Homemade Salad Dressings 101

Homemade Salad Dressings 101

Growing up, I looked forward to making our own Italian dressing with a packet of zesty herb mix, oil and vinegar and shaking it up in a plastic-lidded glass cruet from Good Seasons. Easy enough for a kindergartener to do! Now, I still prefer the taste of my own dressings to the store-bought ones, either refrigerated or on the shelf. 

Fresh is also healthier, not to mention cheaper. No chemical preservatives, artificial colors or flavors, excessive sodium or sugar. Make your own salad dressing so tasty, you’ll want to take it everywhere! …okay, so maybe just to restaurants and potlucks. Still, a custom dressing that only has in it what you want sounds good enough for every salad venue. 

Creating your own basic blend takes little time and effort, even for beginners. Moving on to crafting more unique flavored dressings means following established recipes rather than trial-and-error. Here, we give you the rundown of what it takes to make a simple vinaigrette, with two additional dressing styles, plus tips for the best results. 

Base Ingredients 

oil – extra virgin olive, avocado, flaxseed, grapeseed, safflower, soybean, etc. (coconut oil solidifies) 

acid – vinegar (apple cider, red wine, white wine, balsamic, etc.) or lemon juice 

sweet – agave syrup or honey 

savory – garlic, onion, mustard or Worcestershire 

spice – salt & pepper  

Optional Ingredientssesame oil, lime, orange juice, ginger, dried herbs (basil, dill, tarragon), buttermilk, grated Parmesan cheese, horseradish, avocado, cilantro, parsley, and so much more 

Equipment needed: measuring cup, measuring spoons, bowl, whisk, wide-mouth cruet, or sealed jar/bottle. Optional ingredients may require knife & cutting board or food processor. 

Time needed: Just 5 minutes for a basic recipe with dried herbs, 10-15 minutes for those with 10+ ingredients or fresh herbs to chop. 

Awesome 8-ingredient DIY Dressings

Staple Vinaigrette best with spinach, arugula, or mesclun 

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil 

1/4 cup red wine vinegar 

1 tablespoon lemon juice 

1 tablespoon agave syrup  

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil 

1 teaspoon minced garlic 

pinch of salt & pepper, to taste 

  • Whisk together in bowl 
  • Suggested additions: tarragon; lemon-thyme

Creamy Ranchbest with iceberg, romaine or radicchio lettuce

1/3 cup buttermilk 

1/2 cup nonfat sour cream or plain yogurt 

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar 

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley 

1 teaspoon dried dill weed 

1 teaspoon onion powder  

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 

pinch of salt & cracked pepper, to taste 

  • Whisk together in bowl 
  • Suggested additions: dried chives; Worcestershire 

Vegan Green Goddess best with leaf lettuce, endive or kale; also good on bowl meals 

1 avocado 

3 tablespoonsextra virgin olive oil 

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 

1/4 cup water 

3/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves 

1/2 cup chopped green onion 

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 

2 garlic cloves 

  • Blend all in food processor 
  • Suggested additions: lime & cilantro together; cayenne pepper

1 cup of dressing yields about eight 2-tablespoon servings. 

For peak flavor, allow blends to sit at least 30 minutes for ingredients to meld. 

Keep refrigerated in airtight container for up to 5 days. 

Do’s and Don’ts 

Don’t: Counteract tartness by adding more agave syrup or honey – it’s extra sugar. 

Don’t: Overseason your dressing without tasting it first, as that could ruin the finished product. 

Don’t: Pre-dress your leafy salad more than ½ hour before you’ll serve it or the oil (& vinegar) may wilt the delicate tender greens.  

Don’t: Store mixed vinaigrette at room temperature as the oils can turn rancid over time.  

Do: Enhance your salad with natural sweetness from cranberries, mandarin slices or strawberries.  

Do: Add salt (up to 1/4 tsp.) and pepper (up to 1/8 tsp.) bit by bit until desired flavor is reached.  

Do: Consider adding an emulsifier (like prepared mustard, honey, or tomato paste) to vinaigrettes, which helps keep  oil from directly coating leaves. 

Do: Refrigerate any unused dressing (all kinds) and allow to come to room temperature, then shake up before reuse. 

Are Egg Substitutes Better Than Real Eggs?

Are Egg Substitutes Better Than Real Eggs?

Question:

Hi – Could you please give me your thoughts on Low Cholesterol Egg Substitutes (like egg beaters)? Are they better than regular eggs or should they be avoided because they are artificial? Thanks for your help. 

John E. 

Answer:

I’d usually say that the whole food is best. If you are following a saturated fat + cholesterol-restricted diet, then my recommendation would be to switch to egg whites. Two egg whites can be used to replace a whole egg.

If the appearance of what you’re cooking necessitates that golden yellow color of scrambled eggs, then a product like Egg Beaters® works because of the natural beta-carotene colorant. The binders (xanthan gum and guar gum) aren’t native to eggs, of course, but are natural ingredients.

Better’n Eggs® also includes the additive sodium hexametaphosphate, which I don’t believe is found in nature but is created by processing. So, either stick to egg whites and add turmeric for color or use a quality replacement occasionally. 

Sources: 

  1. http://www.allwhiteseggwhites.com/products/ Accessed 10/7/2019.
  2. https://www.eggbeaters.com/products/egg-beaters-original Accessed 10/7/2019.
  3. R Link. Is Guar Gum Healthy or Unhealthy? The Surprising Truth. Healthline September 27, 2019. Accessed 10/7/2019. 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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Is it Possible to Lose Weight While Gaining Muscle?

Is it Possible to Lose Weight While Gaining Muscle?

Question:

Can you give me some help and suggestions to reach my goal? I’m 6’0 and around 220 to 230lbs. I’m honest with myself and have given up the dream of being a rippedup monster; I just want to live a healthy lifestyle. Losing weight is probably my number one goal and if I can gain muscle at the same time, that’s great. I work overnight so it’s difficult to be consistent at the gym, but I can be consistent with what I eat. So, I’d love to hear back from you and hear your views.

-Erik L. 

Answer:

Your realism is admirable, Erik. Yes, it’s possible to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously with the proper exercise. One diet can help you with both. You’ll need to moderately reduce calories by reducing portions slightly and cutting out alcohol, added sugars and excess fat. Meanwhile, switch the bulk of your consumption to whole nutrient-rich foods like vegetables, beans, poultry, fish, grains, nuts & seeds, fruit and low-fat dairy that are minimally processed. 

Take a look at these two menus/plans to see the kind of changes to make: 

2600 Calories (Before)

2200 Calories (After)

111 gm Protein; 46%Carb/17%Pro/34%Fat 

123 gm Protein; 47%Carb/22%Prot/31%Fat 

 

 

16 fl. oz. fruit smoothie  

6 oz. plain nonfat yogurt 

½ cups strawberries 

2 Tbsp. granola 

 

 

2 cups spaghetti & meat sauce 

2 cups spaghetti & meat sauce 

3 pieces garlic bread 

1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese 

Caesar salad 

2 Tbsp. regular dressing 

2 cups spinach 

½ cup white beans 

2 Tbsp. low fat dressing 

 

 

Egg, sausage, potato, cheese burrito 

Vegetable frittata: 2 scrambled eggs + ½ Cup zucchini/tomato/onion cooked in 1 tsp. oil 

Whole wheat pita 

 

 

1.5 oz. chocolate covered peanut butter energy bar 

Small banana 

1 oz. almonds (about 12) 

 

 

6 oz. grilled salmon 

6 oz. grilled salmon 

1 cup white rice 

1 cup brown rice 

½ cup broccoli 

1 cup broccoli 

 

* Calculated by Registered Dietitian Nutritionist using www.NutritionData.Self.com’s MyTracking function. Findings were used along with RDN’s professional judgment. 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Healthy Fiber Options for Your Daily Diet

Healthy Fiber Options for Your Daily Diet

Question:

Hello, my name is Elizabeth. I exercise at least three times a week, but I am more concerned about my nutrition because I know it comes first. I would like to know what the best fiber diet is, or the most important food to eat to get plenty of fiber. I do not eat red meat or pork, only seafood, chicken, and turkey. 

Thank you 🙂

– Elizabeth Z. 

Answer:

Good news! Your animal protein preferences won’t impact reaching the recommended intake of fiber, since it is only from plant foods. Beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts & sees, and raw fruits and vegetables have the most fiber. Did you know popcorn is naturally a whole grain snack?  

The 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines suggests 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories consumed as an adequate daily intake. For most people that translates to 25-30 grams of dietary fiber per day. The Dietary Guidelines offers a table to see how several foods compare. 

Adding fiber to your diet may be as easy as replacing juices or canned fruits and vegetables with wholesome produce or switching from white flour products to more whole grain ones. Of course, increasing intake through larger portions or adding food is an option if your energy needs allow. On the flip side, if you’re looking to lose weight, check out our recommendations for a low-calorie high fiber diet. 

My favorite way to get 15 grams of fiber in one sitting is to have a grain bowl with kale, avocado, chick peas and grated carrot, similar to this recipe from Cooking Light. For breakfast, I’ll opt for rough cut oats, topped with pecans, dried cranberries, chia seed, buckwheat groats and hemp seed to get 12 grams of fiber. 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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How to Gain Weight Healthily on a Vegetarian Diet

How to Gain Weight Healthily on a Vegetarian Diet

Question:

I am trying to gain weight, and knowing what to eat and when to eat it is difficult for me as I am a vegetarian. I prefer to work out late at night around 9:00 PM. Do you have any tips on when to eat and what to eat? 
– Hailey P. 

Answer:

When to eat is a matter of your hunger and routine. Your late exercise schedule offers an opportunity there. If you don’t already consume a post-workout recovery shake, doing so can add a couple hundred calories before you end your day. Try an Orgain® Vegan Organic Nutrition Shake, an OWYN™ Vegan Plant-Based Protein shake, or a Garden of Life Organic Protein Plant-Based Drink. Foods and snacks are fine, but a liquid beverage is quick and delivers nutrients to support immediate muscle repair and synthesis. 

High calorie vegan items include canned coconut milk, nut butters, tahini, sweet potatoes, avocados, oats, soybeans, dried fruit and most tortillas. Lacto/ovo vegetarian choices also include cheese, yogurt and eggs. Don’t forget about adding calories through condiments like pesto, hummus, vinaigrettes, marinara, and vegan mayo. 

You’ll want to incorporate at least one high calorie food each snack and meal. There are so many high calorie dishes you can create on a plant-based diet! Breakfasts suggestions are banana-nut pancakes made with almond milk, chia seed pudding or avocado toast. Lunch and dinner options include butternut squash ravioli with pepitas, meatless chili with cornbread, and coconut curry with tofu, noodle and veggies.  

– Debbie J., MS, RD

Disclaimer: Author is an Orgain® Brand Ambassador and has received product samples.

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email nutrition@lafitness.com or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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