Condiments, Toppings and Dressings, Oh My!

 This post is from our chief nutritionist Samantha Mast, RD, CDN:

When it comes to eating right, it’s not always about which food you choose but what you add to your dish. Making healthy substitutions for these toppings is an easy way to improve your diet. In many cases the smallest changes can yield big results.

A salad with fresh vegetables is always a good choice, but adding half of a cup of creamy dressing can be counterproductive. By choosing a light or lower fat version of this dressing you save your healthy salad from being overwhelmed by excess fat! Opt for an olive-oil based dressing (maximum of two tablespoons) to add some healthy fat to that salad. If you are making your dressing from scratch, try adding fresh lemon juice, which packs a lot of flavor and zero fat!

In keeping with the salad theme, let’s look at which toppings or additives can outweigh your smart choice. Adding a protein to your salad is a great idea; it helps you feel full and provides amino acids. How the protein is prepared can make all the difference. Grilled or boiled chicken will be a healthier choice than chicken that has been breaded or fried.

Another great choice is tofu (a soy based protein). It comes from a plant and contains no cholesterol.

If you are going to add red meat, opt for a lean cut (such as shoulder or bottom round) and go as lean as possible for ground beef (90% or higher).

If you prefer to add cheese to your salad, simply choose one that is low fat and measure the proper portion. In doing so, you are keeping that salad tasty and light all at the same time!

Let’s switch gears and take a look at condiments. We’ll start with a common bad guy, mayonnaise. While it contains some healthy fat, overindulging can potentially add too many calories (and excess cholesterol). Substitute regular mayonnaise with low-fat or light mayo. I use both of them frequently! Mustard is another nice alternative because it is low in calories and full of flavor.

Keep an eye out for other condiments that may contain a lot of added sugar, such as barbeque sauce.

Now, just because you were a rockstar and chose the lighter topping doesn’t mean you can use a gigantic amount. Even low fat products contain fat. Follow the food label and measure out the right amount. A teaspoon goes a long way! For salad dressings, try to not to exceed two tablespoons (about a shot glass).

The bottom line with add-ons: Be smart! There may be a time when you find yourself in a situation where there are no lighter options. It’s okay! Simply limit yourself to a very small portion and and for the  topping on the side. This way YOU can control how much you put on your food. Dip your fork in the dressing and then into your bite of salad. For condiments, just spread enough to cover your bread, not drown it!

Get started now! Try a makeover on your favorite sandwich at lunch today or tomorrow and see how many ways you can substitute lighter options, and still have a great sandwich. You can do it!

Until next time,

Sammi (@flwsammi)


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