I love a good salad. How about you? We all know a salad is a great way to eat a variety of lettuces and vegetables making them a good option for any time of the day. However, the salad dressing holds the key to your salad being healthy, keeping you on track with your health and fitness goals, or throwing all of that out the window because it was made with ingredients that are not promoting health.
I would like to explore store-bought, made in a factory salad dressing and homemade salad dressing. Here are the main ingredients of most salad dressings:
Oils: They are often made with shelf-stable oils like canola and other vegetable oils that are highly processed and cause inflammation in our body.
Better oils options: extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, hemp oil, and flaxseed oil
Sugar: The sugar content is often high and that's why we like it. Also do not be followed by “light” or “fat-free” dressing. This type of dressing uses artificial sugar which is worse. It confuses our brain and has been linked to cancer! Be on the lookout for the many different names of sugar, like maltodextrins, dextrose, and brown rice syrup.
Better Sugar options: honey and pure maple syrup
MSG: Flavor enhancer that though believed to be safe for most people, can cause: headaches, hives, canker sores, runny nose, insomnia, seizures, mood swings, panic attacks, heart palpitations, and other heart irregularities, nausea, numbness, asthma attacks, and migraines. Like sugar, it is hidden on the ingredient labels under different names like hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed protein, hydrolyzed plant protein, plant protein extract, sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate, yeast extract, textured protein, autolyzed yeast, and hydrolyzed oat flour.
Natural & Artificial Favors: If “flavors” of any kind are listed, run. It means that the taste you are tasting is coming from lab crafted flavors and not from the “pure” ingredients.
Better Flavor options: garlic, fresh or dry herbs, spices, Dijon mustard, lemon, lime
Potassium Sorbate: A preservative keeping factory-made dressings “good” for months to years. The homemade dressing will keep for a week or so in your cold fridge. Itchy throat, nasal congestion, and runny nose are common side effects.
Homemade dressings will stay fresh for 3 to 10 days in the refrigerator.
Homemade dressing is the better choice for several reasons. The most important one is it allows you to control the ingredients. You can add more or less of an ingredient customizing the flavor to your taste or dietary needs. Second, salad dressing is so easy and quick to make, and third, it keeps you on track with your health and fitness goals!
Here are a couple of my favorite salad dressings to get you started below or check out Pinterest for endless dressing recipes to try.
1 scant tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly crushed black pepper finely ground
1 large garlic clove minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the honey, balsamic, mustard, salt, pepper, and garlic. Add the oil and whisk thoroughly to combine. Continue whisking until the dressing is fully combined.
Store in a jar with a lid and refrigerate. Shake well and allow time to warm to room temp before serving. Place jarred dressing in a bowl of warm water to warm faster.
Tahini Lemon Dressing
1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup tahini
1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic minced
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. salt
Whisk all ingredients in a bowl with 2 T. of water until smooth and glossy. Store in a jar with a lid and refrigerate. Shake well and allow time to warm to room temp before serving. Place jarred dressing in a bowl of warm water to warm faster.
Recipe credit: Kate Sherwood Nutrition Action Healthletter