By Krisha McCoy, MS
Medically reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
Flavorful salad dressings and sauces can bring healthy eating to a whole new level — they make vegetables, lean meats, whole grain pastas, and other foods taste even better. And since store-bought products can be loaded with fat, calories, and sodium, learning to make your own sauce and salad dressing recipes is an important part of healthy cooking.
6 Secrets of Homemade Salad Dressings and Sauces Follow these guidelines when whipping up your own healthy recipes:
- Cut down on oil. A homemade salad dressing should contain more vinegar, lemon juice, or orange juice than oil to keep calories in check, says registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, LDN, author of The Flexitarian Diet and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. You’ll need to adapt standard recipes, which usually call for more oil.
- Opt for flavor over fat. When making salad dressing recipes, Blatner recommends varying the vinegars and oils you use to keep your taste buds satisfied without adding a lot of extra fat. "Try balsamic, sherry, or apple cider vinegar, and experiment with olive, walnut, flax, and sesame oils," she suggests. With both dressings and sauces, Blatner says that fresh and finely chopped herbs can add a huge flavor boost, as well as healthy antioxidants.
- Choose low-fat ingredients. When using ingredients like sour cream, mayonnaise, or yogurt in your salad dressings and sauces, choose low-fat or non-fat versions to lighten the caloric load. And consider skipping fattening ingredients altogether. "Puree roasted vegetables, such as roasted red peppers, with a splash of broth for quick sauces," says Blatner. (Remove the charred skin before processing.)
- Limit the salt. Healthy recipes for salad dressings and sauces should not be loaded with sodium. This means adding little or no salt, and choosing low-sodium or no-salt-added ingredients, like low-sodium tomato paste or sauce.
- Skim off fat. When you make a meat-based sauce, cool it in the refrigerator before you use it to separate out the fat. You can then skim the fat from the top of your sauce (where it will often harden) to dramatically reduce the fat content.
- Use low-fat thickening agents. Instead of using a butter-based roux to thicken a sauce, cut back on fat by thickening it with a small amount of cornstarch or flour. You can even get more creative. "For creamy dressings and sauces, use silken tofu or pureed cashews and water as the base," says Blatner.
Hey Diddle Diddle Catering will be happy to make a salad dressing for you. Just tell us what you're topping and what flavors you're looking for and we'll create it!!