The number one thing I recommend to patients is adding a big salad (or bowl of vegetable soup in the winter) everyday! A salad is so much more than a bowl of leaves, in fact, it might not even contain leaves. But, no matter what ingredients fill the bowl or plate, it’s the topping that enhances the flavor and hopefully doesn’t detract from the nutritional value.
Now, what should you put on top of the beautiful rainbow in your bowl? Why, salad dressing of course! In an effort to eat better, many of us are cutting back on processed foods. A great place to start is salad dressing! Skip the guar gum, and/or vegetable oils, monosodium glutamate, preservatives and crazy sodium.
Homemade salad dressing can be simple or complex, like anything in the kitchen. The most basic recipe is 1 part acid to 2 parts fat plus some herbs, voila’, a vinaigrette is born.
The process requires basic kitchen equipment including: 1 jar with lid for shaking and storage, knife, cutting board, measuring device and possibly a blender. Most fresh dressings won’t keep forever, follow the recipe recommendations, but generally you can expect 3-10 days. I like to make a different dressing each week!
My dressing absolutely influences my salad theme for the week. This week I’m humming along to a little tune I like to call miso sesame ginger dressing from Bowl of Delicious! This fresh, bright dressing pairs well with kale, beets, carrots, sunflower seeds, feta and a little roasted butternut squash if you have it on hand. Of course, I was out of sesame oil, so I replaced it with olive which altered the flavor but it is still yum. And, lemons are almost always in the house, but limes not so much, so I subbed a fresh lemon instead.
For those looking to fulfill their ranch cravings, look no further! I like this basic ranch from Chowhound. I’ve been known to replace the buttermilk and sour cream with plain Greek yogurt for a thick, ranch dip version.
Raspberries are divine in a salad and in a dressing, and because we live in Alaska and many of us house the red jewels in our freezer, consider adding a raspberry vinaigrette from the Kitchn to your spring salad dressing collection.
Have fun playing in the kitchen this spring! Dress up your daily salad with yummy, homemade dressings.
Sherrill Collins, MS, RDN