A mixed green tossed salad is packed with nutrients and fiber. It makes for a healthy side dish or as a main course for lunch when paired with lean protein. Unfortunately, most folks negate the health benefits of a hearty salad by saturating it with loads of store-bought salad dressing. The serving size for most store-bought salad dressings is 1 to 2 tablespoons and that small serving may be packed with a high content of fat, sugar and salt. Some store-bought salad dressings can pack upwards of 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 7 grams of sugar and 100 milligrams of salt. Imagine all of that, packed into 1 to 2 tablespoons. Stop and think about how many more calories, fat, sugar and salt you consume when you go well above the recommended serving size. Also, don’t be fooled by “light” or “fat free” salad dressings. To make up for the lost of fat, manufacturers add more sugar or salt. Lastly, think about the added preservatives in store-bought salad dressings that allow it to sit in your pantry for months on end.
A simple solution to make your salad a win, is by making a homemade salad dressing. You control the fat, sugar, and salt content. Another advantage of homemade salad dressing is that you eliminate unnecessary additives and preservatives. My go-to salad dressing is typically a vinaigrette, made with olive oil. Olive Oil contains healthy fat. If you are looking for a creamy base salad dressing use Greek yogurt, hummus, mustard or mashed avocado. Also, for added taste experiment with various spices.
I love balsamic vinegar, so I eat it most days for lunch. As a general guideline for an oil-based vinaigrette, aim for a 3-to-1 ratio, that is 3 parts oil and 1 part vinegar. Also keep in mind that you can substitute different flavors of vinegar such as red-wine, white-wine or raspberry to name a few. Follow my easy-to-make balsamic vinaigrette recipe below:
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegear
2 gloves of fresh minced Garlic
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Instructions: It’s simple, mix all the ingredients together and shake! How easy is that?! You can keep the vinaigrette for up to 4-5 days in the refrigerator.
by Marjorie Binette, MD