When it comes to healthy lunches, few options beat a fresh, well-balanced salad. Salads have become so synonymous with dieting, many believe they’re all inherently healthy regardless of their actual ingredients.
But Bethesda-based food truck ThatSalata is all about the ingredients. The owners bake their own artisan bread daily, pledge their dedication to fresh produce, and build each “salata” to order, right on the truck.
And by and large the salads are actually up to snuff, according to Annie Thorp, MS, RD, LD. “I was impressed by the menu,” she says. “I see a concerted effort to have healthy options.”
Check out her breakdown of ThatSalata’s offerings.
• Worst—Santa Fe: While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this combination of romaine lettuce, black beans, corn, tomato, red onion, and shredded cheddar and jack cheeses, it’s a lot of ingredients for so few nutrients. Thorp says, “I don’t have a lot of complaints for any of these salads in general, but this one has less nutrient-packed vegetables, and the carbs from the corn and beans could be a problem for people watching their carb intake.”
• Better—Guiltless Caesar: This clever salata uses handmade croutons and an eggless, yogurt-based Caesar dressing—but that’s pretty much all it has going for it. The rest is just romaine and grated Parmesan, which doesn’t offer much by way of nutrition.
• Best—Chop Shop: The simple but thoughtful blend of romaine lettuce, tomato, red onion, garbanzo beans, avocado, handmade croutons, and Gorgonzola is a winner with our expert—Thorp cites the high-fiber, cholesterol-fighting garbanzo beans and the heart-healthy avocado as major advantages. “And if you add chicken, it’s a great way to get protein that will carry you through the afternoon and stave off munchies,” she points out.
The rest of the menu is a bit more hit-or-miss. Thorp points out that the tacos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, and “torpedoes” are generally lacking in whole grains and are heavy-handed with the cheeses and creams.
“They do a great job of combining tasty ingredients to make [the torpedoes] sound delicious,” she says, “but it would be inferior to ordering a salad.”
While she calls those options “mediocre,” ThatSalata’s West Coast-style Vanilla Dream shake was another favorite. The sweet treat is both dairy-free and fat-free, and features Medjool dates and pure vanilla.
Thorp says, “I thought that sounded like a really tasty, good dessert option. Although high in sugar, dates are loaded with fiber and minerals.” Overall, she says, “I’d be comfortable [eating] here.”
Annie Thorp is a dietitian at the Maryland-based nutrition practice Rebecca Bitzer & Associates.