Dress your salad the smart, healthy way

Here is how to toss it right.

Spinach salad with hot bacon dressing can set you back 800 calories and 50 fat grams mostly due to the bacon and croutons. But you can whack 40 fat grams and nearly half the calories out of the bowl by substituting meaty-tasting sautéed mushrooms and using just 2 teaspoons of bacon for garnish. Keep a few plain, toasted croutons rather than a cheesy fried version. Make your own balsamic dressing by adding 3 parts vinegar, 1 part oil.

To make it better:

  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1/2 cup sautéed mushrooms
  • 2 tsp. bacon
  • 1/4 cup plain, toasted croutons
  • 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbsp. olive oil

When it comes to Cobb salads, blue cheese crumbles and dressing make this salad sinful, along with bacon. This type of salad is almost 1,000 calories so try cutting down the offerings. Two slices of bacon rather than 4, 3 tablespoons of avocado rather than 1/2 the fruit, and measure out 2 tablespoons of reduced calorie dressing instead of 1/4 cup of the real deal.

Actually omit the blue cheese crumbles altogether. Most don't realize 1 ounce of cheese averages 100 fat calories.

But this version delivers under 500 calories and 29 grams of fat, not 70.

Make it better:

  • 2 cups salad greens
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 3 Tbsp. avocado
  • 2 Tbsp. reduce calorie blue cheese dressing
Due to the deep-fried chips, ground beef and cheese that smothers the lettuce, taco salads get a bad wrap.

How about shredded chicken in taco sauce as a nice substitution for the beef, with a smattering of reduced fat feta provides a creamy tang along with a handful on baked not fried tortilla chips? Rather than 800 calories, you'll eat just 350.

Make it better:

  • 2 cups salad greens
  • 1/2 cup cooked chopped or shredded chicken in taco or enchilada sauce
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 5 large baked tortilla chips

If you're at a salad bar remember protein choices should be lean, like chicken, turkey or tofu. Beans are a great high-fiber filler.

When it comes to nuts, seeds, even bacon, you want to use the OK sign as your guide. Your thumb and your index finger together closely resemble this unit measurement of a tablespoon. Which is exactly the amount you should have.


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