To make your own main-dish salad from salad bar offerings, start with a base of nutrient-rich dark leafy greens. Salad greens are so low in carbohydrate (1-2 grams per cup) that you typically don't need to count them. But top your salad greens carefully, and count along the way.
Our main-dish salad tips show you how to build a tasty and nutritious salad:
Add some starch. Starchy vegetables and beans (legumes) need to fit within your carbohydrate goals for the meal.
- 1/4 cup legumes = 60-70 cal., 10-13 g carb.
- 1/2 cup starchy vegetables such as peas or corn = 80 cal., 15 g carb.
Dress it up. Choose a light vinaigrette dressing on the side (or bring a single-serve light dressing packet). Dip your fork into the dressing before spearing a bite.
- 2 tablespoons light vinaigrette dressing = 25-80 cal., 1-7 g carb.
Include fruit. Opt for unsweetened fresh fruit such as melons, berries, and pineapple.
- 3/4 cup blueberries or pineapple; 1 cup cantaloupe, honeydew, or raspberries; 1-1/4 cups strawberries = 60 cal., 15 g carb.
Don't forget protein. Choose about 2 ounces of lean protein, such as chicken, or 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese. If it's not on the salad bar, order it separately.
- 2 ounces poultry = 90 cal., 0 g carb.
- 1/2 cup cottage cheese = 90 cal., 4 g carb.
Say cheese. Shredded cheese adds a bit of protein and calcium, but typical offerings are moderate to high in fat, so take no more than 1 tablespoon.
- 1 tablespoon shredded cheese = 20-30 cal., 0 g carb.
Go with veggies. Make most of your toppings fresh and colorful nonstarchy vegetables, such as cucumbers, radishes, peppers, and broccoli.
- 1 cup nonstarchy vegetables = 25 cal., 5 g carb.
Need dinner ideas? Check out these easy-to-make salad recipes.