Why You Should Make Your Own Salad Dressing

By Dr. Alyssa Musgrove – Pathways to Healing

Last week, I shared a few of my favorite salad recipes to help you take advantage of the variety of spring and summer produce coming into season. Salads are a great way to boost your vegetable and nutrient intake, but it’s important to point out that how you dress your salad is just as important as what you put in it. Store-bought salad dressings can be a convenient option, but they often can turn a healthy choice into a calorie-dense, preservative-laden health bomb. 

Here are just a few reasons why you should consider skipping the store-bought stuff:

Added sugar. Ever sprinkle a couple teaspoons of sugar over that bowl of leafy greens before digging in?  If you’re using a store-bought dressing, you likely are. Sugar is a common ingredient in store-bought dressings, often hiding under the name of high fructose corn syrup or dextrose. Added sugar causes blood sugar spikes (which fuel cravings later on), depletes nutrients in the body and encourages weight gain.

Poor quality oils. It’s nearly impossible to find a store dressing made with high-quality, 100 percent extra-virgin olive oil. Rather, to keep production costs down, manufacturers often use canola, corn, sunflower or soybean oil. These cheap oils easily become rancid (which causes inflammation in the body) and have been shown to increase cholesterol.

Additives. The ingredient list of most salad dressings includes a litany of gums, thickeners, colors, flavors and preservatives. Even in small amounts, these chemical additives are toxic to the body. It’s always a good idea to avoid unnecessary additives – especially if you have food sensitivities.

Fortunately, making your own salad dressing couldn’t be easier. A homemade salad dressing not only tastes better, but it can also be whipped up in a matter of minutes – many times with ingredients you already have on hand. Here are a few of my favorite recipes to get you started:

Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard and garlic. Add the oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking continuously. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Maple-Dijon Dressing  (Courtesy of “The No Meat Athlete Cookbook”)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil (if doing oil free use 2 tablespoons of broth or water)
salt to taste
Combine the vinegar, maple syrup, mustard and pepper in a small jar with tight fitting lid. Whisk in the oil or broth in a slow, steady stream. Season with salt to taste. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Blueberry-Walnut Vinaigrette (Courtesy of “The No Meat Athlete Cookbook”)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup blueberries
¼ cup walnut pieces
1 tablespoon minced shallot or red onion
½ teaspoon dired thyme
½ teaspoon maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons water (optional)
salt and black pepper to taste

Puree the vinegar, blueberries and half of the walnuts in a blender until smooth, thinning it with 1 or 2 tablespoons of water if desired. Finely chop the rest of the walnuts. Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and add the shallot or red onion, thyme and maple syrup. Shake to combine and seas with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least a few hours and up to 3 days to allow the flavors to meld.

Lemon-Tahini Dressing (Courtesy of “The No Meat Athlete Cookbook”)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 small garlic clove, chopped
½ cup tahini
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
¼ to ½ cup water

Pulse the lemon juice, maple syrup, garlic, tahini, salt and pepper in a high-speed blender to combine. Slowly add the water, starting with ¼ cup until it reaches your desired consistency. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Colorful Salad Ideas for Spring

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove, Pathways to Healing

Our bodies require a rainbow of nutrients for optimal health, and eating a variety of colors is one way to achieve this fundamental health goal. It can be easy to fall into the same eating routine once you find foods the entire family likes, but the truth is our bodies benefit from food variation. Children, especially, need a diversity of foods in their diets and adults benefit, as well.

Eating an assortment of colored fruits and vegetables is the best way to receive a complete range of the vitamins and minerals your body needs in order to function. Each fruit and vegetable has a distinctive color that indicates an abundance of unique nutrients. The range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables have enormous healing powers that can help our bodies thrive.

This week, try buying a new fruit or vegetable that is not usually on your shopping list and find a way to incorporate it into a meal. Below are a few of my favorite nutrient-dense salad recipes to help you get started.

Rainbow Chopped Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette
Salad:
8-10 red radishes, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ pint yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 small zucchini, chopped
¼ small red cabbage, chopped
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped

Avocado vinaigrette:
1 soft avocado, peeled and pitted
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ cup avocado oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
¼ cup water, add more as needed

Place all vinaigrette ingredients in blender until smooth, taste and salt as needed. Chop all vegetables and toss together with dressing in a large bowl.

Colorful Kale salad
1 bag of organic kale or baby kale
1 tub of pomegranate seeds
Slivered almonds, pecans or walnuts
Crumbled feta or goat cheese
Healthy vinaigrette to taste

Toss all ingredients and enjoy.

Dr. Axe Raw Superfood Carrot Salad
Salad:
10 large shredded organic carrots
1 cup dried goji berries
4 organic green apples, chopped (you can use any color or what is on sale)
1 cup pecans

Vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
¼ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt

Combine all salad ingredients and toss with vinaigrette in a large bowl. Serve chilled.

Asian Chicken Salad
Salad:
Handful of shredded kale, white cabbage or both!
2 slices purple cabbage
4 slivers of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
½ carrot, slivered
4 mini red bell peppers, cut into slivers
2 mini yellow bell peppers, cut into slivers
½ pulled rotisserie chicken, no skin
Handful of spring green peas, slivered
Handful of diced green onion
Handful of chopped cilantro
Handful of black sesame seeds
(Optional additions: red chili flakes, diced water chestnuts)

Dressing:
1/3 cup sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
¼ cup water
3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce

Heat oil, then add other ingredients and whisk together for 3-4 minutes. Let cool before dressing the salad.

Balsamic Beet Salad
Salad:
3 large beets
5 ounces mixed salad greens
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Vinaigrette:
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt

Cube the beets and place in a steamer basket over boiling water with lid on. Steam the beets until tender, 10-15 minutes. Combine the salad greens in a bowl and top with cooled beets and crumbled goat cheese. Make the dressing by combining the orange juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt in a small bowl and whisk. Drizzle over the salad just before serving.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.