Salade dressings

Adopting healthier eating habits does not necessary involve high expenses. Yes, fresh products from organic farming are more expensive than their non-organic counterparts. But have you thought of substituting some common processed foods with raw ingredients? Indeed, good quality raw food is necessarily cheaper than products that required several refining operations, as these involve more transport, packaging and intermediates, and therefore additional costs compared to food that has been simply harvested and transported.

Food industry knows how to bombard us with products that make our lives easier: frozen food, microwaveable dishes, canned vegetables… In France, the daily average time per household spent over the stoves has decreased from 1 hour 11 minutes in 1986 to 53 minutes in 2010. While it cannot be denied that heating up frozen lasagne is faster than pre-cooking pasta rectangles and making a bolognese from scratch, the use of some products in the name of lack of time is not always justified. Among these products, I especially think of ready-made salad dressings.

Salad dressings are very simple to make: they are a combination of oil and a sour liquid. They do not require cooking nor culinary skills. When their are made with high quality oil, they provide a good lipids intake that is essential to a balanced diet. Indeed, fatty acids are necessary to the functioning of the nervous system and are the main constituent of cellular membrane.

When a fresh salad with good quality oil is a healthy and balanced meal, the same cannot be said of a salad drizzled with an industrial dressing containing corn starch, glutamate, thickeners and other additives. With these ready-made dressing, you will turn your healthy meal into a chemical cocktail. Because to get a pleasant taste and texture with low-end ingredients, salad dressing manufacturers add a wealth of additives to their products, including sugar, caramel or xanthan gum.

Do not be fooled by the packages showing fresh herbs and olives pictures. The appetizing ingredients that are put forward to sell a product only constitute a small proportion of the recipe. Want to buy an Italian vinaigrette with olive oil and balsamic vinegar? It’s a safe bet that it contains more water and sunflower oil than balsamic vinegar and olive oil!

Take the T *** Y balsamic vinaigrette sold in Switzerland. 100 ml of dressing contain 235 kcal, 20,9 gr lipids and 8,6 gr sugar. 100 ml of homemade balsamic vinaigrette contain 465 kcal, 45 gr lipids and 7 gr sugar. You are probably wondering why the industrial version is less caloric than the homemade on? It’s very simple: as the ready-made one contains at least 25% water, calories are diluted, as is the flavor. This vinaigrette contains only 5% olive oil, constituted of omega-9 fatty acid, the remainder being sunflower oil, mostly composed of omega-6 fatty acid, which favors inflammation and is over-consumed in the modern Western diet. For more information on the properties of oils, follow this link.

As for prices, going for industrial salad dressings will not save you money. In France, the balsamic and shallots vinaigrette of P***t costs 9.09 € per liter. In Switzerland, T***Y balsamic vinaigrette costs 15.30CHF per liter, compared with 14.30$ in Canada for R****’s balsamic vinaigrette. Making your own slade dressing with organic extra virgin olive oil and organic balsamic vinegar, will cost 8,50€ in France, 12,70CHF in Switzerland and 15,30$ in Canada. So it’s only for our Canadian friends that buying industrial vinaigrette is cheaper than preparing it yourself with quality ingredients. However, since the flavor of industrial vinaigrette is less pronounced because of the addition of water, it’s a safe bet that you will use a larger amount than if you were using a homemade dressing! So you will consume as many calories and spend as much, if not more, than if you were preparing your own vinaigrette!
If you are willing to move towards a healthier diet without drastically changing your eating habits, eliminating industrial salad dressings is a good step forward. With a few bottles of varied oils and vinegars, it is easy to create new flavors and provide your body with valuable nutrients. In addition, oil and vinegar have longer shelf life than ready-made salad dressing and do not require refrigeration. Storage is therefore easier.

Here are a few of my homemade salad dressing recipes to give you inspiration. Yield is two servings. I like tangy sauces and use oil and vinegar in equal parts. For a sweeter result, use 2 tablespoons of oil for 1 tablespoons vinegar. Aromatic herbs, onion or shallot are optional, these dressings are also delicious without.

Italian

  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Walnut delight

  • 1.5 tbsp walnut oil
  • 1.5 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Mexican

  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 0.5 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Japanese

  • 1.5 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1.5 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp soy or tamari sauce

Indian

  • 1.5 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt

What are your favorite salad dressings? Feel free to share your own recipes in the comments!

Happy Easter Sunday,

Eleonora

References

www.ladepeche.fr ; www.lefigaro.fr ; www.les-calories.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s