AUBURN, Ala. – What is the first food you think about eating when you go on a diet? Many people think about eating a salad because it is a low-calorie meal. Salads are usually a great high-nutrient, low-calorie meal to eat but adding some foods can make it a high-calorie meal.
Keep Your Salads Healthy
Tera Glenn, an Alabama Extension regional agent in Human Nutrition, Diet and Health, offers some tips to help keep your salads healthy and low calorie.
- Use darker greens, such as spinach, romaine, leaf lettuce and arugula, because they have a small amount of calories and a lot of nutrients.
- Use a light or fat free salad dressing and stay within the serving size. Salad dressing can add many calories to your salad. For example, your average vinaigrette has 50 calories per tablespoon and Ranch dressing has 90 calories per tablespoon Put the salad dressing on the side and you may not use as much.
- Use hard-boiled eggs, egg whites, grilled chicken, boiled or steamed shrimp, grilled salmon, roasted turkey or water-packed tuna if you must add a source of protein to your salad.
- Eat your salad without cheese. If that is not an option, use shredded cheese so a little will go a long way. Two tablespoons of cheddar cheese has 114 calories. Try a little parmesan or feta cheese because they are stronger than most cheeses and you will use less. You also may want to try a low fat cheese.
- If you use croutons on your salad, cut back on the amount. Crumble three or four and spread over the salad. A half cup of croutons adds 90 calories to your salad.
- Use vegetables to add more bulk to your salad without adding calories. Add peppers (red, green or yellow), cucumbers, shredded carrots, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower or sprouts.
Alabama Extension has several resources about adopting a healthy lifestyle. For more information, visit Alabama Extension online at www.aces.edu or contact your county Extension office.