Weighing In: Slippery slope of dressing your salads

Published on Saturday, 22 March 2014 15:59 - Written by Coshandra Dillard cdillard@ylerpaper.com

The culinary tradition of adding a sauce or oil to dry vegetables dates back centuries. Today, it just seems odd not to have something wet on our salads. But if you have to choose from the grocery store aisle or what comes with a salad at a restaurant, be prepared to add extra calories, fat, salt or sugar to your meal. Sometimes I avoid eating salads from restaurants because of this reason.

For example, one day I had a wonderful Greek salad with fresh greens, purple onions, tomatoes, olives, feta cheese crumbles, plump shrimp and some pepperoncini peppers on the side.

This salad had only 460 calories, including the salad dressing. But, the salad dressing was high in fat — 33 grams. Granted, there was only eight grams of saturated fat. But depending on how many saturated fat grams you have budgeted for the day, it may be half your recommended intake.

And 33 grams of fat is creeping toward the total daily allowance as well.

I also noticed that the salad dressing had 17 ingredients, most of which could not be pronounced.

With the salty pepperoncini peppers, olives and feta cheese, the sodium content rose to 1,380 milligrams. The daily recommended amount is no more than 2,300 milligrams per day. Individuals who are at risk of heart disease are encouraged to aim for less than 1,500 milligrams per day.

This is exactly why reading labels or seeking nutritional information online is important.

Dipping forkfuls of salad into the sauce instead of pouring it over the greens is an option, but when I do this, I still end up consuming most of the dressing available.

Low-fat or “light” dressings often have too many ingredients with long names and usually don’t taste as good as the full fat ones. Sugar also is added to make up for taste.

So what’s the alternative? On that particular day, I drizzled a small portion of dressing on the Greek salad. But a tastier alternative would be to make your own dressing and have it available when you know you’re going to eat a salad. It’s simple to do, as salad dressings have only a few ingredients and can be shaken in a container or blended in a processor.

It just takes a little olive oil and another liquid, such as lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. But keep in mind that while olive oil contains healthy fats, you still don’t want to overdo it. If you like a creamy dressing, skip the mayonnaise and dress up plain yogurt with dill and cucumber. For any dressing, experiment with herbs and spices. Many easy recipes are available online, such ashttp://bit.ly/1iAcS9y .