Watch out for Salad Dressing


Spoonful of Mayonnaise

Salads are healthy, right?  They can be.  They can also be a way to sabotage a healthy diet, by carrying fat, sugar, and preservatives onto one's plate in the guise of “healthy” vegetable servings.

Healthy salads once again depend on making them at home or with care at a salad bar or salad restaurant.  The potential culprits are many and varied, and avoiding them are really just a matter of being aware.

Salad dressings are one of the big perpetrators of the salad world.  Mayonnaise-based salad dressings and mayonnaise based protein salads such as chicken salad, egg salad, or tuna salad hold obvious pitfalls, containing large amounts of fat, cholesterol, salt, sugar, and preservatives.  These empty calories can be reduced dramatically by replacing most or all of the standard mayonnaise with fat free sour cream, low fat yogurt, or soft tofu.  This can be done at a 1:1 proportion with these ingredients, and while it does alter the mayonnaise mouth feel, these ingredients can add flavor, probiotics, and proteins in a much healthier way. 

Avoid light mayonnaise as corn or potato starch are the additives that are used to make these products thick.  Vegetable purees of avocado or roasted red pepper can improve both flavor and mouth feel while adding wonderful flavor as well.  Experimenting to find the best replacement for the family can lead to healthier options for quick meals, and healthier weekly menus.

Other salad dressings that should be watched out for include French, Catalina, and raspberry vinaigrette.  These dressings contain a great deal of sugar.

The easiest replacement for use in green salads is a balsamic vinegar reduction.  A simple dressing of vinegar and oil is also a great option.  Selection of a healthier oil such as olive oil offers a more heart healthy option, and quantities and amounts of fat are up to the diner themselves.  

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