Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

Years ago, I got it into my head that commercial salad dressings were disgusting. They tasted awful, and I just refused to eat them. I happily ate my salads plain. By the way, my eating plan during that time was to eat 2-4 pounds of fruit and vegetables per day, no wheat, and no dairy. I lost at least 50 pounds, and had the world’s clearest skin.

But once I started eating more normally, I gained most of it back [who am I kidding? I gained it all back and more!].

But back to the salad dressings. Have you looked at the labels recently? The first ingredient is sugar. The second one is fat. And they taste SO bad. What’s a person to do?

Well, the simplest is to buy a bottle of oil-and vinegar based dressing [I like Caesar], and pour off just about all of the oil. Instant low fat dressing!

Or we can make our own. Buttermilk and plain yogurt are good substitutes for mayonnaise and sour cream. Low fat or fat-free mayonnaise are also possibilities. Using tomato juice as a base can work. Good quality oils can help as well, because a little goes a long way in terms of flavor. And, of course, use lots of good seasoning.

The fresh summer veggies taste wonderful all by themselves, but a wee bit of good olive oil, red wine vinegar, with a sprinkle of salt and fresh pepper add a delightful contrast to these beautiful salads. And the gorgeous reds, greens, yellows, and other colors aren’t hidden by those weird, thick, unnatural-looking dressings. Wish summer could last forever!

12 thoughts on “A Few Words about Salad Dressings

  1. luly says:

    I have to say that I have yet to find a mainstream, sensibly-priced salad dressing that I actually like. The problem is that I was raised on highly seasoned food and while I love a well-dressed salad, I just don’t like eating raw vegetables without something to flavor them well. I can enjoy an undressed salad, for the novelty, only every once in a while.

    Every now and then, I pick up a raspberry vinaigrette or something that isn’t too bad (and I do actually like sweet dressings to some extent, but noy cloying), but some of the bottles I do like are a bit pricey to buy so often, so I’ve been buying a cheap white wine vinaigrette and using it as a base, of sorts, to mix my own dressings. My favorite so far has been one that I mix from no-sugar peanut butter, the vinaigrette (also sugar-free, but not on purpose), some soy sauce, hot pepper, lemon juice, a sliver of garlic and ginger, etc. I don’t like cream-based dressings, so I guess that’s a positive.

    If I had the money to stock up on more and better ingredients, I think I could get into mixing my own salad dressings. It only takes a couple minutes to make a small bowl, it lasts through the week’s salads (and cooked veg, and pasta, and sometimes the last few drops even go into the soup), and I know what goes into it. Tastes good, too.

    Fruit juice, actually, with a little vinegar and oil and a few other things, works surprisingly well.

    Keep in mind that a little healthful fat on veg is necessary for us to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins, but it’s true we don’t need more than a few slices of avocado, a sprinkling of chopped walnuts, or a little heart-healthy oil to do the trick.

    (btw, speaking of heart-healthy fat.. i had a really great ‘salad’ of sorts the other day at a picnic, it had white beans, garden tomatoes, red onions, parsley, basil, peppers, a splash of good vinegar and oil.. and sardines!!! anyone know if the ones tinned in salmon oil taste okay for this kind of thing? tasty way to get my omega-3…)

  2. Jonathan says:

    I have a sneaking suspicion that many of my eating habits are rather weird, so I try to keep them to myself (I remember the look on a friend’s face when I mentioned how I like to add carrots when making a chocolate smoothie …). But the salad topic is near and dear to me. Before I lost my last fifty pounds, I thought all lettuce tasted like thousand island dressing. As soon as I saw a vegetable coming my way, I would drown it in a fatty, cheesy dressing.

    When I decided to be more sensible about calories AND to also eat more veggies, I realized that salad dressing had to go. At first I began to use very good balsamic vinegar by itself, which is amazingly tasty. Over time I began dressing my salads with salsa and/or some yellow mustard. I find it very satisfying. But I do get some weird looks from my coworkers.

    -Jonathan

  3. Jessica says:

    Oddly, I really like Kraft Free Zesty Italian. And the Walden Farms balsamic vinagrette is delicious.

    BUT – I have to agree with you – nothing beats olive oil and some vinegar, salt and pepper. I recently purcahsed a Mister Misto and have taken to just spraying my salads / veggies with olive oil… it’s a very fine mist, but you can still taste the oil!

    ~j

  4. jonquil says:

    Try this:

    2 Tablespoons olive or walnut oil
    1/2 cup or more of red wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar, or rice vinegar)
    2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
    1 Tablespoon crushed tarragon leaves
    1 clove garlic, crushed
    fresh ground pepper to taste
    optional: 4 drops stevia or juice of 1 orange

    Mix all ingredients, store covered. Improves with age.

  5. jane says:

    jonquil – i’m going to try that! it sounds divine!!!

    i’ve been making salads out of everything except lettuce. mixes of all colors of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, whatever, and mixing in hummus or plain yogurt. WONDERFUL! now, if i take jonathan’s tip and mix a little salsa in there… hmmmm. sounds like it’s worth a try!

    and last week, i took some of my roasted veggies, dumped in a lot of red wine vinegar, fresh basil, chickpeas, a few good olives, a few capers, and a little feta, topped with freshly ground pepper. oh my that was good!!!!

  6. stretchy says:

    Salsa works for me, and for women with any iron deficiency, it enhances the absorption of iron. When we eat “iron rich” foods sometimes very little is absorbed.

    Capers and a wee bit of olive oil w/ red pepper flakes when I tire of salsa.

  7. Blader says:

    Jane, I’ve been doing that same thing with oil & vinegar salad dressings – pouring off most of the oil. What’s left is good fat anyway, just much less of it, and all the taste of the dressing remains. President’s Choice makes a great Roasted Tomato with so much flavour … mmm … would convert the salad-phobic!

  8. tszuj says:

    Newman’s Own Light Italian. Tastes good, no sugar. I might try pouring off the oil as you suggest (cool!).

    I have this neato “healthy salad dressing” bottle (I think I got it at Linens and Things) that has maybe 6 or 8 recipes for lower-fat dressings etched into the sides – basically “fill to this line” instructions. Some call for sugar, but you can skip or substitute. The French red wine vinaigrette is particularly tasty.

  9. Shameless Hussey says:

    I just sprinkle Ume vinegar directly on my salads. It is a delightful mix of salty, sweet and tart, all by itself.

  10. Beverly says:

    I’m with Jessica, Kraft Free Zesty Italian is my fav.! But when that’s not available I opt for salsa or nothing at all. I never was really big on dressings anyway.

    Jonquil, that sounds super yummy!! You’re gonna have to bottle that and sell it since I’m much too lazy to actually make it myself!

    Beverly

  11. Kay says:

    I’ve never liked veggies or salads. I hate peppers and tomatoes, and while salads are ok, I drown them in a combo of ranch and bleu cheese dressing – I know, awful!

    So I’m hoping I can start getting my head around the idea that veggies can actually taste good occasionally. Here’s hoping your recipes can be part of that!

  12. Laurie says:

    I just use lite rice vinegar- no oil. I always have a squeeze bottle in my purse when I eat out.

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