When I first started eating healthy and being more conscious of what I put into my body, I reached for ‘light,’ ‘low-cal,’ or ‘fat-free’ salad dressings and sauces in a heart beat. Back then, I was strictly focused on how many calories I consumed every day. And to me, the fewer the calories, the better.
Fast forward seven years later, and my attitude towards calories and salad dressing has completely changed. Sure, I’m still mindful about how many calories I consume in a given day and try not to go overboard. But I’m also much more mindful about the processed foods I eat and the ingredients they contain. I would have never thought one day I’d be making my own salad dressings. Today’s post is about exposing the hidden truth behind bottled and jarred salad dressings. I’ve also provided you with a creamy, vegan, roasted-red pepper hemp seed salad dressing everyone is sure to love.
The Ugly Truth To Bottled Salad Dressing
If you’re trying to get more veggies in your diet, salad is a great place to start. Low in calories and high in fiber, you can easily eat a salad with lean protein for lunch to keep you energized or start your dinner with a salad to consume fewer calories during your meal. The problem is when you top your salad with a fake a$$ and cheap tasting dressing. Here’s the ugly truth of bottled salad dressing.
- Refined oils–Most store bought salad dressings are made with soybean, sunflower, or canola oil. These cheap, easy to manufacture, refined oils are basically liquid free radicals. Even organic salad dressings will use organic refined oils. Ditch the poison and opt for making your own salad dressing with natural oils like olive oil or sesame oil.
- Sugar–This is especially true for low-calorie or low-fat salad dressing varieties. When the food world thought fat was the enemy, naturally everyone reached for low-fat or fat-free products. The problem is a majority of the calories cut from these dressings were only replaced with sugar and carbohydrates. Americans consume as much as 22 teaspoons of sugar per day. Don’t let any of it come from your salad dressing.
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)–I call MSG the nicotine of food. Back in the 1960’s and 70’s, we realized cigarette companies were adding chemicals like nicotine to tobacco to make it more additive. And now the same thing is happening with food. MSG is easily added to over 80% of processed and store-bought foods, and is classified under a dozen or more pseudonyms. Even worse, when consumed it excites a part of your brain that triggers the fat storing process. So essentially the ‘low-cal’ vinaigrette you buy could be actually making you fatter. Opt for MSG-free dressings that you make at home. It can be as simple as oil and vinegar or lemon juice.
- Other Additives–Does your salad dressing really need xanthan gum or soy lecithin in it? These additives and artificial ingredients simply don’t belong in your body and have been linked to numerous health problems as trivial as chronic headaches and as devastating as certain types of cancer.
Salad Dressing Tips
Whether you’re making or buying your salad dressing, keep these sensible tips in mind:
- Read the nutritional label–You won’t believe how many people just aimlessly pick up a bottle of dressing and toss it into their shopping cart. Reading the nutritional label is essential to determining what exactly is in your salad dressing. I can’t recall how many times I’ve read the label of a ‘greek yogurt salad dressing’ only to find that the dressing is made out of mayonnaise and water. Take the time of educate yourself if you choose to buy a bottled or jarred dressing.
- Beware of false health traps–Do you often buy organic or ‘all natural’ salad dressings thinking your purchasing something healthy? Often organic varieties contain just as many unhealthy ingredients as conventional salad dressings. Don’t think that organic canola oil is alright because it’s organic. It’s still refined! And it doesn’t belong in your body.
- Prepare in bulk–when making a homemade salad dressing, try to make enough to last 3-4 nights. Homemade salad dressing won’t last for more than a week to 10 days at most, so there’s no need to make batches of it like your the next Costco. But to save time on weeknights, it’s not a bad idea to make a batch of salad dressing for salad all week.
- Keep it simple–You don’t need to go above and beyond for salad dressing. And the end of the day, it’s just salad. If making your own dressing seems like too much of a chore, keep things simple by sticking to olive oil, different types of vinegar/lemon, and a little salt and pepper.