Father Andrew's Hot Body Gym

October 19, 2009

When salads go wrong.

Filed under: diet — Tags: , , , — Lady Who Cooks @ 9:18 pm



Ok people, we all think it and I think it’s society that has brainwashed us into thinking that if we eat a salad we are on the cusp of ultimate healthiness.  I know we all think we’re doing something good for ourselves by opting for the all-you-can-eat salad bar but when we take a moment to reflect, what are we slopping onto our plate?  Micah and I witnessed the other day a youngster about 80lbs overweight with a mile high pile of Bacon Bits on his plate (or should I say Faken bits?  Soy bits flavored like bacon…gross)

So it’s pretty easy to see why not all salads are created equally and just because you eat a salad doesn’t mean you just made a healthy choice.  For instance, the base of a salad is of course lettuce, and the most common lettuce choice is iceberg.  Iceberg is like chewing a sock, nutritionally it doesn’t do much good (See here for stats). If you want to do something good for yourself, go for the lettuce with more bang-for-your-buck.  A smart salad choice would be opting for spinach with 181% Daily Value for Vitamin K (see full stats here), which is excellent seeing how Osteoporosis and coronary heart disease are strongly related to diets deficient in Vitamin K.  So don’t skimp on the good stuff.   Your body needs these types of vitamins and minerals to function properly.

So past the lettuce and onto the toppings, any veggie would be a good addition especially if it includes green and red bell pepper, onion, olives, mushrooms, carrots, alfalfa sprouts, and beets.  Remember corn is NOT a veggie!  It’s a grain.  Skip over the Bacon bits and reach for some sunflower seeds, pecans, or almonds to add some good fat. If you’re at a buffet, refrain from the pasta salads, croutons, and crackers.

Always remember the protein.  If you go by The Zone you need to have 40% carbs, 30% fat and 30% protein.  Make sure to pair your veggie wonderland with some tasty tuna, salmon, egg, chicken, or beef, to just name a few.  This is the part of the salad that will keep you full and satisfied for a long period of time.

Lastly, if you top off your bowl of nutrition-O’s with a pile of sugar loaded salad dressing then you’ve just ruined your chance for a truly nutritious meal.  Most salad dressings contain the dreaded high fructose corn syrup (visit here for details).  Yes, this terrible concoction is everywhere!  A good suggestion would be to go for the oil and vinegar, even if we can’t be sure what type of oil they are using it’s a better alternative since the oil isn’t heated to the point of becoming rancid.  If you absolutely hate the OV option then keep your dressing in a separate bowl, dip your fork in the dressing, then eat some salad.  You’ll consume less dressing and still taste the flavor.

So think about this the next time you’re prepping your bowl of rabbit food.  Keep the meal simple and balanced.   Stay away from questionable ingredients and don’t let the fact that you’re eating a salad fool you into thinking that whatever it contains is good for you.

Here’s a recipe for my favorite salad and please, feel free to share yours.

1 cup spinach

1 cup mixed greens

Handful of chopped walnuts, grapes, cherry tomatoes, red and green bell pepper, and red onion

3 oz of grilled chicken breast

Olive oil dressing:

4 tbsp olive oil (EVOO the really good green kind)

A pinch of mint, thyme, and parsley

A dash of garlic salt

Image courtesy of Ralph and Jenny



  1. This is good stuff. I particularly like the part about dipping your fork in the dressing. Good idea! I can’t handle vinegar so I’ve never known what to do about the salad-dryness dilema.
    Here’s a question: I personally find it difficult to stomach raw spinach and a lot of the leafy greens that actually contain nutritional value. Any other options for people like me who only seem to be able to tolerate spinach when it’s cooked?

    Comment by Kathy — October 20, 2009 @ 9:48 am

    • No, you’re def not the only one. 🙂 I like to mix spinach with other more appealing lettuces. Also, if you put a lot of really great ingredients in the salad, it won’t be so overwhelmed with the lettuce.

      Comment by abby vandegrift — October 20, 2009 @ 11:13 am

  2. Great post, Abby!

    Kathy, just go for the darkest colored lettuce you can handle. Red leaf is great, or just bibb or romaine is good. Anything other than iceberg!

    It is quite true that salads can be deceptively un-nutritious. Asian” salads are among the worst, as they usually have sweet dressings and things like “asian noodles” added to the top. Take for example the Zaxby’s Zensation Zalad. Even with grilled chicken instead of fried, it still has 70 grams of carbs, though at least with the chicken it does have 40 gram of protein. The worst are the salads with no protein, but loaded with fruit, crutons, and/or ranch. Be careful of candied nuts, which are loaded with sugar, and dried fruit like cranberries or cherries, which are also high in sugar.

    Another great addition for dairy eaters is some cottage cheese, which is protein dense.

    If you don’t like vinegar, just use a very light dose of olive oil with some herbs. A really simple way to go is to use a good lemon pepper blend or all purpose seasoning mix. Just toss it really well!

    My favorite salad is probably as follows:

    Summer Seafood Salad

    3 cups mixed greens
    1/4 avocado
    1/4 c fresh blueberries
    1/4 c fresh strawberries
    1/8 c sliced almonds, lightly toasted
    1/2 carrot, shredded
    a dash of Newman’s Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing

    1 fish filet (of your choice) baked with Emeril’s Essence and lemon juice

    Also, Applebee’s has a fantastic salad: the California Shrimp Salad. It has delicious shrimp, avocado, egg, romaine lettuce, and tomatoes. Get it without bacon and with the dressing on the side (use Abby’s fork-dipping method) and you have a great sald with 35 g protein, 25 g carbs, and some good fat.

    Also, when you order a salad at a restaurant, see if they can switch iceberg for mixed greens or romaine. They almost always can!

    Comment by Mara — October 20, 2009 @ 11:34 am

  3. Great additions Mara thanks! The seafood salad sounds delish.

    Comment by abbyleev — October 21, 2009 @ 2:57 pm

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