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Build a Healthier Salad

In late Spring, I find a crisp salad to be the perfect lunch. When it comes to watching your waistline, all salads are not created equal. Here are a few guidelines to help navigate the salad bar and keep your salad healthy and not a vehicle for unknown calories.

  • Do make your own salad whenever possible.
    Don't think that the pre-made salads are always going to be healthy.
  • Do get the darker leafy greens, like spinach, romaine, or arugula.
    Don't fill your bowl with iceberg lettuce — it offers little to nothing nutritionally.
  • Do load up on fresh veggies.
    Don't load up on roasted veggies — salad bar roasted veggies are often coated with butter and oil.

I've got more tips for building a healthier salad, so


  • Do get a simple olive oil and balsamic dressing on the side.
    Don't drench your salad in a creamy dressing — even lowfat creamy dressings are loaded with sodium.
  • Do toss a handful raw nuts on top of your greens.
    Don't throw a salad on top of your salad — tuna, egg, and chicken salads are loaded with mayonnaise.
  • Do add a protein like ahi tuna, hard boiled eggs, or baked chicken breast.
    Don't add bacon bits rationalizing they're providing protein.


Join The Conversation
ella1978 ella1978 8 years
Last week my salad was lettuce, corn, chick peas, tomatoes, avacado, hard boiled egg w/ whole wheat croutons. Yum.
doogirl doogirl 8 years
An array of colorful vegetables makes any salad better! I like to add spinich, red cabbage, carrots, celery, cauliflower, and red bell peppers to my romaine. Delicious!!!
poptart-princess poptart-princess 8 years
i actually like to use Dijon or spicy brown mustard in my homemade vinaigrette dressings too, with some fresh herbs.
Giasbash6260 Giasbash6260 8 years
MY SALAD CONSISTS OF: -Spinach -Bell Peppers -Tomatoes -Artichoke Hearts -Green Beans -Grilled Onions & Eggplant Strips (basted with olive oil - used as my dressing too) -Sun-Dried Tomatoes -Sesame Seeds -Nori Sheets -Some sort of protein like Salmon, Mackerel, Tuna, Sea Bass, Sardines, Etc.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I always make my own salads and I put nuts on them...lots of protein and good fats, plus they add a nice crunch and texture to the salad. I also make my own dressing with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and mustard. Sounds kind of weird, but it's really good.
livetolove livetolove 8 years
I've been adding avocado lately--heaven!
Renee3327 Renee3327 8 years
I make my own salads and roast my own veggies to add in so I can control the oil (I just use a little olive oil spray). I also like adding in quinoa. I think the healthiest salads are always the ones you make yourself at home because you know exactly what is going into them.
cassedy04 cassedy04 8 years
i dont think fit is saying roasted veggies are always unhealthy... just that if you're at a salad bar then you dont know how much oil (healthy or unhealthy) and how much butter they are using to roast their veggies. in this case its better to go with the raw veggies.
Zulkey Zulkey 8 years
I have to add some sort of protein/fat if I want a salad to be a meal--if it doesn't have meat, nuts, cheese or avocado on it then it's just sad. or a side.
fleurfairy fleurfairy 8 years
I like to add a strong cheese as well. Like feta, blue, or goat cheese. We need dairy!
sldc sldc 8 years
And just why would oil on roasted veggies be unhealthy? We NEED healthy oils in our diets. Switch to healthy oils and use it freely. It is hard to use too much oil, because of the obvious weird mouth feel excess oil will yield.
LindsayLou LindsayLou 8 years
I eat salad a lot for lunches so sometimes I need to switch it up. I love adding roasted veggies to my salad! I make them myself, so I know how much oil is going into it. Yes there is some oil, but they're VEGETABLES! So good!
Ayu Ayu 8 years
I add boiled egg, light cheese and red beans. I use a little bit of homemade organic roasted pumpkin seed oil and vinegar for dressing. It's a perfect meal.
Kellyim Kellyim 8 years
I'm also a big fan of adding some strong cheese, like feta or just regular goat cheese.
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