Dining out? It’s hard to get a more beautiful meal than a salad. They fill our bodies with nutrients we need to look and feel our best. But all too often, we make our salads ugly by topping them with ingredients that increase our risk for chronic disease as well as our waistline. How can you keep the beauty in your salad and avoid the ugly? It’s simpler than you think!MORE: Build a Beautiful SaladStick with Beautiful IngredientsStart with brightly colored greens like arugula, romaine, spinach, endive or kale. How will you know that’s the lettuce of choice? Ask the waiter. Having a conversation with your wait staff at any restaurant is the first step towards healthy eating. If you find out the salad is made mostly of iceberg lettuce which has minimal nutritional value, ask them to swap something greener instead. From there, toppings can include anything from tomatoes and cucumbers to peppers and mushrooms—whatever you wish that comes from nature! Some of the most beautiful ingredients will be those that have the brightest colors. Think beets, tomatoes, carrots, figs and cranberries (portion-controlled, of course).Stay away from the ugly
- Croutons – most are filled with white enriched flour and can be loaded with fat and salt. If you’re looking for crunch in your salad, ask them to put on some walnuts or even better yet, chia or sunflower seeds. You can also as if the restaurant has 100-percent whole grain croutons as well.
- Cheese – if you’re going to get cheese on your salad, ask for it on the side and use only a small amount, DO NOT let them put it on for you. To get the taste of cheese without having to use a lot, request a few shavings of parmesan.
- Whole Eggs where more than one egg is used for the salad can be a cholesterol bomb. Opt for one egg instead or skip the yolk altogether and get egg whites.
- Bacon – this is a salad right? Keep meat out and add grilled or broiled salmon instead.
- Anything that comes in an edible shell OR puts part of an edible shell on top of your salad (like tortilla strips) should be avoided.
- Is your salad stuffed in white pita bread? Ask for whole grain pita or NO pita bread and extra veggies instead.
- Chicken is OK if it’s grilled, not if it’s fried.
- Tons of Dried Fruit – will only add “added” sugars to your salad. Instead opt for fresh apples, strawberries or mandarin oranges canned in its own juice. By the way, pairing vitamin C rich oranges or strawberries with a spinach salad helps to enhance the iron absorption of the spinach!
MORE: Calorie Labels On Menus, UnderstatedKeeping Salad Dressing Dazzling
- Ask for olive oil (or canola) and vinegar and dress your salad yourself keeping the proportion between the two even.
- If you MUST go with a restaurant dressing, NEVER let the restaurant put the dressing on for you, instead you control the amount and request it on the side. Use your fork and dab some dressing on it before you poke the salad.
- Stick to vinaigrettes that aren’t fruity (i.e., raspberry vinaigrette often means SUGAR).
- Fat-free dressings are often little liquid sugar toppings for your salad (they usually replace the fat with sugar). Using a fat-free dressing is the equivalent to using a few sugar packets on top. You’d never consider that—would you?
- Creamy dressing is loaded with saturated fat and calories so avoid blue cheese, ranch, Russian, etc.
- Bring your own dressing from home that you know is good and good for you (because you’re reading the labels right?).
- Use lemon juice—simple, fresh and gorgeous!