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SMART SALAD BAR SOLUTIONS FOR SALAD BAR LOVERS
Yes there's an array of decisions awaiting you each time you step into that salad bar buffet line that could very well throw your diet into next week or even next month for that matter. And, there's nothing's worst after thinking you just did your body good by making that trip for a healthy lunch then realizing you just blew it and ate your caloric allowance for the entire week in just one meal! Yikes! Extra cardio for you!
Each salad bar out there offers many tempting high-fat and high-calorie items. Avoiding these sinful dishes and making smarter food choices will not only trim down your waistline but can also give you that extra boost of mid-day energy just when you may find yourself needing it the most.
How do we choose wisely?
To begin your journey to the salad bar, or before any meal for that matter, try drinking a full glass of water 15 minutes prior. This will give you a semi-full feeling and keep you from overindulging and giving into those temptations.
rTry choosing only fresh vegetables, fruits, and legumes, such as kidney beans.
rStay clear of canned fruit that is heavily laden with syrup, not too mention all those preservatives.
rUse cheese sparingly. Cottage cheese with some fresh fruit is among the better cheese choices.
rStay shy of too many avocados and fatty meats and eat only the egg whites of those tempting hard-boiled eggs.
rFresh fish or grilled chicken is a great choice if available.
rChose vegetable broth soups over cream soups every time.
rFor salad crunchiness, try sesame seeds or sunflower seeds over butter-fried croutons, noodles or real bacon bits.
rStir clear of thick and creamy salad dressings unless specified low fat. Vinegar, oil and fresh lemon are always a smart choice.
rAvoid marinated vegetables with oils.
rBe aware that potato, pasta, chicken, seafood and tuna salads are more than likely loaded with oil or mayonnaise and could throw your diet into next week!
rAvoid breads, muffins and butter! Try grain breads or wheat if you absolutely must but go light.
rIf you're one of those with a sweet tooth, try using stevia in your water. Stevia is a natural sugar substitute that may help those sugar cravings and keep you from the sweets. Nonfat yogurt with some fresh fruit may just do the trick too!
Smart Lettuce Choices:
For years it was iceberg lettuce-which by the way is the least nutritious of lettuces- dominated the choice of salad greens. Today we see a wide-variety of lettuce blends that can attribute highly to the nutritional content needed in our daily diet. As a general rule when choosing lettuce keep in mind that the darker green or redder the leaves are means the more nutritious the salad will be.
Get away from the Iceberg doldrums and try using a variety of lettuces like: Romaine, Bibb, Red or Green Leaf, Red or Green Oak Leaf, Boston, Chicory, Escarole, Radicchio, Watercress, Arugula. The list of lettuce choices goes on and on and all mixed together makes any salad a more enjoyable one.
Try preparing your salads at home, put your dressing in a separate container, and pack in a cooler to take with you for lunch. Besides, you could get a week of healthy salads out of what you may spend on one trip to the salad bar and then you can avoid those temptations all together!
Sheldon Margen, M.D., and the Editors of the University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition. Health Letter Associates, 1992, p. 107-115.