The Smart Girl's Guide to the Salad Bar by LaurenConrad.com

If you consider yourself to be a pretty health savvy individual, then you already know that a salad is not automatically the healthiest choice on the menu. That myth was busted a long time ago. Restaurant salads can be loaded with unhealthy ingredients like creamy dressing, fried onion strings, greasy tortilla strips, and other trans fat-loaded toppings. But what about a salad bar? Or even a homemade salad for that matter? You can see that how fresh the produce is, and you choose exactly what goes into it. So it’s guaranteed to be good for you… Right? Think again!

If you were to just blindly add ingredients from the salad bar, your salad might not be that healthy after all. According to holistic nutritionist Kelly LeVeque, the ideal salad has four components: 6 oz. of protein, 2 Tbsp (if it’s in oil form) healthy fat, 2 cups of greens, and extra fiber. Having enough protein, fat, and fiber will balance your blood sugar and keep you full until the next meal. Keeping that formula in mind—and avoiding certain other ingredients—will help you to make your healthiest salad yet.

Here’s how to build a superstar salad…

Protein

  • sustainable tuna
  • wild-caught salmon
  • grilled chicken
  • hard-boiled egg
  • lentils
  • garbanzo or black beans

Fat

  • avocado
  • walnuts
  • avocado oil
  • olive oil
  • MCT oil

Greens

  • kale
  • spinach
  • arugula
  • mixed greens
  • microgreens

Fiber

  • brussels sprouts
  • cucumber
  • broccoli
  • asparagus
  • snap peas
  • hemp hearts
  • flax seed

In addition to the ingredients above that fit into Kelly’s formula, I’m also a big proponent of tasting the rainbow by adding some colorful veggies into the mix…

Rainbow Veggies

  • sweet potatoes
  • carrots
  • beets
  • purple cabbage
  • radishes
  • heirloom tomatoes
  • squash or zucchini

And now, for the list of salad bar ingredients to avoid… Of course, the goal is keeping everything in moderation. While I’m not saying that the list below is entirely off limits, just know that it doesn’t have any nutritional benefits. So have a few croutons on your salad if it makes you happy. They are not going to kill you! But try not to overdo it and think of these ingredients as treats, not the base of your salad.

Avoid These Ingredients

  • creamy dressing
  • sour cream
  • croutons
  • tortilla strips
  • fried chicken strips
  • shoestring onions
  • bacon bits
  • raisins or dried cranberries
  • candied nuts

I hope that this post helps you to navigate the salad bar like a nutritionist!

What does your favorite salad consist of?

xo Ilana
Team LC

Photo: Be Well By Kelly
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  • Rebecca Spellmeyer

    What about fruits to add?

  • Melissa LaRose

    I love making salads at home!! This is a great guide! 🙂

    XOXO
    Melissa
    scribble-n-dash.blogspot.com