Salads can be a healthy brunch option — as long as they’re built with nutrient-rich greens (think spinach, arugula, and kale) and fresh vegetables. Just watch the add-ons, which can turn an otherwise healthy salad into a high-calorie, high-fat dish.
Typically, the most caloric part of a salad is the dressing. “I always suggest asking for the dressing on the side so you can control how much you’re using,” Turoff says. Keep in mind: A vinaigrette dressing is usually a better choice than a creamy one, and most restaurants will be able to provide you with oil and vinegar to dress your salad. If you’re making your salad at home, opt for a homemade dressing made of simple ingredients. For example, try mixing 2 tablespoons (tbsp) of extra-virgin olive oil, one tbsp of apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp of orange juice, ¼ teaspoon (tsp) of salt, and ¼ tsp of pepper, Largeman-Roth recommends.
Nuts and seeds are calorie-dense, but are generally considered healthy additions to a salad in moderation. Caloric salad toppings to limit or avoid include cheese, bacon bits, croutons, dried fruits, and tortilla strips. If the salad you’re eyeing includes a number of these, see if you can get your toppings on the side, “and then just use half,” Turoff says. “I’d also try to add some sort of protein if that’s an option,” she says. A hard-boiled or poached egg, grilled chicken or fish, and beans are all good bets.