When we think about healthy eating, what’s the first food that comes to mind? Salads! We’re big fans of salads. You can customize them any way you like, and they’re choc full of good, nutritious ingredients such as fresh veggies and fruits, nuts, seeds, and proteins. However, it’s deceptively easy to order a salad at a restaurant or build one at the grocery store, and have be hundreds of calories more than we anticipate. So how do we decipher what salads are the healthy and which ones are total calorie bombs? The best thing to do is to build your salad yourself. Here are some basics you need to know to create a delicious and nutritious salad:
1) Protein: Grilled vs. Crispy
Just like in sandwiches and platters, grilled meats such as chicken are always the healthier choice. However, it can be confusing when you read “crispy chicken” on a salad menu. Crispy is code for fried, which means oil and breading. Stick with the grilled option so you don’t undo all the good you’re getting from your protein.
2) Choose extra toppings carefully
Okay, real talk, we all love salads piled high with bacon, cheese, and oily croutons, but those fatty extras can totally tank the good work that the rest of the salad is doing. If you love that crunch on the top of your salad, opt for nuts or seeds instead.
3) Stick with the good fats!
Speaking of nuts and seeds, good fats accompany a salad perfectly. Along with the protein from meat or tofu and carbs from quinoa or sweet potatoes, healthy fats help round out the macros your body needs.
4) Fiesta isn’t always a party.
A lot of restaurants market salads with these names to give them a bit of a southwest flare. For as fun and flavorful as they can be, they also tend to carry extra calories. Add-ons such as sour cream and tortilla strips can ruin a perfectly healthy salad faster than you can say olé!
5) Ditch the dried fruit.
Craisins are just dried cranberries. Sounds healthy, right? Unfortunately not. It tastes great adding a little sweetness to your salad, but dried fruits can actually add a lot of sugar. Swap out the sweetness for whole, fresh berries. You’ll get an added kick of fiber, as well.
6) The devil is in the dressing.
You can build the perfect salad - Crisp lettuce, fresh veggies, and crunchy nuts - but you can ruin it all so easily by choosing the wrong kind of dressing. Creamy or cheesy dressings can cost you around 75+ calories a tablespoon. If you’re not measuring properly, you could end up with a few hundred extra calories on your plate. Go for the vinaigrette options over anything creamy or overly oily.
Pro tip: order your dressing on the side, or put it in a separate ramekin yourself, and lightly dip your fork into it before diving into your salad. You won’t end up with any extras, but still get all of the delicious flavor.
Healthy meal delivery from Terra's Kitchen can help you take the guesswork out of making healthy choices. From salads to pasta recipes, our menu has plenty of nutritious choices to fit your lifestyle.