We used to buy almost all of our salad dressing in a bottle from the store. Years ago, I’d buy Kraft, Wish Bone, or Hidden Valley Ranch.For awhile I thought these dressings tasted just fine and were healthy.
Eventually I started buying Litehouse Brand and Annie’s Organic Dressings and other organic brands, thinking I was doing something better. The taste was better, but it was pretty expensive.
Later on, I learned something interesting. The Hidden Valley Ranch, Kraft, Wishbone, Litehouse, AND organic dressings had something in common: the oils these brands use are full of too many Omega 6s and contain highly-processed, rancid, industrially produced vegetable oils.
Each of these dressing brands contain highly rancid or hydrogenated (or both) vegetable oils (like soybean, canola, and in some cases sunflower and safflower oils, or cottonseed oils) that are not recognized by the body as real food and some of those oils (the soybean in particular) contain phytic acid – a substance that inhibits absorption of nutrients.
It’s true, the organic dressing is made of organic ingredients, and the first three were not. But, the first three also likely contain ingredients that are made from genetically-modified organisms and foods, while the organic variety does not contain these substances.
Best bet for store-bought dressings
So, if you are going to buy a store dressing, it’s always best to check the label and make sure it only contains one of the following oils – extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil. Olive oil and coconut oils contain healthy fats that we need in our diets – Omega 9s and the right balance of Omega 3s to 6s in coconut oil. And of course, check ingredients to make sure there are no other suspect items that may be harmful for consumption such as preservatives, emulsifiers, etc.
I do not have any good store-bought brands to recommend that meet this criteria because I have never seen any, but it’s possible that there could be a few in existence that I’m unaware of.
Health benefits of olive oil and coconut oil
Olive oil has an unusually large amount of monounsaturated fat which maintain healthy cholesterol levels, antioxidants (Vitamin E), helps to maintain the proper balance between Omega 3s and 6s since it is an Omega 9, helps to lower the incidence of cancer by protect the cells of the colon from carcinogens by reducing the effect of an oncogene (a gene that turns a host cell into a cancer cell), controls blood sugar by lowering triglyceride levels (something which affects most diabetics), and activates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones – making it beneficial for gallbladder health.
Coconut oil is contains anti-microbial enzymes, helps the thyroid and proper cholesterol levels, and is an anti-carcinogenic agent (eliminates cancer risk). From the Coconut Oil Information web site: “Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids such as lauric (C-12), caprylic (C-10) and myristic (C-14) acids. Of these three, coconut oil contains 40% lauric acid, which has the greater anti-viral activity of these three fatty acids. Lauric acid is so disease fighting that it is present in breast milk. The body converts lauric acid to a fatty acid derivative (monolaurin), which is the substance that protects infants from viral, bacterial or protozoal infections.” Read more about coconut oil here in The Unparalleled Health Benefits of Coconut Oil.
Also: when eating vegetables raw, the fat content in healthy oils can help the body to absorb the nutrients contained within your lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, and other salad selections.
The home-made dressing alternative
Why is home-made a good alternative to store-bought dressings? For one thing, it is more economical is to make your own. Another reason is that you control what goes in and you can make pretty much whatever you’re in the mood for or have on hand.
Here are some recipes we’ve used in our house to make our own dressings:
Basic salad dressing:
- 8 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cold-pressed grapeseed oil (optional)
- 2 tablespoons Basalmic vinegar (raw is optimal)
- 1 tablespoon red Wine Vinegar (raw is optimal)
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
Whisk ingredients together in a bowl well. We store ours in a glass bottle (usually a recycled one from olive oil or vinegar) in the cupboard. Some people store theirs in the refrigerator, but if you do, you will have to take it out about twenty minutes to a half hour before using it to allow the olive oil to soften – as olive oil will harden when cooled. A trick we have used is adding a small amount of sustainable-produced, cold-pressed grapeseed oil to keep the dressing from hardening.
- 1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
- 1/3 cup buttermilk (we use homemade)
- 3 tablespoon homemade mayonnaise or real mayonnaise (we sometimes use Wilderness Family Naturals)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons real lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon finely minced onion
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
- Salt to taste
Mix ingredients together in a bowl with a fork and then whisk.
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 3 drops hot pepper sauce
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- corn (optional)
- 1 cup cubed and peeled papaya or mango
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 1 cup of black beans, soaked in whey overnight and cooked – or Eden organic canned (no BPA)
- 3 – 4 cups of a leafy green lettuce of your choice, chopped
- 3/4 cup red bell pepper strips
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- Whisk together the first 9 ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons dressing and set aside.
- Add corn, onion, mango and beans to bowl; toss gently to coat.
- Place 2 cups lettuce on each of 2 plates; top each with 1/2 cup bell pepper strips and 2 cups mango mixture.
- Drizzle 1 tablespoon reserved dressing over each salad; sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon cilantro.
What are your salad dressing ideas? I love the salad dressings and marinades in Nourishing Traditions and have been making a point to try more of them as time goes on. What are your favorites that you always return to again and again?Please share your links in the comments.
39 replies on “Our Homemade Salad Dressing”
Seems like I’m always trying new ones – but I tend to go with a sprinkle of good old grapeseed oil and white wine vinegar 🙂
Hi Wendy – sometimes simple is best. 🙂
Ume Plum Vinegar is a great substitute for Balsamic or Red Wine Vin … for a different twist
Hi Leslie – I love the flavored vinegars…only problem is, my husband is not so crazy about them. But I do sneak them in as often as I can. He actually doesn’t mind the raspberry vinegar, and I always have a bottle of that around. Love it!
I make a lot of herbal vinegars using raw AVC and use those in my homemade dressings. One of my favorites is blackcap vinegar- you know the wild black raspberries? I fill a jar with those, then fill it again with the vinegar and leave it for 6 weeks. AMAZING. To make the dressing I combine it with raw honey and olive oil. It’s great on top of a salad with chooped, crispy walnuts, dates and crumbled blue cheese.
Also, a friend makes a very addicting rosemary garlic formage blanc- I LOVE to use that as a dressing.
Oh, when I say herbal vinegars I mean more nutritional/medicinal rather than flavored with culinary herbs. Such as dandelion (whole plant including root), nettle, etc.
Barb – wow, that dressing with black raspberries sounds amazing! I have been wanting to make something like that for sometime, and I think I need to do that this summer. Thanks for including the directions. I use the Bragg’s raw ACV and love it! I bet those medicinal vinegars are amazing too!
I’ve been making my own dressings for a couple years now. I was buying Annie’s and Organicville, but they are all soy or canola based. Mine are mostly basic viniagrettes, with olive oil, a vinegar (cider or coconut or rice, usually), lemon juice & garlic. I have a little salad dressing blender that I sometimes use…it blends up fresh herbs into a viniagrette. Sometimes I make an Asian dressing with some sesame oil & lime juice added to a viniagrette. I started making my own ranch (dip, usually) because I don’t like bottled and the Hidden Valley packets would cause me to swell up and mess with my blood sugar the next morning. My ranch isn’t really healthy- it’s sour cream & mayo with garlic, onion & parsely, and the sour cream & mayo are store-bought- Daisy brand sour cream & my Duke’s mayo. I’ve tried to make mayo at home but I haven’t found a recipe to compare, flavor-wise, with Duke’s.
The caribbean salad sounds really good.
Olive oil is very tasty and it has very low saturated fats.:’~
whenever my sister makes potato salad, i always eat them in less than a minute or so he he. i just love all sorts of salad. ;`,
How long do these dressings last in the fridge?
Do you know if there is a natural preservative that we can add to homemade dressings? Maybe vitamin e?
Lucas – the natural preservative for any lacto-fermented dressing such as the ranch type is the fermented dairy – such as the yogurt or possibly kefir, if you use that instead. Lacto-fermented dairy that you make from raw dairy is its own preservative. Other dressings with vinegar and oil in them should be used up within around a week or two, unless you store them in the refrigerator. Any olive oil dressing you put in the refrigerator can have some cold-pressed grapeseed oil added to it as it doesn’t solidify in cold temperatures like olive oil. Otherwise, just take out your olive oil dressing from the refrigerator a half an hour or so ahead of time to let it soften.
I can’t remember the last time I bought a bottled dressing or a packet of salad dressing/dip mix. I just keep a couple vinegars and healthy oils on hand to make my own. Sometimes it’s as simple as drizzling a good EVOO and aged balsamic vinegar over the salad, then grinding some sea salt and black pepper right before tossing (ok, that’s what I do 75+% of the time).
Other times I make homemade ranch-style creamy herb dressing (no mix packets!), Caesar dressing with raw egg and mashed anchovies, and rich, creamy avocado dressing, as well as other classics with homemade mayonnaise as a base. Oh, and hot bacon dressing is the bomb! It really doesn’t take very long to make dressing and most of the ingredients are easy to keep on hand and useful for other recipes, too. With homemade, I don’t have to worry about oils and added HFCS/sugars that are common ingredients in commercial dressings.
When I dine out, I’ll often ask for Olive Oil & Vinegar. If I do eat the house dressings with a greens salad, I don’t really like a “dry salad” so I still ask for dressing on the side, then I dip my fork tines into the dressing before taking a bite of salad. That way my salad benefits from the dressing flavor and touch of “moisture” without a huge consuming a whole portion of nasty ingredients.
The only store bought dressings I have found that are truly good are the BRAGGS brand… check it out!
We make our staple dressing out of the following:
fresh milk (really more like half and half)
shouyu (or sea salt)
I like to sneak in a little flax oil when I have it as well.
Thanks for the post! You all are doing a great job with this blog!
We reference your blog in our handbook that is part of our HealThy Mouth System.
I have a couple issues with Bragg’s product line. First, they have their amino acid in them(what we all used for years thinking it was the greatest). What research has found is hydrolyzing soy damages it to where it’s not very good (possibly unhealthy) for consumption. I currently believe that traditionally fermented soy sauce products are a time tested healthier alternative when we ‘just have to have some Braggs!’ 😉
Check out the book Deep Nutrition for more information on this and tons of other awesome health information. It’s written by an MD who really, really knows her material. Here’s a link to Amazon for the book.
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