The biggest misconception about salads is that they are always, always healthy. Well, this isn’t always the case. They are certainly a step in the right direction, if they actually include greens in them – I have seen white pasta/cous-cous/rice lathered in dairy with a few minuscule herbs or potatoes thrown in, being dubbed a salad. Not exactly!
An area so many of us get lost in is salad dressings. Firstly, because the store-bought or cafe-ordered ones are usually overrun by oils of varying quality, excessive sugar, preservatives, artificial ingredients etc. which can turn your otherwise healthy meal on its head. And secondly, I believe, we are all looking to oil as they key ingredient.
So, why am I not such a big fan of oil? Yes, even the extra-virgin, organic, cold-pressed type…
Well put simply, oil is not a whole-food. It is the fatty part, extracted from what was once a whole food – the olive, the macadamia nut, the coconut etc. Thus, it is processed. It is also extremely energy dense. All the other nutrients from the plant have been thrown away – protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and water – leaving nothing but energy-dense, fat. Wholefoods are usually buffered by fibre and water, to naturally portion control for us, but extracted foods like oil, are not. And with all that density, there really is little nutrition – as mentioned, a lot of it is discarded, and what remains is omega-3 fatty acids, valuable, but not necessary if you consume a healthy, wholefood diet which naturally contains it anyway. So whilst I believe in consuming healthy fats for our cardiovascular health, brain, skin, mood, immune system etc. I just see oil as excessive and unnecessary, and often the missing piece to the puzzle when someone is struggling to loose weight but is following an otherwise healthy, wholefood diet.
As Dr McDougall describes:
“…there are adverse effects from consuming free oils, when added from a bottle to meals or taken as pills. The most obvious adverse effect is people gain weight when they eat even so-called “healthy oils,” like olive oil. When 54 obese women in a Mediterranean country were studied, these women were found to be following a diet low in carbohydrates (35% of the calories) and high in fats (43% of the calories). Of the total calories from fat, 55% came from olive oil. My point: a Mediterranean diet which is loaded with olive oil, rather than fruits and vegetables, will make you fat… the heart benefits of a Mediterranean diet are due to it being a nearly vegetarian diet… Avoiding free vegetable oils is the last important hurdle for people seeking better health…
As such, I much prefer perfectly packaged, wholefood healthy fat options like nuts, seeds and avocados. They are far tastier too! When it comes to cooking, I use a light spray, 1/4 tsp, or simply a splash of water or tamari.
So, when making salad dressings, I prefer to skip or skimp on the oil, and favour delicious, wholefood ingredients. Here are some easy concoctions you can shake together in a jar, no fancy equipment required. Plain and simple, but tasty as ever!
Miso Tamari: 1/2 lemon or lime (juiced), 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 tbsp tamari, 1 tsp unpasturised miso paste, 1 tsp sesame oil (optional), pinch of chili flakes (optional);
Lemon Dijon: 1 lemon (juiced), 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil or maple syrup (optional), cracked black pepper;
Lemon Tahini: 1 lemon (juiced), 1 tbsp tahini, 1 tbsp ACV, splash or two of filtered water, ground pepper, 1/2 tsp cumin or turmeric (optional);
Nutritious Creamy Citrus: 1 lemon (juiced), 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp ACV, 1 tsp dulse, a pinch of chili or cayenne (optional);
Passion-fruit Lime: 2 passion-fruits, 1 lime (juiced), 1/2 tsp maple syrup, 1/2 tsp dijon mustard;
Apple Almond: 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce, 3 tbsp ACV, 1 level tbsp almond butter, 1 tsp maple syrup (optional), pinch cinnamon.
Miso Tahini: 1 lemon (juiced), 1/3 cup warm water, 3 tbsp tahini, 1 tbsp unpasturised miso paste, 1 tsp tamari.
Key ingredients to have on hand: dijon mustard (look for ones with no added sugar or preservatives), Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), lemons, limes, passionfruits, unpasturised miso paste, nutritional yeast, dulse flakes, tahini, almond butter, unsweetened apple sauce, tamari, maple syrup, herbs and spices.