How to Create the Perfect Summer Salad with Registered Dietitian, Tara Gidus

There’s nothing I love more in summer than a delicious green salad, topped with fresh produce, grilled chicken and dressing. The Orlando Magic’s team dietitian Tara Gidus joined me for an interview recently to dish on the perfect summer salad, how to stay properly hydrated for summer, and Wendy’s Berry Almond Chicken Salad!



Candace Rose: What’s the secret to looking and feeling great this summer?

Tara Gidus: “Summertime is such a great time to take advantage of all the fresh produce out there. I’m here partnering with Wendy’s today to talk about the secrets to building a healthy summer salad.

The first things that you want to do is of course start with your base which is your greens. You can do the iceberg, the romaine and then mix in some other darker greens like kale, spinach, some red leaf lettuce- whatever it is that you like and you have on hand making a nice base.

I hear especially from a lot of guys ‘Ugh, salad it’s rabbit food, it doesn’t keep me full, and I need to be full too.’ So protein is going to be the key to giving you that lasting energy. I love to use hard boiled eggs; sometimes I throw cottage cheese in a salad, and nuts and seeds are going to be great too. I love sliced almonds, walnuts and pecans, hot grilled chicken and shrimp. Anything that’s going to give you that protein, and I love cheese in a salad- blue cheese, Asiago, cheddar. Some of these really sharp cheeses, you can get away with not using very much but really getting a lot of flavor.

One of my favorite tips, especially for summertime is using fresh fruit. I’ve got little kids and salads aren’t their thing, but if I put fresh fruit on a salad, they absolutely eat it up.

Wendy’s has just reintroduced their Berry Almond Chicken Salad. It’s just for the summer through September because they use fresh sliced strawberries from California that are sliced fresh every morning at the restaurant, fresh blueberries (nothing canned), grilled chicken fresh off the grill when you order it. And of course dressing, and this is where the calories can add up, but if you use a fat-free or light dressing that’s going to be great. You can also just really be careful about how much you’re using.”


Candace Rose: How much dressing should you use?

Tara Gidus: “Just drizzle if it’s a packet. If you’re at home, you can just use a little bit or if you’re at a restaurant you can dip your fork into it. But just try to use as little as possible in order to get the flavor that you want.”


Candace Rose: It’s easy to get dehydrated in the summer, how much water should we drink on a daily basis?

Tara Gidus: “You don’t have to check off the boxes and figure out if you got your eight 8 oz. glasses today. It’s not just water, everything will hydrate whether it’s iced tea, juice, milk, soft drinks. All that stuff is actually going to hydrate you, so of course water is really good because it’s calorie free, but the best way to know if you’re properly hydrated is to look at the color of your urine. Just a little yellow is what we’re looking for- barely yellow or clear. If it’s dark, then make sure that you drink a little bit more to get it to come out clear.”


Candace Rose: Where can we go for more information?

Tara Gidus: “We have lots of really good tips on how to build your summer salad at, and of course that’s our secrets to summer salads. It’s really a fun website, you can click around and most importantly you can win your chance to get a $25 gift card to Wendy’s.”


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