Whenever I take a trip to a salad bar, you can be sure that I have pre-conditioned my mind into minding what the composition of my salad plate will be. After all, anybody who takes such a jaunt to a salad bar is presumed to be opting for a light alternative to a hefty meal, one that will complement her/his weight-control regimen and will not be too taxing to the digestive mechanism. So as I take my last few steps toward where the edible greens and bits and pieces are, I make one final pact with myself that I will keep my salad healthful by making it simple. Only the basics such as greens, vegetables, fruits, beans, small pieces of lean meat and a moderate amount of light dressing shall make up my wholesome plate.
A trip to a salad bar in Austin one fine Saturday noon was not supposed to be any different. As I was patrolling its perimeters, I was hunting for the different varieties of greens that supply some fiber and are low in calories. I was particularly looking for the dark-green ones like arugula and spinach which are known to provide more beta-carotene, vitamin C and other nutrients than the paler varieties. I was intently in search of fresh cauliflower, carrots, red peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, peas, onions and zucchini which are loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals, including antioxidants that may help prevent disease. Fresh melons, oranges and apples, which add some healthful vim and which are concededly better than canned fruits that are high in sugar, were likewise in my hunt list. I was telling myself that I should be on my way back to the table as soon as I have heaped my plate with kidney and garbanzo beans (chickpeas) which are rich in soluble fiber and protein but are low in fat; a sprinkle of sunflower seeds, pine nuts or walnuts which provide some vitamin E, calcium and potassium; and small chunks of lean chicken, turkey or tuna to complement my salad.
The serving utensil of the last ingredient of my salad hardly left my hand when I unexpectedly caught sight of an array of what seemed to be preparations my subconscious mind dictated I shouldn’t miss. There were bean or pasta salad and marinated vegetables drenched in fatty oils, plus some coleslaw, tuna and potato salads soaked in mayonnaise. I also had a glimpse of bacon bits, croutons, cheese, green olives, salami cubes, sesame sticks, fried noodles, ham strips and raisins that, when combined, can add substantial amount of calories. And lo and behold! I found some hot items like macaroni and cheese, fried chicken wings, and creamy soups that may had been mindlessly dashed liberally with salt or sodium! What a discovery indeed! I suddenly had a wider choice and actually decided to raid the salad bar, especially since no one was tending to it, someone who should be monitoring its safeness and keeping food and ice refreshed. Someone whose presence serves to keep customers from touching food with their hands or using utensils that have been dropped. No sir, the guard wasn’t there. So I was free to load up a second plate with the sumptuous elements, and in fact I did.
In an almost conscienceless assault, I finished off both plates, beginning with the second one containing my nonessential discoveries, and ending half-spiritedly with the first. I felt then that if the healthy contents of my first salad plate could talk, they would have surely given me a tounge-lashing for my reckless (mis)adventure and total disregard of the well-being of my body system.
Whew, that was quite a confession! I do not think health buffs out there will find me exemplary. After that unfortunate Saturday salad bar trip however, I have resolved to shy away from salad bars to avoid any more of those accidental explorations. Instead, I will grow my own greens right at my backyard so I can come up with my own fresh, healthy salad whenever I please. This way, I will get to keep my money in my pocket, and my conscience guiltless too.