Thursday, June 2, 2011

DIY - Salad Dressings

Two of the biggest motivators for choosing something prepared are convenience and taste. But if saving time means compromising our health, is it still a convenience? If it eventually contributes to disease, reduces our energy, negatively influences our mood, or promotes weight gain, has the time savings been a benefit? I would argue no.

This week’s posts have been about do-it-yourself foods that although they may take a little more time to prepare, will provide much greater benefits than a few minutes. In fact, the time spent preparing these foods may actually save time by keeping you healthier, happier, and more energetic – three very important factors that influence productivity.

We eat salad to get our vegetables and stay healthy, but depending on what we top our salads with, we can be undoing the goodness of the raw vegetables on our plates. For example, I checked three bottles of store-bought salad dressings and found that they contained on average, 30 ingredients, including those listed below. Some overlapped between bottles and some did not. I’ve described a few of them.

Soybean oil - This oil is high in omega -6 fatty acids that when are in excess in the diet, can lead to inflammation I the body. All three bottles listed soybean as their oil source.

Corn syrup - The bottle of salad dressing that had this had a banner above the Nutrition Facts that said “No High Fructose Corn Syrup”, yet listed corn syrup as the second ingredient after water. This means that besides water, corn syrup (i.e., sugar) is the most abundant ingredient in this salad dressing.

Monosodium glutamate - A flavor enhancer that has been linked to food allergies, migraine headaches, asthma, obesity and hyperactivity in children. It is considered an excitotoxin.

Disodium inositate - A flavor enhancer that works with MSG.

Caramel color - The Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a petition against the use of this compound because it contains two cancer-causing chemicals, 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole which cause lung, liver, thyroid cancer, or leukemia in mice or rats.

Modified corn starch



Cellulose gum

Cellulose gel

Propylene glycol alginate

Polysorbate 60

“Color added”

Phosphoric acid

Sorbic acid

Sodium benzoate


Lactic acid

Disodium guanylate

Autolyzed yeast extract

Calcium disodium EDTA

For a few extra minutes, you can make your own, fresh salad dressing free from the ingredients listed above and with only a handful of real-food ingredients. I've listed a few below. And by the way, you will save some time with the do-it-yourself method of preparing food. Trying to decipher the ingredient list on the back of the salad dressing bottle takes time! By using simple, real ingredients, you won’t have to read so many labels!

One of my favorite dressings:

One part lemon or lime juice

One part real maple syrup

Two parts olive oil

A quick savory option:

1 part balsamic vinegar

2 parts olive oil

a few drops of tamari or soy sauce

Here are three recipes from

A Citrus-basil Vinaigrette

A No Mayonnaise Ranch Dressing - I would try to replace the sour cream with plain yogurt.

A Honey Mustard Dressing - Try using plain yogurt in place of the mayonnaise here too.

What are your favorite dressings to make? Please share them here!!

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