Raising the Salad Bar: Keeping My Greens Diet-Friendly and Delicious

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By Tina Haupert

Everyone who goes on a diet thinks that salads are automatically a safe diet food. They are a great way to pack more veggies into your diet, but they can also start to show up on the scale if you aren't careful. When I was trying to reach my Feel Great Weight, my salads weren't always figure friendly. Here are some of the tips I've picked up.

Apply the 3/4 rule
Prior to losing weight, I made a number of simple mistakes at the salad bar. I thought I was creating healthy salads, but I was loading up on high-calorie ingredients. Like many dieters, I chose full-fat cheeses, iceberg lettuce, and starchy carbohydrates like pasta salad and croutons, thinking that as long as they were served over greens, they were healthy. Wrong! At the same time, I avoided high-calorie healthy fats like nuts, olives, and avocados. Now, I realize that these healthy fats are good for me and help me feel full for hours. So when making a salad, I apply what I call the 3/4 rule. Three-quarters of my salad is made up of leafy greens and raw veggies, while 1/4 is devoted to small portions of healthy fats and higher-calorie "fun" ingredients. That way, my salads never get boring—and I never feel like I'm depriving myself.

Think twice about dressing on the side
I know this sounds counterintuitive, but many dieters assume that asking for their salad dressing on the side instantly saves them hundreds of calories—I know I did. But I realized that I was dipping every piece of my salad into it and eating the entire portion! I still ask for my salad dressing on the side, but I pour a small amount onto my salad and lightly dress it myself. I don't dip my fork right in. This way, I avoid a salad drenched in dressing, but I don't feel deprived or miss the flavor. My favorite dressings are actually very simple: a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, or a homemade mix of chopped cucumber, low-fat plain yogurt, fresh dill, and lemon juice.

healthy-salads-150.jpg healthy-salads-150.jpg , and even falafel, but I'm always looking for new additions to keep things interesting.

What are your favorite salad toppings?

Read Tina's daily food and fitness blog, Carrots 'N' Cake.