Is It Safe To Eat Caesar Salad During Pregnancy?

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Caesar salad is a delectable salad that is healthy and filling. But since its dressing contains ingredients such as raw eggs and cheese, you would want to know if eating caesar salad during pregnancy is a safe choice or not?

Generally, eating raw or uncooked eggs and cheeses made with unpasteurized milk is a strict no during pregnancy because they are a source of harmful pathogens that can cause food-borne illnesses. However, choosing the right ingredients and tweaking the salad recipe can help you enjoy it safely.

Read on as we tell you about the Caesar salad, its safety for expecting women, and tips to prepare a wholesome Caesar salad at home to facilitate safe and healthy eating habits.

In This Article

What Is A Caesar Salad?

Caesar salad is a famous Mexican delicacy known for its distinctive flavor. It is said to be named after restaurateur Caesar Cardini.

This tasty salad contains the leafy green Romaine lettuce and croutons dressed in olive oil, lemon juice, egg, garlic, anchovies, Worcestershire sauce, Parmesan cheese, Dijon mustard, capers (dressing), and black pepper.

Is Caesar Salad Safe To Eat During Pregnancy?

It is not safe to eat Caesar salad containing raw eggs. Raw eggs can contain Salmonella bacteria, leading to infection and making you sick (1).

However, commercially available Caesar dressings are safe as they contain cooked or pasteurized eggs that are safe for pregnant women. Before you order the salad in a restaurant, confirm that they are using thoroughly cooked eggs.

If you want to make Caesar salad at home while avoiding the risk of any bacterial infections, then try some modified recipes.

protip_icon Did you know?
Eating a homemade, modified caesar salad may be healthy as the folic-acid-rich lettuce may help prevent birth defects (3). Not only folate but eating well-handled lettuce during pregnancy can also have many more benefits.

Eggless Caesar Salad Recipes For Pregnant Women

Such scenarios can be averted by preparing eggless Caesar salads. As the original recipe contains raw eggs, it may be necessary to modify it in order to ensure safe prenatal nutrition and avoid consuming raw eggs.

1. Easy Caesar salad

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Caesar dressing
  • ½ cup eggless mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Salt and ground black pepper (for taste)
  • Salad
  • 3 hearts of Romaine lettuce, torn
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • A few ready-to-eat croutons
  • Little ground black pepper

How to:

  1. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients except olive oil.
  2. Then add olive oil slowly until you have the desired consistency.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Toss the lettuce in a big bowl, and add the dressing.
  5. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
  6. Top it with croutons and mix well.

Preparation time: 10min
Servings: 4

This recipe might come in handy for women like Rachel. Rachel, a mom and blogger, talks about her intense desire for Caesar salad during pregnancy and her concerns about it. She shares, “I honestly haven’t had much in the way of cravings except for wanting Caesar salad all the time throughout the entire pregnancy, which is hard because most good versions have raw egg, and I’ve been trying to be good about following the rules even though it kills me to give up runny egg yolks. I can’t tell you how many restaurants have gotten phone calls from me asking about their dressing ingredients (i).”

2. Caesar salad with tofu croutons

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Caesar dressing
  • 1tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2tbsp lemon juice
  • 1tsp water
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/8tsp each of salt and ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup soybean cooking oil
  • Salad
  • 5 hearts of Romaine lettuce, torn
  • 2 cups pear or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup ripe olives, pitted and halved
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Tofu croutons
  • 8oz extra-firm tofu (fresh bean curd)
  • 1tbsp soybean cooking oil

How to:

  1. For tofu croutons, heat one tablespoon of oil in a large skillet and add tofu that is cut into half-inch cubes. Stir continuously until they turn golden and drain them over a paper towel.
  2. For dressing, mix all the ingredients and blend them smooth. Set aside.
  3. Take a large bowl, mix Romaine, tomatoes, olives, and croutons. Toss it with dressing and top it with parmesan cheese.

Preparation time: 35min
Servings: 10

3. Kale Caesar salad

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Caesar dressing
  • 1 ½tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 anchovies, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼tsp salt
  • Salad
  • 1 bunch of dino kale, thinly sliced
  • 2tbsp parmesan cheese, grated

How to:

  1. Whisk together all the ingredients except the oil, for dressing. Once mixed, slowly add oil and mix it thoroughly.
  2. In a large bowl, add kale and toss in the dressing. Top it with grated parmesan cheese and serve.

Preparation time: 10min
Servings: 6

protip_icon Quick tip
The calcium-rich kale is beneficial to both you and the developing baby (4).

4. Grilled chicken Caesar salad

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • Chicken marinade
  • 1lb skinless chicken breasts
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ¾tsp kosher salt
  • 1tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • Ground black pepper (for taste)
  • Caesar dressing
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2tsp olive oil
  • 2tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tsp anchovy paste
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ¼tsp granulated garlic
  • Kosher salt and ground black or white pepper (for taste)
  • Salad
  • 2 hearts of Romaine lettuce, halved
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread
  • 2tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

How to

  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and keep in the refrigerator for some time. For chicken marinade, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and pour this marinade over the chicken. Mix it thoroughly and refrigerate again for about half an hour.
  2. For dressing, put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk them. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Now pre-heat the grill to medium-high heat and apply oil to the grill.
  4. Keep the marinated chicken on the grill and cook. Flip over and cook thoroughly.
  5. Drizzle some olive oil on the Romaine lettuce and bread slices, and season with salt and black pepper. Grill them for one minute and cut the bread into bite-sized cubes.
  6. Place the grilled lettuce on a serving platter, followed by grilled chicken, bread cubes, Caesar dressing (You may also use vinaigrette dressing), parmesan cheese, salt, and black pepper.

Preparation time: 30min
Servings: 4

5. Spinach Caesar salad

Spinach Caesar salad

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 3 cups of spinach (fresh)
  • 1 cup croutons
  • 2tbsp parmesan cheese (grated/shaved)
  • 4 anchovies fillets finely chopped (optional)

Dressing

  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt
  • 1tbsp of Dijon mustard
  • 1tsp of garlic powder
  • 1tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1tbsp of olive oil
  • pinch of pepper and salt

How to:

  1. Combine the dressing ingredients in a bowl using a big spoon or whisk.
  2. Rinse the spinach and shake off extra water.
  3. Put the spinach in a big salad bowl and pour in the Caesar dressing.
  4. Mix the salad with the Parmesan, croutons, and, if you like, anchovies.
  5. Serve it up right away.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Servings: 4

Tip: If you plan on preparing the Caesar salad dressing ahead of time, keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

Classic Caesar salad recipe contains undercooked or non-pasteurized eggs that carry the risk of salmonella bacteria. Salmonella poisoning is unlikely to harm your baby’s development and growth but could affect your health (2). It causes severe diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, fever, and abdominal cramping.

These symptoms can increase the likeliness of preterm labor or miscarriage. Therefore, it is good to go for eggless varieties like the ones mentioned above.

How To Avoid Salmonella Infections While Having Caesar Salad?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Salmonella bacteria are accountable for causing around 1.35 million infections, resulting in approximately 26,500 hospitalizations. Adhering to certain safe practices is important to safeguard yourself from bacterial infections.

  • When ordering a Caesar salad from the restaurant, order an eggless variety.
  • Avoid other raw egg-based ingredients such as mayonnaise.
  • Wash the vegetables before using them in the salad. Also, make sure the chicken or meat is thoroughly cooked.
  • Wash your hands before handling food.
  • Cook eggs or meat at high temperatures to kill the bacteria.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it safe to eat Caesar salad with anchovies during pregnancy?

Anchovies are commonly used in Caesar salad dressing, and they are safe to consume during pregnancy in moderate amounts as long as they are fully cooked (5). However, some people may be allergic to anchovies, so it is important to check with your doctor if you have any concerns.

2. Can I eat Caesar salad with bacon while pregnant?

Bacon or bacon bits can be added to Caesar salad. It is safe to eat during pregnancy when cooked thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°F to reduce the risk of foodborne illness (6). However, pregnant women are advised to limit their intake of processed meats, including bacon, due to their high sodium and nitrate content, which may be harmful in large amounts.

3. Can I eat Caesar salad with avocado while pregnant?

Avocado, which is rich in nutritional value and folate, is a healthy food choice during pregnancy and can be added to a Caesar salad. It is safe to consume it in moderation as part of a well-balanced pregnancy diet (7).

4. Can I eat Caesar salad with Worcestershire sauce while pregnant?

Worcestershire sauce is safe to consume in small amounts during pregnancy. Since it contains a high amount of sodium, have it in moderation.

Caesar salad during pregnancy is not recommended by experts due to the risk of developing salmonella infections. Raw eggs or unpasteurized cheese in a salad can carry salmonella bacteria. You may consume caesar salad if pasteurized cheese or cooked eggs are used. You may consume modified caesar salad with eggless mayonnaise, tofu, kale caesar salad, and grilled chicken caesar salad. Using pasteurized cheese, eggless mayonnaise and washing vegetables thoroughly could prevent foodborne illnesses. Further, always eat salads from trusted restaurants and choose the eggless varieties.

Infographic: How To Avoid Salmonella Infections When Having Caesar Salad?

Caesar salad can be a healthy option for pregnant women looking to satisfy their cravings. However, to reduce the risk of salmonella infection, it is essential to follow some measures. The following infographic contains a list of tips to help you avoid infection. Keep it handy and follow them to relish Caesar salad safely.

tips to avoid salmonella infection from caesar salad during pregnancy (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Caesar salads are nutritious but should be avoided during pregnancy as they contain raw eggs and cheese.
  • Contracting a foodborne illness from these ingredients can have severe consequences for the pregnancy.
  • However, alternative preparations of Caesar salads that do not contain raw eggs can be safely consumed.
  • Eggless mayonnaise, tofu, and kale can be used as substitutes in various modifications of Caesar salads.
  • Raw vegetables should be washed thoroughly, and egg-based foods should be avoided in salads to prevent parasitic infections.

Personal Experience: Source

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

1. Foods Linked to Food Poisoning; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2. How can I avoid food poisoning during pregnancy; NHS (2018)
3. Madelene Johansson, et al.; Folates in lettuce: a pilot study; National Library of Medicine
4. Calcium; National Institutes of Health
5. Can You Eat Seafood During Pregnancy?; Ochsner Health
6. Meat and Poultry Roasting Charts; USDA
7. Pass the Avocados, Please!; UMass Chan Medical School

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