Clients often ask about whole foods versus processed foods. When it comes to salad dressing there is plenty to unpack around the make vs buy schools of thought. Homemade vs store-bought salad dressing isn’t on everyone’s radar but consider the benefits of DIY dressing.
Warm weather fare like caprese salad, dark greens with cucumber and a vinaigrette or a cold quinoa salad with bell peppers, tomatoes and spinach are healthy meals that are perfect summer fare or potluck side dishes. For those who don’t eat a lot of salad, you probably still use salad dressing occasionally for marinades, sauces or grilling recipes. Is it worth making your own? The delicious recipes at the bottom of this page might change your mind!
The Pros and Cons of Homemade Salad Dressing
Let’s lay out the basic pros and cons of making your own dressing versus walking down the salad dressing aisle at the store. Most of these will come as no surprise to you.
|Store Bought Dressing|
|Less artificial ingredients and preservatives||Convenience|
|Better taste||Longer shelf life|
|Less expensive||Less work|
|Less sugar||Greater variety|
|Better absorption of nutrients||Dependable flavor|
|Homemade Dressing||Store Bought Dressing|
|More time/ work||More expensive|
|Requires ingredients on hand||Fewer nutrients (if any)|
|Need recipe or experience||Unhealthy preservatives and dyes|
|Shorter shelf life||No control over ingredients|
Is Making Salad Dressing Worth It?
Making your own salad dressings is likely a matter of time, budget and how high nutrition ranks in your priorities. For those with allergies and dietary restrictions, it may be necessary to whip up your own gluten free salad dressing or low sodium salad dressing. Doing it yourself puts you in control of your ingredients and, once you perfect your recipe, your dressing will taste fresher and better.
Taking the time to make your own dressing is healthier and less expensive than store-bought alternatives. For those who garden, you can use your own ingredients like garlic and herbs for extra freshness. Most dressings are simple and quick to make with a minimal amount of ingredients. We recommend you choose a few “go to” homemade salad dressings and keep those ingredients on hand. The options are limitless and your body will thank you.
How to Choose a Store Bought Salad Dressing
While making your own dressing is the best for your health, we understand that it’s not always possible. If you’re going to use store bought dressings, select one or two brands you’re comfortable with.
Not all commercial dressings are equal. Here are a few things to consider when buying salad dressing:
- Read the ingredients label.
- The fewer the ingredients the better and the more whole food based the better.
- Do you know what each ingredient is? Is it an emulsifier, thickener, dye, preservative or flavor? Don’t accept chemical names just because you’ve seen them before.
- Avoid fat free or sugar free. If the manufacturers take something out, they have to put something back in for taste and texture and it typically is not as good for you as the real deal would have been in a normal amount.
- The first three ingredients are the most important. Ideally those will be an oil, water, vinegar or a natural flavor like garlic, sun dried tomato, etc.
- Read up on the quality of oils so you can make an educated decision. Some vegetable oils like safflower, cottonseed and palm kernel oil can be inflammatory.
Healthy Salad Dressing Recipes
Here are a few tasty homemade salad dressing recipes to help you get started. Using the right kitchen tools will help you whip up, emulsify and store your homemade salad dressing. You may want to invest in a great blender or food processor, dressing shakers and dressing pourers.
Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette
Makes 1 cup
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Optional extras: spoonful of mustard, minced shallots, minced garlic, minced fresh herbs, teaspoon dried herbs, spoonful of honey or brown sugar
Mix and refrigerate.
Green Goddess Dressing
1 medium avocado
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup water
1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
1/8 cup olive oil
1 ½ tbsp honey
½ tsp salt
1 pinch cayenne
½ garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/8 cup parsley
1/8 cup green onion
¼ cup spinach
Half the avocados, remove the pit, scoop the flesh into the blender, add everything else and blend very thoroughly.
Makes 4 cups
Basic Creamy Salad Dressing
8 oz plain yogurt
1/4 cup unrefined extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon chives, dried
2 tablespoon dill, dried
2 tablespoon lemon juice
Mix and refrigerate.
Creamy, Herby Ranch Dressing
Makes 2 cups
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon nice olive oil
1 small garlic clove
1 scant teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup good mayonnaise
1 cup plain yogurt
Mix it up and refrigerate.
Makes 1 cup
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
2 oranges, juiced
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 cup scallion, chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
Mix it up and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Eat Healthier Salads
Salad therapy is a great way to inject more nutrition into your diet. If you’re looking to feel better and perform better, our nutritionists can help you with meal planning, recipes and dieting. Schedule an in person or virtual consultation with Odom today and let our team be your guides to a healthier you.