Yesterday, Christina commented, “Isn’t it crazy to look at nutrition facts and realize how many calories things can have?! Especially at restaurants!” Yes, yes, it is. I think that salads are the biggest mine fields.
You go in, sit down, order a salad so that you can have a healthful meal. A Cobb salad – mmmmm. Tasty and (at Chili’s) 720 calories. You read that right. 720. A Caesar salad with grilled chicken? 650. At Appleby’s, that same salad is 820! WHAT?! It’s a salad!! The culprit, as you already know, is the dressing. A grilled chicken Caesar salad at Appleby’s without dressing is a very reasonable 370.
Condiments are flavor boosters; but, we don’t tend to think of them as food. As a result, we also don’t tend to think of them as having calories. Nothing could be further from the truth. I pulled out some condiments from my refrigerator:
- Kraft chipotle mayo – 1 tbsp – 35 cal
- Sweet Baby Ray’s honey barbecue sauce – 2 tbsp – 70 cal
- Sriracha sauce – 1 tsp – 5 cal
- Vava hot ajvar – 1.4 oz (just over 2 tbsp) – 69 cal
- Naturally Fresh bleu cheese dressing – 2 tbsp – 170 cal
- French’s yellow mustard – 1 tsp – 0 cal
Obviously, mustard is a better calorie choice than mayonnaise and just about anything is a better choice than bleu cheese dressing. Here’s the thing, though – you may adore bleu cheese dressing. And if you do, there’s therapy available, I’m sure. Um, what I mean to say is that it may be worth it to you to cut something else out so that you can enjoy that on your salad. Just like it’s your money in your bank account, it’s your calorie budget. You can choose to spend it how you like. Buying clothes on Rodeo Drive is going to blast through my budget faster than shopping at my local mall and leave my closet emptier. Similarly, pouring that bleu cheese on is going to blast through your calorie budget faster and leave your belly emptier. Still, Armani may be worth it to me and bleu cheese may be worth it to you.
There are ways to have a little of both worlds, though. I can make my budget go further by dressing up an inexpensive dress with an Hermes scarf. You can either thin your dressing or leave it on the side. Rather than pour the dressing over the top, dip your fork into it before each bite. You get a little of that taste you love without carpet bombing your calorie budget.
It’s your budget. Just look before you eat so that you can be an informed consumer.