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Sound Food Swap: Salad Dressing

While the laws of moderation maintain that it’s still better to eat vegetables slathered in a less-than-perfect salad dressing than no vegetables at all, why not strive for a version closer to ideal? Luckily, there are tons of great options beyond a bottle of store-bought options.

You’ve finally done it – you’ve stocked your fridge to succeed in eating a salad a day this week. You’ve got fresh greens for bulking, carrots for shredding, kale for massaging, cucumbers for cubing, Parmesan for grating, not to mention a cupboard full of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit for some extra oomph. You check your pantry for a dressing worthy of accompanying this accomplishment and, scanning ingredient lists, you discover a tongue-twisting catalog of emulsifiers, preservatives, thickeners, stabilizers, and artificial colors and flavors. So close.

Here are our Sound Food Swap recommendations for tasty and nutritious salad dressings:

The Cost Breakdown
Store-Bought Dressing (Kraft Zesty Italian): $0.14 per 1 ounce serving
DIY: $0.18 – $0.83 per 1 ounce serving

Swap #1: Oil and Vinegar, Salt and Pepper  
The easiest and most economical option is to follow the lead of the Italians.  Scattered across the tables of trattorias sit unmarked bottles of extra virgin olive oil and vinegar – typically red wine or balsamic. When salad arrives at your table, you simply take the initiative to dress your greens with a splash of oil and vinegar and dash of salt and pepper, no mixing or emulsifying necessary. It may not be the most elegant, but it’s a good way to get the job done.

Swap #2:  Italian Vinaigrette
Making your own salad dressing at home takes little time and pays off with great flavor. This recipe uses Dijon and Italian herbs to add a little extra zip to your salad for just 83 cents per serving. Save time by using an immersion blender to transform these ingredients into a creamy dressing, or keep the mixture in a jar in the fridge and shake before serving.

Swap #3: Yogurt Caesar
Whole fat Greek yogurt is a great base for a creamy salad dressing without the thickeners or stabilizers. This recipe combines yogurt with lemon, Parmesan, garlic and anchovies and costs 45 cents per serving. Having a tube of anchovy paste stocked in the fridge allows this recipe to whip up in a jiff, no fancy machinery required.

Swap #4: Quality Store-Bought Dressings
Good quality store bought dressings do exist, you just need to engage your detective skills to find them. Simply look for olive or avocado oil based dressings, scan the ingredient list for ingredients you recognize, and watch the sugar content. Here’s a list of some dressings that fit the criteria.

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