In many cases, especially when eating out, salad dressing has the potential of taking that 100 Calorie pile of greens and turning it into a 900 Calorie meal. What to do? Sure, ordering the dressing on the side and using a minimal amount is one option, but how about making your own dressing? Most store-bought dressings are loaded with sodium and/or fat. And if not, the ingredient list probably looks like this:
Water, Corn Syrup, Natural Flavors (Milk), Soybean Oil, Modified Corn Starch, Salt, Sugar, Garlic Juice, Onion Juice, Cellulose Gel, Lactic Acid, Distilled Vinegar, Chives, Monosodium Glutamate, Onion Powder, Xanthan Gum, Garlic Powder, Garlic, Color Added, (Sodium Benzoate, Sorbic Acid, Calcium Disodium Edta) Used to Protect Quality, Cellulose Gum, Spice, Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E).
Now, I don’t know about you–but that’s not my thing. I’d much rather make my own dressing so I can control what flavors to put in, and what to keep out.
Making your own dressing is a cinch, really! I usually dress my raw greens with some extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a dash of salt, and fresh black pepper. Sorry, but I can’t tell you the exact ratio since I just wing it every time. However, every so often I get the urge to change things up a bit. Here are some ideas I’ve been playing with. Mix and match–see what you like!
For a creamier sauce add in: Avocado, Greek yogurt
Optional oils: It’s not always necessary to add oil to your dressing, but it does add a nice mouth feel, and extra virgin olive oil has a great taste. Try adding a drop or two of sesame oil if you’re using an Asian style theme. If you don’t want the oil to have a strong taste, try canola oil.
For flavor…This really depends on what theme you’re looking for. Here are some ingredients to think of:
- garlic (raw or cooked)
- cheese: blue, feta, romano, parmesan, etc
- anchovies (chopped, or anchovy paste) Yum!
- ginger (freshly grated, or pickled)
- pepper (black or red)
- salt–use in moderation!
- herbs (fresh or dried)
- citrus zest
- soy sauce
Any dressing needs some liquids, think about how acidic/sweet you want it to be:
- Vinegars: Balsamic, white balsamic (more mild), red wine, rice wine, distilled, apple cider..
- Juices: I like to use juice to sweeten it up a bit–fresh is always better in my book, but bottled will do: Lemon, orange, lime, pineapple, etc.
Try to use low-fat liquids, this way you can dress your salad liberally, guilt free!
Try making your own concoction, and try using a blender for any solid ingredients, such as fresh herbs. I like to make a decent sized batch, and keep the dressing in a bottle in the fridge.
Can’t forget the salad toppings!
Nuts, meats, olives, fruits, vegetables–you name it! Add flavor and love your salad.
Marina Bedrossian is a Northport, NY dietitian nutritionist who helps people with holistic nutrition solutions and food sensitivities. Visit this page to schedule an appointment and don’t forget to join the private Facebook group “Ingredients For Healthy Families” more information here.