Julie Buchenholz’s salad days are over.
Ever since the 33-year-old Brooklynite quit eating salads last year — swapping out greens for chicken meatballs with veggie sides, cauliflower-crust pizzas and zucchini noodles — she lost nearly 10 pounds in 10 weeks.
“It seems very counterintuitive,” says Buchenholz, who works at the Camp kids’ store in the Flatiron District. “I’m at my wedding weight now, which is unbelievable.”
For years, virtuously nibbling on a light lunch of raw leafy greens (dressing on the side, of course) was considered an essential part of successful dieting. No longer: Health-conscious New Yorkers are tossing the lettuce and mesclun for heartier bowls of cooked veggies.
Not only has their digestion improved, but they’re also losing weight.
“You don’t need to have a cold salad to be healthy,” says Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, a registered dietitian in Midtown whose clients, Buchenholz among them, have lost weight while finding new ways to enjoy their veggies. She says that some of her clients find it easier and more enjoyable to consume the three cups of vegetables she recommends at lunch and dinner if they’re cooked down.
Salad-centric restaurants are changing their menus to meet the demands of those who don’t want a raw deal. Late last year, Chopt added warm bowls of veggies and whole grains to its menu, as Sweetgreen did in 2016.
‘You don’t need to have a cold salad to be healthy.’
“Our customers asked us to create a new menu category [that is] a bit more hearty,” says Chopt CEO Nick Marsh. He says the chain’s “Warm Bowl” has been its most successful launch ever, and that the company plans to double its offerings by this fall.
Nutritionists says eschewing salads often makes sense for those looking to lose weight or to simply feel better.
“Many people can’t digest raw salad or raw veggies properly and feel bloated after eating them,” says Molly Lee, a holistic nutritionist in Vancouver. “Additionally, a salad is not adequate and many feel hungry soon afterwards and end up over-snacking or overeating later.”
Christine Avanti, a registered nutritionist in Los Angeles, adds that many salads just aren’t that good for you.
Often, she says, they’re loaded with “unhealthy doses of cheeses and high fat protein sources” that essentially cancel out the health benefits of the vegetables they’re tossed with.
Nor does Avanti believe that a low-carb diet is the best way to slim down: Veggies, she says, are best consumed alongside wholesome carbs such as lentils, quinoa and whole grains to promote a healthy metabolism.
When clients “begin to add healthy carbs to their meals . . . they begin to lose weight,” says Avanti, the author of “Skinny Chicks Don’t Eat Salads.”
That said, cooked vegetables aren’t always virtuous: Lots of restaurants prepare them with butter, cheese and bacon grease, says Amy Shapiro, a registered dietitian in Nomad.
“Saturated fat and too much salt isn’t good for anyone in large portions,” says Shapiro, who suggests choosing vegetables cooked or sauteed with heart-healthy fats, such as olive oil. “Raw salads and veggies are free in my book, but cooked veggies from restaurants . . . need to be portioned out.”
But for some, including 32-year-old Jillian Gelman, going cold turkey on cold salads is the right move. The former Sweetgreen loyalist quit salads 18 months ago, due to gastrointestinal issues. She now focuses on eating warm foods over raw ones — and not only have her stomach issues improved, but she’s lost a few pounds, too.
“It’s definitely helped,” says Gelman, a merchandiser for Gap who lives in the Flatiron District.
“It sounds so crazy,” she says. Usually, “you’re on a diet and you’re like, ‘OK, I’m not going to have pizza, I’m not going to have french fries.’ ”
But now, she says, “I’m like, ‘I’m changing my diet and lifestyle — so I’m not going to eat salads.’ ”
The no-salad slimdown
Many leaf-hating dieters are turning to grain bowls for help losing weight. The key is keep the “anatomy” of the bowl in mind, says nutritionist Mareya Ibrahim, author of the upcoming cookbook “Eat Like You Give a Fork: The Real Dish on Eating To Thrive” (St. Martin’s Griffin; out June 4).
The ideal slimdown bowl, she tells The Post, breaks down thusly: 40 percent protein (a serving is 3 ounces for lean meat and fish), 30 percent carbs (with no more than a half-cup of starchy carbs) and 30 percent healthy fats. Pick one food from each category, and voilá: you’re ready to start your greens-free slimdown.
— Lauren Steussy