Salad Bar Dining

Ideas for making it healthy

Salad bars are a significant part of our dining culture, especially at college. Salads can add extra vegetables to a meal, or sometimes make a meal. Choosing the right food combinations for your salad is essential for balancing a meal and lifestyle.

Salad as a side dish

Eating salad along with your main meal can add extra fiber, nutrients and general fullness satisfaction. Remember that this is a vegetable or fruit addition to your meal with some healthy oils. If you already have plenty of protein and carbohydrate in your meal it would be wise to limit cheese and pastas in your salad. Add as many vegetables to your plate as you like and use a salad dressing that you like in moderation (see below).

Salad as a main dish

Salad can be eaten as a main meal with special attention to your salad bar choices to create a balanced, healthy and satisfying meal. A balanced meal consists of protein, carbohydrate, fat and vegetables and/or fruits. So a good ‘meal salad’ could consist of a bed of greens with several other raw vegetables; some form of protein – vegetarian or animal – beans, tofu, tempeh, hummus, chicken, turkey, fish, steak etc.; some oil and vinegar; and a slice of whole wheat bread, pasta, crackers, quinoa, or brown rice for a carbohydrate, (some white carbohydrates are fine, just not at every meal). Fruit can also be added for extra carbohydrate and some sweet flavor.

Non-vegetable choices

Salad can be a very healthy choice if you choose plenty of vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats and oils. Limiting cheese and creamy salad dressing crafts a salad of higher quality, accruing fewer calories from inflammatory fats. Healthy salad bar fats can be avocado, olive oil, and nuts and seeds.

Salad dressing – friend or foe

It can be both, depending on your choice of dressing. Salad dressing is a healthy, tasty way to dress up vegetables. The oil and vinegar based salad dressings like Italian, the variety of vinaigrettes, or plain oil and vinegar, are the healthiest choices for customary salad dining. If you don’t enjoy oil and vinegar based dressings and calories are important, curbing the amount of creamy dressings is sensible.