Are you someone who tries to eat more salad but somehow ends up with a burger in front of you? “Well, there’s tomatoes and lettuce in there…” you might think to yourself.
I get it, salads aren’t sexy! Maybe you’ve had too many bad experiences with salads in the past. You may find them bland, not too filling, or frankly just ‘boring and healthy’. Here are some reasons why that might be happening to you:
- You’re getting boring salads like the “house salad” or “mixed greens” when you’re out at a restaurant
- You don’t know how to make a good salad at home. (Costco mixed greens + Kraft dressing = salad?)
- You’re not adding enough variety of ingredients. I love adding in some crunch, creaminess, nuttiness, sweetness, filling protein…all the goods! You can check out all the ingredients I add in my salads here
- Your salad dressing is pretty tame. While there’s nothing wrong with plain old olive oil or lemon, it can get old quickly.
As you can probably tell, this blog post is all about the salad dressing. I’m a big believer that the magic is in the secret sauce, and a good homemade salad dressing is all you need to make a plate of greens mouthwatering. But before we get to some DIY recipes…
Why You Should Avoid Store-Bought Salad Dressing
Yes, I know the Kraft 1000 Island dressing is yummy and that sometimes you get the ‘light’ or ‘calorie-wise’ option, but you’re not doing yourself any favours. Allow me to call out one such salad dressing to make my point:
E.g. Kraft 1000 Island Dressing
- High sugar: there are 3 grams of sugar per tablespoon of dressing. Who really uses just one tablespoon? Assuming 2-3 tablespoons, that’s 6-9 gram of sugar i.e. 1-2 teaspoons of white sugar on top of your salad.
- Natural Flavours: although from natural sources, these still undergo chemical processing to enhance the flavour. Since manufacturers don’t have to disclose what’s in it, it’s hard to tell what allergens are in there (that you could be sensitive to e.g. gluten, dairy, shellfish etc.)
- Citric Acid/MSG: when you see citric acid on a bottle you probably think it’s coming from citrus foods, but these days it is mostly extracted from corn. Unfortunately, manufacturers don’t undertake the time or expense to remove all the corn protein, which is then hydrolyzed during processing, resulting in some free glutamic acid (MSG) (1)
- Soybean oil: 93% of soybean is North America is genetically modified (2), and no one can still claim to be sure of it’s safety in the long-run. Plus, with the addition of soybean and vegetable oils in all processed foods, we’re unnecessarily getting far too much pro-inflammatory Omega 6.
- Nutrient void: seriously, how much nutrition are you getting out of dried powders, preservatives and natural flavors that have been sitting on a shelf for months?
Should You Never Buy Salad Dressing?
Of course you can, but probably not the ones you get at a typical supermarket! I frequently buy salad dressing bottles, but only from a health food store or farmer’s market. You can tell it’s a better option when:
- The person who makes the salad dressing is selling it to you at a market
- You can tell it’s homemade, and fresh out of a kitchen
- It doesn’t have any of the ingredients above!
Lastly, I would say it also comes down to convenience and budget. If you’re not willing to pay $10-$13 for a bottle or there’s no health food store accessible to you, you’re better off making a batch at home that’s fresher, cheaper, and more suited to your taste buds.
Some Basic Salad Dressing Rules
On board with making homemade salad dressing? Great. Here are some handy tips:
- Always use the best quality ingredients! Poor quality ingredients = poor taste.
- Use a small blender, it won’t blend as well in a large one. (I use this one).
- Buy healthy oils and vinegars in bulk so you always have them on hand
- Always keep some fresh lemons, ginger and garlic on hand as well
- The basic ratio for a salad dressing is 3 parts oil, to 1 part vinegar. If you want to get a bit fancier, check out this handy salad dressing guide by the Academy of Culinary Nutrition
- Don’t be afraid to really layer on a lot of dressing! The salad dressings below are nutrient dense and full of good-fat, which helps keep you full, prevents cravings, and helps absorb the fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K in your greens.
7 Easy Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes
Here are some simple dressings to get started with in in the kitchen! The best part is you can play around with the flavours, add more or less as you see fit. I start out with these basic recipes and adapt along the way:
- Basic Vinaigrette
Optional: I like to add in a Tbsp of oregano or dried basil
- Creamy Avocado
- Toasted Sesame
Optional: I like to add a Tbsp of raw honey & minced ginger to this
- Creamy Tahini
- Roast Garlic
- Lemon Vinaigrette
- Honey Dijon
P.S. If you’re looking for more simple recipes or tips on how to do healthy meal prep at home, be sure to get my free eBook for more ideas!
(1) Samuels, Jack. “The Difficulty In Keeping MSG Free – Weston A Price”. Weston A Price. N.p., 2016. Web. 8 Dec. 2016.
(2) “USDA ERS – Recent Trends In GE Adoption”. Ers.usda.gov. N.p., 2016. Web. 8 Dec. 2016.