How to Dress [your Salad] for Success

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Are you looking for a better way to dress that salad? Salads are the ultimate health food, the staple of the weight-loss world, and the image of health. The greens, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds in salads are all a great way to pack-in some serious nutrition, but there is a quick way to ruin all your effort; coating it with a bunch of bottled dressing! Not all salad dressing is bad, but it’s definitely something you want to read the label on before you buy. There are many varieties of dressings that are full of oils, salt, emulsifiers and other processed ingredients that aren’t adding nutrition to your salads. There are a lot of better ways to add flavor to your salads, here are a few you should try today!

Making your dressings from scratch is better, both the taste and the nutrition is improved! First of all, you can omit all the emulsifiers (the things that keep your dressing from separating) stabilizers, preservatives, sodium, and extra ingredients that help make the product shelf stable, and instead keep yours in the fridge for up to a week. When the flavors come from fresh ginger, garlic, herbs, and spices, you will never go back to the bottled variety!

Secondly, you can add more healthful ingredients like blended avocado, nut butters, fruits, herbs, or even more vegetables! Check the internet for recipes using fresh parsley, pureed beets, cashew cream, or any other flavor you love on salads. Pureed carrots and apple with a little apple cider vinegar make a great base for salads. Make a green goddess dressing by blending pine-nuts, parsley, cilantro, and avocado into a flavorful mix. You can also puree beans or nuts as a base of your dressings to make them creamy. Add a little fresh garlic and you’ve got yourself a disease-fighting dressing! The possibilities are endless!

Lastly, you can be in control of how much oil is in your salad. Maybe you haven’t heard the hype, but many people blame today’s nutrition related diseases (especially obesity and heart disease) on eating an excess of omega 6 fatty acids while not getting enough of the omega 3 fatty acids. Both fats are essential in our diets (meaning our bodies can’t make them so we must get them from the foods we eat) but they compete against one another in our bodies because they use the same receptors and metabolic pathways but have very different jobs. Omega 6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation while Omega 3s help balance inflammation in the body. Understandably, we should try to cut back on some Omega 6 sources so the Omega 3s have a fighting chance. One of the biggest sources of Omega 6 fats in our diet? Oils. Just another reason to make your own dressings from scratch. That way you control how much oil goes into your salad! Most dressings are 3 parts oil (usually corn or soy oils) to 1 part acid (vinegar, lemon juice, etc) and other flavorings. Make your own and you can add just a splash of olive, avocado, flax, or another oil which has more health benefits.

Other creative ideas:

-blend an avocado with lime juice and cilantro for a creamy cantina dressing

-Use hummus in place of dressing, especially flavored hummus varieties like red pepper or garlic

-Use a balsamic vinegar reduction (naturally sweeter and thicker) in place of oil-based balsamic vinegar

-Blend natural peanut butter, maple syrup, water and a little hot sauce together for a spicy Thai dressing

-try the recipe below!

 

Garlic Beet Green Salad:

This salad is tossed together with the cooked beet greens, garlic, and a little cider vinegar in place of a dressing and you don’t miss it at all! Its best served fresh and can be adjusted by using whichever salad vegetables you have on hand.

Serves: 2

Total Prep Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 stalks of beet plant, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Leaves of 3 beet plants, sliced thin
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce
  • ½ avocado
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds, or pine-nuts
  • ½ cup sliced radishes
  • ½ cup chopped bell pepper
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Instructions:

Sauté the beet stalk with the garlic in the olive oil until tender. Add the beet greens and season with a little salt. Cook lightly stirring occasionally so the leaves soften at the same rate. Mix all other ingredients into a bowl, and spoon the warm beet leaves in when ready. Toss to coat and serve immediately.

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