Top 5 steps for a healthy salad

Top 5 steps for a healthy salad

Eat unlimited veggies, add lean protein, and limit cheese, croutons, and dressing.

1.  Go green!

Fill your plate with unlimited low calorie salad greens. There are less than 10 calories in one cup of lettuce, spinach, and other greens!

2.  Load up on plain veggies

Choose as many fresh, plain veggies (without butter or sauce) as possible.

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Mushrooms
  • Peppers (green, red, or yellow)
  • Radishes
  • Sprouts
  • Tomatoes

One cup of most vegetables will only add 10-45 calories to your salad! One cup is about the size of a baseball.

3.  Add lean protein

Choose a source of lean protein for your salad:

  • Black beans
  • Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • Grilled chicken
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Turkey
  • Salmon
  • Shrimp
  • Tuna
  • Turkey

4.  Limit cheese, nuts, and croutons

Calories from cheese, nuts, and croutons can add up fast!

  • 1/2 cup of croutons can add 100 calories to your salad.
  • 1/2 cup of cheese can add 200 – 250 calories.
  • 1/4 cup of chopped nuts can add up to 200 calories.

5.  Go easy on the dressing

Use portion control when it comes to salad dressing; use the low fat or reduced fat option if it’s available. Calories in dressing can add up fast!

One tablespoon of:

  • Ranch dressing has 75 calories.
  • Blue cheese dressing has 75 calories.
  • Balsamic vinaigrette has 50 calories
  • Italian dressing has 45 calories.
  • Low fat ranch dressing has 35 calories.

The small, clear plastic portion cups often sitting out at a salad bar hold 4 tablespoons of dressing. One small container filled with ranch dressing is 300 calories! And it probably won’t even seem like enough for your salad.

Calorie information from

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Stephanie Averkamp

About the Author was created by Stephanie Averkamp, a recognized health and fitness professional and sole-author of the content on this website. Stephanie's approach to weight loss emphasizes making small, realistic, and permanent lifestyle changes. Read more...

Stephanie Averkamp

Our Approach: Short-term solutions (like dieting) are unrealistic and ineffective because at some point they end. As soon as a diet or program ends, so do the results. Permanent weight loss is a journey; it's not a race or competition and there is no finish line. Read more...