your salads? I love adding organic strawberries
or blueberries to mine!
Croutons are an easy way to ruin your salad by
adding refined carbohydrates. Croutons from a popular brand are about 30
calories for just six pieces. Do most people put only six croutons on their
salad? Not likely. These toppings can also have high sodium levels depending on
how they're prepared.
Alternative: Bread isn't
bad if you're eating 100 percent whole wheat! You can definitely get a bread roll to
accompany your salad, but keep it healthy and put it down when you're full.
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