It's not the salad. It's the dressing.

Who doesn't love a good salad? The word is easily associated with "healthy" and for good reason. A salad can be anything you want: sweet, savory, a wonderful combination of what's in season, what's available and whatever you love. It can be crunchy, munchy, light or robust, vegetarian or with your favorite protein (meat, seafood, tofu or anything else you can imagine). 

But if you take a look at many salads offered at restaurants, they often pack more calories and fat than you can imagine. The culprit: the salad dressing.

How many times have you had lunch with friends who look at the menu today and say, "I'll eat healthy today - I'll order a Caesar salad." That sounds pretty healthy and safe. But consider the following specs for a Caesar salad from the excellent and very transparent nutritional menu of one of our favorite comfort food restaurant chains, The Daily Grill:

Calories: 604
Fat Cal: 437 g
Total Fat: 49 g
Sat. Fat: 12 g
Cholesterol: 41 g

Of the total amount, below are the specs for the Caesar dressing alone:

Calories: 376
Fat Cal: 363
Total Fat g: 40 g
Sat Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 12 g

It's almost unfair to pick on the Caesar salad. Truth be told, it's more healthy than many other salads on menus across the country. But it's an indication of how many of us think we're eating healthy by choosing a salad without giving a second thought. By itself, a salad is this side of incredible. Just keep in mind that it's what we add to it that can undo all that we're trying to accomplish. 

Which leads us to this tip: next time you order a salad, be it a starter salad or as an entree salad, skip the dressing. Don't even ask for it on the side. Instead, order it with lemon slices. Lemon can add a wonderful zing to a salad, and without all the fat, cholesterol and calories that a rich, creamy dressing sneaks into an otherwise wonderful salad. And an entire lemon is only 15 calories, with no fat and no cholesterol. Try it once or twice and soon, you'll wonder why you ever had those heavy dressings in the first place. 

That was easy.

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