Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Italian Dressing - Fresh 'n' Healthy

Whether you're trying to drop a few pounds, keep your figure or make healthy meal choices you've probably tried eating more salad. But, did you know that salad can be bad for you? It all depends on what kind of dressing you use!

Commercial salad dressings (the kine you buy in the store - even the "healthy" kine) are full of unhealthy and fake oils, sweeteners, artificial colors, artificial flavors, flavor enhancers, preservatives and water! In addition to that, the dressings are made with dehydrated ingredients and then pasteurized leaving the end product nothing more than flavor residue with little or no trace of real food.

The solution and the way to eat healthy salads is to make your own dressing (it's easy and I'll show you how!) and only eat salads from restaurants (ask) that make their own dressings from quality ingredients (never canola or vegetable oil!)

Salad dressing is easy once you know the ratio! My general rule of thumb is: 

-1 parts acid for example
  • vinegar 
  • citrus juice
-3 parts fat  for example:
  • cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • other cold pressed unrefined  sesame or flax oil (good used together, but keep the flax chilled and never heat it!)
  • tahini
  • avocado 
  • buttermilk
  • cream
  • yogurt
  • even raw egg if you have a clean and reliable local source - never use dirty or cracked eggs!).    
-1-2 parts seasoning  The amount of seasoning depends on what you want and how thick you want your texture (more seasoning = thicker/chunkier). For example:
  • sea salt
  • garlic
  • herbs
  • shoyu
  • ginger
  • etc.

Ingredients for Italian Dressing (for fill one 16oz. bottle):

1 Handful of Italian herbs (any of the following, the ones I use in the video are italacized):
  • Sage
  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Fennel
  • Chives
1tsp Coarse Sea Salt
1 Medium Clove Garlic
1/4 C Onion (diced)
2 Parts Apple Cider Vinegar (Balsamic Vinegar or Fresh Lemon Juice are fine too)
5 Parts Cold-pressed Extra-virgin Olive Oil
1tsp Raw Honey (Buy Local)

Note: if you are going to make enough for several days do not mix in the olive oil or it will harden in the fridge. Just store the vinegar/herb mix in the fridge and add olive oil to the salad first followed by the vinegar mix. When mixing separately you want to add the oil first so it can coat the salad (give it a toss, if you've got the skills - I make a mess unless I just use my hands) then add the vinegar, if you try and add the vinegar before the oil it'll be a lil' gross and make a mess. Unless you add egg to a recipe you should be fine to leave out your dressing for a day or so - just store in a cool dark place.

You can mix your ingredients in a food processor, mortar and pestle or even a blender! The trick is to get the seasoning into a paste or mush before adding any liquids (unless you're using a blender then you'll need liquid to blend).

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