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A great challenge to losing weight is portion control. If you are someone who likes to eat voluminously, cutting your portions sizes down dramatically can leave you feeling less satisfied. The benefit of eating more vegetables is that they have fewer calories per serving so you can eat a greater volume without consuming many calories. For this reason, when you are in need of a filling but low calorie meal, a salad is an excellent choice.
There are some salads that are as calorie rich as a meal of meat and potatoes. Follow these guidelines to keep your salad around 400 calories.
Start with 100 Calories of Vegetables
The foundation of your salad should be composed of a hefty serving of low calorie vegetables such as carrots, peppers, red cabbage, cucumbers, snap peas and greens (baby spinach, romaine, mixed baby lettuces, frisee, arugula, butter lettuce, bibb lettuce or red/green leaf lettuce). You can fill a large bowl with two to three cups of these vegetables without exceeding this calorie limit.
Add in 100-150 Calories of Protein
On top of these vegetables you can add a serving of protein. There are many options for you. You could choose to add 2 hard boiled eggs, a half cup of beans or lentils, a half cup of cottage cheese or a can of tuna. Another option is to add 3 oz of beef, pork, chicken, tempeh, fish or tofu (remember that 3 oz is approximately the size of a deck of cards).
Throw On 200-250 Calories of Toppings
Finishing off your salad, toss in some extra ingredients to add more flavor and variety. You could add ¼ of an avocado and salsa, 2 tablespoons of seeds or chopped nuts (sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans or almonds, ¼ cup of shredded or crumbled cheese, a handful of croutons, ¼ cup of dried cranberries, sweet beats, 2 slices of crumbled bacon, or ¼ cup of fruit. If you choose to drizzle some salad dressing on top, stick to just 2 tablespoons (which will, on average, equal 150 calories). Be sure not to add too many extras. You should only choose two or three toppings and should remember to measure out your servings of each until you can eyeball it accurately.
Salad Dressing Tips
If you like having lots of toppings on your salad, than you may want to consider low calorie dressings. While normal dressings have 150+ calories per 2 tablespoons, getting a low calorie version can take those calories down to 50. If you do not like many salad dressings, you can also think outside of the box. These are many alternatives to regular salad dressings.
If you’ve made a salad that has lots of watery vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers, you could use 2 tablespoons of hummus instead of dressing. The water from these vegetables will make it runny enough to perfectly coat your salad. Cottage cheese, salsa, guacamole, and preserves all can also make excellent dressings for the right salad. When you get creative, you can find a wide variety of alternatives to conventional dressings that will make your salad especially delicious.