Expand Your Salad Dressing Options
Not many of us eat lettuce salads without dressing. It can be the highlight of the salad or even what gets us to eat more veggies! However, we know that salad dressing is USUALLY where all of the calories and fat are loaded. You’ve gone to the effort of making a beautiful salad with veggies and greens and then drowning it with anti-nutrients (things that have very little nutrition).
Let’s build a new habit of making your own salad dressing along with building gorgeous salads because those fat-free versions in the market just don’t cut it! (OK, there are a few that taste pretty good and they're getting better.)
The good news is that it usually takes no more than 5 minutes to make your own salad dressing and they’re budget-friendly, as well. With these staples, tips and instructions, it’ll be old hat in no time.
5 MINUTES AND BUDGET FRIENDLY
Once you master the basic oil-free salad dressing formulas, you are free to adjust them to your taste. Add a little more or less of this or that and keep tasting.
Then store your dressing in cute containers (see below) and you're ready to rock your salads!
MINDSET WARNING: Keep in mind that you may be so used to the taste of oil or mayonnaise that you’ll find these dressing wanting. Yes, there’s a certain mouthfeel to oil, but I’m betting you find the substitutions of nuts, tofu and beans to your liking.
I’m now so used to salad dressings without oil that any addition just doesn’t taste right. I like mine to have punch, so that helps. You really can adjust your taste buds to eat the healthiest foods.
THE SLOW METHOD: If you just can’t get around making a salad dressing without added processed oil, try lowering the oil each time you make one until you gain a new appreciation for the flavor.
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The OIL-FREE SALAD DRESSING formula
Let's talk about oil-free for a moment. In this case, I'm referring to a dressing without added processed oil, like olive, canola or sesame. As you probably know, nuts, avocado, tahini all have natural fat. Sooo, if you are cutting back on fat, you'll want to stick with beans as a base or go for a vinaigrette dressing, which is clear and not creamy, instead.
Dressings are made up of a base, acid, an optional sweetener, and flavorings or spices. Traditional dressings use oil as a base. For our oil-free versions, we’ll be substituting nuts or nut butter, seeds, cannellini beans or avocado.
These will make your dressing creamy. For a vinaigrette, omit the “creamy” ingredients and stick with the acids such as vinegars or juices. Remember, sweeteners are optional...
PORTIONS: keep in mind that the portions will vary depending on what ingredients you're using. For a dressing with oil, it's typically a 3 to 1 ratio, or for example 3/4 cup oil to 1/4 vinegar. For a creamy dressing, you can start with 3/4 cup creamy base (tofu, beans, avocado, soaked raw cashews) and add 1/4 cup acid (vinegar, lemon, etc).
Experiment and taste as you go and you'll get better at it with experience.
See more salads and dressings here in the SALADs & Dressings.
¼ cup of dressing is usually enough for 4 servings of lettuce salad. For heavier vegetable salads, pasta or potato, you’ll need more as these tend to soak up more of the dressing.