Salad is often seen as the ultimate health food, but many people are unwittingly derailing their weight loss efforts with tasty but not so low-cal ingredients.
Is your salad making you fat?
When choosing salad ingredients, here are three items you should be aware of:
Generally, homemade salad dressings that are vinegar based are fine. However, premade dressings (think thick and creamy Caesar Salad dressing) can be laden with calories.
Healthy Hint: Choose vinegar based dressings when possible. If you are having a salad at home, consider making your own dressing, there are heaps of great recipes out there.
Salami, bacon and other fatty deli meats
Bacon, salami and other fatty processed meats are often included in salads and they are all high in salt, saturated fat and calories. Including 50g of salami, for example, adds an additional 237kcal or 990kJ to the dish.
Healthy Hint: The addition of protein transforms a salad from a side into a balanced meal. However, a healthier option is to choose canned beans/legumes (any kind), hardboiled eggs, lean meats and water-packed tuna over processed meat. Also be mindful of portion sizes.
Croutons and Other Toppings
Croutons and other crunchy bread-like ingredients such as the tortilla pieces or dried noodles included in salad are often sautéed, baked or fried in oil. Half a cup of croutons has 63kcal or 265kJ.
Healthy Hint: Instead of croutons, serve your salad with a slice of multigrain bread on the side. This option is more filling, higher in fibre and a good source of many nutrients including vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc.
Just as unhealthy salad ingredients can sabotage your weight loss efforts, not having enough in your salad bowl could also be leading to kilo creep.
Many people think the best salads comprise solely of meat, non-starchy vegetables and a tiny bit of dressing. Some choose to skip the dressing altogether. The problem with this type of salad is that it’s very unbalanced and contains very little energy. This means that by 3pm, it’s highly likely that you will be really hungry, have sugar cravings and be more likely to reach for unhealthy snacks.
Healthy Energy’s recipe for ‘The Perfect Salad’:
First, your base (two or more cups) should be non-starchy vegetables, such as spinach, tomato, cucumber, carrots or mushrooms.
To that, you need to add 100 grams of any time of protein, such as lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, beef, tofu, tempeh, or tinned fish.
From there, add one part (half to one cup) of carbohydrates, such as plain pasta, potatoes, corn, sweet potato or wild rice.
Finally, finish with a small portion of good fats, such as a small touch of avocado or a sprinkling of nuts (such as pine nuts).
Salads can be a healthy and filling choice, but just remember, all salads are not equal. As you can see from our suggestions, there are still plenty of delicious, healthy options to put in your salad bowl that won’t derail your weight loss efforts. Mix it up to avoid boredom and enjoy!