Saturday, September 17, 2011

Build a Better Salad

Just because your meal is green doesn't mean it's lean. Get to know these all-star ingredients and sneaky fat traps -- so you can turn a green monster into a super bowl.
By Rachel Sturtz; Source: Marisa Moore, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association

Ingredient Showdown
Toss In...
  • Almonds. Fiber, protein, and healthy fat keep you sated. Don't go too nuts, since they're calorie-dense; use just a tablespoon of slivered almonds.
  • Lean protein. The omega-3 fatty acids in grilled salmon help prevent heart disease and boost brain power. Go fish with 3 ounces, or a portion about the size of your palm.
  • A good egg. If you eat only the white, the yolk's on you. The yolk contains vitamin D, which may guard against cancer, diabetes, and more. It also has 4.5 grams of fat, so limit your salad to one hard-boiled egg.
  • Avocado. The monounsaturated fat in avocado helps slim your waist. Toss in a sixth of an avocado, which has about 55 calories and 5 (good-for-you) fat grams.
  • Go-to greens. The darker the leaves, the more vitamins and minerals. Try a spring mix (e.g., mesclun) for varied textures and flavors.
  • Soy beans. Research shows that soy may protect your ticker, lower your cancer risk, and build bone. Find precooked edamame in the supermarket's frozen-foods section.
  • DIY dressing. Nix fatty store-bought varieties. Mix 1/2 cup olive or walnut oil (both supply heart-healthy fats and flavor), 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, and chopped parsley or thyme (makes four servings).
  • Various veggies. Load up on nutrient-rich picks like peppers, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and tomatoes. They have just 20 calories per serving, so you can't eat too many.
Toss Out...
  • Loser leaves. Avoid the iceberg: These greens are as low in nutrients as they are in flavor.
  • Fat bombs. Bacon bits add 100 calories and 4 grams of artery-clogging saturated fat per ounce. Use turkey or Canadian bacon instead.
  • Sweet nothings. Candied walnuts and sugared almonds have up to 180 calories per ounce. You might as well throw a bunch of M&M's on your salad!
  • Foe carbs. Buttery croutons are a recipe for high cholesterol. For healthy crunch, crumble a few whole-grain crackers on your greens.
  • Pollo loco. Fried chicken can pack up to 15 extra fat grams per 3-ounce serving. Yikes!
  • Scary dairy. Sad but true: One measly ounce of cheese contains up to 120 calories and 9 grams of fat. Use lower-fat soft cheese, such as goat or feta, sparingly.
  • Dressing disasters. Blue cheese is the worst offender of the creamy dressings, with 145 calories and 15 grams of fat in a 2-tablespoon serving.

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