I’ll Have the Salad Please

“Is it smart/healthy to order a salad for my restaurant meal?”salad ingredients

This is a question I often get from my clients – so I thought I’d answer it here on the blog for everyone!

My answer?  It depends.

Don’t you hate that answer?  Me too, so I’m going to go into a lot more specifics and even share a .pdf cheat sheet for you at the end of this post.

A salad can be an excellent choice for a meal.  Especially if you can do a little customization.  What do I mean by that?  If you think more veggies, more color and less fat, you are well on your way to a healthier salad.

When you are ordering a salad in a restaurant, here are some things to add and avoid:

  • Your salad base:  make sure the salad has a variety of greens – the darker green the better.  If it has spinach or kale as part of the greens, that’s a bonus.  Or try adding cabbage as a lettuce alternative – it’s fun to change it up!
  • The colors:  the more colorful your salad is (a variety of different colored vegetables included), the healthier your salad.  Aim for at least three vegetables in different colors (ex:  carrots, cucumber and red peppers).
  • Extras:  fruit is a great addition to your salad as are nuts & seeds (in small quantities); beans are fantastic – full of fiber and therefore filling without lots of extra calories or fats.  Go easy on the meat and olives, these items should be a garnish, not the main part of the salad.
  • Cheese:  If you love cheese on your salad, limit the amount to an ounce or two and go for a high flavor cheese (feta, goat or gorgonzola).  You’ll taste more while consuming less.
  • Dressing:  Ideally, if you have enough yummy ingredients in your salad you can get away with a splash of vinegar and some sea salt and pepper.  Next best would be a simple vinaigrette made with vinegar, a little extra virgin olive oil, dijon mustard and/or herbs.  If you can’t stomach salad without dressing, at least use it sparingly.  Just 1 T. can have 120+ calories.

Easy enough, right?  It will be with a little practice.  To help you out in the meantime, I’ve made a cheat sheet to keep in your purse:  Salad Cheat Sheet

Do you love salads?  What is your favorite salad?

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