Healthy Salads

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Join me on my "I Fit and Healthy" journey! Maria is an Upstate New Yorker interested in all things healthy-living related! She started the "I Fit and Healthy" Blog to document life and her pursuit of healthy living. By day she work in digital media and advertising. By night she’s a first-rate wife and mom of two crazy little girls! She is self-proclaimed addicted to her iPhone/iPad and always on the hunt for the latest health tools and fitness gadgets.

Healthy salads – do they aid weight loss? Do you need healthy salads to lose weight or are they mostly overrated? Just like the high fiber foods list, healthy salads can help you lose weight, assuming you have a realistic weight-loss goal (yeah, losing 10 pounds in 5 days is not a realistic goal, just in case you are wondering). Healthy salads are especially useful if you already know how many calories you need to lose weight, but you need to be very careful because salads can do a lot of damage to your diet.

What am I talking about? Many people seem to think that salads can do no wrong, which is not true. Healthy salads are only healthy if they contain nutritious, low-calorie ingredients. Unfortunately, restaurant salads often pack more than 1,000 calories per plate. Did you know that some restaurants even change their name in the effort to hide the calorie count of their dishes? They do. For example, the NYC Houston’s changed its name to Hillstone to avoid mandatory chain-restaurant nutrition disclosure.

In short, some healthy salads are actually worse than the weight loss soup, they only pretend to be healthy and diet-friendly. So what can you do? Should you avoid eating salads at a restaurant? No, you should not. Jenny Craig’s chief nutritionist, Lisa Talamini, says that there are simple ways to make better choices. “Leave off most of the high-calorie ingredients, and for those that remain, cut the amount in half.” And here are some practical examples of how to do it.

Healthy salads deconstructed The Cheesecake Factory’s Caesar salad (with chicken) is the gold standard for restaurant-style Caesar salads, but it contains 1,510 calories. The grilled chicken and romaine hearts are healthy – but the Parmesan cheese, dressing and heaps of croutons amp up the calories. Look for the Cheesecake Factory’s Weight Management salads instead. The Asian Chicken salad (571 calories) is full of good-for-you (and filling) carrots, bean sprouts, snow peas, almonds and sesame seeds and tossed with crispy noodles and low-cal sesame-soy dressing.

Chili’s Quesadilla Explosion salad is an explosion of calories too. It contains 1,390 calories. While the salad seems like a healthy mix of fajita-marinated chicken, cilantro and tomatoes, the fire-grilled cheese quesadilla wedges that garnish the salad make it more than just a leafy-greens meal. Chili’s Spicy Garlic Lime Grilled Shrimp salad (580 calories) has crunchy tortilla strips instead of high-fat quesadillas. Plus, the garlic and lime-flavored grilled shrimp, pico de gallo and fire-roasted tomato vinaigrette are lower-calorie ways to spice up a salad.

Outback Steakhouse’s Queensland salad may look healthy with its fresh greens, but two types of cheese, chicken salad, eggs, bacon, toasted almonds and croutons mixed with blue cheese dressing add up to 104.7 grams of fat and 1,362 calories. A great alternative is Outback’s Classic Roasted Filet Wedge salad – with only 29.7 grams of fat. Sure, it is topped with blue cheese dressing and bacon, but a generous portion of lean meat eliminates the need for other fatty fixings. Plus, the steak has loads of protein. It contains only 563 calories.

The bottom line on healthy salads As you can see, not all salads are created equal, far from it. Even at the same restaurant, there is almost a 1,000-calorie difference between different salads. Think about it, 1,000 calories, that’s a huge number. The goods news is that even if you need to lose weight, you do not need to avoid eating out; you just need to be aware of what’s on the menu. [via]

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