Ellen Kunes, editor in chief, loves spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette: spinach, roasted mushrooms, roasted onions, chickpeas, bacon, croutons, and balsamic vinaigrette.
Ellens salad has a lot going for it. Of our three, it has the least calories and fat, and the fiber-loaded chickpeas are filling without tons of calories. There are two glitches: oily vinaigrette and salty bacon. A few changes can make this salad healthier.
Try straight balsamic vinegar; the oiliness of the roasted veggies will balance the tartness of your simple dressing. Most people think vinaigrette is automatically low-fat, but the classic version is about 75 percent oil. You save: 210 calories, 28 g fat.
Add a few more plain (read: not oily or cheesy) toasted croutons to keep the crunch factor up after cutting the bacon. You add: about 14 calories, 0.4 g fat.
Throw in extra mushrooms; their meaty quality will make up for cutting some of the bacon. You add: 5 calories, 0 g fat.
Ask for a sprinkling of about 2 teaspoons; thats all you need to get that distinctive flavor and crunch without a whole slew of calories. You save: 173 calories, 13 g fat.
Order extra onions on the salad for a smoky flavor and minimal calories and fat; caramelized onions add a little sweetness too. You add: about 19 calories, 2 g fat.
*Nutritional analysis is based on typical meal-size salads at chain restaurants.
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