A Salad Dressing can Contribute to a Healthier Diet
In today’s world, time is of the essence. We rush, we cut corners, we sometimes even compromise. In no area is this as prevalent as in food preparation. In the not too distant past, many hours of each day were devoted to planning, shopping for and preparing tasty meals. We simply don’t take the time necessary these days to create good, wholesome dishes. And all this corner-cutting could prove detrimental to our health as we choose foods that are fast rather than good for us.
If you don’t want salad dressings full of preservative, additives, damaged polyunsaturated oils like soybean or canola, sugar and sodium and even sometimes hydrogenated fats, stay away from those that are commercially prepared. You can make your own healthier versions in very little time.
It’s simple to make a perfect vinaigrette with just three basic ingredients: a healthy fat, an acid and, if you want a consistent “creamy” dressing, an emulsifier. Here is an easy recipe which will take less than five minutes to prepare:
The juice of half a lemon, squeezed into a small bowl, provides the necessary acid. Be sure there are no seeds or pulp. Next, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard serves as an emulsifier when it is mixed with the lemon juice. Finally, one cup of extra virgin olive oil – the healthy fat – is added to the mixture, poured in a thin stream while vigorously whisking. And that’s it: a beautifully blended, rich and creamy dressing in just a few minutes.
If you’d like, you might add a bit of unrefined sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to enhance the flavor. Or you can substitute flax oil for about ¼ of the olive oil to add healthy omega-3 essential fats. If you are not fond of Dijon mustard, a raw egg yolk will serve well as the emulsifier.
Creative cooks will find this basic recipe perfect for adding their own unique touch. An authentic Caesar dressing can be conjured up with the addition of an egg yolk, finely chopped garlic anchovy paste and maybe chopped capers. Or make grapefruit vinaigrette by adding freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice. With your favorite, finely-chopped herbs, you will discover new flavors. Substitute balsamic vinegar for lemon to produce a balsamic vinaigrette. Or find another flavored vinegar to subtly alter the flavor– how about pear vinegar in a salad of fresh pear slices and Roquefort? And a raspberry vinaigrette is as easy as mashing up fresh raspberries (but be sure to use a strainer to keep out the seeds).
Order of operation is important, here. Just remember to add all ingredients to the emulsifier and acid mixture before slowly pouring in the oil. A hand-blender or food processor may be used to save time and save a tired arm when preparing more complicated dressings, like the Caesar.
You can create a better and healthier version of any grocery store dressing with this basic recipe and your own imagination, and you can do it quickly and at home. Who knows, you may come up with a fantastic new taste destined to become your signature dressing.
Healthy and inexpensive, this one little step takes you away from the processed food aisle and introduces healthier and tastier flavors to your table.
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