General Diet Plans and Questions - Salads

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03-07-2013, 01:27 PM
I am new to salads and am quite enjoying them for a healthy lunch.

The problem is I do not know which foods to put in a salad at the salad bar to keep it low in calories and which to avoid.


03-07-2013, 02:49 PM
I am also interested in these answers, too...

03-07-2013, 02:55 PM
If it's plain and raw and grows out of the ground - it's low cal.

(A couple of exceptions...avocado and beans and beets)

Things that are high calorie are cheese, bacon bits, croutons, probably the pasta salad - especially if it's covered in gooey sauce. Things that are really high in calories: dressing. Best avoided.

The plainer and fresher it is probably the fewer calories it has. Stuff that's been processed a fair bit or has a sauce on it...probably higher cal. Always exceptions, but you probably can't go too wrong with that.

What do you typically put on a salad? It might be easier to answer if we knew what you like.

03-07-2013, 02:57 PM
Keep away from creamy dressings (go for a vinaigrette if you need dressing, but keep it on the side and dunk your fork in it before stabbing your veggies!) Pile your plate high with veggies of all colors! Minimal amounts of startchy stuff like peas and corn and spuds... I don't know what your salad bar offers but I am sure that plenty of it isn't terribly awesome for you! Be wary! Little sprinkles of nuts and or seeds are good, berries are good, SMALL amounts of cheese are good (LOVE cottage cheese on my salads) Skip the bacon bits and croutons.

Hope that helps a little :)

03-07-2013, 03:09 PM
Thanks for all the great responses.

What do you typically put on a salad?

Greens, lettuce, carrot, mushroom, corn, tomato, cucumber, cheese, onion, beetroot, croutons, tuna, chicken, boiled eggs, cranberries, nuts, vinagrette dressing, tofu, greek salad mix....although rarely all at once!

03-07-2013, 03:19 PM
I would try to build it like a regular meal that just happens to be on a base of lettuce: about half veggies, 1/3 lean protein and the rest whole grains. So a base of lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers. Then some chicken, fish, egg (not mixed with mayo) and top it with a roll or something. Drizzle a tablespoon or 2 of vinegrette on, or get it on the side and dip your fork before picking up the food.

Something isn't healthy simply because it is in something labeled "salad bar" anymore than something called a hamburger is necessarily unhealthy.

03-07-2013, 03:37 PM
I love really big salads... and I usually eat two a day... since I follow a low carb, high fat plan my idea of "healthy" might be slightly different... but here's what I do...

I start with 2 to 4 cups of leafy greens... I'm partial to various baby salad greens or baby spinach... and then maybe some cherry tomatoes or some sliced mushrooms... or maybe some sliced red onion... basically any lower carb veggie could work for me and I keep that to about another half cup or so...

I include 6 to 8 oz of some lean protein.... which could be anything from grilled chicken breast or flank steak to seared Ahi tuna... but really any lean protein could work...

And as far as toppings go I stick to something like a chopped hard boiled egg and maybe some some chopped nuts or some chopped apple or orange segments depending on the salad... but when it comes to things like nuts and fruit I keep those to pretty small amounts, so about 1 oz for the nuts and about half cup of fruit... and if use any cheese I keep that to 1 to 2 oz as well...

Now I use full fat type dressings because that works with my plan... But if you were looking to cut calories than using a lower fat dressing and not using any nuts, as well as being very careful with the amount of cheese... and maybe just using the hard boiled egg white and not the yolk could be a way to cut some calories...


03-08-2013, 11:11 AM
IanG sounds like you're picking good stuff already. Obviously the Greek Salad mix is gonna be higher calorie with the cheese, but that's not a bad thing. I'm doing intuitive eating, so I eat whatever I want, and I love that Greek salad. I think the advice you got about building it like a meal and including lots of color are very good. Color is a good proxy for different types of nutrients and a balance of complex carbs, proteins and fats will keep you feeling full and healthy. Yum...I want big salad for dinner tonight!

03-08-2013, 01:44 PM
I loved this question! I love salad, and can eat it all day everyday. The problem I run into, is that I can't (seriously CAN NOT) eat a dry salad. I get a ranch mix from a place called Penzeys, but then I add mayo and sour cream, so that's a big bunch o' fat in a bowl. lol I have tried italian and liked it, but I don't like my dressing sweet or tangy. I usually have lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, croutons, bacon crumbles (if I'm at home I microwave the bacon and crumble it), cheese, and chicken breast. I am extremely picky about veggies, and don't like most of them for one reason or another that I'm sure I've concocted in my head.