Choices Count: Salad Dressing

Don’t drown fresh veggies in a conventional blend of sugar, overly processed oils and artificial preservatives. Learn to make your own salad dressing with these simple steps.

Enjoying a salad bowl filled with winter lettuce, red onions, fresh herbs, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, peppers and more is a great way to kick off the New Year. But the veggies are only half the picture.

The salad dressing on top can turn that healthy choice into a SAD one. (SAD = Standard American Diet, if you didn’t know.) A quick trip down the salad dressing aisle at any conventional grocery store features an astounding array of bottled chemicals, sugars and high fructose corn syrup, overly processed oils and preservatives.

On the other hand, a good salad dressing not only adds great flavor but nutritional value as well. It’s actually quite simple to make your own dressing. Nuts and fruits can make for creamy, juicy and flavorful salad dressings without adding any extracted oils. Plus you get the health benefits of those nutrient-dense nuts and fruits. Save money by using your imagination and what's in your pantry to come up with new flavor combinations.

Here’s a starter recipe for a healthy salad dressing:

1/3 cup chopped nuts, such as walnuts, cashews, almonds or pecans

1/2 cup chopped fresh fruit, such as apples, plums, peaches, blueberries or strawberries

1/4 cup unsweetened soymilk (or fruit juice, such as pomegranate or orange)

1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice (or vinegar)

Purée all ingredients in a food processor or high-powered blender until smooth. For thinner dressings, add a little more soymilk or fruit juice. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon or lime juice as needed.

That’s it! Super simple. Check out our recipe page for Learn to Cook: Salad Dressing opens in a new tab to explore the comments and suggestions from other readers.

Here are a few more healthy, no-oil added dressing recipes:

Making your own dressing really doesn’t take much time. Try it and see for yourself!
Oh, and for those times when you do buy bottled dressings, be sure to look for preservative- and additive-free dressings based on ingredients such as vinegar, mustard and expeller-pressed oils. Shy away from buying dressing with added sugar, fructose or high fructose corn syrup.

You might try a fat-free, low-sugar dressing — you can always add your own nuts or seeds.

Do you have a favorite salad dressing recipe? We’d love to read about it.

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