5 Salad Bar Smarts: What to Pick and What to Skip

February 11, 2015 Updated: March 4, 2015

Navigating the salad bar can be as confusing as driving in a foreign country or it can be as easy as 1-2-3. Here are some simple tips for creating a delicious and nutrient-dense salad to keep your energy high, your blood sugar balanced, and your cravings in check for the day.

Greens

Pick: A base of fiber-rich, mineral-dense, leafy greens. Pack your plate with greens including spinach, arugula, kale, Swiss chard or romaine—the darker the better. This will ensure a healthy dose of vitamins A, C, and folate, and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and iron.

Skip: The lighter greens such as watery, nutrient-poor iceberg lettuce.

Protein

Pick: Your favorite lean protein. Choose grilled salmon or chicken, hard-boiled eggs, beans, or a scoop of quinoa to keep your blood sugar balanced and your belly happy. Aim for portions the size of your palm or one-half to three-quarters of a cup.

Skip: The mayo-drowned chicken, crab, or egg salads made with unhealthy fat and unknown additives.

Multi-Colored Veggies

Pick: Go for colorful veggies. Add about 1 cup of those antioxidant soldiers to dress up your plate with color and vibrancy. Include shredded carrots, chopped tomatoes, sliced sweet peppers, or grated beets for a substantial dose of disease fighting minerals and vitamins.

Skip: Just like the mayo-drowned protein, pass over the mystery dressed coleslaw and carrot-raisin concoctions.

(Shutterstock)
Choose grilled salmon or chicken, hard boiled eggs, beans or a scoop of quinoa to keep your blood sugar balanced and your belly happy. (Shutterstock)

Good Fats

Pick: Healthy fat. Remember you must eat fat to lose fat and to boost your brain’s “happy” chemicals. Sprinkle on skin-loving cubed avocado (about ¼ cup) or a handful of heart-healthy nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds.

Skip: The unhealthy fats including cheddar cubes, salty bacon bits, and preservative-packed croutons.

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Dressings

Pick: Your flavor enhancer is the dressing. This is the final step that will make your salad go from simple to sassy. Drizzle on heart-healthy fat such as olive oil, a dollop of balsamic vinegar, and spice it up with pepper and your choice of herbs. Herbs are an instant flavor and mineral booster.

Skip: Those mystery dressings with unhealthy fats, which may contain more sugar than a candy bar and more salt than a French fry.

(Shutterstock)
The final step that will make your salad go from simple to sassy. Drizzle on heart-healthy fat such as olive oil. (Shutterstock)

Now you have a delicious and nutritious meal with all five components to make your salad taste great and keep your health in check. And remember, one trip to the salad bar is enough. Enjoy!

Joy McCarthy is a certified holistic nutritionist and fitness coach. This article was originally published on www.NaturallySavvy.com

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*Image of “salad” via Shutterstock