Chewsday Tuesday – The “Salads are healthy” myth: 3 fixes for your lunchtime salad

salads debate


So it’s lunchtime and you head down to your office’s cafeteria, or favorite lunch spot and opt for the salad bar, or order a salad from the menu.  Because, salads are healthy.  Right?

Not always.

But you can totally make them awesomely healthy with the right choices at the salad bar, the right ordering instructions, or making your own at home.

salad barI love salad bars.  Building my own salad is my favorite thing.  I always add tons of stuff.  I have the most control over my food when I prepare it myself.  Here my tips for creating your own healthy salad at the bar:

Load up on the greens!  Choose a spring mix and spinach as the base and top with iceburg.  These greens pack a powerful nutritional punch, for every little calories.  Add those veggies!  Carrots, cucumbers, broccoli…go nuts! What ever veggies you love add em!!  Most veggies are super low in calories, so you can fill up without going over your calorie budget.  Try a protein.  A lot of salad bars have hardboiled eggs, and I generally get 2 for my salad.  They are a great clean and lean protein, and the yolks can be removed if you are looking for low fat.


This is where you have the least control over the salad.  But here are some ways that you can choose the best salad on the menu

Backyard BBQ chicken Salad

Look for the greenest greens, again spring mix and spinach are really great.  Look for fresh produce, like strawberries, avocados, tomatoes and such.  When it comes to the protein on the salad look for lean, un breaded chicken…grilled is best, or shrimp, turkey breast, even steak is great.  Skip the tortilla strips, and sour cream on a taco salad…even the cheese if you can.

The above salad is my favorite in the history of ever.  But with the dressing its nearly 800 calories.  So I make it home all the time, or variations of it nearly weekly.

A word about additionals and dressings…get them on the side.  For things like seeds, nuts, croutons, or the ever popular “bacon bits” (just say no to fakin bacon), at the salad bar, use a dish to portion out those items, and add the dressing on the side, or ask the server to put them on the side rather than on the salad itself.  Most salads are unhealthy for one reason: dressings.  They are typically super high in calories and fat and that healthy veggie salad you just made is now covered in 1200 calories of dressing.  Most salads have a serving size of 1 to 2 TABLESPOONS at about 60-80 calories a pop…and you know restaurants probably are not measuring out that portion for you before they dump it on your salad.  I love me some blue cheese and french mixed together…mmm mmm mmm…but I don’t like it on my ass.  So I try to stick to vinaigrettes most of the time now.  And save those high calorie dressings for a cheat day.


I will let this great graphic be your guide here…plus 3 salads I make at home regularly for your lunchtime enjoyment!

at home


Do you have a favorite salad?  What’s your go-to healthy salad?



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