Surviving The Salad Bar

August 2009
Summer is a great time for salads. Make a light meal without turning on the stove and take advantage of heart-healthy summer produce. Be smart about your choices or your salad can be worse than a fast food burger and fries. Here are some tips for what to keep and what to toss at the salad bar.

  1. Choose high folate and vitamin C dark leafy greens instead of iceberg lettuce. Choose spinach, endive, mixed “baby” greens containing multicolored lettuces and romaine.
  2. Choose colorful vegetables: red radishes, peppers and tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers and broccoli, yellow peppers, purple cabbage, orange carrots, and tan (fresh) mushrooms. Eat smaller quantities of canned veggies such as artichoke hearts and olives, because they are high in sodium. (Olives are a source of monounsaturated, heart-healthy fats and can be enjoyed in moderation.)
  3. Choose colorful fresh fruit:  they contain vitamin A and C, carotinoids, fiber and potassium. Most have 0 fat as long as they are not bathed in syrup. Just be mindful of the serving size.
  4. Add beans: 1/2 cup of chickpeas or kidney beans add about 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein. This will help fill you up.
  5. Choose lean meats and fish such as chicken (not breaded), turkey, tuna without mayo, or shrimp. Cured meats, such as bacon, ham, and salami, are high in salt.
  6. Use just a sprinkling of highly flavored cheese like parmesan, feta, or blue, otherwise you’ll be adding a lot of fat calories and salt. Choose low-fat options if they are available.
  7. Avoid creamy sides, like pasta salad, tuna with mayo, coleslaw, or potato salad.
  8. Limit toppings such as croutons, nuts & seeds, and fried noodles & onions.
  9. Avoid creamy dressings. Choose vinaigrette, Italian, reduced calorie dressings, or lemon, vinegar and olive oil. Use only 2 tablespoons.
  10. Choose a whole grain bread to eat with your salad, increasing your fiber and B vitamins.