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True Food Kitchen's Chicken Harvest Salad.

Image: Marla Murphy

Salads have a bad rap for being boring and unappetizing, but any food can fit that bill if it's not well made. If ordered correctly, a great salad can fulfill all of your nutrition needs and deliver a craveable flavor all in one bowl. Who doesn’t love food that is convenient, healthy and tastes good? The trick is finding places that create salads you actually want to eat and luckily this dietitian has been on a mission to find you the best salads in the city that are sure to become mainstays in your daily diet.

True Food Kitchen is one of my favorite go-to restaurants for a convenient salad. Thought the eatery's relationship with health guru Dr. Andrew Weill might make some diners fear bland health food, the truth is, as the website says, “You don’t have to be a yogi" to eat there. True Food has healthy dishes for a variety of different appetites and palates, from miso soup to pizza and hamburgers.

While all the menu items are tasty, time and time again, the only thing I order is the Chicken Harvest Salad, and I always ask for warm chicken over the default cold chicken. This salad is loaded with cranberries, chopped dates, jicama, manchego cheese (my personal favorite) and trendy farro, all flavored with an almond-and-Champagne vinaigrette. When I order this salad, I always ask for the farro on the side. Since the salad already has dried fruit and jicama, I choose those to be my healthy carbohydrates for that meal, but you can always switch that and choose the farro over the fruit. Either way, steer clear of indulging in too many carbohydrates at lunch—if you don't you'll start to feel fatigued around 3 p.m. As always, I ask for my dressing on the side and if I am extra hungry, I will ask for sliced avocado to boost my daily intake of healthy fats. I love the combination of savory and sweet flavors in this salad and the dried fruit helps to satisfy my sweet tooth, so no dessert is needed.

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Chicken Mediterranean Salad at Barnaby's.

Image: Marla Murphy

Another go-to, Barnaby’s Café, has locations conveniently sprinkled across the city, so I'm never too far from a healthy lunch. Barnaby’s is a staple in many Houstonians' diets and I am not one to deny anyone a taste of their weekend brunch. The only problem is their plates are over-the-top huge. Fortunately, they offer half sizes and that is the way to go. Even a half size leaves me with leftovers to take home and leftovers are not my normal.

Usually, my take-home container is filled with the Chicken Mediterranean Salad, a combination of greens, carrots, red cabbage, feta cheese, shredded herb-crusted chicken, tomatoes, red onions, olives and cilantro with dressing served on the side. The salad arrives in a massive bowl spilling out with the best toppings. After ordering the half portion instead of the full order, your next move should be to remove at least half of the feta cheese or just ask for no cheese at all. Then this salad is good to go and ready to eat.

Texas still hasn’t quite figured out less is more when it comes to food, so always be mindful of portion sizes. On average, we need three or four ounces of protein per meal—about enough meat to fill the palm of your hand. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, we need two cups of vegetables and one or two cups of fruit per day to round out our daily intake. Too much of a good thing is still too much, so ordering half servings or bagging up half will not only save you from over indulging, it can also save you money because one meal is now two.  

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Barnaby’s Café

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