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KESTNER: Eat salads, regardless of the ingredients

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One of the things I recommend for most people trying to improve their health is to increase the amount of vegetables and fruit that they eat. Almost universally this will be a benefit for individuals.

I say almost universally because there are those rare individuals who are so health conscious that they do consume adequate amounts of vegetables and fruit, but most readers will benefit from adding these foods to their diet.

One of the easiest ways to add more fruits and vegetables to the diet is to make the switch from eating sandwiches for lunch and meat and carb combinations for dinner to eating salads.

Some people quickly begin to point out that many salads available at restaurants are so loaded with dressings and additional items such as cheese and bacon toppings that there is more than the ideal amount of fat in the salads.

That is true in many cases but it is missing the point of the recommendation. The very act of switching from typical carb-heavy lunches and dinners to ordering salads routinely is an important early step to making the transformation to choosing healthier foods.

It is true that many salads are over saturated with amenities that are not to be considered healthy alternatives, but the idea is to start from where you are and continue to make progress toward eating healthier foods more regularly. Keep in mind that some patients have not seen a vegetable other the thin slice of tomato on their cheeseburger their whole life.
It is not unusual for patients to actually lose weight and see improvements in their blood profiles simply as a result of switching to salads as their routine restaurant choice.

However, some restaurants have more appealing salads than others. Others have healthier salad choices than average.
I have begun the great task of making a list of the restaurants that have very good salads available for diners.

While I have visited many restaurants and tried their salads, I thought it wise to ask readers for their suggestions so the list would be as complete as possible.

I recently initiated a poll on Facebook asking for suggestions for restaurants that have great salads.
So far, here are the restaurants recommended by Facebook friends: (In completely random order.)

• Smashburger
• Toot’s
• Wendy’s
• Boulevard
• Blue Coast
• Chop House
• Cracker Barrel
• Newk’s
• Bonefish Grill
• Peter D’s
• Marina’s On the Square
• Jason’s Deli (They also have a salad bar.)
• Subway
• Panera Bread
• Sauce
• Cheddar’s
• Old Chicago
• Through the Grapevine
• O’Charley’s
• Jim n Nick’s

Did you notice that the list encompasses a wide variety of restaurant styles? From fast-food options to various sit-down restaurants that are positioned as elegant eateries, most places have salad options.

Some salads are simply a plate full of chopped or torn iceberg lettuce topped with a modicum of sparse toppings, while others have a more interesting variety of greens and involve several coordinated ingredients.

For example, a sophisticated salad may mix a variety of salad greens for a blend of tastes and textures, and add various fruits such as cranberries, as well as nuts and a meat topping.

It is common for a salad to combine sweet and salty tastes and may even include a sour or spicy component. A combination of soft, smooth and crunchy elements may be brought together.

Some exceptional salads even create a contrast in temperatures by including both cold and warm ingredients.
It is these selections of contrasts that often make a salad more appealing to the diner.

Salads that involve multiple complimentary or contrasting ingredients are usually more expensive as they take longer to make and involve more costly ingredients, but are more popular and are more likely to be recommended to others.

My suggestion for people that need to switch their eating habits from unhealthy choices to healthier ones is to begin by ordering more salads when dining out. Initially, eat whatever kind of salad is satisfying to you, regardless of what ingredients are included.

As you become accustomed to eating more vegetables and fruits, gradually begin culling the less healthy options and seek those with less fat and sodium-laden additives.

Simply eating more salads will not qualify you as a healthy eating enthusiast. As many critics will point out, salads often contain ingredients high in fat, sodium, preservatives or other undesirable components. However, keep in mind this is simply one step on an enormous continuum of making healthy eating choices.

If I have omitted your favorite place please share your recommendation with others by logging onto the Post website and making a comment below.

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chiropractic, doctor, dr., kestner, mark kestner, restaurants, salads
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