Salads rank at the top of our list as one of the healthiest food options out there, but if your dressing is sub-par, it can ruin the whole thing.
Sadly, many commercial dressings are loaded with yucky ingredients. OR they use more inflammatory oils as their base like canola and soy, which often contain GMO’s as well.
Here is the ingredient list on a popular salad dressing you can find in any supermarket:
water, soybean oil and extra virgin olive oil, corn syrup, sugar, vinegar (distilled, balsamic), salt, red raspberry juice concentrate, roasted hazelnuts, onion powder, xanthan gum, sodium benzoate and sorbic acid and calcium disodium edta (used to protect quality), propylene glycol alginate, citric acid, spices, caramel color, natural flavor, fd&c red 40, reb a (natural stevia leaf sweetener), fd&c blue 1).
Hmm . . . do you really need to pour corn syrup and food dyes on your salad?
We like to use dressings that actually enhance our health, not detract from it.
Our top choices ideally use olive or avocado oil as their base oil (most don’t), along with real ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar and spices.
So, if you want to avoid wasting your time in the grocery store carefully reading the fine print on salad dressing labels, check out our fav suggestions in our quick 3 minute video or read below. And be sure to download our Brandout to see what brands we give the thumbs up to (along with a few quick diy recipes).
1). DIY – make your own dressing: As daunting as it might sound, it’s really one of the easiest things to do (if you haven’t watched the video, Jane demonstrates just HOW simple)! There’s truly nothing better than a whisked dressing made from scratch. Our favorite dressings usually have an olive oil base, some type of lemon juice and/or vinegar, salt and pepper, and sometimes a dash of mustard or some fresh herbs if we have them on hand. We’re also a big fan of using freshly squeezed lemons.
If you love creamy dressings, you have to try tahini (you know, the stuff they use to make hummus)? This ground sesame seed paste can be found at any supermarket and is fabulous in salad dressings. Check out our Brandout for the recipes.
2). Buy wholesome store-bought brands. We always have some of these on hand as a back up to homemade. We share lots of brands in our Brandout (click to download) but our new fav is the refrigerated selections at Trader Joes. Carrot Ginger, Almond Turmeric, and Green Goddess. YUM. We have been using these not only on salads but also on cooked pasta, rice, and veggies (both warm and cold).
3). Drizzle on a GREAT olive oil and fresh lemon. Wala, you’re done. And you’ve added an anti-inflammatory healthy fat to your salad to boot. Be sure to use a quality olive oil and you are good to go. A pinch of sea salt and fresh pepper can round out the deal.
We found a great “mixer” which is part hand blender, part container. You just take off the cap, pour in your ingredients, and then pull the ring up and down – there is a metal twister that hand blends the ingredients to perfection. You can then pour AND store the dressing right into the same container. Wonderful invention! See some types here. Another easy way to mix dressing is to put all the ingredients in an empty mason jar (save those jars from mayo, jam, etc). Then put on the lid and shake (though some dressings do require blending).
If using olive oil, it may harden up a little in the fridge so take it out a few minutes before eating so it will become liquefied again. Then enjoy. Even better, don’t be afraid to leave it out on the counter for up to 4-5 days. As long as there is no dairy in the dressing it won’t spoil.