Sizing Up Salad Bars

A salad bar can serve up a healthful meal all by itself—or as a great side dish. The rainbow of vegetables and fruits often is loaded with vitamins A and C, folate, fiber, and an array of phytonutrients.

Did you know: A do-it-yourself salad, chosen from the salad bar, often has more calories than a deluxe burger, fries, and a shake, or a steak-and-potato dinner? An average salad bar plate can top out at more than 1,000 calories, depending on your choices and portions. Not so surprisingly, then, salads have been reported to be a main source of dietary fat for many women.

What's in the sauce? Use this list as a quick reference to make you a savvy restaurant patron.

Alfredo. Creamy Italian sauce, typically prepared with butter, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese.

Béarnaise. Thick French sauce made with white wine, tarragon, vinegar, shallots, egg yolks, and butter.

Béchamel. Basic white sauce made with flour, milk, and butter, and flavored with onion.

  1. Italian meat sauce made with ground beef and sometimes pork and ham and sautéed in a small amount of butter and/or olive oil with tomatoes, other vegetables, herbs, and sometimes wine. Also referred to as a ragù bolognese sauce.
  2. * French sauce made with red wine, carrots, onions, flour, and a little bacon.

Buerre blanc. Thick, smooth sauce whisked with wine, vinegar, shallot reduction, and cold butter.

  1. Italian sauce made of cream, eggs, Parmesan cheese, and bits of bacon.
  2. * Thick puree or sauce, such as tomato or squash coulis.

Demi-glace.* Reduction sauce that gets its intense flavor by slowly cooking beef stock and Madeira or sherry to a thick glaze.

  1. Thick sauce with white wine, vinegar, or water, egg yolks, melted butter, and lemon juice.
  2. * Italian tomato sauce made with tomato and basil and perhaps other seasonings such as onions, garlic, and oregano.
  3. Uncooked sauce made of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, and olive oil. It's a favorite with Italian pasta.

Reduction sauce.* Sauce of usually broth or pan juices boiled down to concentrate the flavor and thicken the consistency. Unlike in many other sauces, flour or other starches aren't used as thickeners.

Sweet-and-sour.* Sugar and vinegar added to a variety of sauces; typically added to Chinese and German dishes.

Velouté. Light, stock-based white sauce. Stock is the broth left from cooking meat, poultry, fish, or vegetables. It's thickened with flour and butter; sometimes egg yolks and cream are added.

Vinaigrette.* Oil-and-vinegar combination.

*These sauces tend to be lower in fat. But the ingredients vary, and so does the fat content.

Build a Healthful Salad

Imagine a salad bar with bowls and bowls of ingredients. Your plate is empty. How would you build your salad? Choose the ingredients from the list below-and decide how much you'd take of each one. When your salad plate is full, add up the calories and the fat. You may be surprised.

Amount

Calories*

Fat (c

2 tbsp.

25

2

1 oz.

40

2

1 oz.

30

<1

1 oz.

30

<1

1 oz.

35

<1

1 oz.

40

<1

2 tbsp.

55

5

Va cup

60

2

: Va cup

40

<1

2 tbsp.

50

4

2 tbsp.

45

3

2 tbsp.

45

3

1 tbsp.

25

2

1 tbsp.

15

<1

2 tbsp.

25

1

Va cup

90

5

Va cup

60

0

Va cup

95

5

2 tbsp.

150

16

2 tbsp.

145

14

2 tbsp.

15

<1

2 tbsp.

85

8

2 tbsp.

6

0

2 tbsp.

145

16

2 tbsp.

120

11

2 tbsp.

Greens Bean sprouts Lettuce Spinach

Other Veggies Artichoke hearts Beets

Bell peppers Broccoli

Carrots, shredded

Cauliflowers

Cucumbers

Green peas

Mushrooms

Onions

Radishes

Tomatoes

Fruits Avocados

Canned peaches, in juices Fresh melons Fresh strawberries Mandarin oranges, segments in juice Olives, ripe Raisins

Beans, Nuts, and Seeds Almonds, sliced Chickpeas Kidney beans Sunflower seeds Tofu (raw, firm)

Amount Calories* Fat (g)

Va cup

8

traced

1 cup

8

trace

1 cup

7

trace

Va cup

20

trace

Va cup

20

0

2 tbsp.

5

trace

Va cup

8

trace

Va cup

10

trace

Va cup

6

trace

Va cup

4

trace

2 tbsp.

15

trace

Va cup

4

trace

1 tbsp.

4

0

2 tbsp.

2

trace

Va cup

8

trace

Va cup

60

6

Va cup

25

trace

Va cup

15

trace

Va cup

10

trace

Va cup

20

trace

2 tbsp.

20

2

2 tbsp.

60

trace

1 tbsp.

55

5

Va cup

65

1

Va cup

55

trace

1 tbsp.

45

4

Va cup

90

6

(about. 3 oz.)

Meat, Poultry, Fish, and Eggs Eggs, chopped Lean ham, chopped Popcorn shrimp Surimi

Tuna in spring water Turkey in strips Cheese Cheddar cheese, grated Cottage cheese, creamed Cottage cheese, 1 % low-fat Feta cheese

Mozzarella cheese, grated

  • part skim) Parmesan cheese Others Bacon bits Chow mein noodles Croutons, seasoned Mixed Salads Potato
  • with mayonnaise) Three-bean (in vinaigrette) Tuna salad (with mayonnaise)

Dressings Blue cheese, regular French, regular Italian, fat-free Italian, regular Lemon juice Oil and vinegar Thousand Island, regular Vinegar

*Nutrient values have been rounded.

t'Trace" on all the vegetables and fruits is about .05 to 0.2 gram of fat.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, 2005. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 18.

Where do excessive calories, fat, even sodium come from? Not from the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and other fresh vegetables. Depending on the amount, regular salad dressings, along with many higher-fat toppings such as cheese, croutons, bacon bits, nuts, chow mein noodles, and olives, can heap calories on a bed of raw vegetables. "Dressed" side dishes (potato salad, pasta salad, ambrosia, and macaroni salad), creamy soups, cheese and crackers, even desserts— all with more calories—line up on the salad bar, too.

To control calories and fat in your salad concoctions and to fill your plate with nourishment:

  • Pace yourself. Check out the salad bar from end to end before you even begin filling your plate.
  • Use a small salad plate, not a dinner plate, if you're tempted to overdo.
  • Start with greens. Dark-green leafy vegetables such as spinach and romaine supply more nutrients and phytonutrients than iceberg lettuce does.
  • Spoon on plenty of brightly colored vegetables (broccoli, peppers, beets, carrots, to name a few), legumes (such as kidney and garbanzo beans), and fruits for their nutrient, fiber, and phytonutrient benefits. They're low in fat, too.
  • Make it a hearty salad with protein-rich ingredients: legumes, lean meat, turkey, crabmeat or surimi, tuna, eggs, and cheese. Cottage cheese, other cheese, and yogurt on the salad bar also add calcium.
  • Lighten up on higher-fat toppings and mayonnaise-based side salads.
  • Dress your salad for success! A 2-tablespoon ladle of French, Italian, blue cheese, or Thousand Island dressing adds about 150 calories to an otherwise low-calorie salad. Too often, people spoon on double or triple that amount and overpower the delicate flavor of the salad ingredients. Go easy, try a low-fat or fat-free dressing—or sprinkle on just a splash of flavored vinegar or lemon juice.
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