Salads are healthy, right?
With a ton of greens and veggies that are loaded with vitamins and minerals and a protein, it seems like it would be. But then we add nuts, cheeses and the salad dressing. Before you dress your healthy salad, I will share why I think it’s important to ditch the store bought dressings. Store bought dressings are often full of calories and not-good-for-you fats, so while you are trying to eat a healthy salad, you are undoing it before you even consume it. Not to mention, the bottled dressings are full of artificial ingredients (coloring/flavorings), preservatives & chemicals to extend their shelf life.
I have been making homemade dressings for about 3 years now. My husband and I started eating a big entree salad for dinner about 3 years ago. I taught Spinning Monday and Wednesday evenings and we wanted a dinner that we could eat afterwards that wasn’t heavy. I would prep the salad before class so it was all ready to eat once we got home and showered! At first I was hesitant about making dressings, but once I started experimenting, I realized there are limitless possibilities and it’s super easy. The dressing can make or break the salad. Making your own dressing sounds tedious, but I promise you it’s worth it.
When you make your own dressings, you are controlling the ingredients that you use. Here are the different ingredients used in store-bought dressings and why you should avoid them
In bottled dressings, most manufacturers use low quality oils (canola, soybean, corn) because of their low cost. These oils become problematic when added to products that undergo light, air, and pressure. What does it do to our bodies? They can clog our arteries, increase our cholesterol, contribute to insulin resistance and diabetes and other long-term health problems from obesity to heart disease.
For our homemade dressings, we can use olive, avocado, flaxesed, or sesame oils. These good-for-you oils have many health benefits such as lowering our LDL (bad cholesterol), raising our good cholesterol (HDL), aiding in digestion, and are rich in certain vitamins, such as Vitamin E, and omegas!
Surprised? Don’t be. Sugar is in everything so it really should be of no surprise as obesity and diabetes are still on an upward trend. Manufacturers use refined, white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or dextrose, but these have no added benefits to your health and nutrition. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 6 to 12 teaspoons of added sugar a day for adults, and children should eat even less. If you want to sweeten up a dressing, consider using raw honey or maple syrup.
Check the nutrition label on your favorite bottled dressing, especially if it’s a “low-fat” or “light” dressing. Manufacturers make up for loss of flavor in these dressings by adding more sodium and sugar. Excess sodium intake is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. In Olive Garden’s Italian Dressing, there’s 440g of sodium in two tablespoons of dressings. How many of you measure your dressing out and only use 2 tablespoons?
Excessive Additives & Harmful Chemicals.
This is probably the biggest reason as to why we make our own dressings. The chemicals, artificial flavorings, and preservatives that are used to make dressings shelf-stable are toxic to our bodies. There are a number of additives (gluten, dairy, soy), gums, and thickeners used in mass-produced salad dressings, as well. However, making your own dressings, you are in complete control of what is and is not used.
Not only can you control the ingredients when you make your own dressings, but it is cheaper in the long run as you use ingredients that are likely in your pantry (olive oil, spices, etc). It also keeps salads fresh and fun! You could make a different dressing every week to change flavors!
Join me the week of March 13th on Facebook as I share with you tips, tricks, and recipes for our favorite salads and dressings! You can join the group here.