Eating salads is a super convenient way to work in a couple of servings of vegetables or fruit.
Choosing a salad to start or replace any meal might seem like a healthy choice but beware, not all salad dressings are healthy and some can pack up to 200 calories and 20 grams of fat per serving.
A number of factors decide if the salad dressing is healthy
While you should remain wary of salad dressings with high fat and calorie contents, don’t shy away from fat altogether, you don’t want to defeat the whole purpose of eating a salad.
– Low-fat or low-calorie options
Low-fat salad dressings prevent the body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients, for instance, Lycopene – a bright red carotenoid pigment and phytochemical found in tomatoes and other red fruits/vegetables is fat-soluble, the oil in the salad helps its absorption along with other fat-soluble nutrients.
Low-calorie or low-fat dressings may not always be a healthier option than their full-fat counterparts but remember what “light” dressings save on calories and fat they often more than make up for in sodium and sugar.
– Varieties that have the least fat and calories
They may appear to be healthy alternatives but the sodium level is worth paying attention. Not to forget the ones labelled “light” and “fat-free”, these dressings are often the most common places to find high fructose corn syrup.
So, what should you dress your salad with instead?
Look for a list of recognizable ingredients- shorter the better, preferably select an oil-based vinaigrette.
Now that you have selected one, don’t overlook the most important factor- the serving size. It is usually 2 tablespoons and will make all the difference in the calories you consume.
Even better, make your own!
The thumb-rule is, three-to-one ratio of oil to acid but it doesn’t always add up to a healthier salad dressing.
For example: One tablespoon of olive oil contains 120 calories and 14 grams of fat (while we all know most of this is good fat — but it is still fat).
Reverse the ratio. Voila! A healthy concoction.
We don’t want to thin out the dressing here but we are cutting down on some unnecessary calories without compromising the flavor.
Also, Vinaigrettes and dressings don’t have to be repetitive
Instead of the habitual extra virgin olive oil you can use avocado oil, macadamia oil. I always reserve my most expensive, decadent, and nutrient-rich oil for use in raw recipes like salad dressings.
These luxurious oils are best enjoyed raw as a lot of the nutrients are lost as soon as you heat them.
Don’t we all love a creamy salad dressing?
But we also want to cut on empty calories.
Here’s how, purée vinaigrette with varying amounts of Hass avocado (creamy texture and great taste), silken tofu, white beans (if canned check for sodium content), or tahini for a deliciously velvety salad dressing.
Creamy Yogurt Dressing
– 5 tbsp white wine vinegar
– 4 tbsp walnut oil
– 1/2 cup homemade yogurt
– 8 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
– Handful of chopped fresh mint leaves
– Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined. Season to taste and adjust with a little more vinegar if needed.
You might be tempted to dump every bit of the dressing onto your salad. Rather, toss your salad lightly but completely with about half of the dressing you think it might need.
Every bite will be dressed nicely — and you’ll likely not feel the need to add any more dressing.
Connect with Expert Harmeet K Sehgal