Healthy meal plans benefit from homemade salad dressings. You’ll not only avoid the unhealthy bottled versions, but also save a lot of calories while improving the taste. It’s well worth a little time and effort.
Healthy Meal Plans: Make Your Own Salad Dressing
Healthy meal plans should include salads with homemade dressing. It is almost impossible to find a healthy store-bought dressing.
Here are seven good reasons to add homemade dressings to your healthy meal plans:
Many salad dressings are land mines for your diet. Trans fat, sugar, preservatives, and artificial flavors pop up on their nutritional labels, wreaking havoc on healthy salads. Choosing fat-free varieties isn’t a great idea because they contain more sugars and flavor enhancers to make up for the missing oils.
Instead, get the most out of your salad by whipping up your own healthy dressings that use natural ingredients and heart-healthy olive oil. They’ll add flavor to your greens for less than 50 calories per serving.
Healthy Meal Plans Save Calories on Dressings
Healthy meal plans often include eating healthy salads, but they can become unhealthy fast with bottled dressings. Here are seven reasons to make your own:
1. SAVE ON CALORIES
Did you know that a mere two tablespoons of regular ranch dressing can have as much as 210 calories? Making your own versions of otherwise fattening salad dressings is a resourceful alternative to bottled dressings that pack a ton of calories in a tiny portion. One easy substitution is to use Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise. You’ll not only save on calories, but also create a much healthier ranch dressing recipe.
2. AVOID ADDED SUGAR
Bottled salad dressings are one of the top places where food companies hide added sugar and other sweeteners. In fact, most of these salad dressings have several teaspoons of sugar in a mere few tablespoons. Making your own salad dressing allows you to control the sugar levels of this condiment, keeping you at a healthy weight and improving your overall health.
3. AVOID REFINED OILS
If you look at the ingredient list of most conventional salad dressings, you’ll notice that soybean, canola, or some other kind of vegetable oil is listed as one of the first ingredients. Cheap and easy to manufacture, refined oils are caloric and can be bad for your health in large doses.
4. LOWER THE SODIUM LEVEL
Do you enjoy topping your salad with that quintessential Asian sesame dressing found at many Asian restaurants and sushi bars? Be aware that many salad dressings can easily pack over 400 milligrams of sodium in one serving. Ditch the added salt and create your own Asian salad dressing. Substitute citrus for the more caloric ingredients.
5. USE ALL NATURAL INGREDIENTS AND FLAVORS
Many bottled dressings contain additives and preservatives even if they are labelled “all natural” or “organic.” You can avoid these non-healthful ingredients by making your own dressing.
6. SAVE MONEY
If you’re looking for a way to cut down on your grocery bills and other expenses, consider the cost of the processed foods you buy. Salad dressing can be pricey. You can easily make double or triple the amount of dressing for the cost of purchasing one bottle. It might be a little more work at first, but it’s an easy way to save money and eat more healthfully.
7. BETTER TASTE
Although you might have grown accustomed to your favorite brand of Italian dressing, once you start making your own dressings you’ll never go back. That’s because homemade dressings have a much better flavor profile than anything you can buy in a bottle or jar. Once you start making your own salad dressings, bottled dressings won’t taste very good.
Between the improved taste and better nutritional profile, homemade salad dressings are the way to go. Remember that you don’t need to make homemade salad dressing every time you eat salad. Most recipes will easily keep in the fridge for up to a week.
Try this healthy salad dressing as part of your healthy meal plan.
Spinach Salad with Warm Blackberry Vinaigrette
Not only is the dressing healthy, but beans, tomatoes, onion, berries, and plenty of feta make this the perfect summer lunch.
Ingredients (makes 4 servings)
• 1/2 c. blackberries
• 1/4 c. balsamic or red wine vinegar
• 2 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
• Kosher salt and pepper
• 1 10-oz pkg. baby spinach
• 1 15.5-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed
• 1 c. multicolored cherry tomatoes, halved
• 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
• 2 tbsp. fresh herbs (such as mint, basil, parsley), coarsely chopped
• 1/4 c. crumbled feta cheese
1. In a blender, puree 1 cup berries with 1⁄4 cup water until smooth. Strain through a mesh sieve into a small saucepan.
2. Add vinegar and oil; whisk to combine. Whisk in mustard and pinch each salt and pepper, then cook on medium heat, whisking occasionally, until warm.
3. In a large bowl, toss spinach with warm dressing to coat. Add beans, tomatoes, onion, and herbs and toss to combine. Serve topped with feta and remaining berries.
Nutrition (per serving)
Protein 8 g
Carbs 29 g
Fiber 10 g
Fat 9.5 g
Click here to add this recipe to your healthy meal plans.