Cooking · Food

In Defense of Salad

“Skinny Chicks Don’t Eat Salad.”

I’m sure you’ve heard this.  Salad might be one of the most misunderstood foods around.  A salad can be many things, from a low calorie meal starter, to a healthy and filling meal in itself, to an overboard concoction of caloric abundance.

When I bring my lunch to work, I will often bring only a salad.  This inevitably leads to comments like “Aren’t you going to be hungry if you don’t eat more than that?”  What they don’t realize is that I mentally calculate the calories when I’m building a salad and I make sure to add filling ingredients if I plan to eat it as a meal.  You can easily make a very calorie heavy salad.  Perhaps a bit too easily!

A lot of people tend to think that if they order a salad at a restaurant, it will be healthier by default.  This is rarely true.  Restaurants tend to load their salads with high-calorie items not the least of which is the dressing.  At the very least, always get the dressing on the side.  A salad should not be drowning in ranch, if you’re trying to keep an eye on calories.  However, the dressing isn’t the only culprit.  Candied nuts, cheeses, meats, croutons… these calories add up fast.

For example, the Apple Pecan Chicken Salad at Wendy’s has 560 calories, 27 g of fat, and 38 g of sugars.  The Ultimate Chicken Grill sandwich, on the other hand, has 360 calories, 7 g fat and 9 g sugar.  Both have roughly 35g protein.  The sandwich is the far better choice in this case.

Just because the word “Salad” is involved- don’t assume it’s healthy.  The salad has to be examined on a case to case basis.

I eat salad.  I love salad.  It’s really hot where I live, and salad is a major part of my diet during the summer months.  Much as I love to cook, a hot stove becomes rather unappealing when the temperature outside is 110 degrees or more.

A Delightful, No-Cook Meal

The above salad is an example of one I would eat for a meal.  Baby spinach, red bell pepper, grape tomatoes, kidney beans (canned, rinsed), avocado (100g-1 small), scallions, cilantro and 1 raw serrano pepper.  The pepper is a personal taste- I love extra spicy foods!  Most people would not enjoy a salad with an unseeded serrano pepper tossed in.  The dressing is juice from 1 lemon, 1 tbsp of toasted sesame oil, 1/2 tsp agave syrup, pinch of salt, pepper, and chili powder.  It’s about 450 calories, and it’s damned tasty!

When people say “skinny chicks don’t eat salad.” I understand the underlying meaning and I agree with the sentiment: it doesn’t pay to under-eat.  You need to eat foods that are both filling and nutritious.  Less is not always more.  There’s no reason a salad can’t be a complete meal.  Like anything else, you just have to choose the right ingredients.

3 thoughts on “In Defense of Salad

  1. My husband and I love salads and eat them for dinner at least twice a week. And this time of year, many of the ingredients come right from our garden to the table. Fresh-picked lettuce! Ripe tomatoes! How great is that? Just watch the type and amount of dressing, cheese etc.

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