Friday, September 21, 2007

Eating healthy at the salad buffet...it is possible!


Rather than grabbing sandwiches during my lunch hour, I've been hitting up a lot of salad bars. It always seems like the healthier alternative. However, putting together a salad does not a nutritious meal make. If you load up on enough fatty ingredients, you may as well eat a Big Mac as far as calorie intake is concerned.

Here are a few tips to navigating the salad bar:

* Darker leaves make a more nutritious salad. Rather than iceberg, use spinach, romaine, Boston lettuce, endive, kale, and baby field greens. Leafy greens also contain Vitamin A, key to growth and vision.

* The more colorful the plate, the more antioxidant power. Pile up on broccoli, cucumbers, red peppers, eggplant, cauliflower, avocado, carrots, baby corn and even berries. Leafy vegetables, tomatoes, and citrus fruits are also high in Vitamin C, which improves iron consumption and promotes healthy gums and tissues.

* Add grilled chicken or other high-protein foods chunky white tuna, lean roast beef, beans, peas, or low-fat cottage cheese.

* If you're topping the salad with cheese, go with a stronger flavor - such as sharp cheddar or feta - and keep the amount minimal. Cheese does contain fat.

* Go easy on the croutons and bacon bits.

* Olive or canola oil-based dressings are good for the heart. Try an Italian dressing or an oil and vinegar mix.

* Consider avoiding some of the creamier dishes like coleslaw and pasta salad. They tend to have more fat and calories.

The same tips apply at home - if you're building a salad from scratch.

I've also become addicted to a fabulous salad dressing line from Walden Farms. Made with sucralose, the calorie-free dressings can be found in most major grocery stores. Check it out!

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