How to Reduce Chef Salad Calorie Count Without Cutting Down on Taste or Health Benefits

How to Reduce Chef Salad Calorie Count Without Cutting Down on Taste or Health Benefits
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The common ingredients of a salad are any of vegetable, fruits, pasta, legumes, eggs, grains, meat, poultry or seafood with a predominance of leafy greens. Chef salad consists of hard-boiled eggs, one or more of meats such as ham, turkey, chicken or roast beef, vegetables such as tomatoes or cucumbers and cheese as key ingredients, all placed on a bed of tossed lettuce or other leafy vegetables.


Most vegetables contain less than 25 calories per serving, and one good way to reduce the chef salad calorie count without sacrificing taste is to add on the veggies at the cost of other high calorie ingredients. Some pointers in this direction include:

  • Pile on the leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach or mustard, which provide just 20 calories for a large serving of two cups, and come with good amounts of folic acid and the antioxidant lutein.
  • Include tomatoes or cucumber, or both. A cup of tomato provides 25 calories and a cup of cucumber just 16. Such veggies also make for good sources of important nutrients such as Vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, fiber and many antioxidants.
  • Avoid fried veggies, or veggies dipped in marinades, mayonnaise or sauce. Frying destroys much of the nutritional value, and dipping the veggies increase the calorie count by huge amounts.

Lean Protein

Hard-boiled eggs and any one of ham, turkey, chicken or roast beef meat are indispensable ingredients in a chef salad. All these food sources are rich in protein, but opt for foods that provide lean protein, and which remain comparatively less in calories.

One hard-boiled egg provides 75 calories but one egg white provides just 17. A serving size of 3-oz of lean roast beef provides 190 calories, whereas a cup of sliced turkey provides just 90. A cup of sliced and extra lean ham provides less than 30.

Cheese and Dressings

Cheese is another important ingredient. Opt for low fat and low calorie cheese such as Cheddar or Swiss cheese. A slice of normal Cheddar cheese provides 114 calories, but a slice (1-oz) of low fat Swiss, Cheddar or Colby cheese provides just 48.

Most dressings come loaded with calories. A tablespoon of vinaigrette for instance, provides 50 calories and similar quantity of creamy ranch provides about 90, besides 30 grams of fat. The best option is to select low-calorie or low-fat dressing varieties.

One option for low calorie dressing is mixing olive oil and vinegar, with a tablespoon providing 40 calories. Another option is to mix 3/4 cup of Wesson oil, 1/4 cup of vinegar, a tablespoon of salt, and half tablespoon of sugar, dry mustard, paprika and black pepper each. Add a low fat yogurt to make the dressing creamy, but a cup of yogurt adds about 112 calories.

Sample Recipe

Take 8 cups any leafy greens, such as lettuce (40 calories), a cup each of sliced and extra lean ham (29) and slicked turkey (90). Add half cup of green onions (10) and celery (13), both chopped fine, a cup of cherry tomatoes (25), half cup each of low fat Swiss cheese and cheddar cheese (48 calories together), two whole boiled egg white (about 35), and a quarter cup of bacon bit. Include any low calorie dressing of about 40 calories.

Wash and tear the lettuce into bite size pieces. Cut the meat and cheese into julienne strips. Place the lettuce or any other leafy green selected in a large bowl, toss in the remaining ingredients except for some julienne pieces of meat and cheese, eggs and dressing. Just before serving, add the egg, remaining meat and cheese for garnish and the dressing.

While all the above pointers guide to reducing calories in salad, there is no hard and fast rule regarding the optimal calorie level. The optimal levels depend on an individual’s overall daily requirements, especially the calories an individual burns in a normal day and require replenishing.


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