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09/08/2014 09:59 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Biggest Mistake Dieters Make With Their 'Healthy' Salad (VIDEO)

When on a mission to eat healthier or lose weight, there's one dietary staple everyone seems to turn to: the salad. While many dieters know to avoid creamy dressings and load up on darker, leafy greens, there's one often-overlooked mistake that many people make when trying to eat lighter.

Georgeanne Brennan, the author of Salad of the Day, says overusing olive oil is a major calorie trap when prepping a salad, especially an otherwise healthy-sounding Mediterranean variant.

"Olive oil tastes so good that it's tempting to use it in all of your ingredients -- peppers roasted in olive oil, grape leaves [packed] in olive oil, olives cured in olive oil," Brennan says in the above video from #OWNSHOW. "That's your biggest trap."

Instead of using so many oil-based products, Brennan offers a few key substitutions that can help make a salad much healthier without sacrificing flavor.

Instead of: Tuna packed in olive oil
Use: Water-packed tuna or garbanzo beans

Instead of: Oily roasted red peppers
Use: Crisp, fresh red peppers

Instead of: Kalamata olives preserved in oil
Use: Black olives

Brennan also suggests adding fresh tomatoes, string beans and cucumbers to the mix, topping it all off with a bit of feta cheese. "You don't need to have a whole bunch [of cheese]," she says. "Just think in terms of moderate portions."

Of course, Brennan isn't about to leave out olive oil entirely. When it comes to dressing the salad, she opts for a smooth, controlled drizzle. "Now we're using the olive oil, but we've decided how much to use," she says. "It's going to bring all the flavors together."

Finish by seasoning the salad with Greek oregano -- and apply liberally, Brennan says. "We're making up for fat flavor with other kinds of flavors," she explains. "Now you're ready to serve!"

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