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Words of Wellness-Salad Dressing - November 12, 2013

Words of Wellness: Salad Dressing

By: Kate Adams, Dietitian


All salads are packed with nutrients and make a perfect, balanced meal right? Think again, some restaurant salads pack more fat and calories than a burgers and fries. To build a better salad you must start at the bottom, with the lettuce. Choose dark leafy greens (think romaine or spinach) which are packed with nutrients and very little calories. Load up on the veggies and include a variety of colors. Include a lean source of protein for some staying power and some sunflower seeds or avocado for a healthy fat. At this point you can completely ruin your meal with a calorie dense, high fat dressing. Here are some of the worst offenders:


Ken’s Buttermilk Ranch Dressing: (2 Tbsp) 180 calories and 20 grams of fat
Wish Bone Creamy Caesar: (2Tbsp) 180 calories and 18 grams of fat
Ken’s Fat-Free Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette: (2 Tbsp) 70 calories and 0 grams of fat. Sounds like a good option, until you keep reading. High fructose corn syrup is the first ingredient and there are 12 grams of sugar found in one serving.
The Blue Cheese dressing at TGI Fridays packs 320 calories and 34 grams of fat into one serving. That’s as many calories as you’ll find in their broccoli cheese soup and more fat that a side of their seasoned French fries.


In general a vinaigrette or oil-based dressing is your best option, but always read the labels on store bought brands. Be leery of “fat-free” dressings as they usually make up the flavor with sugar and sodium. Olive oil will provided healthy and satisfying fats. Due to the thin consistency a little bit goes a long way saving you even more calories. 
Another option would be to make your own. Definitely more time consuming but you will know every ingredient and can easily control the amount of sodium and sugar. Most can be stored in the fridge for a few days, just be sure to give them a good shake before using. 


Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1 clove crushed garlic OR ¼ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried mustard
2 tsp Italian seasoning
Salt & pepper to taste

Citrus Basil Vinaigrette

1/4 cup EVOO
¼ cup white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, OR balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp orange juice
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp honey
1/8 cup chopped fresh basil OR 2 tsp dried basil
S&P to taste

Blue Cheese Dressing

1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1 Tbsp horseradish
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Ranch Dressing

½ to ¾ cup Plain Full Fat Yogurt or Greek Yogurt
1 tsp (or more to taste) of dried dill weed
Sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste
1 small clove of garlic
6 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp parmesan

1000 Island Dressing

1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons nonfat milk
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt
1 chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce (optional)
3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
3 tablespoons minced red bell pepper

Enjoy!