Wellness

How Many Calories Are Actually In Your Salad

Bad news about your "healthy" lunch.

If you're anything like us, a salad at lunch or dinner can seem like a low-maintenance shortcut to a healthy diet. We've been known to pile on the toppings too, thinking: "Well, it's a bowl of greens, what could go wrong?"

But beyond healthy greens and fresh vegetables, those other small toppings can really add up. So we decided to illustrate just what 50-, 100- or 200-calorie portions of favorite salad toppings look like. Some of the results were heartening: fiber-rich, nutritious chickpeas are just 100 calories for half a cup. But other foods were surprisingly calorific -- take, for example, sun-dried tomatoes: just eight of the halves amount to 100 calories.

It's important to note that not all calories are the same: Foods that are rich in fiber, protein, vitamins and other nutrients are far more valuable than palatable, but nutritionally devoid items. If given the option between 100 calories of grilled chicken and 100 calories of crispy wontons, any health-minded person will choose the former. But it's a reminder that a "healthy" meal is just as susceptible to portion control problems and overloaded add-ons.

That skill is especially important, as maintaining a healthy weight and diet often means keeping track of calories. The USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans offers calorie amount recommendations based on age, gender and physical activity level that can help you stay on track.

Can you eyeball a reasonable portion at the salad bar? Do these calorie amounts surprise you? And how do you build a healthy salad. Tell us in the comments.

All photos by Damon Dahlen for AOL/The Huffington Post

Grilled Chicken Breast
Perdue Grilled Chicken Breast, Plain
This lean protein provides a lot of nutrients and a lot of volume per calorie, making it a great salad topper.
50 cals -- 1/2 cup
100 cals -- 1 cup
200 cals -- 2 cup
Hard-Boiled Eggs
Eggland's Best Eggs
Hard-boiled eggs are common in everything from Chef's Salad to Niçoise. And while egg slices are a great vegetarian protein source, it's easy to lose track of how many whole eggs you're eating.
50 cals -- .8 eggs
100 cals -- 1.67 eggs
200 cals -- 3.5 eggs
Kalamata Olives
Peloponnese Pitted Kalamata Olives
Heart healthy olives are a great salad choice, but the calories add up quickly.
50 cals -- 6 olives
100 cals -- 12 olives
200 cals -- 24 olives
Avocado
Organic Avocado
Avocados are heart-healthy dynamos -- delivering polyunsaturated fats and even, according to some research, helping to reduce the inflammation that contributes to heart disease risk. But if you're adding some avocado in your chopped salad, chances are you're getting more calories than you bargained for.
50 cals -- 1/6 of avocado
100 cals -- 1/3 avocado
200 cals -- 2/3 avocado
Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Via Roma Sun-Dried Tomato Halves
What could be bad about tomatoes? In this concentrated form, the small, dried halves are surprisingly calorific.
50 cals -- 4 pieces
100 cals -- 8 pieces
200 cals -- 16 pieces
Croutons
Pepperidge Farm Classic Caesar Croutons
Is there a more classic salad ingredient than a crouton? Unfortunately, the iconic topper is high in calories.
50 cals -- 10 pieces
100 cals -- 20 pieces
200 cals -- 40 pieces
Chickpeas
Progresso Chickpeas
Chickpeas are another high volume, low cal choice, with plenty of fiber and protein.
50 cals -- 1/4 cup
100 cals -- 1/2 cup
200 cals -- 1 cup
Crumbled Blue Cheese
Blue cheese adds a lot of flavor without a lot of volume, and that means even a small amount will permeate your salad's profile.
50 cals -- 1/8 cup
100 cals -- 1/4 cup
200 cals -- 1/2 cup
Cubed Cheddar Cheese
Kraft Cheddar Cheese, Cubed
If you're well-behaved enough to have a salad, you might as well cheer yourself up with some cheese, right? Given how little cheese is in each portion, that's a dangerous game to start.
50 calories -- .5 oz or about 4 small cubes
100 calories -- 1 oz or about 8 cubes
200 calories -- 2 oz or about 16 cubes
Parmesan Cheese
Stella Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Shredded parmesan is another way to up the flavor and lower the volume.
50 cals -- 1/8 cup
100 cals -- 1/4 cup
200 cals -- 1/2 cup
Mandarin Slices
Dole Mandarin Slices In Light Syrup
Canned orange slices are popular at salad bars and with just 50 calories in a quarter cup, they contribute to an overall healthful calorie load. That said, watch out for the "light syrup" -- a source of added sugar.
50 cals -- 1/4 cup
100 cals -- 1/2 cup
200 cals -- 1 cup
Almonds
Diamond Sliced Almonds
Sliced almonds are an easy way to add some protein and heart-healthy fats to your salad, but less than three tablespoons already add up to 100 calories.
50 cals -- 1.25 Tbsp
100 cals -- 2.5 Tbsp
200 cals -- 5 Tbsp
Apple Chips
Seneca Crispy Apple Chips Granny Smith
Fresh apples are healthy, but these crispy apple chips pack a caloric punch, thanks to added sugar and oil.
50 cals -- 4 slices
100 cals -- 8 slices
200 cals -- 16 slices
Wonton Strips
Fresh Gourmet Garlic Ginger Wonton Strips
These crispy little strips can add up quickly.
50 calories -- 3 Tbsp
100 calories -- 6 Tbsp
200 calories -- 12 Tbsp
Tortilla Strips
Fresh Gourmet Tortilla Strips Lightly Salted
Much like the wonton strips, these crispy carbs can seem harmless. But even a handful can top 100 calories.
50 cals -- 3 Tbsp
100 cals -- 6 Tbsp
200 cals -- 12 Tbsp
Chopped Walnuts
Heart-healthy walnuts are a great salad topper, thanks to their nutrient density -- but they can come with quite a few calories, as well.
50 cals -- 1 Tbsp
100 cals -- 2 Tbsp
200 cals -- 1/4 cup
Hormel Bacon Bits
No one is under the impression that these little bits are healthful -- they're full of sodium and saturated fat -- though they are not particularly calorific. Two tablespoons is just 50 calories.
50 cals -- 2 Tbsp
100 cals -- 4 Tbsp
200 cals -- 8 Tbsp
Italian Dressing
Kraft Italian Dressing
Italian dressing can make even the bitterest green palatable to a veg-o-phobe. But the dressing comes full of added sugars, salts and quite a few calories.
50 cals -- 2 Tbsp
100 cals -- 4 Tbsp
200 cals -- 8 Tbsp
Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dressing
The typical salad serving size is two tablespoons, but many salads are dressed with far more. And it's hard to imagine how that translates into calories.
50 calories -- 1.5 Tbsp
100 calories -- 3 Tbsp
200 calories -- 6 Tbsp