I think it’s safe to say that most of us eat out at least a couple times a week, for either lunch or dinner. So the choices we make are very important, especially when we are thinking about losing or at least not gaining any weight. So here is the good the bad and the ugly truth about salads...
“I’ll have a salad please”
You are being so good, having a salad for lunch. Maybe you even remembered to order the dressing on the side. But be careful; not all salads are created equal. For example a Chinese Chicken Salad at Applebees has a whopping 1398 Calories (that’s not a typo, that’s one thousand three hundred and ninety-eight) with 98 grams of fat.
Hardly diet food.
And a Chicken Caesar Salad at Chilis? 1010 calories with 76 (seventy-six) grams of fat. That Cobb at Mimi’s Cafe? 1121 calories and 95g of fat. You would actually be better off, calorie-wise, to go with a McDonald’s Big Mac at only 540 calories and 29g of fat, or have their cheeseburger for a mere 300 calories and 12g of fat. Add a small fry, 248 calories, and 13g fat, and you’d still be under the calories and fat of that virtuous salad. Now that said, the veggies of the salad may trump the fat and especially the saturated fats of the burger…but you get the idea that you have to be careful not only of what kind of salad you order…but how you order it.
Here's 1121 Calories and 95g fat (seriously?)
"Dressing on the Side"
– should be your mantra. Yet, the other day, while having a quick lunch, I noticed that many of the people who ordered the dressing on the side proceeded to dump the entire contents of that side dressing on their salad. That simply defeats the purpose and the result is you are consuming as many, and possibly more calories and fat then if you had just ordered your salad “lightly dressed.”
Tablespoon for tablespoon, salad dressing is calorie heavy. One tablespoon of Ranch Dressing has 73 calories and 7.7g of fat, Italian? 43 calories and 4.2g fat. Caesar? 78 calories with 8.5g fat. That’s on average, but the bottom line is you want to use dressings sparingly. The best method? Dip the tines of your fork into the dressing, then grab some salad on it, and eat it. You get the full flavor of the dressing and use very little.
Cautions also need to be exercised when you visit the salad bar. Lettuce is pretty much a freebie, but once you start adding those salad bar extras, that lean meal gets pretty fat. Olives, eggs, cheese, nuts, bacon, all add up pretty quickly. And any salad that is pre-made, especially those that contain mayonnaise, well, you know where those extra calories are going to end up…yep…on your hips with a side to your waist and butt.
So remember to be selective in your salad choices. If you want that Caesar for lunch, ask for it to be served with half the cheese (at minimum) and take those croutons off, o.k. you can leave a couple of them on, but get rid of the rest…and order that dressing “on the side” using the tine dipping method.
Want a salad without the guilt?
Here are some wonderful choices for both full-on salads and dressings that you can use that are low fat, low calorie and yes, loaded with taste?
Let's start with that wonderful lunch staple, a Grilled Caesar Salad...all the flavor and yet, only 280 calories and 12 grams of fat. Caesar is high in sodium, due to the cheese and anchovies, but ...
Hungry for something else? Then try my Salmon Salad Nicoise. Slightly higher at 618 calories with 19 grams of fat, but full of wonderful salmon, potatoes, green beans, and olives. A meal unto itself...
Make up your own salad. This salad, dressed with a Low Fat, Low-Calorie Garlic-Basil Vinaigrette that has chicken broth in it (yes, that's right, chicken broth); it's not only flavorful but very low fat with only 27 calories and 2 grams of fat per serving; how can you go wrong? Dress to your heart's content...although I still advocate using dressing sparingly. Why ruin the flavors of the lovely lettuces and veggies?
LindySez: It’s the way to a slimmer, healthier you.