New research reveals what the rest of us have long known. People don’t eat many salads. Experts say–and they might be right–it’s because we’re too lazy to go to all of the trouble of cleaning, chopping and prepping a proper salad. In that same amount of time, your average American could drive through and order at Wendy’s eight times. (OK, I just made that up but it’s probably not far off.)
When it comes to salads, there are two ways to go. You can buy packaged salads or make your own. We’ve laid out some good options for both.
Dole Asian Salad
What’s in it: romaine lettuce, green cabbage, iceberg lettuce, carrots, snow peas, red cabbage
Pros: Fairly healthy, even with added toppings like slivered almonds
Cons: Needs chicken
Fresh Express Chicken Taco Kit
What’s in it: iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, grilled chicken breast, Mexican seasoned cheeses, yellow and blue tortilla strips, spicy ranch
Pros: Has chicken
Cons: Might want to substitute a healthier dressing
Organic Farms Caesar Salad Kit
What’s in it: organic romaine lettuce, dressing, Parmesan cheese and seasoned, multi-grain croutons
Cons: Again, no chicken
Make Your Own Salad
As for making your own salad, I talked to Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop chef and owner Jonathan Rollo. Specifically, we talked about how to man up a salad. Rollo, who owns Greenleaf locations in Beverly Hills and Century City, Calif., let me sample a few dishes. He told me I was in good company, as Justin Timberlake had stopped by the location recently. If it’s good enough for Timberlake, well, then maybe…
Made Man: How many of your customers are men?
Jonathan Rollo: About half.
MM: How often do you eat salads?
JR: I eat off our menu every day.
MM: The Buffalo “Wangs” salad (pictured above) is good. Is it healthy?
JR: Thank you. We used to fry the chicken, but we found a way to bake it so it tastes fried, which is healthier.
MM: In addition to protein, what else can you add? There has to be balance, right?
JR: For the Mexplosion Salad (recipe below) we make a corn and black bean salsa. It adds a lot of bulk and texture, flavor and spice. (The Mexplosion) has traditional taco salad ingredients, without it being slathered in ranch dressing. Our Chop Chop Salad started with the idea of an Italian farm salad, which does not have protein in it, so we’ve got the tomatoes and the white onions, corn and garbanzo beans – very traditional – then we bulk it up with the lettuces, the basil pesto dressing and obviously the chicken.
MM: Is any protein fair game?
JR: You can go with almost anything. If you take on an active person’s point of view, someone who is an athlete or an outdoorsy person … what you want is to go heavy on the proteins, with no additional fat content.
MM: What kind of dressing works for a protein-heavy salad?
JR: It depends on the combination and it depends what your goal is. If you are making a conscious decision to eat a healthier meal, we stay away from heavy oils and vinaigrettes and go with lemon juice or vinegar-based or even fruit-juice-based dressings.
Courtesy of Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop
Scarborough Farms Baby Greens … 3 ounces
Black Beans, cooked … 2 ounces
Corn Kernels, grilled … 1 ounce
3 Baby Tomatoes, halved
Red Onion, finely diced … 1/2 ounce
Sunflower Seeds, toasted … 1/2 ounce
1/5 Avocado, thinly sliced
Fresh Cilantro, minced … 1 teaspoon
Lemon Juice … 1.5 ounces
Any store-bought low-sugar BBQ Sauce … 1 ounce
Total Calories: 446
Add 1 ounce of Jalapeno Jack Cheese (additional 106 calories)
Combine all ingredients and toss with dressing. Serve immediately.
What a Mexplosion Salad should look like: