Make your healthy salad dressing

Among many ingredients, salad dressing is a king. It transforms the mix of veggies into a delicious dish.

It’s fair to say that salads have had a raw deal when it comes to food preparation. The average salad leaf is often an unloved side dish or a garnish designed to help your main meal look more attractive. Yet those limp lettuce leaves have so much more potential if they are given the chance to shine. You can transform a basic salad quickly and easily with a simple salad dressing to create a tasty dish that delivers on both nutrition and flavour.

Salads are a simple and convenient way to introduce more vegetables into your diet. Fresh green salad leaves are simply packed with nutrients and fibre, so it is well worth adding them to your diet on a regular basis. Plus, with so many ingredient choices to experiment with salads are incredibly versatile in flavour too! Why not change the way you think about your salads and try making your very own easy salad dressing that includes some of your favourite flavours?

An essential salad dressing ingredient - Olive oil

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With a little know how and a few handy ingredients you can transform a bland bunch of salad leaves into a show stopping starter or a tasty main dish that is packed with texture and flavour. The result? You’ll want to eat even more of those delicious salads throughout the week and you can even interchange ingredients to create a whole menu of delicious dishes. Introducing more fresh vegetables into your diet is a great way to eat healthily, so knowing how to make simple, healthy salads is a useful skill to have to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Why you should make your own salad dressing

We know that salads are rich in vital nutrients, but when you add a fattening dressing, you have already turned your healthy salad into a decidedly unhealthy one for several reasons.

  1. Lower calories: many dressings are extremely rich and calorific, with some major brand names packing 200 calories or 20 grams of fat into a serving, so if you want to eat healthily, you’ll want to avoid dowsing your salads in a thick ranch or caesar dressing.
  2. Unprocessed ingredients: there are plenty of ready made salad dressings available which can be bought in your local supermarkets, but like any processed food, they are full of processed ingredients, fat, salt and sugar, all of which means they are not the best salad dressing for a clean eating lifestyle. These salad dressings are typically calorific because manufacturers believe this means they are extra tasty.
  3. Portion control: when you check the contents on the label of a dressing, you probably don’t take notice of the manufacturer’s suggested serving size, which is typically only 2 tablespoons. That’s probably a lot less than you normally pour over your salad!
  4. Healthier ingredients: sometimes even low calorie salad dressings can be full of unhealthy ingredients to add to the flavour, like salt and sugar, so always check your labels.

Instead of relying on store bought products, why not try making your own light and healthy salad dressings based on simple, fresh ingredients? Not only will you have more control over the calories and ingredients that you add to your salad dressing, but you can also have fun and get more creative in the kitchen by trying out your own ideas. Creating your own salad dishes introduces new flavours to your taste buds and widens your knowledge of food preparation so that you can prepare healthy dishes quickly and easily in the future.

Essential salad dressings

Foundation of many salad dressings - Different olive oils

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To create a really super tasting balanced salad that’s quick and healthy, you just need to know a few basics.

  1. Start by choosing the foundation. Oil-based dressings fit most of salads. Choose between olive, walnut, avocado or sesame, luckily you can find a really huge variety of oils in a grocery store.
  2. The next step is to introduce some vinegar to your salad dressing. So add some acidic juice or classic vinegar to your taste.
  3. The last step is to enhance the flavour. Among the most used ones are garlic, ginger and soy sauce. But you should not be afraid of making new shades of taste by using honey, fresh herbs instead of classic mustard.

Get creative with your dressing by sticking to the basic formula of 60% oil, 30% acid and 10% flavours.

Salad dressing proportion: 60% oil, 30% acid and 10% flavours

If you are looking for more ideas to create your very own salad dressing recipe, then just look at all of the wonderful varieties of salad dressings that are widely available. Why not try making a fat free salad dressing based on some of the most popular dressings available? You could make your own version of a thousand island dressing, honey mustard dressing or a blue cheese dressing by reducing the fattening ingredients in the recipes and limiting them in a controlled and healthy way.

More inspiration for healthy salads

There’s more to life than your basic vinaigrette, so why not mix it up and experiment with some flavours by creating your very own recipe for salad dressing? There is no limit to what you can create by trying different spices, oils and ingredients in your salads. Try making an olive oil salad dressing or a creamy dressing but just stick to the fundamental rule of choosing low calorie ingredients to keep your salads super healthy!

Low Fat Ranch Dressing

Ingredients Instructions
  • 1/2 cup Cashews (unroasted)
  • 3/4 cup Hot Water
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 clove Garlic (peeled)
  • 2 tsp White Miso
  • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 3 tbsp Fresh herbs (chopped)
  1. Soak the cashews in hot water for 30 minutes.
  2. Pour the cashews and water into a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth.
  4. Store in a container and cover with a tight lid to keep fresh.
  5. Store chilled and use within two days.

Ideal for Mediterranean chickpea salads

Chia Chipotle Dressing

Ingredients Instructions
  • 1/2 cup Orange Juice
  • 3 tbsp Lime Juice
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Chipotle Chillies in Adobo Sauce (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp Agave Nectar
  • 1 tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 1 clove Garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  1. Whisk the ingredients in a cup.
  2. Cover and chill for ten minutes or overnight.
  3. Store chilled and use within two days.

An ideal partner for a sweet and spicy quinoa salad.

Peanut Dijon Mustard Dressing

Ingredients Instructions
  • 2 tbsp Peanut Butter
  • 1 tbsp Oil
  • 1/2 Lime (juiced)
  • 3 tbsp Water
  • 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Pepper
  • 3/4 tsp Garlic
  1. Place ingredients in a blender and mix.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons per serving over the salad and toss.
  3. Store chilled and use within two days.

The perfect accompaniment to a chicken salad.

Add honey to enhance the flavour of your salad dressing

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Honey and Mustard Dressing

Ingredients Instructions
  • 2 1/2 cloves Garlic
  • 6 tbsp Cider Vinegar
  • 10 tbsp Extra Virgin Oil
  • 3 tsp Honey (pure and clear)
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  1. Peel the garlic and crush it.
  2. Place the garlic cloves into a bottle.
  3. Put in the oil, vinegar, mustard and honey and shake.
  4. Serve immediately or store it in the fridge.

The best choice for steak salads.

Quick and Healthy Blue Cheese Dressing

Ingredients Instructions
  • 1 pot Cottage Cheese (virtually fat free)
  • 227 g Plain Yoghurt
  • 30 g Onions
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 30 g Danish Blue Cheese
  1. Peel and chop the onion/shallot, peel and crush the garlic.
  2. In a blender combine cottage cheese, yogurt, onion and garlic; process until smooth.
  3. Stir in the blue cheese.

Try this dressing on a spinach and walnut salad.

Lighter Caesar Dressing

Ingredients Instructions
  • 15 ml Lemon Juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Oil
  • 1/4 tsp White Sugar
  • 10 ml Balsamic Vinegar
  1. Measure all ingredients and mix inside a screw top jar.
  2. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper if required for extra taste.
  3. Put on the lid and shake.

The classic dressing for lettuce, croutons and parmesan.

Red Pepper Vinaigrette

Ingredients Instructions
  • 1/4 cup Apple Juice
  • 1/4 cup Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Onions (chopped)
  • 2 cloves Garlic (chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 Red Pepper (roasted)
  • 1 pinch Rosemary
  • 1 pinch Thyme
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend until thoroughly mixed.

Ideal for a crunchy green salad.

Make more dressing and store it

The best part about making your own home made dressing is that you can make more than you need and store it so that you always have a low calorie dressing whenever you need it. Most salad dressings, especially a basic vinaigrette dressing, will last for a few weeks in the fridge if you store it in a jar with a tight lid.

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