Wednesday Wisdom: Learning to Love Salads (Part 3: Dressings)

Now that we’ve got our salad base and a few toppings, it’s time to add another layer of flavor with a dressing.

Bottled Dressings

There’s nothing inherently wrong with bottled salad dressings – and, chances are, you probably have a favorite.  Do check your dressing’s nutrition stats and ingredients, though, because many salad dressings are loaded with sugar and salt.

In the market for a new dressing? While I’m always a fan of homemade dressings,  I will say that dressings made by Annie’s, Newman’s Own, Spectrum, Brianna’s, and Drew’s tend to be high on flavor and low on questionable ingredients.


  • Consider buying the “real” version of your favorite dressing, as the light version typically has extra sugar and salt to make up for the lower fat content
  • Measure your dressing when making your next few salads. Two tablespoons is about the size of a golf ball, but that can be hard to visualize when we’re talking about pouring liquids! Try starting with one tablespoon (often 90-100 calories on its own) and see if you really miss the extra dressing.

Homemade Dressings

We already saw my easiest dressing recipe when we talked about greens, but here are 6.5 more dressing ideas.  These recipes are quick, easy, and tasty.  For best results, mix together all of the ingredients except the oil first, and then add the oil slowly while stirring.  (You won’t miss much if you just put everything in a jar at once and shake it, though!  Better yet, use a plastic jar with a very tight lid and have the kids shake it for you.  Store leftovers in the fridge and re-shake before using again.)

“Asian” Dressing/Dipping Sauce
Stir or shake together:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon crushed, peeled, fresh ginger (try using a garlic press to mince your ginger)

Creamy Avocado
In a food processor, blend together:

  • 1 small avocado, peeled, seed removed
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • salt to taste
  • optional: 1 fresh jalapeno, seeds, veins, and stem removed

Garlic Herb Vinaigrette
Stir or shake together:

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons mustard (dijon is best, but any will work)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced, OR 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons fresh herbs, OR 2 teaspoons dried (try oregano, basil, parsley, chives, or thyme)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Stir or shake together:

  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk or 1/4 cup milk plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
Whisk or shake together:

  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • optional: 1 teaspoon chopped thyme, minced jalapeno to taste

In a food processor, blend together:

  • 1 small mango, peeled, seed removed
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard or 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon agave or sugar
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • optional: 1 fresh jalapeno, seeds, veins, and stem removed

Finally, if you want to make homemade Italian dressing, this is a great recipe if you substitute olive oil in for their recommended oil…it has a lot of ingredients, but it doesn’t take a lot of time to put together.

(And if you’re wondering, yes, I’m one of those “dressing on the side” people when I go out to eat – and it’s not because I think salad dressings are bad for you!  I enjoy flavor as much as the next gal, but I don’t enjoy eating 1/4 cup of oil at a time.  If you order your dressing on the side, no flavor is off-limits since you can keep an eye on exactly how much blue cheese and mayo are smothering your greens.)


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