Get the Most Nutritional Bang from Your Salad
Well stocked salad bars offer a quick and convenient opportunity to tap into the extraordinary nutritional benefits the right foods can provide. Fortunately – comprehensive salad bars are now easy to access. My personal favorites are Ruby Tuesday, Whole Foods and Earth Fare. To successfully navigate through the salad bar and get the most nutritional bang for your buck, keep the following five rules of the road in mind.
Begin with a base of “healthy” greens.
- Go for those with the deepest, richest green color. The more color, the more disease-busting phytochemicals and the more vitamins and minerals it will have. Baby spinach is my top pick followed by romaine and mixed mesclun greens.
- Don’t waste your effort on iceberg lettuce – it has 10% of the RDA for absolutely nothing! It is essentially just fiber and water.
Add as many and as much a variety of richly colored fruits and veggies as possible.
- The nutritional superstars include: red onion, carrots, broccoli florets, tomatoes, bell peppers, olives, berries, cantaloupe and red grapes.
- Go for volume to take full advantage of the stunning supply of micronutrients and appetite suppressive fiber these plant foods provide. Fruits and vegetables are the reigning nutritional megastars for those that want high nutrient density and a high satiety value along with a minimal number of calories.
Always include approximately 3 ounces of high quality, lean protein (3 ounces is the amount that would fit onto the palm of your hand).
- Your best choices would be: skinless turkey or chicken, hard-cooked eggs or low-fat cottage cheese.
- Shrimp and fish are also fantastic if available
- Vegetarian-protein alternatives would include: tofu squares, chick-peas or other beans, or two tablespoons of nuts/seeds (almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, etc.).
- The body requires a constant supply of protein and protein is nature’s “diet pill” – satisfying your appetite longer than any other type of food.
Top it with the salad dressing known to protect your health and your heart – olive oil and vinegar.
- If not available, choose a reduced fat variety or vinaigrette.
- Avoid the thicker, creamier varieties – as a little does not go a long way and they are generally made from an unhealthy oil base.
Stick with the color rule and avoid “the white stuff” – pasta salads, potato salads, croutons, chicken salads, etc.
- They are high in calories relative to their essential nutrient content and in the case of pasta, potato and croutons, filled with appetite promoting, anti-nutrient, refined starches AKA “The Great White Hazards.”
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