Balsamic vinaigrette and lemon herb vinaigrette salad dressing

Simple Salad Dressing-Two Ways

With these 100+ degree temps we are experiencing here, the last thing I want to do is turn on my oven or stove and cook dinner.  It’s too damn hot to roast a chicken or boil potatoes. That’s why I am turning to salads and smoothies to keep me fueled throughout the day. They are cool and refreshing, and if you do it right, they can easily be turned into a balanced meal.

Today I am sharing my top tips for how to build a drool-worthy salad into a meal so you don’t have to turn your oven on and heat up the whole house. I also have two super simple salad dressing recipes for you, made with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. 

Smart Salads

  1. Start with organic, locally grown greens: I love arugula, romaine, red leaf lettuce, spinach, and butterhead. Use whatever you can find at the farmers market, or better yet, grow the greens yourself! I also like adding fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro (both are detoxifying).
  2. Add colorful veggies: Make your salad interesting by adding different colors and textures. My salads ALWAYS have carrots, purple cabbage, and red peppers. That way I know I am getting a variety of phytonutrients to help fight disease. I also like adding cucumbers, celery, jicama, and tomatoes (if in season). Now, you could call it good there, but if you want a full meal you MUST follow the next 2 steps.
  3. Add protein: Some of my favorites are salmon and tuna (fresh or canned), shredded chicken, and hard boiled eggs. Sardines are great if you like to eat them (I’m still working on that). You could also add beans or lentils. I don’t consider them a great source of protein, but they are a good option if you don’t eat meat or eggs. 
  4. Add healthy fats: This step is very important! Healthy fats will make your salad go a lot further in terms of fueling and satisfying your body. Examples include avocados, olives, nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans), pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and olive oil. 
  5. Top it off with a simple homemade salad dressing

Lemon herb vinaigrette

Simple Salad Dressing

Next time you’re at the grocery store (or if you have some in your fridge), grab a bottle of your favorite salad dressing and turn it over to read the ingredients. You will likely see a variation of canola oil, sunflower seed oil, or soybean oil as the first ingredient. Keep reading. The next ingredient is probably sugar (or corn syrup). You may also find modified food starch, monosodium glutamate, artificial colors and flavors, and some type of thickener or “flavor protector”. Gross!

There are many things wrong with that list, but I want to focus on the first ingredient. Vegetable oil. Vegetable oils (canola, corn, soybean, sunflower, etc) are problematic in so many ways. They are highly refined, denatured, treated with bleaching agents, made with GMOs, and are most likely rancid before the bottle is even opened. These oils are very unstable and oxidize easily. The refining process, which involves high heat, chemical solvents, bleaches, and deodorants, breaks down their fragile nature and turn these oils into highly toxic substances that your body no longer recognizes as food. 

Another reason to avoid vegetable oil is that it’s really high in omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 oils are pro-inflammatory in the high amounts that we eat them in the Standard American Diet (SAD). They are found in almost all processed and refined foods, including chips, crackers, cookies, popcorn, bread, salad dressing, tomato sauce, and pre-made meals. The overconsumption of omega-6s used in these processed foods contributes to chronic inflammatory conditions such as allergies, anxiety, asthma, cancer, depression, fatigue, heart disease, and autoimmunity. 

So the lesson here: make your own salad dressing! It is so easy, and you probably already have everything you need in your kitchen. And you don’t need fancy equipment. If you have a mason jar you can make salad dressing. Here are two variations of the same basic recipe.

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Salad Dressing, two ways

Balsamic Vinaigrette
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Ingredients
  1. 2 tsp. dijon mustard
  2. 1 garlic clove, minced
  3. 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  4. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  5. 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  6. 1 tsp. honey (optional)
  7. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a mason jar and shake it up!
Sweet Serenity http://sweetserenity.org/
Lemon Herb Vinaigrette
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Ingredients
  1. 2 tsp. dijon mustard
  2. 1 tbsp. shallot, minced
  3. 1/4 cup white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  4. 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  5. 1 tbsp. chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chives, cilantro, basil, thyme, dill)
  6. juice of half a lemon
  7. 1 tsp. honey (optional)
  8. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a mason jar and shake it up!
Notes
  1. Use whatever fresh herbs you have on hand. I like a combination of parsley and chives.
Sweet Serenity http://sweetserenity.org/
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