Thursday, 1 September 2011

Salad Dressing

Salad dressing is a tough one.  We all know we need to eat our veggies in a day and having a salad with a meal is a great way to achieve this.  The problem lies in our commercially available salad dressings.  Many of them are PACKED with fat (saturated and trans), cholesterol, calories, and sugar - often we don't even think to read the labels.  We figure "well, I'm having salad!" but what you don't think is that with the dressing you're slathering on you might as well have eaten an extra portion of dessert.

For example:
Newman's Own Caesar Dressing has a whopping 85 calories and 9g fat in just ONE tablespoon (and the poor unsuspecting salad eater will often drench their salad in more than 1 tbsp of the dressing)!!  For comparison's sake - a McDonald's cheeseburger has 12g fat!

Something to be wary of is ordering Caesar Salad in a restaurant.  We all LOVE Caesar Salad but a side Caesar can pack up to 30g fat before you've even touched your main dish...don't even want to think about a meal sized Caesar.  Granted it's probably better than the fries, at least you're having lettuce but perhaps rethink your salad choice.  When I'm out I often order a side garden salad (without dressing on it) and order some balsamic vinegar and olive oil on the side to drizzle over it.  There is still fat from the Olive Oil but it's the healthy fat and the balsamic vinegar is fabulous tasting (and as a side bonus - its acidity will help lower the GI of the whole meal) - just try to limit your portion to about 1 tbsp of the Olive Oil and unlimited Balsamic.

At home is another ball game.  At home you can make delicious, healthy salad dressings.  Remember, making dressings that are not creamy and are more acidic slows your digestion of your meal and will keep you fuller longer and will help to limit the blood sugar spike that so often happens after a meal (ever get the early-mid afternoon slump? This is because of your blood sugar spike/drop after lunch).

Here are a couple of recipes for some dressings we eat at home.  Not necessarily low fat, but nutritious ingredients designed for a nicer salad:

Honey Mustard Dressing:
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Orange Juice
2 Tbsp white or rice wine vinegar (If no OJ can do 4 Tbsp of vinegar)
1/3 cup liquid honey
2 tbsp Dijon or prepared mustard
1/4 cup water
freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a jar, cover and shake well.  Keeps in the fridge about a month.

Nutrition Info per 15mL (1 Tbsp)
47 calories | 3g fat | 5g carbs (5g sugar)

 Our favourite way to have this salad dressing is over baby spinach with a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds and a tablespoon of dried cranberries sprinkled on top.

Caesar Salad Vinaigrette
1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Combine in a jar and shake well- keep in fridge.

Nutrition info per 15mL (1 Tbsp)
67 calories | 8g fat | 0 carb | 1g protein

We have this with just some whole grain croutons (homemade or from the store) on it.  There is no need for the fat packing Parmesan cheese you find in restaurant Caesar salads because it's already in this dressing and it's so flavourful that bacon is not needed at all.  We don't even eat regular Caesar dressing anymore, this is so delicious.

You might think that there's still 8g fat in this dressing so why not save the trouble and just eat the bought dressing?  The reason is the ingredients in this dressing are very nutritious and not chemically enhanced.  It's a simple vinaigrette with healthy natural ingredients.  Yes there's 8g fat - but it's all good fat and you know what's in it. Take a look at the ingredients in Newman's Own Caesar salad dressing and you'll see what I mean.

These are just two of our usual salad dressings.  I'll post some other ones another day.

Edit: June 3, 2012
Found a new dressing that is fantastic!!!

Yogurt Tahini Dressing
1/2 cup low fat plain yogurt
1 tsp Tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp honey

Whisk all together until well combined.

Nutrition Info per 1 tbsp
15 Calories | 1g fat | 2g carbs (1g sugar, 1g fiber) | 1g protein

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