Dietitian Melissa Meier reveals the best and worst bowls you can order from Sumo Salad when you’re on the run. Spoiler alert: Some salads aren’t anywhere near as good for you as you might automatically assume…
When you’re out and about, you probably think a salad bar will suffice for a healthy lunch on-the-go.
Turns out, however, just because something comes from a salad bar, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.
Obviously, anything packed with veggies is better than a beige deep fried fest from a fish and chips shop. Some salads, however, can pack alarmingly high levels of kilojoules, sodium and saturated fat – so they aren’t anywhere near as good for you as you might automatically assume.
Case in point: Sumo Salad.
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How to pick a healthy salad
A bowl of non-starchy veg (like lettuce leaves, cherry tomatoes and cucumber) might look like the picture of health – but it’s only the start when it comes to a dietitian-approved meal.
You’ll need to add a source of protein (think: chickpeas, chicken or eggs) as well as some top-notch carbs (like roasted sweet potato, quinoa or brown rice) if you want a meal that’ll keep you full for longer than 30 minutes. Top it off with some healthy fats in the form of an extra virgin olive oil-based dressing or some avocado and voila – your hunger-busting salad is served.
When you’re on the run, these three components are easy enough to pull together – but what you should pay careful attention to, is the sodium and saturated fat that could be lurking under the surface. In case you’re not aware, you want to limit your intake of these nutrients for the sake of your ticker.
Sodium and saturated fat are usually found in dressings (particularly creamy ones), processed meats (read: bacon, ham, prosciutto) and anything deep-fried, so try your best to avoid salads with these kinds of ingredients. The dressing is probably the hardest one to navigate – but rather than go without, I’d suggest asking for a simple combination of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice instead.
The least healthy Sumo Salads
Theory aside, let’s get down to business. Next time you’re visiting Sumo Salad, I’d suggest steering clear of the following (measurements are per regular salad):
Creamy Potato Salad – 5370kJ, 14g protein, 104.3g fat, 8.9g sat fat, 69.8g carbs, 13.4g sugar, 1531mg sodium
Chicken Schnitzel Penne – 4350kJ, 33.5g protein, 49.7g fat, 8.5g sat fat, 107.4g carbs, 6.9g sugar, 1852mg sodium
Creamy Basil Chicken Penne – 4020kJ, 21.4g protein, 68.3g fat, 6.9g sat fat, 63g carbs, 8.1g sugar, 1598mg sodium
Creamy Chicken Penne – 3615kJ, 24.4g protein, 57.3 fat, 8.1g sat fat, 61.1g carbs, 6.4g sugar, 1446mg sodium
Japanese Poke Bowl Beef – 3130kJ, 18.4g protein, 50.3g fat, 6.9g sat fat, 54.8g carbs, 21.9g sugar, 1516mg sodium
The most healthy Sumo Salads
Luckily, there are plenty of choices at the other end of the spectrum I’d recommend instead. Note that some of these options are hardly a meal on their own – some are too low in calories, while others don’t pack enough protein. Nonetheless, they’re a good base to add a tin of tuna or wholegrain bread roll (or both) to, to come up with an easy last-minute lunch:
Tandoori Chicken – 1180kJ, 32.5g protein, 13g fat, 6.8g sat fat, 6.8g carbs, 4.2g sugar, 645mg sodium
Iron Beef – 1164kJ, 27.3g protein, 13.4g fat, 5.3g sat fat, 10.1g carbs, 9.6g sugar, 686mg sodium
Pepper Smoked Salmon Caesar – 2040kJ, 23.4g protein, 39.1g fat, 9.2g sat fat, 8.6g carbs, 3.6g sugar, 634mg sodium
Chicken Kaleslaw – 900kJ, 20.8g protein, 9.7g fat, 1.8g sat fat, 9g carbs, 8.1g sugar, 650mg sodium
Seasonal Greens – 610kJ, 9.5g protein, 6.5g fat, 0.9g sat fat, 8.4g carbs, 7.4g sugar, 424mg sodium
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.