The 1,000 Calorie Salad: ‘Extras’ Can More Than Double The Calories
Your intentions are good: choose that salad on the menu rather than the burger, pasta bowl, or fried chicken, because salads are healthy, and they help you lose weight, right? But let’s question the content of the average American salad. Which lettuce are you buying? Iceberg lettuce adds almost no nutrition (and is basically water). Romaine isn’t much better. Are you adding cheese and croutons? Add another 200-300 calories. And the biggest question of all: what kind and how much salad dressing are you applying? If we lived in a magical land where calories were no object, I would be POURING on the Hidden Valley Ranch (as well as dipping ALL of my fresh veggies in it). That stuff tastes amazing. But 2 tablespoons ends up adding 140 calories to your salad, and most people use three times that amount on any given salad! I encourage you to attempt cutting back the amount of dressing drastically, and switching to ‘light’ varieties. Or, even better, switch to olive oil and balsamic or red wine vinegar- super simple, low calorie, and without any preservatives. Otherwise, your intended healthy choice of a salad can end up being as calorically dense as a burger and fries.
So, try to stick with salads that include extras like cucumber, tomatoes, bell pepper, carrots, mushrooms, olives, sprouts, cilantro, parsley or other low to no-calorie vegetables. Pick out some weird and exotic lettuces, like baby spinach, arugula, spring mix, or baby kale; the darker green, the better nutritional content. Small amounts of dried fruit and nuts can also be great additives. A salad can also be an excellent spot to fit in some lean protein; think grilled chicken, salmon, tuna, ham, turkey, etc. The protein will help fill you up, and for longer. The possibilities are endless!
About our Author
Brittany Arnett is a graduate of the NOVA Southeastern University Physician Assistant Program in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Brittany completed her undergraduate studies at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, while playing Division I volleyball. Brittany has been part of the North Shore Family Practice team since 2011.