Making Healthy Choices at a Salad Bar + Sweet Tomatoes Review

Salad bars and buffets are a healthy alternative to a traditional restaurant, right? Not always. Making healthy choices, even at a salad bar, can be tricky. Many times salads served at restaurants are not too far off in calorie and fat content from a burger and fry entree or a creamy pasta dish. Take for example the Oriental Grilled Chicken salad from Applebees- it contains a whopping 1280 calories and 760 calories from fat (Source). On the contrary, the American standard burger contains 1030 calories and 640 calories from fat (Source). Shocking, right?! Moral of the story: just because it is a salad, does not mean it is healthy.

Some tips for staying healthy at the salad bar or buffet:

  • Fill your plate with veggies and lean protein
  • Keep the dressing on the side and dip your fork in to give a little flavor to each bite
  • Avoid high calorie toppings like cheese, fried onions, crispy chicken, tortilla strips etc
  • Avoid pasta salads, broccoli salads and other mayo contained prepared salads
  • Drink a lot of water!
  • Don’t show up starving- its ok to be hungry, but that feeling of overwhelming hunger can cause you to load up on not so healthy items

One of my favorite salad bars is Sweet Tomatoes. Fresh salads, homemade soups,  pasta, cheesy bread and of course soft serve ice cream with all the toppings! Though I love all of the yummy sides, making healthy choices can become difficult.

Sweet Tomatoes has recently started offering protein options on their salad bar and we were given the chance to try them out!

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The protein offerings are at the end of the salad bar and are served by a Sweet Tomatoes team member. The servings are very generous and are the perfect way to make your salad a fulfilling meal.

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Filling up on the veggies and protein is the key to staying on track at a buffet like Sweet Tomatoes. Protein helps to keep you feeling full without a ton of additional calories. We both went back for a little taste of cheesy bread, but we agreed that the addition of the protein to our salads helped us to feel more satisfied and less likely to continue eating at the buffet.

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Laura tried the pesto chicken and it was moist, flavorful and the perfect compliment to her salad.

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To change things up, I tried the steak. It had good flavor and was a relatively lean cut of meat. I only needed a few slices to feel satisfied and as you can see it was a fairly large portion of meat.

Overall we were pleased with the new protein offerings and hope Sweet Tomatoes keeps them on the menu (they are currently trialling these items in select markets). With the variety of proteins (steak, chicken, shrimp), you’re bound to find one that compliments the salad you have created!

Thanks to Kim for giving us the opportunity to try them out!

 

Our meals were complimentary, but all opinions are our own. 

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  1. […] is one of the most frequent questions I get as a dietitian! On Tuesday, we talked about making healthier choices at a salad bar, so I thought I would continue our theme of salads and talk about our picks for the best grocery […]

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