Savvy Salad Survival Guide

Simple Cucumber Tomato Yellow Pepper Salad Above
Salads can be your best friend or worst enemy when it comes to healthy eating and weight loss; It all comes down to how you build ’em. That was the topic at our Weight Watchers meetings last week.

To get ready I did a little research on popular restaurant salads and couldn’t believe what I discovered. Talk about a healthy eater’s worst nightmare!

Scary Salads + How to Avoid Them

According to Chili’s Nutritional Information, the Boneless Buffalo Chicken Salad has 990 calories and 68 g of fat and a Weight Watcher’s PointsPlus Value (PPV) of 26. The Applebee’s Grilled Shrimp & Spinach Salad was just as bad, with 960 calories and 27 PPV.

So, to avoid a dietary disaster, it’s important to do yourself a favor and always check menu stats online before dining out.

And be on the look out to LIMIT and/or  AVOID:

  • Deep Fried Chicken and/or Shrimp
  • Croutons
  • Crispy Asian Noodles
  • Crispy Tortilla Strips
  • Creamy Dressings like Ranch and Blue Cheese
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Creamy Mayonnaise Covered Salads like Macaroni Salad, Tuna Salad, Chicken Salad, Potato Salad

To build a “just right” salad at home or out at your favorite salad bar, all it takes is a little know-how and practice.

Apples, Cranberries, Walnuts, Cheddar, Vinaigrette and Mixed Greens

Apples, Cranberries, Walnuts, Cheddar, Vinaigrette and Mixed Greens

Building a Smarter Salad

The key is to load up on 0 PPV veggies and fruits and then balance it out with lean protein and small amounts of more flavorful toppings. By mixing and matching the following ingredients to suit your tastes, you can create an endless supply of healthy, satisfying, and delicious salad combinations that are sure to please your tummy and your taste buds.

This is the system I follow at home, changing the ingredients with what’s available and in season. I smile and my heart sings every time Rod goes back for seconds and tells me he never realized how great a salad could be.

Mesclun with pears and blue cheese

Mesclun with Pears and Blue Cheese

Load Up on Any of These Vegetables & Fruits (0 PPV):

  • Mixed Greens
  • Spinach
  • Romaine
  • Arugula
  • Iceberg
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Beets
  • Chopped Herbs (Parsley, Mint, Basil, Cilantro)
  • Radishes
  • Onions
  • Bell Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Tomatoes
  • Sprouts
  • Celery
  • Mushrooms
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Pears
  • Melon
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Pineapple
  • Mandarin Oranges, packed in juice, drained
  • Artichoke Hearts
  • Hearts of Palm
  • Jicama
  • Zucchini
  • Steamed Green Beans

Add in Moderation:

1 PointsPlus Value (PPV)…

  • Slivered Almonds (1 tablespoon)
  • Chopped Walnuts (1 tablespoon)
  • Sunflower Seeds (1 tablespoon)
  • Crumbled Goat Cheese (1 tablespoon)
  • Corn (1/4 cup)
  • Peas (1/2 cup)
  • Black Beans (1/4 cup)
  • Dried Cranberries (2 tablespoons)
  • Sunflower Seeds (1 tablespoon)
  • Bacon (1 slice)
  • Fat-Free Cottage Cheese (1/2 cup)
  • Anchovy Fillets, canned in oil, drained (5)

2 Points Plus (PPV)…

  • Chickpeas (1/3 cup)
  • Canned Tuna in water, drained (1/2 cup)
  • Croutons (1/4 cup)
  • Avocado (1/4 medium)
  • Hardboiled Egg (1)
  • Feta Cheese (3 tablespoons)
  • Cooked Shrimp (4 ounces)

3 PointsPlus (PPV)…

  • Grilled Chicken Breast (3 ounces)
  • Lean Cooked Ham (3 ounces)
  • Cooked Turkey Breast (3 ounces)
  • Small Cooked Potato (5 ounces)

4 PointsPlus (PPV)

  • Canned Salmon, drained (1/2 cup)

Top with Your Favorite Dressing (2 tablespoons):

  • Salsa (0 PPV)
  • Vinegar (0 PPV)
  • Lemon Juice (0 PPV)
  • Annie’s Natural’s Lite Honey Mustard Vinaigrette (1 PPV)
  • Annie’s Naturals Lite Raspberry Vinaigrette (1 PPV)
  • Low-Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette (1 PPV)
  • Newman’s Own Lighten Up! Low-Fat Sesame Ginger (1 PPV)
  • Italian (2 PPV)
  • Thousand Island (4 PPV)
  • French (4 PPV)
  • Homemade Oil & Vinegar (4 PPV)

More: Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes

More Salad Recipes

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