Spice up your salad - healthy salad dressings

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food-645668_640Over the past few months we have been looking at creating delicious, healthy salads to really pep up our nutrient intake. We have looked at different tasty leaves to combine and adding pulses and fruit, seeds and nuts to give them extra spice. Now finally this week we are looking at the final secret ingredient – dressing!

The dressing can be the final addition that makes all the difference to a salad, bring it out of the ordinary and making it delicious. But we have been advocating salads as they are meant to be healthy, but when we drench them in shop bought dressings, we can unwittingly pile on the calories and fat, not to mention consuming lots of preservatives, flavourings, stabilisers and additives. One tablespoon of your average vinaigrette is about 80 calories and one tablespoon of creamy ranch is almost 100 calories. In one tablespoon of Hellman’s mayonnaise there are 90 calories and there are 50 in Heinz salad cream! Check out this list of many of the calories and fat contained in our most regularly used bought dressings http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-56901/The-good-salad-dressing-guide.html

And just buying ‘light’ dressing really may not be the healthy way to go as whilst they cut down the fat and calories, they often compensate using high levels of sodium and corn syrup. Also, though dressings are high in fat, a little fat has been shown to help the body absorb the nutrients from the vegetables so the ‘lighter’ versions may actually hinder you from getting the best from your salads.

food-645666_640So when it comes to healthy salad dressings, it is better to go for the olive oil based ones rather than the creamy ones and to stay clear of the diet varieties. Instead, just limit the amount you pour on to just a table spoon and where possible make your own with a base of extra virgin olive oil. Making your own is easier than you think and only takes a minute. And once you have got your base, the sky is the limit for adding your flavours. Here are a few great links to recipes for making healthy salad dressings:

If you really are trying to cut down on the amount of fat without cutting the flavour, rather than pouring over your dressing, put a small amount into a little dish and very now and again dip your fork into it, to get the taste without too much.

Finally, if you want to add an extra zing to your salads without adding fat, instead of salad dressing, try squeezing over some fresh lemon juice.