It’s difficult to fathom that a salad can be high in calories. Actually, it’s not. Rabbit food such as lettuce, carrots, leafy greens, cabbage and other fresh veggies, at an average of 25 calories and zero grams of fat per cup, are not what is weighing you down at the salad bar.
The caloric problems start when you freely pile on people-food, such as tons of cheese (1/4 cup cheddar = 120 calories) and mayo or oil-based salads (1/2 cup potato salad = 179 calories), and then drown all that in regular salad dressing (2 tablespoons French dressing = 138 calories).
Here are some tips when building a salad:
- Load up on the greens. Cover that takeout plate with piles of low-calorie leafy greens, which are light as a feather but fill you up.
- Next, top your bed of greens with tons of those low-calorie raw veggies.
- Add some lean protein — turkey, tuna flakes, hard-cooked egg whites, chickpeas or other legumes — for a lunch with some protein power.
- Ease up on the cheese. A sprinkling of stronger types such as Parmesan or feta can give you that cheesy flavor for fewer calories and less fat, as compared to cheddar or provolone.
- Make oil- or mayo-based mixed salads serve double-duty as a dressing. If your salads need more moistness, add additional vinegar or a tad of light salad dressing.
- Don’t forget the whole grains to round out the meal. If whole wheat pita is not available, buy a small package and file it in your desk for use at each weekday lunch.