Salads are always at the top of every dieter’s list, but they aren’t always the best choice. Salads can be packed with high-calorie ingredients and topped with even higher-calorie dressing, resulting in a major diet disaster.
Today’s salads look a lot different than the salads I grew up eating. When I was younger, there were only a few popular options – Garden Salad, Caesar Salad, Greek Salad and Cobb Salad. Then, fruit, nuts and other toppings started appearing on salads everywhere.
The original fruit and nut salad, the Waldorf Salad (which can have over 1,500 calories with dressing), originally created in the 1800s at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City, became famous in the nineties after its public appearance in novel The American Psycho.
Now there are million different salads flooding restaurant menus. You can have a taco salad, oriental salad, barbecue salad, fried chicken salad and pretty much anything else you want to throw on top of lettuce. Sadly, too many dieters choose a high-calorie salad over many healthy traditional meals.
For example, Applee’s Grilled Shrimp N’ Spinach Salad is HIGHER in calories (nearly 200 more calories) than the Steak & Fried Shrimp Combo. Who would think a grilled shrimp salad would be nearly 1,000 calories and have twice the fat as fried food? Their Oriental salad has 93gms of FAT! Ouch! The good news is Applebee’s has plenty of other healthy options, including salads, on their menu – you just have to check the calories BEFORE you order!
When you are facing a menu, don’t let the salads fool you. Do your research and choose healthy choices based on calories and not by appearance – and if you make your own, here are a few tips to help you trim down the calories (and your waistline).
7 tips to creating healthy salads:
1. Limit your ingredients. The more ingredients on the plate, the more calories you will consume.
2. Choose only one high-fat topping. Goat cheese, walnuts and avocado are tasty high-calorie toppings but should be limited.
3. Choose only one sweet topping. If you like fruit, don’t overdo it. Craisins, grapes, orange, pear and apples are healthy, but can add up quickly if you aren’t careful.
4. Finely chop or slice your yummy items. Get more yum in each bite by slicing your apples or chopping your walnuts into smaller pieces.
5. Be choosey about your dressing. Some dressings have more calories than an entire salad. Avoid dressings that have a lot of cream or oil in them. You can cut a lot of calories by watching what you pour on your salad.
6. Add water. If you make homemade dressing, cut your oil in half by diluting with water. Dilute thick bottled dressings with water and enjoy all the flavor on every bite while saving calories too.
7. Count calories. If you are dining out, ask for nutritional information or use a calorie counter app to search items. If you are making a salad, add up your ingredients so you keep yourself in check.
I experimented in the kitchen Sunday to create a new pulled chicken that would taste great alone – or in a meal. I came up with this sweet and spicy pulled chicken recipe. Use the pulled chicken in burritos, salads, rice bowls (recipe also below), flat bread pizzas, wraps or sandwiches. Here are my 2 recipes!
Mexi-Mango Pulled Chicken Crock Pot Recipe
- 8 Chicken Breasts
- 1/3 Cup Water
- 2 T Olive Oil
- 1 Package of Lipton onion soup mix
- 1 Cup Diced Mango
- 1 Cup Mango Peach Salsa
- 1 Diced Onion
- 1 Small Can Green Chilies
- 2 T Lime Juice
- 2 T Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 tsp Fresh Minced (or pureed) Garlic
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1 T Curry
- 1 tsp Chili Pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 tsp Salt
- 3 T Stevia
- 1/2 – 1 tsp Cracked Pepper
Place chicken in a crock pot (choose your setting, low or hi, based on desired cook-time). In a separate mixing bowl, mix all the other ingredients together. Scoop out approximately 1/3 of the mixture and add to the chicken for cooking. Once the chicken is almost done, remove 1/2 the excess juice and place in a separate container (I use this if I feel I need to add moisture back in after pulling the chicken). Put the broth aside.
Finally, add the remainder of the seasoned mixture in with the chicken for the rest of the cook time. When the chicken is tender, pull the chicken apart until the chicken is well coated with the seasoned mixture. If the chicken is nice and juicy, you can discard the broth – or use it for a great stater for soup using leftover chicken and adding your favorite vegetables.
Mexi-Mango Chicken Quinoa Bowl
Layer ingredients in a bowl in the following order:
- 1/4 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/4 cup Black Beans
- 1 T Sour Cream
- 3oz Grilled or Pulled Chicken
- 1/2 cup shredded Lettuce
- 1/4 Sliced Avocado
- 1/8 cup Finely Diced Onion
- 1/4 cup Finely Diced Mango
- 2 T Peach Mango Salsa
- 1 T Curry Hot Sauce (or your favorite sauce)
Dust a bit of salt & garlic powder (optional) on top and add a pinch of lime juice over the avocado for zest!
Approximately 367 Calories: 30g protein, 37g carbs, 12g fat – getting almost a perfect equal balance of calories from each substrate.
Who says dieting has to be bland?! Not me!! 🙂
One of my facebook friends, Vanessa, commented on my omelet yesterday morning and said she’d love to see my shopping list. So I decided to grab my receipt and share what i got. 🙂
First, I must confess. My eating has been so off the last 2 weeks since my vacation. I often skipped meals or opted for a can of soup because I was too lazy to cook – and the main reason cooking would be challenging is because we were low on groceries. Betty Crocker I am not. I cook easy, fast, simple meals. If it can’t be simple, I won’t bother cooking it. This girl has very little patience.
We rarely eat out, but this past week I resorted to restaurants simply because I didn’t want to cook and I didn’t want to shop. (I keep telling you how lazy I am. Eventually you will start believing me! If I can do this anyone can!)
THIS, my friend, is how to NOT live! Steve and I both felt horrible, unhealthy and fat. AND we missed the taste of fresh food, healthy food. Our bodies are smart – once it gets the good stuff, it craves it. We couldn’t WAIT to go grocery shopping and get back to normal healthy eating habits. So THIS was my weekend!! My weekend to get back in control, get organized and plan for a week of clean eating and healthy living!
Before I went to the store, I cooked up some brunch (I made an eggbeater omelet with broccoli, grilled onions and goat cheese). I was stuffed! Now I was ready for my day of healthy preparations! But, before I begin, let me share with you a few simple shopping tips to help you on your diet (or just healthy eating) before you even take the groceries home.
7 Healthy Shopping Tips
Tip #1: NEVER go to the store HUNGRY! Eeeeeverything will look amazing if you go in that store hungry! The only way to hink with your brain, and not your tummy is to go to the store nice and full. Your waistline AND bank account will thank you. That’s why I told you I ate that omelet. I promise, nothing makes me more stupid than being hungry.
Tip #2: Be realistic. Don’t buy celery and stuff you know you won’t eat just because it looks healthy. Buy foods you enjoy and WILL eat. You’ll be less wasteful and a more satisfied dieter. Consider your upcoming schedule. If you are busy, shop for stuff that is simple, quick and easy to throw together. Save your complicated fancy recipes for another shopping trip.
Tip #3: Avoid Fat Free items. Normally fat-free items have more sugar. Since fat slows down digestion (which helps us stay fuller longer), going fat free can actually make you feel hungrier. Don’t avoid fat, just eat it sparingly. Beware of healthy appearing titles. Many times they are not as healthy as they want you to believe.
Tip #4: Don’t Rush. Shopping healthy requires time. You need to read labels and use your noggin to make good choices. Following a shopping list can help a lot, but when you are starting a diet plan, it’s imperative you have the time to really study food and make the best choices. If you don’t have the time to shop smart, get the bare necessities only, and go back when you have more time to shop right. The more educated you become, the faster you’ll get in and out.
Tip #5: If You Can’t Control Yourself Around It, Don’t Buy It. Even if it’s pretty healthy, if you can’t control yourself around that food, you don’t need it in your house. For example, Steve loves Peanuts. They are not bad for you (in low quantities). However, if Steve has a handful of nuts, he has the whole container. As a result, this is one item we rarely purchase.
Tip #6: Be prepared for emergencies. While I believe whole food is ALWAYS the best choice, keep a stock in a few low-cal frozen meals like Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones or Healthy Choice, as well as some high-protein bars like Designer Whey, Detour or Zone Bar (which are all around 200 calories and have 10gms or so of protin). So, in the event you are in a mind and rushed for time, you have something to eat that is much healthier than fast food or not eating anything at all.
Tip #7: Shop around the outside of the store 1st. Only venture in the aisles to find specific must-have items – never browse. Most of the stuff on the aisles are processed foods, toppings and extras we don’t need. I listed all my groceries that were in the refrigerated, produce & dairy sections in green and the inside aisles in red. Black is 0-calorie items.
My Grocery Shopping Receipt
Sometimes your shopping list and shopping receipt can be two totally different things. So, I’m sharing with you my grocery receipt.
- Cabbage (to make Roasted Cabbage)
- Green & Red Peppers
- Romaine Lettuce
- Spring Mix
- Cole Slaw Mix (I use it for sides, toppings & salads)
- Orange Juice
- Edamame (I love this as a salty snack with soy sauce)
- Pastrami (for my Low-Cal Rueben Quesadillas)
- Sauerkraut (for the Quesadillas)
- Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt
- Coffee Mate Hazelnut & Almond Joy Creamer (my treat)
- Frozen vegetables (only snow peas & spinach. I have plenty at home)
- Steam Veggies (for emergency quick meals)
- 5 Lean Cuisines & Healthy Choices (aiming for 18-25gms of protein and around 300 calories)
- Flat Out Healthy Grain Wrap (for the Quesadillas)
- Fruit & Cream Oatmeal (we also have whole oats at home)
- Bear Naked Granola (toppings for my Greek Yogurt Bowl)
- Pineapple slices (for kabobs, salads & stirfry)
- Low-Sugar Craisins (for salads)
- Honey Roasted Almond Accents (salads)
- Mio Lemonade (to spice up water)
- Dasani Pinacolada/Coconut (never tried it)
- LaCroix Cran-Rasp sparkling water
- Secret Deodorant, paper plates, plastic forks, etc (but you probably don’t want to know that kind of stuff! ha!)
Steve shops for meat and bulk items at Sams. Here was what he brought home:
- Ground Turkey (for my Mexican Meatloaf)
- Mango (I put in my Greek Yogurt)
- Brussel Sprouts (We grill them with curry)
- Pretzel thins
- Almonds & Pistachios
Of course I already had some groceries, so don’t trip if you don’t see eggs, etc – I still have a pretty full pantry and I do have 2 refrigerators that are not even close to empty. 🙂 I always stay stocked on condiments and, more importantly, seasonings.
- Lemon Juice
- Lime Juice
- Alessi Balsamic Vinegar
- BADIA Complete Seasoning (can’t live without this!)
- Grill Mates Mojito Lime Seasoning (awesome stuff!)
- Hot Sauce (I love them all)
- Olive Oil
Off the top of my head, I will probably cook the following this week:
- Filet Mignon and Quinoa (which we had last night after I shopped)
- Grilled chicken kabobs with green pepper, onion, tomato & pineapple over brown rice quinoa mix
- Chicken & vegetables with PB2 peanut sauce from Diabetic Living magazine this month (no, I’m not diabetic, but they have great ideas for eating low-cal, healthy, low-glycemic meals)
- One or two of my sensational low-cal salads
- Grilled salmon & asparagus (for Steve)
- Mexican Meatloaf (going to try it with cooked Quinoa instead of bread!)
- Pulled BBQ chicken and low-cal cole slaw wrap
- Rueben Quesadillas
- And probably a lot of grilled meat with veggies.
Grocery Shopping is great, but to be super successful with your diet, you have to actually cook. ha! So, once I got home from the grocery store, the cooking began.
Last night we cooked:
- 10 filleted chicken breasts (making 20 filets) with lime and Grill Mates Mojito Lime Seasoning
- Blackened Salmon
- Filet Mignon (we probably have steak once every 3-4 weeks)
- Turkey Quinoa meatloaf
- Low-cal Italian Turkey Meatballs
Now, all I have to do is throw sides with everything and we’ve got plenty of lunches, snacks and dinners ready to rock!
Makes 4 servings
1 small head napa cabbage (about 12-16 leaves)
2 small carrots (I used the pre-schredded mix)
2 green onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Visit theKitchn.com for more info and recipes.
When I go to the trouble to cook and dice up all the chicken and ingredients that go into a chicken salad, I want it to last – so that means I make a LOT of it! Here is a MONSTER recipe to cook for the masses (or, in my case, to cook for Steve Pfiester). 🙂 ENJOY!
Low-Calorie Waldorf Chicken Salad
8 Chicken Breasts Diced in Cubes
2 Medium Apples
7 Celery Sticks Diced (one bunch)
1/2 Cup of Diced Onions
1/3 Cup Craisins
1/3 Cup Nuts
1/2 Cup Chobani Yogurt
1/2 Cup Hellman’s Mayo Low Fat
1/2 Cup Orange Juice
2 TBS Lemon Juice
1/8 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 TBS Stevia
Salt to taste
Dice your apples (the smaller the pieces the more apple you get in each bite!) and pour lemon juice over it. Combine the apple, chicken, Craisins, Onions and nuts together in one big bowl. In a separate bowl, blend Mayo, Yogurt, Orange Juice, Stevia, vinegar and salt. Slowly fold into the mix until the mixture is well coated. (NOTE: You don’t necessarily need to use ALL of the dressing if you want to save even more calories).
Today, I scooped 2 cups per tupperware so I could easily track calories throughout the day. That way, when I finish my container I know exactly how many servings I ate, instead of putting it all in one big container. Perfect for meals or snacks on the go!
OR put a cup on top of fresh greens and drizzle some straight balsamic vinegar over the top for a low-calorie salad. It only adds about 50 calories!
When you get tired of eating chicken, sometimes you just need a BURGER!! Have no fear dieters, I’m not going to tempt you with a high-calorie hamburger. On the contrary, I’m going to share my Breadless Turkey Burger I made today for lunch. I fixed 2 burgers for an awesome burgerlicious 300 calorie lunch! This is almost too simple to call a “recipe” but I thought you’d enjoy the caloric breakdown. Honestly, it’s exactly what I needed today. I scraped the plate and really felt like I just had a REAL burger! What a treat! Enjoy!
BREADLESS TURKEY BURGER RECIPE
2.2oz Grilled Turkey Burger (106 cal)
1 teaspoon Low Fat Hellman’s Mayo (5 cal)
2 tsp Ketchup (13 cal)
1/4 tsp Mustard (2 cal)
2 oz Pickles (0 cal)
1/8 cup Sliced Onion (8 cal)
1/4 Tomatoes (6 cal)
Top with Shredded Lettuce (5 cal)
GRAB A FORK & DIVE IN!
Turkey Burger: Ground turkey, egg white, onions & seasoning