by LORI-ANN MARCHESE
When you go to the drive-thru of a fast food restaurant for an on-the-go meal, there are only so many “healthy” options to choose from.
You go through the list of burgers, and chicken nuggets, and realize those are out of the question. So, you immediately gravitate yourself to the salads that are offered.
This is when people are only scratching the surface of the truth of salads.
In more cases than not, salads are not as healthy as you thought. Some salads that are sold at restaurants easily reach up to 700 calories without you even realizing. Not only are some salads very high in calories, its sodium content can go through the roof, and not to mention, the dressing alone, racks up a high percentage of fat.
Of course, this is not always true, but the best way to avoid this, would be taking the nutritional facts into consideration.
The main reason salads begin healthy, and make a complete 180, is due to the dressing that is used. Dressing is full of calories, fat and sodium, which can lead to that unintentional weight gain. Staying away from the creamier based dressings will assist in creating a healthier salad. The creamier the dressing, the higher in calories, fat and sodium. Another suggestion would be choosing the low sodium dressing, and searching for a more natural flavoring. A tasteful, and healthier replacement for dressing is olive oil. The key to a better salad is controlling your portion sizes. Whether the dressing has a higher nutritional value or not, the serving size should always be within the recommended value.
Just because dressing is typically the reason for an unhealthy salad, it does not mean you are off the hook. There are some salads that are loaded with entities. Salads have a high potential of being filled with meats, cheeses, croutons, seeds, and other vegetables or fruits. This is where your additions to your salad, will make all the difference in speaking upon its caloric value.
Of course, putting additional food groups to your salad can improve the nutritional value, but one must note that the decisions made at this stage are key. If your salad has bacon, cheddar cheese, corn, and croutons, I would recommend taking a closer look into your salad. The bacon and cheddar cheese are very high in sodium and fat. Croutons tend to be quite high in sodium, and corn is high in sugar in comparison to other vegetables.
My recipe for creating a healthy salad is aiming for mixed greens, and an all-natural, low fat, low sodium dressing with the caloric value being on the lower side. Replacing a meat high in fat, with a lean, low sodium white meat such as chicken or turkey is the better option. As for the cheese, search for a lower sodium and low-fat cheese, and try to avoid croutons, or keep the intake to a minimal. When you are deciding what vegetables you should add to your salad, broccoli, cucumbers and spinach are excellent choices.
In more cases than not, people often believe that if it’s a salad, it is automatically the healthier choice. It all comes down to what is put into that salad. The best part of salads is that there are so many options of what to add to it, and you can control what you consume, especially if you prepare it.
If you go out to a restaurant, ask for the dressing on the side, and if you do not want that specific addition to your salad, such as croutons, you can ask them to take it off your salad. Digging a little deeper into the truth, will make all the difference between a healthy and unhealthy salad. Take the time and find a salad that you know you enjoy, but also remains within the range of nutritional qualities that you aim for.
Lori-Ann Marchese is the owner of Body Construct LLC in New Britain. She is a former cast member of the reality TV series, “Game of Crowns.”