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Friday, March 2, 2007

Take It or Leave It at the Salad Bar

How to get from one end to the other without detonating an explosion of bad fats, sodium, sugar, and refined carb? Because salad bars can be diet salvation or junk-food minefields. Here some tips for:

1. Greens Ones

Build a vitamin and fiber packed foundation by starting with roughly 1 cup of spinach and romaine leaves for more than half of your daily vitamin A and all of your K, plus some C, folate, two potent vision protectors, and more.

You can skip, lighter greens tend to offer less nutritionally. Iceberg lettuce, for instance, delivers only about 7% of the A you need, some K and not much else.

2. Bright Veggetables

Then, add about 1 cup of the most colorful crudités like: broccoli, carrots, cherry tomatoes, green and red peppers, beets. Vibrant veggies give you more fiber, minerals, vitamins, and disease-fighting antioxidants than their paler companions, like celery and cucumbers.

You can leave anything coated in mayo or an indefinable dressing, including carrot and raisin mixes, cole slaw, and potato salad.

3. Lean Proteins

Take for about ½ cup of these. Chickpeas and kidney beans are nifty sources of fat-free protein (6 grams each). Sliced hard-boiled eggs (8 grams) are another smart choice; just limit the yolk to limit the fat.

Skip some chicken, tuna, or crab salads - they're usually made with high-fat mayo; three-bean salad, which typically is afloat in a sea of oil; and cottage cheese, which is high in aging (read artery-clogging) saturated fat.

4. Crunchy and Extra Flavor

For cheese, add 1 tablespoon of Parmesan (22 calories) to punch up the flavor, or 1 tablespoon of walnuts or sunflower seeds for some healthy crunch. Both have good-for-your-heart fats, which help your body absorb the nutrients in all those veggies.

Just leave cheddar cubes because you'll quickly eat more than you need. Croutons, they may look harmless but at 100 calories per ¼ cup, they're usually high-cal booby traps of refined carbs, sodium, and trans fats. Ditto for crunchy Asian noodles.

5. Swirl Dressing

Now swirl on about 1 tablespoon of heart-healthy olive oil, a splash of vinegar, a grating of pepper, and toss, toss, toss. Ask any chef. It's the secret to a perfect salad - thorough tossing ensures that all the flavors and textures are evenly distributed and lets you use minimal dressing to maximum effect.

Aviod right past those vats of ready-made salad dressings. Even the low-fat or fat-free versions are usually loaded with salt, sugar, and additives. And just 2 tablespoons of regular blue cheese or ranch have about 160 fat-packed calories

Tips For Fruit salad

Go for whatever's fresh like melons, berries, pineapple, kiwi and top with 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped walnuts or sunflower seeds for a dollop of good fats and crunchy flavor. Then buy a small container of low- or no-fat yogurt/cottage cheese for creamy protein minus the sat fat in dairy foods. Don’t put syrupy canned peaches, apricots, pears, etc. They have far more calories and fewer nutrients than fresh fruit.

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