The Salad Debacle

Salads, arguably the staple meal of Eat to Live, but, that depends. What kind of salads are we talking about? If we’re talking about salads like Dr. Fuhrman’s Indian Mango Salad or his Pecan Maple Salad, then we’re good. But, if we’re talking about many of the standard American restaurant concocted salads, well, those are no friend of an Eat to Liver.

And what is a standard American salad? Let me paint you a picture. Take some phytonutrient-rich lettuce and maybe some tomato and onions. Then, bombard them with cheese, grilled chicken, croutons, bacon, crispy noodles, more cheese, lunch meat, and finally, drown it in as much oil or cream based dressing that you can get your hands on. And what are you left? A meal formally known as healthy.

Need some real world examples? Thankfully the Eating to Live on the Outside series has become a virtual library of unsavory food selections. So, here’s a couple of all-star—insert sarcasm here—standard American salads:
Lonestar Steakhouse
Like usual my eyes gravitate towards the salad section of the menu; it’s like the Alamo, a safe haven in the middle of hostile territory. The Cobb Salad has some promise, but I’m making a couple alterations—goodbye cheese and adios bacon! Now, I can deal with the chicken and egg, I only eat meat once a week anyway, so I don’t really mind this concession. Overall my favorite thing about this dish is the avocado. I have bit of an avocado fetish.

Carrabba's Italian Grill
No surprise here, but the next dishes I’d consider ordering are salads. First you’ve got your basic house salad, which is usually a safe option (provided you limit or omit the oily dressing), but I’m also intrigued by the Insalata Fiorucci and the Insalata Carrabba. Are they perfect? Oh no, there’s some nit-picking to do. Sure, between the both of them you’ve got field greens, artichoke hearts, roasted red bell peppers, grilled eggplant, tomatoes, black olives, carrots, celery, and red onions. But there’s also plenty of stuff to make an Eat to Liver head for the hills; a hazelnut goat cheese medallion, and mozzarella and romano cheese, not to mention the vinaigrette. For me the solution is pretty clear, I’m cutting out the cheese, I can go either way with the chicken (of course some of you might prefer to ditch it), and I’d use just a teeny tiny bit of vinaigrette. See with a few alternations you’ve got a decent meal, take a moment and ponder all the phytonutrients.
If you consider all this, this next article shouldn’t really shock you. The Los Angeles Times reports that lots people can’t pick the healthy meals on restaurant menus, even though many of them boast "wholesome" options—the problem? Part of it seems to be those pesky standard American salads. Mary Engel explains:
The four-question quiz — which focused on food served at Denny's, Chili's, McDonald's and Romano's Macaroni Grill — was commissioned by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, a nonprofit group based in Davis, and conducted by Field Research Corp. The findings were the same, regardless of education or income levels.

Even the center's executive director, Harold Goldstein, flunked the test, despite holding a doctorate in public health.

"More and more fast-food restaurants are claiming that they are providing healthy choices, and commonly the choice will have a word like 'salad' in it," Goldstein said. "But you could be blindfolded throwing a dart at the menu board, and you've got a better chance at making the healthy choice."

The findings do not bode well for a state in the middle of an obesity epidemic, said Alecia Sanchez, a Sacramento-based spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society. More than half of California adults are overweight or obese and at risk of diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. One in three cancer deaths is related to poor diet, inactivity or obesity, Sanchez said.

Goldstein's center is using the survey results to lobby for a bill, introduced by state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) that would require chain restaurants in California to include nutritional information on their menus, much as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires nutritional labeling for food sold in grocery stores.
This whole situation makes me think of the heavyset woman who walks into McDonalds, orders a Big Mac, large fries, apple pie, and then a Diet Coke.
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