Popular Salads Can Be Nutritional Losers

You can call it another chapter in the  unhealthy “health food” saga, where a seemingly good for you and harmless diet food like salad can be turned upside down by either a fast food giant or by a restaurant who aims to please our insatiable appetite for value based large portions.

These favorite popular salads that are found at fast food/restaurant chains, diners and delis have either more fat, saturated fat, calories or sodium than a typical fast-food burger. To help you compare, the values for this burger are 550 calories, 29 grams fat (10 grams saturated) and 1000 mg of sodium in a 7.6 oz serving.


Call it what you like and hit the trail but, essentially this salad is a deconstructed taco without the limiting benefit of a contained “shell” – full of calorie laden over the top ingredients like cheese, sour cream, guacamole & tortilla strips.

* Can run between 800-1200+ calories – worst offender I found had 92g fat, 24g saturated fat & an alarmingly high 3500 mg sodium


Take a cultural sidestep and check out this deceptively damaging salad which is built with healthier-type ingredients like grilled chicken, almonds or cashews, fruits and a vinaigrette dressing – but also crispy fried noodles & sodium rich dressing…fat is as high as the southwest salad!

* Highest values had over 1200 cal, high sodium (over 2000mg) & over 12g saturated fat (79g fat)


Go for the infamous 1930’s Hollywood Salad that is experiencing regained popularity now and a top seller in many restaurants. It seems healthy with grilled chicken but couple that to bacon, egg, cheese & dressing and you can see why it will top a fast food burger easily.

* You are looking at a whopping 1200+ calories, 25g of fat & 10-12g saturated fat


Basically fried chicken served up salad style…and if that’s not enough calories & fat to sink your teeth into be sure to use the creamy, cheesy Caesar dressing (200 calories) that will send this salad to the moon.

* Can easily reach 1000 calories (remember that’s 2 Burgers) and 12 g sat fat


A favorite of low-carb dieters – but more calories than a stack of pancakes! Loaded with protein & the saturated fat that is married to it. Take a simple veggie base (100-200 cal) & pile on about 8oz worth of turkey, ham, roast beef, cheese, egg…then dose it in a ranch or thousand island dressing…

* Easily can get over 1000 cal (again, 2 Burgers)


The basic ingredients are healthy choices – but watch out for the amount of add ons like dolmas (grape leaves), olives, feta & olive oil dressing where you can add hundreds of extra calories and sodium.

* Typical salad will have about 800 cal & 1000+ mg of sodium – if you use the oily vinaigrette you’ll pour on another 200-300 cal!

Next time your in the market for a meal gather your resources and use them to help you make a choice that’s right for you. 

The best advice on what to do comes from learning how to plan what to eat before you get hungry. 

Visit Tips & Tools to see how easy it can be to let salads work for you the way nature intended!


Healthy Foods Compete for Best in Class

Its natural to want the best.

Can you decide which of the following healthy foods are better for you?  They all have reputation for delivering good nutrition but many wonder if one has an advantage over the other.   There is a fine line between them and it can be confusing to choose as factors like nutrients, calories, appetite, and taste preference have to be considered.

The winners may surprise you, but if you learn why, this information can help you to make healthy choices and see how many foods can fit into a healthy diet.

1) 100% orange juice vs. skim latte

Ounce for ounce, orange juice wins out when you look at the natural energy you will get when you drink it up. While the latte contains some protein and beneficial calcium from skim milk, in just one cup, orange juice provides a nutrient dense hit of 100% of your daily needs for vitamin C and a good source of heart healthy folic acid and potassium.

2) Egg white whole grain sandwich vs. oatmeal

For longer lasting fullness go for the high fiber sandwich that contains needed protein to help you manage your hunger. While some oatmeal can be steel cut whole grain and a satisfying starch choice, most are refined and tend to be flavored with lots of sugar which will leave you feeling empty in just a couple of hours.

3) Greek yogurt with natural fruit vs. skim milk, fruit, whey protein smoothie

In the same 200 calories, the smoothie will give you an edge over the immensely popular Greek strained yogurt which has some of the water removed to concentrate the protein and to enhance creaminess.  Boosting a smoothie with whey will double the protein with lean calories for a quick meal or post workout recovery.

4) Almonds vs. Pistachios

While tree nuts like almonds have a heart healthy fat profile, vitamin E, B complex vitamins and fiber, new evidence is suggesting that pistachios are a surprising treasure trove of numerous additional nutrients like antioxidant carotenoids for eye health, polyphenols and copper for antioxidant support and plant sterols to help improve cholesterol, a real superfood advantage!

5) Turkey vs. chicken

Outside of processed meats which generally wipe out most of the health benefit, when you compare naturally raised poultry you will discover that turkey a larger, more muscular animal is a leaner choice with less cholesterol and saturated fat and contains more calcium and essential amino acids like methionine for muscle and body tissue needs.

6) Low fat mozzarella cheese vs. Low fat Feta cheese

An interesting finding will reveal that that low fat feta cheese is a better choice and more versatile on many levels. While all cheeses are sodium rich, feta is salt brine cured and by simply rinsing or soaking it a great deal of the sodium can be washed away. It is also a stronger more flavorful cheese which can help you get by with less for calorie savings and a flavorful addition to omelets, salads or flat bread pizzas.

7) Whole grain crackers vs. baked potato chips

While baked chips will be lower in fat than those that are fried, a whole grain cracker may provide you with more B vitamins like niacin, riboflavin and thiamin, plus iron and bulking fiber to round out a meal then  feather light chips which are tasty but unfortunately, mostly empty calories.

8) Brown rice vs. quinoa

Not all brown rice is created equal and many brands do not have the fiber or nutrient profile you would expect due to refinement.  Quinoa, a grass seed, is a rare plant source of complete protein and rich in minerals potassium, magnesium, iron and copper and exceeds many of the values found in true, whole grain brown rice. It is also waistline friendly and can be a lower calorie option for dieting.

9)  Peanut butter vs. Hummus

The benefits of calorie dense peanut butter may be outweighed by its legume cousin, chickpea spread when you consider that even with commercial brands, hummus will have only ¼ of the calories of peanut butter in a standard 2 tablespoons. Making it yourself will retain the fiber which may be lost in processing and lead to lower calories by using less oil..

10) Whole grain bread vs. sprouted grain bread

Sprouted grain bread, made from a variety of whole grains and legumes, has a slight advantage over whole grain breads. This is due to the blend of nutrient dense ingredients and a bit more protein and trace minerals brought about from the sprouting process which helps to release locked in nutrients. Nutrients aside, taste and texture are different and may not be enough to convince you to use it exclusively. In this instance, you’ll have to decide for yourself!

Remember, nutrition is both a science and an art so feel free to exericise your palate and flex your mind as you explore lots of menu options that can provide the very best for you!

By Nicolette M. Pace MS,RD,CDE,CDN,CFCS

Be Healthy! Be Happy!

10 Foods To Freeze For a Healthy Lifestyle

By Nicolette M. Pace

With just a little planning and preparation you can freeze flavor and freshness in these favorite foods to lock in nutrients, offer convenience and encourage economy for value savings and decrease your use of processed foods for a healthy lifestyle.

1-      Seasonal Fruits: Cut up in season peaches, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, pineapple, grapes or apples for a year round vitamin and fiber fix that’s great for a quick fruit cocktail, lunch time pairing with low fat cottage cheese or a drop in smoothie suggestion. Just a spritz of lemon juice will retard browning and boost vitamin C, a heat sensitive vitamin that will be less with canned varieties.

2-      Nutritious Nuts: These healthy and expensive fats can turn rancid at room temperature so be sure to protect your investment.  Be recipe ready by bagging up and freezing slivered almonds, pine nuts, honey toasted pecans or spicy Thai-style peanuts for artistic salads, whole grain pilafs, pestos, vegetable, noodle or pasta dishes for a heart healthy omega-3 kick to your meals.

3-      Better for you Berries: Take advantage of local fresh berry availability year round and store blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries in the freezer to be ready to pop into tons of recipes. Rich in vitamins and fiber, these slow-carb fruit gems are an incredible powerhouse of nutrients that will boost flavor, add rich color and bathe your blood cells with healing plant chemicals to hit you with super antioxidant power!

4-      Bakery Fresh Bread: Who doesn’t love the smell and texture of freshly baked Artisian bread? Impress guests with a gourmet touch by having these toothsome loaves conveniently available by storing in the freezer to preserve the crumb, texture and retard staleness. Just a quick oven re-bake in the oven brings back the aroma, crispness and moisture for fine dining at home.

5-      Save Semi-Soft Cheese Calories: Enjoy bulk pricing discounts yet keep these addictive meal ingredients fresh and available but not in your face by retarding mold and freezing super-melters like mozzarella, Colby, pepper jack or gouda for last minute flat bread dinner ideas, tacos, frittatas, or veggie dishes.

6-      Whole Grain Goodness: Ambitious attempts to add whole grains like flax, quinoa, millet or oats by either buying a grain cereal or baking mix can go south as the nutrient rich germ deteriorates at room temperature faster than when kept cold. Ensure that these vitamin and mineral rich carbohydrates stay fresh and available to work into your whole food diet by freezing them in insulated bags to stay fresh.

7-      Healthy Herbs: While dried herbs can also deliver flavor and therapeutic nutritional value from cholesterol lowering plant sterols and to help you detox, recognize that fresh herbs like basil, parsley, mint, dill, cilantro and chives can benefit from a deep freeze treatment. Just let herbs air dry before freezing to retain color or prep them by finely chopping for a great starts to a freshly made pesto, chutney, meat marinade, salad dressing or herb butter.

8-      Vitamin C Squeeze: nothing beats the taste and vitamin content of just squeezed citrus which gets lots in bottled pasteurized juices. For a just released surge of vitamin C and fresh flavor, juice lemons, limes, oranges or grapefruits and freeze in ice cube trays for a quick citrus splash for fish and chicken, fruit salad or infused fruit waters and teas.

9-      Specialty Stocks, Stews and Sauces: You can control calories, fat and sodium and have wholesome, preservative free meals ready for you by simply doubling or tripling the quantity of nutritious, inflammation-reducing homemade stock for healing soups by freezing for later use.  Give your efforts praise and enjoy freedom from processed convenience food as you take in packed carotenes, vitamin E and flavor from your own marinara, chili or mineral rich beef and vegetable stew.

10-   Farm Fresh Veggies: Just harvested and supercharged with vitamins, minerals, plant chemicals and fiber, seasonal local veggies are tops on the nutrient list. A close second are conveniently frozen, therapeutic reminders of a trip to the green market or country farm stand that will preserve these values without processing additives like sodium or sulfites. Reach for favorites that include asparagus, beets, broccoli, green beans, peas, carrots or greens. Your body and mind will thank you!

Nicolette M. Pace MS,RD,CDE,CDN,CFCS