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A Salad is always good for you, right?

28 July 2011 2 Comments

I was at work the other day and decided to hit the salad bar for lunch. I work at a hospital and have both healthy and unhealthy choices to choose from in the cafeteria. We have a subway, which I use ONLY as a backup… and a wonderful salad bar. There are also unhealthy choices that I try to avoid… hamburgers, fried chicken fingers and pizza. Now I usually pack my own lunch so that I know exactly what I’m putting in my mouth… but every now and then, I either haven’t been to the grocery store, or (I admit) I’m just too lazy to take the time to pack it. Hence the trip to the salad bar.

As I was making my salad I couldn’t help but notice some of the people around me. I took a look at what is available and realized very quickly how you could totally take a very healthy food option and turn it into a very fattening, calorie laden nightmare. Fortunately for me, our salad bar has great healthy choices… I choose the romaine and spinach over the iceberg because they are higher in nutritional value. I also love the edamame (high in protein, fiber and omega-3 fat), carrots, peppers, tomatoes, onion, raw broccoli, cucumbers… I try to pile on the vegetables. I always put some type of other protein on my salad… sometimes eggs, plain tuna, or broiled chicken. My splurge is sometimes dried cranberries (but only a tablespoon or two). I always choose lite dressings and use them sparingly on the side. If you dip your fork in the dressing prior to taking a bite, you get the taste without added calories. You will be amazed at how much less dressing you will use. I will also sometimes put some type of fruit on my salad… we have blueberries and strawberries (my favorites).

Now… how do you avoid ruining a perfectly good, healthy, nutritional meal? Avoid the temptation to add too much cheese, oily pasta salads, potato salad, coleslaw, too much dried fruit or nuts (moderation and portion control is so important), heavy and excessive salad dressings, croutons and breads. Avoid anything with¬†mayonnaise, everything fried, anything that remotely looks like a dessert.

Tips when approaching a Salad Bar

Start by looking over the whole bar, then focus on filling up your plate at least 2/3 with dark green lettuce, vegetables and fruits. Think of a colorful rainbow and pick out fruits and vegetable in all types of colors. They each have their own nutritional value and elements of antioxidants and will give you the balance that you need.

Add an appropriate portion of some type of protein: (nothing fried) chicken, fish, shrimp… you could also add small amounts of nuts, eggs, legumes and low fat cottage cheese. Be wary of fattening cheeses and the other things listed above.

Toppings like dressings should be used sparingly. Avoid the creamy dressings and try to stick to olive oil and vinegar. Use no more than a total of 2 Tbsp.

In summary… beware of the choices you make at a salad bar!¬†Just because it’s on the salad bar does NOT mean it’s healthy! However, making good choices will give you a filling, yummy, healthy lunch or dinner!

Want more tips on nutrition and health? Contact me… I am an Independent Beachbody Coach and I will help you for free! Contact me at lifechangingfitnessplan@gmail.com

Here’s to your health!

Karen Crawford



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  • Jim said:

    The salad bar can be a trap like you said. I’ve seen people make a salad that is less healthy than a cheeseburger and fries, but they think since it’s a salad bar it must be healthy.

  • Dan V. said:

    Great post on understanding the salad bar and navigating it to your advantage. Salads are for low-cal nutrient dense action– loading that plate up with high-cal, nutrient deficient crap like bacon bits and ladels of creamy, saturated fat dressing defeats the purpose. Might as well go enjoy a burger.

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