5 Easy Homemade Dressing Recipes
By Nutritional Weight & Wellness Staff
June 15, 2022
With the warmer weather and more fresh veggies coming into season, it’s a good time to up your salad game. If you’re like us, salads are a great way to get your vegetable quota in for the day. Salads don’t have to be considered “rabbit food” either! Depending on what you put in there (a little bit of every texture we say!), your salad can be a hearty dish that keeps you full and satisfied for hours.
One important ingredient for a delish salad is the dressing you put on it. Strolling through the dressing aisle in the grocery store can certainly feel overwhelming. And we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but most of those big brand labels of dressings contain chemicals and refined oils that are not great for your health, including the little packets of dressing that come in the salad mixes (keep the salad mix and toss the dressing packet!). So, we are here to help you find a dressing you can lean on when the salad season hits.
Why is salad dressing important?
In order to create balance in a meal, we need a healthy fat (in addition to animal protein and whole food carbohydrates). Fat helps balance blood sugar, feeds our brains, and keeps us feeling satiated. One way to make a salad balanced is to add a dressing with healthy fat in it! The fat will also help our bodies absorb the vitamins and minerals in the vegetables that make up our salad.
Eat This and Not That: Oils Edition
The very first thing to do when looking at a bottle is turn it around to look at the ingredients listed. While it may say gluten-free on the front, you want to know what’s on the back! You’re looking for products that have real food ingredients – all things that you can pronounce. Many commercial brands put in additives, like monosodium glutamate (MSG), modified food starch, phosphoric acid, various gums, disodium phosphate, etc!
While there are more natural brands out there these days, the thing to also look for on the label is the type of oil that they are using. Look out for those condiments made with soybean oil, which is a highly refined, high heat processed fat. Because it is difficult to extract oil from a soybean, chemicals are required for the process. A better option is to look for products that are made with an expeller-pressed and unrefined oil, such as safflower or avocado oil. Primal Kitchen is a brand that uses avocado oil and doesn’t have any soy, canola, or gluten!
Make Your Own Dressings
The best option is to make your own dressing. Our in-house chef, Marianne, says it is really simple, so don’t feel intimidated! Creating your own concoction in your kitchen allows you to know EXACTLY the ingredients in it and you can play with flavors to find what tastes best for your ‘buds.
Throw your ingredients into a jar to shake up or a small blender to help everything come together. The ratio to keep in mind is 1 part acid to 2 parts oil. For the acid, you can use anything citrus (like lemon or lime juice) or a vinegar (like red wine, balsamic, or apple cider vinegar). For an oil, you can use avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, or a quality mayo. Cold pressed, expeller pressed, or unrefined oils are the healthiest oils to use.
Here are some of our favorite homemade dressing recipes to help you get started and to experiment with your own variations:
Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing
- Follow recipe on Penzeys Buttermilk Ranch seasoning (omitting the buttermilk)
- Use a 1:1 mix of Hain Mayo and water to replace the milk
- Mix ingredients together by whisking or shaking in bottle.
- 3/4 c. olive oil
- 2 Tbsp real maple syrup
- 1/2 c. white balsamic vinegar
Mix all ingredients together by whisking or shaking in bottle.
- 1 c. mayo (we like the safflower mayo brand, Hain Mayo)
- 1/2 c. white balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- 2 Tbsp poppy seeds
- Add maple syrup for sweetness if desired. For lower carbohydrates, add up to two Stevia packets for sweetness.
Mix all ingredients together by whisking or shaking in bottle.
Cashew Sour Cream
- 1 c. raw organic cashews
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 1 tsp nutritional yeast
- 1 Tbsp hot wing sauce (optional)
- Soak 1 cup raw organic cashews overnight in water that covers the nuts.
- In the morning drain water and add fresh water back in, enough to cover the cashews.
- Blend twice in a high powered blender.
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast (creates a creaminess similar to sour cream)
- Optional: 1 tablespoon of hot wing sauce
- Whisk all ingredients together and store in the refrigerator for five days or so.
Our dietitian Melanie created this recipe to recreate the taste of hot wings. She frequently adds this to diced chicken salad for a little kick of heat. Or she skips the heat from the hot wing sauce and uses it in place of sour cream on chili, tacos, you name it!
Lil’ Dipper Veggie Dip
- 1 c. sour cream
- 1 c. mayonnaise
- 2 tsp parsley
- 2 tsp dried onion
- 2 tsp dill
- 1 tsp seasoned salt
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- Mix all ingredients together.
- Store in refrigerator overnight to let flavors mix before serving. Serve with a variety of vegetables. If you’d like to use this as dressing rather than a dip, add a little water to thin it out til it reaches your preferred consistency.
Kick Off Your Summer With Salads
To recap, we encourage the use of healthy fats, such as the mayo, avocado oil, and olive oil listed in the recipes above, to help keep meals and snacks balanced. Fat serves to keep you satisfied and satiated! Breakfast, dinner and snacks should contain one serving of fat (we usually recommend around 1 tablespoon), and lunch should contain two servings of fat.
To make your salads “balanced”, have a real food trifecta of animal protein (steak, bacon, eggs, chicken, tuna, etc.), good carbohydrates (vegetables, berries, sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, etc.) and a healthy fat (avocado, olive oil, nuts, cheese, etc.). This Veggie Loaded Buddha Bowl is a great example of a hearty salad where you get your protein, fat, and carb all in one bowl. Making your own dressing is like the cherry on top. It adds flavor and quality ingredients to your work of art. Let us know what becomes your favorite!
For more ideas on salads and salad dressings, check out these resources: