Salads Gone Wrong
Tips and tricks to building healthy salads
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 14:10
If assembled incorrectly, salads can actually be harmful to your health. There can be as few as 100 calories in a healthy salad, but other versions can contain a whopping 740 calories -- as many as a double quarter pounder with cheese from McDonald’s -- according to WebMD Master of Public Health and Registered Dietician Elaine Magee.
Magee asserts that the two ingredients that can be the deciding factors in labeling your salad as either “healthy” or “unhealthy” are chicken and dressing. Nonetheless, other factors, such as cheese and croutons, come into play as well. The following are six tips to creating wholesome and nutritious salads.
Tip No. 1: Leaves
Create a leafy bed for your salad toppings that is packed with fiber and vitamins. The greener a salad, the more nutrient-rich it is -- so choose leaves such as spinach or leaf lettuce rather than iceberg lettuce, or toss together a mixture of the two. Iceberg lettuce contains very little calories and hardly any nutrition aside from being a minor source of water.
Tip No. 2: Meat
Because chicken is the most popular choice of meat for salads across the country, the major factor that should be taken into account is how the chicken is prepared. Avoid fried, “crispy” chicken and instead choose cooked or baked chicken that has less fat and fewer calories from grease and breading.
Tip No. 3: Veggies
Adorn your leafy bed with a variety of vegetables that cover a wide spectrum of colors. Red peppers, carrots, corn, broccoli, green peppers, cucumbers, radishes and cauliflower will provide essential nutrients to your diet along with taste and texture to your salad.
Tip No. 4: Nuts
According to About.com’s medical review board, just half of a cup of croutons contains 100 calories. Other crunchy alternatives, such as sunflower seeds or almonds, can help draw out the healthy vitamins in your salad leaves so that your body can absorb even more nutrients, as well as provide healthy amounts of “good” fats and protein, as stated by Mayo Clinic doctors.
Tip No. 5: Cheese
Cheese is often a popular salad topping choice, but salad eaters should beware of the extra fat and cholesterol that too much cheese can contribute to their diets. Watch for cheeses made with low-fat milk and sprinkle on a small pinch for an added punch to your salad. Remember that in small amounts, cheese can be beneficial to your health because it is a source of calcium and protein.
Tip No. 6: Dressing
The most controversial salad topping: dressing. Many advise against any use of salad dressing and recommend squeezing lemon or lime juice across the leaves for extra flavor. Others stress the importance of low-fat, low-sodium dressings versus the regular kinds that can contain “a combination of oil, vinegar, milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, [and other] seasonings” detrimental to a healthy diet, according to LiveStrong.com writer Dana George. One trick to avoid dousing your salad in any type of dressing is to put it on the side: Dip the tip of your fork in the dressing before skewering your salad leaves.