12 Creative Ways to Dress Up Your Salad

I am a foodie. I love to eat, and I love to cook. I will never starve myself to lose weight. If you see the amount of food I eat your jaws will drop. People have been asking me… “How do you keep yourself in shape after two kids and still eat so much?” The answer is simple.

  1. Eat real food. Cook real food.
  2. Keep yourself active. Moderate exercise to keep the metabolism going will do.

So I am planning to share more cooking tips from my own experiences on my blog. One of the area is “Food Swaps”. Look up your recipes, then do a few healthy swaps. Small things add up, and you will find a difference for healthier eating. It is getting hotter here in Hong Kong, so I am making more salad these days. It is filling, nutritious, quick, and you can bring in a variety of colorful vegetables (lesson 59 about antioxidants?!). Extremely healthy, yes…. But what about the dressings? Both store bought dressing are not filled with preservatives and too much sugar and yes, oil, There are so much sneaky calories in store bought salad dressing. When you make your own salad dressing from scratch you can control the use of oil, salt and sugar in the dressings There are a lot of salad dressing recipes on the internet. I usually look up the recipes, and then modify. Here are a few ways to make healthier salad dressings.

12 creative ways to dress up your salads:

  1. jkcdhssdzhuvisc236hfwith different kinds of vinegar. Red wine, white wine, balsamic, apple cider are the basics. There are some other ones like fig, orange, sherry etc. that can bring some surprises to your salads.
  2. Add Dijon mustard or whole grain mustard to add zing and texture to the dressing,
  3. If you need a sweeter taste (like a Japanese dressing),  add 1tsp of agave nectar or honey.
  4. Play with different kinds of herbs. Cilantro, basil, dill, thyme, shiso… Any kind! Fresh are the best but dried also ok.
  5. Raw garlic has a very strong taste. I found roasted garlic works great with vinaigrette. Roasted chopped shallots are also great.
  6. If you like creamy dressing use avocado or yogurt in your dressing. I use them heavily in my salads. Great thickeners. When you use yogurt make sure it does not turn out too sour you may need to add honey to balance the taste.
  7. Similar to the use of yoghurt, silken soft tofu is also a great thickener if you want a creamy dressing The tofu taste is less sour and gives a “Japanese” taste to the salad.
  8. For smoky dressing you can add in roasted tomatoes, peppers or dried Mexican chillies.
  9. Avocado, avocado, avocado!! Again, here comes your creamy dressing! I like to mix avocado with yoghurt and add some spices.
  10. Add an egg yolk! This is a good one. I eat 2 full eggs and 4 egg whites a day and always have egg yolks left. Mix in an egg yolk to create nice creamy Caesar Dressing!
  11. Play around with legumes (hummus), nuts and seeds. Blend them with all the creamy thickeners I mentioned above!
  12. The use of tomatoes. Coarse blend tomatoes to make a nice tomato sauce. Then mix with spices and herbs!

I do use olive oil, avocado oil or grapeseed oils etc, to make my salad dressings. These oils are good for you but you can always reduce the amount from recipes. But just to make my point here are some ideas of oil, no salt, no sugar dressings!

Creamy Avocado Citrus Salad Dressing

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • ¼ c apple cider vinegar
  • ¼. c. honey (or agave nectar)
  • 3 T. lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ c. cilantro
  • ½ small jalepeno (or your preference)
  • ¼ c. water or more, to thin to preference
  • pepper, to taste

Oil-Free Tomato-Basil Salad Dressing

  • 3-4 small roma tomatoes, cored and halve
  • 1 small regular tomato, cored and quartered
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, cut into large chunks 1/2 c. red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 c. sundried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 8-10 fresh basil leaves
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • water to thin if needed

Creamy Balsamic yogurt dressing

  • ¼ c plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ c balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 T honey
  • Oregano pepper, to taste

Try out different recipes with the guidelines above. It’s easy to whip up healthy dressings! Be playful!

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