Salads are refreshing, tasty and nutritious. Salads can also contain excessive saturated fats and have an astronomical calorie count depending on what you load your leafy greens with. To avoid high calorie salads, edit the fat and pour on the nutrition.
A healthy low calorie salad should contain plenty of leafy greens such as spinach, romaine lettuce, Boston leaf and mustard greens. Iceberg lettuce contains mostly water and is of little dietary benefit. Dark greens contain folic acid and antioxidants to help aid the body in metabolism boosting, red blood cell production and purification of the blood stream.
Add plenty of fresh vegetables for color, taste, variety and texture. Red, green and yellow peppers contain plenty of antioxidants, vitamin C, folic acid and potassium. The colors are inviting and a serving is equal to twenty calories. Other vegetables rich in antioxidants and folic acid are broccoli and cauliflower. Radishes, celery and cucumbers not only add texture to the salad bowl but also contain a large amount of dietary fiber to aid in digestion. Shredded carrots are a beautiful addition with the added benefit of Vitamin A for eye health.
When adding protein, avoid fatty meat. Beef, pork, bacon and fried chicken have a higher fat to protein ratio and sabotage the notion of a low calorie salad entree. Stick with tuna packed in water, broiled or baked chicken, baked salmon, black beans, lentils, chick peas. These ingredients are not only high in protein but are lower in calories than their fried, greasy counterparts.
Avocado, sunflower seeds, olives and sliced boiled egg should be used sparingly. For an optimum low calorie salad choose one of these items, not a combination of two or more. The nutritional values in these food products are high but they are also packed with calories. It is best to indulge in half a hard-boiled egg or one-quarter avocado then large handfuls of croutons, nuts, and shredded cheese or bacon bits.
Salad dressing is the number one nemesis of the low calorie salad quest. All creamy dressings, even the ones labeled low or no fat are high in calories. One tablespoon of ranch dressing contains ninety calories. One tablespoon of dressing will barely cover one-fourth of an entree salad. The best option is a vinaigrette salad with virgin olive oil. If at all possible order the oil and vinegar separately and on the side of your low calorie salad. Increase the ratio of vinegar to oil. If a low fat creamy dressing is a must, order it on the side and use it sparingly. Drizzling the dressing over the top instead of glopping the calories on will help maintain the goal of a beautiful low calorie salad.