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Salad dressing is an important part of a healthy diet; after all, if we need to eat lots of raw or lightly cooked vegetables, dressings add a lot of flavour and style to the meal as well as enhance the beautiful flavours of vegetables.  Salad dressing is also one food item where we can find a lot of unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients, and they can be quite expensive!   Common store-bought salad-dressings contain unhealthy ingredients like:  soybean oil, propylene glycol (preservative) , disodium EDTA (preservative), polysorbate 60(preservative)…..not to mention artificial colours AND added sugar!

Eating healthy is largely about eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods.  That includes reading labels and being aware of what you’re putting in your mouth.

I can’t remember the last time I bought a salad dressing.  Not only for health reasons, but because they’re so expensive, and I’m often disappointed with how they taste.  Plus, I like the freedom of having a variety of dressing options, to match the theme of my meal.  Those who know me, know that I love cooking and I love good food, so I wanted to share some of my best tips for creating your own dressings, and to show how fast and easy it really is!

Salad Dressing 101:  Basic Principles

  1.  You need an oil and an acid.
  2. An emulsifier like mustard holds the oil and acid together.

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BASIC RECIPE:  I like my dressing on the sour-side, so I tend to use more acid. If you want a milder flavour, use less acid or more oil.

1/2 cup oil

1/4 cup acid

1-2 tsp emulsifier

+ optional seasonings

Instructions:  place all ingredients in a blender and whizz for 10 seconds or place ingredients in bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined.  In just 1 or 2 minutes, you have a tasty and nutritious batch of dressing!

Oils:  Your choice, alone or in combination:

Extra virgin olive oil**Sunflower oil, safflower oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, sesame oil…

note: “Vegetable oil” is mostly soybean oil….not recommended.

Acids:  Your choice, alone or in combination:

Fresh-squeezed lemon juice, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, white vinegar, wine vinegar, rice vinegar…

Emulsifier:  Your choice, pick one:

Yellow mustard, dijon mustard, miso paste, tahini, hoisin sauce(may contain sugar), sriracha chili sauce(may contain sugar), goat cheese…..basically I might use anything in a paste form that I have in the fridge.

Optional seasonings:  Choice of one or many:

To add a kick:

Fresh minced garlic; minced ginger; chopped green onion, minced jalapeno, chili flakes

To add flavour:

dried herbs like oregano or thyme, black pepper, fresh grated raw onion (1 tsp, max), fresh herbs such as dill, basil or coriander/cilantro, goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, roasted sesame oil, soy sauce…..

To add sweetness: (especially important if eating very bitter greens)

orange juice or other fruit juice, maple syrup, mushy dates**, 1 tsp of jam, 1 tsp unpasteurized honey

**mushy dates:  place 2-3 dates in a small bowl, add 1/4 cup boiled water.  Let sit for 10 minutes and then mush it up.

Here are a few of my favourite concoctions.  These dressings can be used on top of raw salads or even on top of a bowl of steamed vegetables or “rice bowl”.

Everyday vinaigrette:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 clove minced garlic

1 tsp dijon mustard

salt & pepper to taste

Asian-style dressing:

1/2 cup oil blend:  extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup orange juice

1 tsp miso paste

1 tsp tahini paste

1 tsp of soy sauce

1 tsp minced ginger

pepper to taste

Greek-style dressing:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 clove minced garlic

fresh or dried oregano

salt & pepper to taste

 

Experiment with your own combinations and don’t forget the #1 rule of cooking:

taste as you go!

and adjust the flavour accordingly!!!

Your turn!

What are your favourite flavour combinations?  Do you have any ideas you would like to share?

 

Salad Dressing: Easy Mix-and-Match Recipe
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