|Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad with Oriental Vinaigrette|
So what happened to our healthy salad? Well, it was hijacked by a throng of calorie monger thugs who filled it with all sorts of unhealthy ingredients...all but poisoning our once nourishing dish. The main culprits? Ingredients such as cheese, deep fried croutons, and enough high-calorie salad dressing to drown a fish. Toss enough of these together into a bowl and it doesn't really matter how much spinach, tomatoes, or cucumbers you add...it won't be enough to undo the damage.
When choosing a salad at a restaurant be sure to explore the ingredients. Ask the server to leave the croutons off and ditch large amounts of cheese (or cheese altogether if you're up for it). If there is a protein added make sure that it isn't deep fried protein, but grilled. And probably most importantly, take it easy on the dressing. If you are really hard core about eating healthy and/or losing weight, just ask the server for some olive oil, salt and pepper, and a lemon slice/lemon juice and then add these to your salad to taste. If you are not as hard core, simply stay closer to the vinaigrette dressings and the "Light" dressing and don't overdo it. A few tablespoons is all you really need. When making salads at home, toss your salad ingredients into a large zip-lock baggie with your salad dressing (a few tablespoons) and shake it up. This will help coat ALL the leaves with the dressing, ensuring a flavor burst with each bite and helping you to avoid the temptation to soak the veggies with more.
Another way to give your salad a boost is to stick with dark leafy greens as opposed to the whiter/lighter lettuce. Ice burg lettuce won't hurt you, but it doesn't really help you either. Mostly water, ice burg lettuce has little nutritional value at all. Instead, opt for the spinach, romaine, kale, or other dark leafy greens. (Do this at places like Subway, too, which is notorious for its ubiquitous ice burg lettuce, but which also has a fresh spinach option, though less publicized).
A lot of restaurants refuse to disclose their nutritional stats, so be careful. The "Eat This, Not That!" app for the iPhone might be worth the download! (the books are great, too! and they have a "For Kids" version!)
It's time we take back the salad! Who's with me?