Caesar Salad: The Truth Behind the Calories; The Recipe for a Better Dressing

Restaurant Caesar salads can be loaded with excess fat and calories; make Robin Miller's lighter version at home instead.

History says that Caesar Cardini, of Tijuana, Mexico, invented the Caesar Salad in 1924. At the time, the dish was eaten with fingers – whole leaves of Romaine lettuce were dipped in Caesar dressing. Now I’ll tell you why I mentioned that. I recently went to the movies with my kids – one of those new theaters where you order food from your seat. We got the Caesar salad and it was served the same way – dressing in a bowl, whole leaves on the side for dunking (this was perfect for simultaneous movie-viewing and noshing). The salad was terrific, but as a nutritionist, I know how fattening Caesar dressing can be. I decided to run some numbers. Are you sitting down? A traditional Caesar salad has 470 calories, 40 grams of fat (9 grams of which are saturated) and 1070 milligrams of sodium. Even the “side salad” boasts 362 calories, 26 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat and 913 milligrams of sodium. You’re almost better off with buttered popcorn and chocolate. Since most of the fat comes from oil and cheese, it’s really easy to create a fabulous Caesar dressing by swapping a few ingredients. In my dressing, I replace most of the oil with good chicken broth, I swap Worcestershire sauce for the anchovies and I use Dijon mustard for flavor and its ability to emulsify everything. When serving the dressing, use whole or chopped leaves and feel free to top the salad with croutons and grilled chicken or shrimp to make it a complete meal.

Caesar Salad Dressing

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together all ingredients. Serve over mixed greens, chopped Romaine lettuce or with whole Romaine lettuce leaves.

Serves 4
Nutrition Info Per Serving (1/4 cup)
Calories: 41
Total Fat: 3 grams
Saturated Fat: Total Carbohydrate: 2 grams
Sugars: Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 265 milligrams
Cholesterol: 2 milligrams
Fiber: 0 grams

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Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of "Robin Takes 5" and “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinrescuesdinner.com.

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