Salads may seem like a pretty basic food, but it turns out that there are many subtle differences between them - even if most of us automatically think they're all healthy. Worryingly, some are a lot more calorific than others.
I mean, let's face it, there are plenty of things in salads that reduce their nutritional value. Toppings such as the dressing, cheese, grains can do a lot to turn a salad from a dieter's hope for success into a fatty, greasy nightmare.
If you want to replace the unhealthy snacks you eat in your day-to-day life, watch this video to learn which are the best and healthiest alternatives:
Would you be able to tell the difference between a healthy salad and an unhealthy one? Well, one Australian dietician by the name of Paula Norris has shown us that it's actually pretty difficult to do just that. And how did she do this? Well, she posted a side-by-side photo of two salads which appear identical.
They both looked incredibly tasty, but one of them contained just 535 calories and the other contained 995 calories - almost double the amount. According to Norris, this is because of the "calorie-heavy dressings, too much grain and not enough veg can result in a 'salad' with calories closer to that of a risotto."
Norris then broke down the various discrepancies between the salads and how the extra calories in the salad on the left came about.
In the salad on the left, Norris added 70g of halloumi cheese, a cup of cooked pearl barley, 50g of aubergine, two florets of broccoli, a third of a courgette, pepper, three cherry tomatoes, 200g of poached chicken, half a cup of herbs, and dressing made up of two teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil and two teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.
When compared with the "healthy salad", it's not difficult to see how the extra calories managed to sneak into the "unhealthy" one.
The salad on the right contains just 35g of halloumi cheese, half a cup of cooked pearl barley, 100g of aubergine, five florets of broccoli, two-thirds of a courgette, half a pepper, five cherry tomatoes, 100g of poached chicken, half a cup of herbs and a dressing made from two teaspoons of seeded mustard and two teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.
The differences are not easy to spot when the salads are laid side-by-side, but they're definitely there. And it's not just this salad that Norris has created this helpful side-by-side calorie guide for. There plenty of meals she has used to showcase the less calorific versions against more calorific versions.
Take this burrito, for instance:
Again, the healthier wrap is half the amount of calories of an unhealthy wrap. And this time, it might be a little easier to spot one of the ways that the wrap on the right contains fewer calories.
And that's because it's smaller in size, which saves about 100 calories. But there are other more subtle differences that save an additional 300 calories.
For the wrap on the left (the more calorific one), one teaspoon of cooking oil was used in the cooking process. The wrap itself contains half a brown onion, 160g of regular mince, taco seasoning, half a tin of tomatoes, one cup of lettuce, half a tomato, 50g of avocado and 40g of cheese.
On the right, there's half a brown onion, 100g of extra lean mince, 50g of black beans, a third of a zucchini, half of a medium-sized carrot, taco seasoning, half a tin of tomatoes, a cup of lettuce, half a tomato, 25g of avocado, and 20g of low-fat cheese.
Here's another side-by-side picture, this time of a rice and salad dish:
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Norris has since stated that she has no intentions of promoting calorie-counting but instead wants "to demonstrate the impact that ingredient manipulation can have on the overall calories in a meal."
No one said dieting was easy - in fact, it's the complete opposite. But if you are intent on shedding the pounds, then you should definitely be aware of the "hidden calories" in the food you consume on a daily basis.