Monday, May 4, 2009

National Salad Month?

I just read in my Women's Health newsletter that May is National Salad Month. Man, they'll make a national month out of anything won't they?
I found it interesting that they made a point to mention that many salads have more fat and calories than a Big Mac because of all the crap people put on them...fried crap, heavy salad dressings, cheese, etc.
When I was college, I was notorious for this problem. I opted for the salad bar to try to be healthy, but my roommates would pick on me for dumping cheese on it. Not saying cheese is BAD, but I love me some cheese.
So here are some obvious pointers.

Try to make your salad 3/4 veggies. The more veggies, the more full your plate will be, the less room for things like fried crap and too much cheese. I love to add peas, carrots, onions, mushrooms, broccoli, and if available, eggplant (if it's not marinated) Also, try not to get just plain iceberg lettuce. Fill the salad up with spinach, arugula, or a spring mix. And the rest of the salad should have lean proteins including grilled chicken, tofu or fish, beans, and yes, cheese...but be mindful of how much you use!

Beware of the dressing! Luckily I have always been a oil and vinegar type of girl. I hate creamy dressings (although I do love Cesar salad...??) I measure out my dressing using a 1 1/2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon olive oil. It might sound like a lot but it evens out the flavor and thank God olive oil has great health benefits. If you're not at a buffet, just ask for the dressing on the side.

Toppings can be dangerous! Aside from the cheese, many salad bars provide potato, pasta, chicken and tuna salads (MAYO = BAD!) fried chicken/tofu pieces, and my other personal favorite, croutons. I have given up on all of these things. When I do get a Cesar salad if I forget to say No Croutons, I spend half of my time putting them to the side....and then I realize how many they give you. A LOT! They are drenched in oil, fried, or baked, but either way full of unnecessary calories.

Don't eat the bowl! Many salads come in a fantastic tortilla or bread bowl that even I have a hard time resisting. I now make sure if I find a salad I love that comes in one of these edible fixtures, I say "pass" and ask for it to be placed in a regular bowl.

Also, try to pass on the bread too. Many salads come with bread or a muffin on the side. Although difficult to pass up, I find if I push the plate to the edge of the table the server will take it away. If you can avoid the butter (just use jam, preserves, etc.) then it's OK. But try to limit your bread to one piece, especially if it's white bread.
I don't avoid bread by any means--I know grains are a big and important part of your diet. I do find, however, that they are added to meals where they are not needed, and I try to avoid the extra calories whenever possible.

I attempted yoga this morning. However, I was starving after only 15 minutes of being awake. I can usually wait a good 30 minutes before eating in the morning, but man, I was hungry from the get-go, so I had my boring and usual bowl of oatmeal that I added a tsp. of flax was a great addition! The flavor was amazing. I used one tbsp. of flax and only one tbsp. almond slivers instead of the normal two and I was stuffed by the end of my bowl.

I plan on doing some more spring cleaning today, and at some point I'll do my yoga DVD. Maybe before dinner?

Go eat a salad.

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