One of the simplest and most important things you can do to clean up your diet and improve your health is start making your own salad dressing. When I look at the ingredient lists of most salad dressing, I see a host of problem ingredients:
- Sugar – often loaded with high fructose corn syrup increasing risk of insulin resistance
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Known neurotoxin causing problems such hyperactivity, poor attention, difficulty concentrating, and headaches. And don’t forget weight gain.
- Refined vegetable oils such as soy and cottonseed oil.
- Even the ones that advertise being made with olive oil usually have a little olive oil and a lot of the refined oils.
- These refined vegetable oils become rancid and cause free radical damage throughout the body; this leads to faster aging and a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Besides being good for you instead of harmful to your health, your homemade salad dressing will cost about the same as commercial ones. Making salad dressings is quick, easy, and tastes delicious. You can be creative with them adding different herbs and spices.
Recipe: Makes 1 cup salad dressing.
- Get the best ingredients you can—organic is ideal.
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup vinegar (balsamic, wine, or apple cider) or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon prepared mustard (Dijon style is best)
- 1 tablespoon flax oil (adds omega-3 fats)
- Mix the vinegar, salt, and mustard into a bowl.
- Add the oils slowly while whipping with a whisk or fork. This will emulsify the dressing to keep it from separating (or you can just shake the dressing up each time you use it). Serve it into a jar or an old salad dressing bottle. Use as much or as little as you like. It is good for you.
Add a dash of herbs and spices to the dressing. This can be done anytime in the process. I almost never add the same exact spices twice; this is where you can be creative. Avoid using commercial spice mixes; these typically contain MSG. If you use fresh herbs, be sure to keep the dressing in the fridge.
- For a slightly spicy dressing, add black pepper and thyme (dried or fresh).
- For a cooler dressing, add mint and tarragon.
- For a good all-around dressing, I like to add rosemary, thyme, basal, and fennel.
- You can add a little honey or maple syrup if you want a sweeter taste. I recommend trying it without sweeteners first.
- A balanced omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio helps build cell membranes that are more sensitive to insulin. This decreases insulin resistance helping to prevent weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis among other things.
- Vinegar stimulates your digestive system allowing you to digest your food more efficiently. Some people with heart burn have improvements with the simple addition of a little vinegar at the beginning of their meals.
- The herbs mentioned above have various qualities depending on the herb. Many of the ones mentioned are wonderful digestive aids calming indigestion and/or curbing the formation of gas. I love the fact that our culinary spices are also digestive aids.
This recipe is adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.