I love salad, and I try to eat at least one salad per day to make sure I get a variety of veggies in my diet. BUT- it wasn't always this way!
I used to hate salad, and the only way I could eat it was when I smothered it in a dressing that masked the flavor of the veggies.Flash forward to today, and I've done enough trial and error to figure out a salad mixture that I love and requires little or no dressing to enjoy. This is not a salad recipe though- this is a post about salad dressing!
The majority of people put dressing on their salad, but do the majority of people know what's actually in their dressing? Assuming you are eating a salad because you want to improve your health, it might shock you to find out that your dressing could be negating the health benefits of your salad.
For example, I used to use Newman's Own "Olive Oil & Vinegar" dressing. I loved that stuff and used it for years! And I felt good about it, because olive oil and vinegar are good for you. Except- flip that bottle over and read the ingredients, and you'll see that olive oil and vinegar are not the only ingredients in that bottle!
The majority of canola oil is genetically modified, so I choose to avoid it whenever possible. Here's a great source with links to scientific studies/reputable articles if you want to know more about canola oil and other genetically modified oils.
This sparked a set of many discoveries- most of our favorite store-bought salad dressings have all sorts of added chemicals, sugars, and GMO oils. Ew!
Kraft Classic Catalina
I used to eat this stuff all the time too! Before you put it in your grocery cart, flip the bottle over and notice that 8g of added sugar!
Hidden Valley Ranch
Very popular for dipping veggies and all sorts of recipes. But notice- vegetable oil (GMO), added sugar, artificial flavors, and a bunch of other things I can't pronounce- definitely don't want those in my body!
Ken's Steak House Lite Asian Sesame
Yikes, 8g of added sugar! Research is showing that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. Not to mention, once again, a bunch of things I can't pronounce- you've heard it before: if you can't pronounce it, it's probably not good for you!
The above salad dressings are what happened to be on the shelves at Randall's by my office. There's TONS more!
So, what should I be putting on my salad?
I choose to make my own salad dressing whenever possible- I use a lemon-infused olive oil that I buy at the Farmer's Market, paired with either balsamic vinegar or lemon juice. It's just easier and cleaner that way.
If you just can't stand olive oil and vinegar as a dressing, here's some yummy, clean and easy recipes for dressing that I've made before:
Homemade Greek Salad Dressing
Creamy Avocado Dressing
And there are THOUSANDS of recipes out there- just do a google search of "easy XYZ clean recipe" and you'll find practically anything!
Too busy to make your own?
There are clean salad dressings out there- Here's a couple of brands that I was impressed with:
What if I'm ordering a salad at a restaurant?
If you're eating out, always make sure to look up their ingredients in advance if possible, or ask your server what's in their salad dressing. I simply ask-
1. Are your salad dressings made in-house?
2. What is the oil base in the ________ dressing?
If they're not made in-house, steer clear! If they are made in-house, but the base is vegetable oil, canola oil, or soybean oil, I just ask for olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the side of my salad.
Moral of the story:
Don't negate the health benefits of your salad!
Exercise caution with store-bought salad dressings, and at restaurants. If you have to smother your salad in dressing just to make it taste good, consider adding some things to your salad to amp up the flavor. My salad typically has olives, capers, red onion, and other add-ins to give it a nice flavor and variety. When you're buying dressings at the store (and any products really), flip that bottle over and read the ingredients!
We as consumers need to take charge and vote with our dollars- don't give your money to companies who are putting unhealthy ingredients in your food. :)
How do you like your salad?
What are your favorite healthy salad dressings/recipes?
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