If we asked ten people this question, at least nine would say, "Of course, the salad is healthier!"
What if the choices were a pizza or a salad? Obviously, a salad is healthier than a couple pieces of pizza, right?
Well, the answer may not be so obvious.
Whether it's a burger, pizza or salad, they can all be either REALLY good for you...or not. So, there's good news and bad news.
The good news?
The bad news?
Just because you are eating a salad doesn't always mean it's healthy. Yes, salads can provide the ultimate punch of nutrition and taste. In fact, we have a delicious and nutritious salad with every single meal. However, salads can also be loaded with sugar, fat, calories, and sodium...even more than some burgers or pizzas!
Now Zonya and I both love to choose quality local restaurants, but before our family started our REAL FOOD journey, we used to frequent typical chain restaurants like Applebee's and Chili's. At one point, as we were trying to eat healthier, we would order a salad instead of a Big Mouth Burger or Riblet Platter. After all, if it's a salad, it must be healthy, right?!
So, with pride, we would place our order for the Quesadilla Explosion Salad. Even though we thought we were eating "healthier," nothing was changing. No weight loss, no increased energy, nothing. Only later did we realize that our "healthy" salad had over 1,400 calories, 93 grams of fat, 29 grams of saturated fat, over 2,300 mg of sodium and over 80 grams of carbs (and these were not the whole grain kind of carbs!). You may be thinking, "You should have gone for the Oriental Chicken Salad or Caribbean Salad with Grilled Chicken instead." Would you believe the Caribbean Salad has 70 grams of sugar (that's 17.5 tsp of sugar...or the equivalent of 7 Krispy Kreme glazed donuts)?! With hindsight, we might as well have sunk our teeth into the burgers and ribs!
Since our REAL FOOD enlightenment, we have realized burgers, pizzas and salads - can be healthy and nutritious. And, the best part? They can be even more delicious than the ones we are bombarded with in TV, internet and billboard ads.
Here are some tips to enjoy these foods in truly healthy ways:
- Create your own! When you make your own, YOU control the ingredients. Think of your burger, pizza or salad as a blank canvas. Use REAL ingredients (whole grains, lean proteins, in-season veggies and fruits and more) to create a masterpiece.
- Healthify your burger! For burgers, start with a whole grain bun or lettuce wrap, and then choose a lean protein like grass-fed beef, chicken or turkey (or even beans or veggies for the patty), and then find just the right combination of toppings.
- Endless pizza possibilities! For pizza, check out this coaching tip for inspiration. Of course, we have you covered with all kinds of delicious pizza ideas, and we encourage you to use these as inspiration to create your own masterpiece!
- Eat quality foods you will look forward to eating again! For example, don't eat a salad just for the sake of eating a salad. Whether at home or away from home, if you eat a boring and bland salad (you know the one...with iceberg lettuce, pale crunchy tomatoes and a flavorless low-fat dressing), this will only leave you hungry in a couple hours and, even worse, will reinforce your perception that you don't like salads! When you eat a salad, make sure it tastes amazing! And, if you are stuck at a restaurant with only boring salad options, don't be afraid to opt for something else, maybe even a burger. Just remember the ingredients (aka REAL ingredients) are key!
Beware of salads that are dressed to kill!
Obviously we LOVE salads and encourage everyone to enjoy flavor loaded salads using REAL, in-season ingredients as often as possible. However, it's important to recognize there are salads lurking out there - like the Quesadilla Explosion Salad - that are actually detrimental to good health.
- It's all about the toppings. It is best to stay away from salads that are loaded with bacon or other processed meats, fried foods (think fried chicken, noodles or onions), huge handfuls of dried fruits, copious amounts of cheese and dressings that are loaded with sugar, salt and unhealthy fats. And, read our coaching tip to ditch bottled salad dressings once and for all!
- Improvise! Why not combine a burger and a salad? Or a pizza and a salad? You can call it "fusion" cuisine! Of course, you can eat your burger wrapped in lettuce instead of a refined flour bun, or you can get even more creative with meals like the Asian Turkey Burger Salad or the Kale Caesar Salad Pizza. Go for it and experiment!
We never want anyone to deprive themselves and say, "I really want a burger (or a slice of pizza), but I can't because I'm on a diet." The beauty of keeping it simple and focusing on REAL food is there is NO DIET OR DEPRIVATION...it's simply a matter of making good use of the abundant REAL FOOD that is all around us!
Is there something you are avoiding because you think it's unhealthy?
Let us help you transform it into a nutritious meal using REAL ingredients. Do you know someone who perceives salads as boring and bland? Let's work together to introduce them to world of AMAZING masterpieces!