It’s easy to order a salad for lunch everyday and NOT lose weight. Confused? So are a lot of people. You think you’re choosing wisely, but you’re being fooled by high calorie dressing and add-ons that you don’t really need. A basic Cobb salad from a restaurant can run over 1,000 calories and 63 grams of fat per serving! Often salads are covered in fried chicken chunks, fried wontons, and gobs of creamy dressing. Thus, a salad quickly becomes a disguise for a “healthy” meal.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have a salad, that while delicious and fresh, leaves you starving in an hour. There is a healthy balance! You need some high quality fats with your salad to keep you satisfied and feed your body. Just a little of these healthy fats can be the perfect combination with your fresh veggies to keep you full, energized, and fueled for the rest of the day. Almost all of these sensational toppings below are all MUFAs or monounsaturated fats rich in Omega-3 and antioxidants including Vitamin E, so you will feel great and your hair and skin will be radiant, too!
1. Olive Oil
Not only delicious when combined with a nice balsamic vinegar, but it’s also known to reduce the risk of heart disease and control blood sugar levels for people with type-2 diabetes. So swap out that creamy dressing that’s getting you nowhere with a nice vinaigrette. 2 tbsp. of olive oil has 119 calories and 14 grams of high quality fats that improve your heart health.
Called the best anti-aging food by many, wild caught salmon is delicious and richer in omega-3 fats than most varieties of fish. A 6 oz portion of grilled salmon has 270 calories, 32 grams of protein (no, that’s not a typo), and 13 grams of heart healthy fat! So grill it, bake it, broil it, but make sure you are getting this superfood into your diet.
Walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds, oh my! These are some of my favorite snacks for on-the-go, but also a great addition to any salad. Raw or roasted is the best choice to reap the full benefits. Nuts help in lowering cholesterol and boost the immune system, which makes for a great choice during cold and flu season.
Adding 1 tbsp. of raw sunflower seeds is only 55 calories and 5 grams of fat. These little gems are delicious and add a nice crunch, but are also rich in omega 3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber. Flax and chia seeds are also great toppings!
Black, Greek- whatever you like. Personally, I’m not an olive fan, but many of you are and if so, enjoy! Just a 1/2 cup of olives will provide you with the same health benefits as olive oil plus good fiber! Some research has shown that Kalamata olives, which are naturally high in hydroxytyrosol, may prevent DNA damage and abnormal cell growth. A 1/2 cup serving of black olives is approximately 100 calories and 8 grams of high quality fats.
The original anti-aging food! Avocados are rich in antioxidants and help to fight harmful free radicals in the body. Avocados are filled to the brim with potassium and fiber and contain oleic acid which signals the brain to feel full. 1/2 an avocado has 140 calories and 13 grams of fat, BUT only 2 grams of saturated fat.
Related: 9 Reasons To Eat More Avocados
A serving size of cheese cheese is 1/4 cup. We’re talking about real cheese (real meaning cheese that needs to be refrigerated…no spray cans or tub variety). Just 1 oz. of this nutritional powerhouse has approx 100 calories, 9 grams of fat, and 10% of the calcium you need for the day along with vitamins and minerals!
I personally add a little avocado, a little feta cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil to my salads, and I can skip the dressing all together! So get your MUFAs on your salad and stay full and satisfied with a salad for a meal.