If you thought that all salads contain relatively few carbohydrates, think again. Many lettuces or spinach salads include hidden carbs that can be found in croutons, dressings, and certain toppings or veggies.
To reduce the number of carbohydrates in your favorite salad bowl, keep the following tips in mind:
- Check out the salad dressing labels before buying them. Even low-calorie salad dressings may have a higher carb level than you want to consume at one meal. Since some of the popular low-carb diets often begin by having followers eat no more than twenty carbs per day, these can add up quickly. Look for dressings that boast as few as one or two carb units per serving. Many of them are so tasty, you won’t notice the difference. You can also look for other toppings, such as sparkling water, lemon juice, or another light spritz that will tease your taste buds without ruining your diet.
- Weigh out your produce options. While lettuce and spinach, two of the main ingredients for most salads, do not pose a problem for carb counters, their veggie cousins might. Carrots and onions, for example, are higher in carbohydrates than other types of produce, such as celery and radishes. Get a carbohydrate counter and familiarize yourself with the most common salad ingredients that you are likely to use. Then look for lower-carb options to use as substitutes. You don’t have to sacrifice flavor when lowering your carb intake, but you can’t assume that all veggies are equally low in carbs or calories.
- Watch your bread intake. Starchy foods like bread rolls, muffins, or crackers, which many people enjoy eating with salad, typically contain a higher level of carbohydrates than other types of foods. If you must have bread with your salad, perhaps as a main meal, then reach for a half slice or buy the lower calorie, fewer carbohydrate brands that have become quite popular at many grocery stores. Be careful with croutons as well, since most of us can eat several in a typical salad serving without realizing their potentially high and cumulative carb count.
- Compare fillers. Walnuts, pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds, soy nuts, and other kinds of seeds or nuts may or may not have a high level of carbohydrates. Check your counter to find out which items are best for you. Many cheeses are okay to use, but again, check a carbohydrate list to see if the brand you want to use is a good bet. Other less traditional garden veggies should be measured for carb content, including peas, corn, diced potatoes, squash, beans, and other assorted choices.
- Beware of accompaniments. As noted above, salad complements like bread can provide extra carbohydrates that more than make up for the reduced carb level in your salad. Check carb content in soups, baked potatoes, and even fresh fruits that you may feel are acceptable side dishes or desserts with a salad. Look for processed products marked as low carb at the store, including cookies, chocolate, and certain breads or pasta.
Making a low-carb salad isn’t difficult when you keep guidelines like these in mind. Check your carb counter when preparing a meal that you expect to be low in carbs just to be sure you haven’t assumed wrongly. Then watch those stubborn pounds melt away!