The ultimate caloric TASTE ENHANCER? Salad dressing! Yep, that’s right. Salad dressing.
Calories in salad dressings can range from 80-100 calories per tablespoon. Caesar dressing is typically the highest calorie dressing with blue cheese and ranch dressing tied for second. But if 100 calories per tablespoon doesn’t sound like much to you well get a load of this. An entrée salad at a restaurant can easily have 8 tablespoons of salad dressing in it. That can be 800 calories just in the salad dressing! Forget about anything else in the salad. And just to put that in perspective for you, a bacon cheeseburger and medium french fries at Burger King is 715 calories. Not that I am encouraging you to go out and eat that but at least with the loaded burger and fries you would realize you were splurging and be physically satisfied by it.
A Calorie Catastrophe
Why are salad dressings so high in calories? Well, because the main ingredient in dressings is usually one or more of the following high calorie foods: oil, whole/full fat yogurt, mayonnaise, cheese or sour cream. If we take the lowest calorie salad dressing, which is usually a vinaigrette at 80 calories per tablespoon (which really isn’t so low) and break down the classic recipe we would see that it calls for 3 parts oil for every 1 part vinegar. This means, that for every 3 tablespoons of oil that the recipe calls for, there is 1 tablespoon of vinegar added to it. One can quickly see, with oil having 120 calories per tablespoon and the average vinegar containing just 3 calories, why salad dressings are so darn caloric. And why I think “vinaigrette” would be better named “oilette”, being that they are more oil than vinegar.
Calorically speaking, it is easy to see how salad dressings can wreak havoc on your diet and your waistline. And even though I am speaking a lot about calories here I don’t believe in calorie counting. It’s the awareness of calories in relation to HUNGER CUES which is key to weight loss and management. But what troubles me that most is that the calories in salad dressings don’t satisfy us. Hence the reason why they are a real “danger” to us and our goals.
How to Dress Your Salad Appropriately
Now that you have some insight into why you may have been struggling to lose weight when you felt like you were “barely” eating or “so good”, what does one do? Clearly the answer isn’t eating bacon cheeseburgers and french fries that are loaded with saturated fat and sodium (and calories). How about making salad dressings at home. It is is super easy and doesn’t take much time at all.
OK, so I get that you may be rolling your eyes. With all of the options out there between, lowfat, fat free, sugar free, no sugar added, and the combination of these; you may be asking, “Why would someone make their own dressing?” I am with you. I have seen television chefs make salad dressing and I have rolled my eyes too saying, “why bother”. Until one day when I resigned myself to making my own Caesar dressing because my husband Dan and I couldn’t find one that we liked.
I played with different ingredients until I found the perfect blend for what I was looking for. The results were unbelievable. Not only that, once I had the recipe down, making it took no time at all. Those television chefs were onto something. Homemade salad dressings definitely transformed my salad experience. It took it to another level. I actually looked forward to eating salads. And they were calorically responsible. Delicious and calorically responsible? Now that was something! Who said food that tasted good must be bad for you?
I like to change things up a bit so I started experimenting with ingredients and made different salad dressings. Here are six of my favorite dressings. There is sure to be something for everyone with the variety I included here. Give one, two, or six a try. You may be making your second batch sooner than you think!
- ½ cup Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt
- 2 tablespoons finely crumbled blue cheese
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Pinch of garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Mix all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour to blend all flavors.
- 1 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar (but any vinegar would do)
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons water
- ½ tablespoon garlic powder
- ½ tablespoon onion powder
- ½ tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ tablespoon dried parsley
- ½ tablespoon salt
- Pour ingredients into a lidded container
- Cover and shake well.
- Use or refrigerate for months and months.
This can stay in the refrigerator for a month, maybe more.
- 1 cup baby carrots
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Combine carrots and water in a small glass bowl; cover and microwave until carrots are soft, about 5 minutes.
- Pour carrots and water into a blender or small food processor; add remaining ingredients and blend on high until nearly smooth. Chill before serving
- 1 cup light mayonnaise
- 6-7 large or 12-14 small scallions, chopped, white and green parts (about ¾ cup)
- ¾ tablespoon dried basil
- ¼ cup lemon juice, if using fresh about 2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon minced jarred garlic (about 2 cloves if using fresh)
- 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup fat free sour cream
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Place the mayonnaise, scallions, basil, lemon juice, garlic, anchovy paste, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
- Add the sour cream and process. When all blended add Worcestershire sauce and and mix well with a spoon.
- If not using immediately, refrigerate the dressing until ready to serve.
This can stay in the refrigerator for about a week.
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons crushed garlic
- ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 5 tablespoons fat free plain Greek yogurt
- In a food processor add cheese, lemon juice, garlic, mustard and anchovy paste. Blend for about 20 seconds.
- Add the yogurt and let blend for another 20 seconds until well combined.
- ½ cup fat free plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons honey
- salt and pepper to taste
- Mix all of the ingredients until well combined
- Store in the refrigerator until ready to enjoy
This keeps well in the refrigerator for a week.