Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I always knew lettuce and greens had very little caloric value, but I had also heard that salads are a trap--you think they are healthy, but are filled with hidden fat bombs. And I still kinda think that way. I never ordered salads at fast-food restaurants--I thought they were designed to be cheap and aimed at people who thought they were eating healthy--'Salad' seems healthy, but still made with all the fatty shortcuts all other fast food was made with. That and they are so expensive, compared to things like sandwiches. All designed to make maximum profits. And romaine lettuce is supposed to be a wasteland of nutrition--its just cheap to grow and people will eat it. Dressings, croutons, bacon bits--everything is a trap to think you're eating healthy,

So I've had to change how I think about salads. Its probably not a normal thought process to see salads as unhealthy, so I can't expect the self-inflicted cognitive therapy to work for everyone.

I'd had to look and see what the actual nutritional value of all the 'traps' were, and realize that I needed to do portion control (as is my major issue).

So I started looking at what I would put into a salad. Dressing and cheese are my big things.

Courtesy of
2 tablespoons of ranch is 140 calories. 11-14 grams of fat. For a normal, 2,000 diet, that's about 1/5 of the daily recommended dose. So that's no fun, especially if you're shooting for less. So chose something more 'diet-like', and went with a reduced fat raspberry vinaigrette. Considerably better than ranch, and quite delicious, I must say. It does stain everything pink, so if you mix your salad before hand, expect all the meat to look like confetti.

An alternate to dressing I used was sesame oil. It contains a lot more calories than most dressings, per tablespoon, but I use a lot less of it. Maybe half a tablespoon, which is only 60 calories. Also, it has a lot of unsaturated fats, which are better for you anyway. The important thing is to toss it with the salad, to coat every leaf with it. Its very potent, and has a unique flavour. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

When I was a kid, I'd get salads at school--a few leaves of romaine and about a cup of cheddar. Maybe some peanuts. Cheese is one of the best things ever. But for a dieter, its a bit of a problem. For salads, I've been trying to keep it down to 1/4 cup, and use mozzarella--fewer calories than cheddar--or else 2 tablespoons of Parmesan.

What Else to Add
I'm the only one in the house that really eats vegetables, so I don't keep many stocked. The obvious choice for salads is more veggies, but I've been getting more creative. And I need protein.

Eggs: chopped up hard-boiled egg. Protein, some potassium, some colour to make my day happier--its pretty much wonderful.

So basically I'm eating lettuce-egg-small amount of cheese-sesame-oil salads. Tasty. 150-200 calories for a lunch. Not so bad.

Salads on the go: Wendy's had this awesome Berry Almond Chicken Salad now. I get a half-size and its about 280 calories. Hell, a full size is only 460, so as far as fast food goes, you're still doing well. And its cheaper than a sandwich, so eating out on a budget and diet is finally easy. And its delicious. I'm super happy about it, and hope it stays.

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