veggie toddler - a young child learning how to walk and eat vegetables, not necessarily a wobbly vegetarian.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Salad: Dressed for Success

Salad dressing is one of my favorite foods. As much as I love greens, I am in it for the dressing. But here’s the thing, most commercially made salad dressings are expensive, use poor quality oils and contain large amounts of sodium and additives.

When I find myself wondering if I should make something from scratch rather than buy it in a store, I ask myself a simple question. How much effort goes into making it myself and how much healthier is that home-made version? For salad dressing, my answer is not much and quite a bit. It hardly takes any time at all to make your own salad dressing while the health benefits and taste over a commercially-prepared one are tremendous.

Salad dressing is like a child’s drawing. There are no wrong answers. As long as you have something to draw with and something to draw on, the rest is up to you. Salad dressing is the same – as long as you have 1 part vinegar and 2-3 parts oil, you are ready to dress those greens! The beauty of salad dressing is that the variations are endless. Once you understand the basic components, start experimenting with your own concoctions.

As for the kids…I will never forget the discussions I had with my 3-year-old son about the difference between salad dressing, getting dressed and wearing dresses.   His older sister got dressed in dresses almost every day so he was sure that the lettuce had something to do with it too.  After you’ve had a good laugh over how Amelia Bedelia might dress her salad, what better way to get the kids eating greens than dipping them in a homemade dressing?

Here are some simple guidelines to making your own fabulous dressing with ingredients you might already have on hand.

Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Dried Oregano (optional)
1 tsp Dijon mustard (or whatever mustard you have)
1/4 tsp sugar (optional)
1 pinch Kosher salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Basic Lemon Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pinch Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. dried herb like coriander, basil, or oregano (optional)

Basic Yogurt Ranch:
1/3 cup Greek style plain yogurt
1/3 cup buttermilk
3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1-1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. onion powder (optional)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh chives (optional)
Salt to taste