Cook’s Corner: Healthy Homemade Dressings

So you’ve decided to be the healthiest version of you possible this year. You’ve fol­lowed your exercise routines, learned to deal with the stressors in your life, and dedicated yourself to eating local and fresh. However, there is yet another factor causing inflam­mation and adding too many unwanted ingredients in your diet. (Hint: It’s hiding right under your nose.)

Store-bought salad dressings are coming under fire, and rightly so. The seemingly innocent vinaigrettes, ranches, and other flavorful dressings are packed with MSG, excess salt, corn syrups, and preservatives, not to mention thickening agents and flavors that have no business being called natural.

Even the oils in those bottles are the cheap, inflammatory varieties like soybean and canola. Titanium dioxide is also in certain types of dress­ings to help make the ingredients taste fresh—this is concerning because titanium dioxide is also used in paint to help make the color brighter. Maybe it’s me, but we don’t feel comfortable with this arrangement.

There’s no need to be downtrodden, however … there is hope. Making your own versions of salad dressings is pretty easy and will nearly always be healthier than the store-bought varieties. Most recipes—including those below—use very few ingredients, and none of them are going to cause health problems.

When choosing oils for your dressings, avoid the cheap, lower quality varieties. They typically contain canola, corn, and soybean oils, which are usually genetically modified and usually un­healthy. They’re also high in omega-6 fatty acids which is not exactly something we need more of.

Extra virgin olive oil (also known as EVOO) is high in antioxidants and healthy omega-3 fats and tends to be the go-to for healthy salad dressings. Pick the type of oil you want based on the type of dressing you are making. Looking for something with a more asian flavor? Use sesame or roasted sesame seed oil. Red palm oil contains short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids, which are healthy and necessary for our bodies. Other oils like coco­nut oil, flaxseed oil (this can go bad easily so make sure to keep refrigerated), or sesame oil are going to give you great health benefits as well.

As far as vinegars are concerned, stay away from white. It is inflammatory and has zero health benefits. Substitute apple cider vinegar instead—not only is it tasty, it can help with heartburn, joint pain, stiffness, and your complexion.

Search “salad dressings” under our Food + Recipes tab to find great recipes for healthy homemade salad dressings.