So you started eating “healthy” in efforts to shed extra pounds. You automatically think “salad, is my best bet for a diet safe meal.” But like anything all salads are not created equal. There are a few “secret sabotages” when it comes to salad making. No fears, I have them listed and of course I have listed the easy fixes. I also have my favorite salad dressing recipes! You must try them. Read on to make sure your salad is free of the “Secret Sabotages” that can stall your weight loss.
Secret sabotage – Brand name salad dressings.
This whole post came up because I was lazy last night. Well, kind of. I was feeling tired after a long day and had to head out to pick up some dog food. I didn’t feel like doing much cooking and loved the thought of a ranch style salad. I just wanted to whip something up and eat it so I headed to the salad dressing isle. Now, I do not venture into this isle often. I know that is just makes me mad and I end up walking away empty handed but I really wanted that ranch flavor. So, first stop was the Kraft Calorie Wise dressing. Must be healthy right? Flip it over and give it a read, guess what? The second ingredient of about 100 is CORN SYRUP!! The most evil of all ingredients. So I slam that down and mumble something about how unfair this is to people that don’t know any better and think they are picking up something healthy. I then go to the Kraft Olive Oil varieties. Now these must be healthy, they say “olive oil” and mention “health” on the front. Flip it over and there is the devil again, “corn syrup.” I slam that down and leave with just my dog food knowing what today’s blog will be. Read your labels on the salad dressings. The only brands that I would even consider to buy off the self now are the dressings in the natural sections (Newman’s Own has some great ones). Look at your labels and know that is doesn’t matter if it says “low fat, calorie wise, etc.” If it has corn syrup and a million other ingredients, it’s no good.
The very best thing you can do for yourself and your salad is make your own dressing. Honestly it takes no time, it cost nothing and you can have so much fun with this! See below for my favorite recipes!
Secret sabotage – Cheese
Cheese is fat… plain and simple. Somewhere in the “high protein” diet craze people started to think that cheese is a substitute for their protein. Yes, cheese has protein but it is mainly fat!
Now a little is fine. One portion per meal is 1-2 Tbsp of cheese. That is it! If you don’t use a measuring spoon you can use your thumb (It’s about 1 thumb size per meal). Not much is it? Keep this portion in check. Always choose Light cheese. Your best choices are goat or feta cheese.
Secret sabotage – Poor protein choices – bacon, ham or processed meats
Skip the bacon, ham or processed meats
Secret sabotage – White bread croutons
I really don’t have to explain this right? White bread has no nutrients and is fast absorbing. Honestly you may as well be having sugar on top of your salad.
Give your salad that crunch with something healthy and nutrient dense. My personal favorite is Roasted chickpeas. Crunchy, buttery and delicious. If you still need that carb feeling at lunch have a piece of whole grain bread on the side or even better an Ezekiel wrap.
Secret sabotage – Dried, candied fruit and nuts (extra sugar and lacking nutrients and healthy oils)
Fresh Fruit -
Berries are your best choice! They are low on the glycemic index and are packed with antioxidants (Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries). Apples are a wonderful choice too and go great on many salads! Avoid dried fruit and stick to the natural real fruit. Dried has more sugar and less nutrients.
Secret sabotage – Salad boredom. Your tired of your stand-by iceberg lettuce with chicken.
FIX - Shake up your Salad base choices
There are endless possibilities when it comes to salads. Get creative and avoid the boredom. Great salad bases include:
Secret sabotage – I don’t know how to make my own salad dressing
Making your own is always the best idea. This way you can also have many different, fresh flavors on hand without any added “junk.”
Here are the basics to building your own healthy salad dressing:
Great bases for your dressings:
First on the list for making your own salad dressing is choosing good quality oil. Many stores carry a wonderful assortment of naturally processed, cold pressed and expelled pressed oils, and many are perfect for salads. Olive oil is a well-known favorite. For fun and variety you can substitute some or all of the olive oil with any of the following:
Roasted nut oils, such as walnut or hazelnut – roasting changes the flavor
Canola, avocado or sunflower oil
Non-fat Cottage or ricotta cheese
Non-fat greek yogurt
A good ratio of oil to vinegar is about 3:1 but this depends on your personal taste. Try some of these – You can combine different citrus in a dressing but usually not vinegar.
Chardonnay white wine vinegar (or other white wine vinegar)
Balsamic vinegar — darker and a little sweeter
Raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar — delivers live enzymes and probiotics
Red wine vinegar — very tangy and acidic
Sherry vinegar—more subtle flavor than red wine vinegar
Lemon and/or lime juice
Pomegranate, grapefruit, orange, and/or pineapple juice
You can play it safe and use your dressing simply with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, but there are a few “extras” that you can use to spice it up!
Mustard (dry, prepared Dijon or honey mustard)
Minced fresh shallots, chives or spring onion
Crushed or minced fresh garlic
Fresh minced or dried crushed herbs such as basil, tarragon, oregano, rosemary, thyme and marjoram (the addition of fresh herbs add a great antioxidant boost)
Finely chopped anchovies or capers for a bold punch of flavour
Spice it up – hot peppers, hot pepper flakes, peperoncinis, hot sauce,
Brags liquid amino acids and soy sauce can give a salty Asian flavor to dressings.
A small amount of raw honey, maple syrup, stevia or agave nectar will sweeten your dressing.
Unpasteurized miso in place of salt adds live enzymes and natural probiotics as well as wonderful flavor.
An ounce or so of feta cheese in place of salt in your recipe adds great flavor and a creamier consistency.
Even good old Mrs. dash has her place
My Favourite Homemade Salad Dressings
Here are my favorite salad dressings I turn to over and over. They are from all over; I have been using them forever and never get sick of them. They leave you feeling satisfied and burst with amazing flavour! *use 1-2 Tbsp per personal sized salad.
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup chopped peaches
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
Put all dressing ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender and puree until smooth. Add a little water if needed to thin to a pourable consistency.
Creamy Orange-Avocado Dressing
3 green onions, trimmed
1/2 avocado, peeled and pitted
1/2 cup orange juice
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Puree green onions, avocado, juice, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor until smooth to make a dressing.
Fresh Balsamic-Lime Dressing.
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a separate small bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, salt and pepper
1/4 cup toasted pecans, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped candied ginger (optional)
3 peaches, pitted and sliced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Purée pecans, vinegar, ginger, one-third of the peaches, 2 to 4 tablespoons water, salt and pepper in a food processor until smooth.
Enzyme/Probiotic salad dressing:
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼-cup raw apple cider vinegar
1 clove minced garlic
1 small minced shallot
1-2 teaspoons fresh white or mellow miso
1 teaspoon raw honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Whisk together all ingredients.
Greek-style Salad Dressing:
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
an ounce or two of feta cheese
a clove of garlic
some fresh or dried oregano and freshly ground black pepper.
Puree all ingredients
Spicy Asian-style Dressing:
½ inch piece of fresh diced and peeled ginger root
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
1 cup of refined expelled pressed sesame or canola oil
the juice of one or two limes
2-4 tablespoons of sesame tahini.
Add tamari, crushed red pepper and honey or agave nectar to taste.
Blend in blender
1 cup roasted walnut oil
1/3 cup fig or blueberry infused balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon of prepared mustard
1 small chopped shallot
salt and pepper.
Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
2 tbsp olive oil, preferably extra-virgin
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp pure maple syrup
2 tsp grainy mustard
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Asian Soy Vinaigrette
1/2 cup White Rice Vinegar
2 tbs Sesame Seed Oil
1 tbs Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 tbs maple syrup (or stevia 2 packets for sugar free dressing)
1 cup low fat Greek Yogurt
3 tablespoons white rice vinegar
1 shallot minced
2 Packets stevia
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1 clove garlic pressed
1 tsp sea salt
A little ground black pepper
Vegan Caesar Dressing
1/4 cup sliced raw almonds
1 to 2 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons capers,
1/2 cup vegan (egg-free) mayonnaise
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the dressing, place almonds, garlic and olive oil in a blender and pulverize until mostly smooth. Add lemon juice, capers, mayonnaise, salt and pepper and puree until smooth. If a thinner dressing is desired, add more lemon juice or olive oil.
I hope this salad guide will help you make great choices! Remember knowledge is power. Avoid those “Secret Sabotages” and enjoy the quick fixes. Let me know how you enjoy these salads.