There is an invisible battle that I see playing out too often. We are doing the right thing - eating our salads because we know that we need to eat vegetables...amazing!
What I want to draw your attention to is that what you are putting on this salad that might be incredibly harmful.
Every once in a while I have to preach for a second. The only way change can happen is with respect and education. I started studying food as medicine years ago and as a result I would be doing you a disservice to not share this knowledge
The grocery store is filled with salad dressings to make eating your veggies that much easier, right? Well that store bought salad dressing is one of the worst things you can consume and I'll tell you why.
Let's start by breaking down a couple labels of some popular salad dressings...
Starting with the oil, you will never see extra virgin olive oil listed as an ingredient. It will be canola, soybean, known to be some of the most GMO and pesticide grown plant sources. If you want to learn more about the origin and details of canola oil, Katie Wells does a great job of breaking it down for you here. So without getting into the bizarre details of how canola oil came about, just know it goes through very extensive processing to become the oil you know. If you have ever been to Italy and watch olive oil be made, the canola oil process will start to turn your stomach - literally, I forgot to mention these oils wreak havoc on your digestive system as well.
Then sugar, we know now that sugar in the processed form we consume it is killing us. So why add it to your salad? Far too often we are dragged into the yin and yang of the salty / sweet dichotomy to get us "Hooked". This is a marketing food tactic that has been around for a really long time, pioneered by the fast food industry. What has you craving fast food fries is not that they are delicious, it's that it hits the salty craving which makes you crave sweet and with the added sugar, it immediately calms the sweet craving and sends you in a ping pong game of salty / sweet until you are done eating. Usually it's not enough so we grab a soda, etc and the saga continues.
As we all know this is causing an obesity, hypertension and diabetes epidemic, within our community especially. We need to pause this game and redirect it, this is my way of doing that. Start eliminating this targeting at home where you have complete control over your food starting with what goes into your salad.
Finally, if the above wasn't enough, the amount of processed chemicals and artificial ingredients we consume is doing so much behind the scenes harm to our bodies. When you see "Natural flavors", I hate to break it to you but there is nothing natural about them. They are fabricated using chemicals that may have once been derived from a natural source but by the time they get into your salad dressing, your body does not recognize them and they can send off a spiral of issues.
One that we are seeing more and more are processed foods disrupting the endocrine system. Once you start shifting and playing with hormones, for both men and women, it can start a spiral of chronic affects that touch every aspect of your body. We rely on our endocrine system as well as our digestive system to create balance, process things we do not need in our body, and support homeostasis for optimal health. When we overwhelm our bodies with too many processed foods these systems start to break down affecting our hearts, blood, brain, and so much more.
For all of these reasons I was drawn to create my own seasoning line, the same applies to spices that you use on your food every day. Start checking labels, most spice blends will have salt and sugar right at the top, meaning they are the bulk of the volume of spice you just purchased. My Wah Gwan® seasonings only use the highest quality sourced ingredients and nothing artificial. I never add salt or sugar to my all purpose seasoning, Wah Gwan® so that you can control what sugar and salt you want to add if any and more importantly how much.
The takeaway here is less processed food where you have control. You have all the control in your home and I encourage you to start looking at labels as you start shifting towards a whole foods kitchen. This means that you understand where everything on a label is sourced from and it is a word you can pronounce and know what it is. If it is not a whole food, consider not purchasing it and replacing it with your own version.
My go-to salad dressings are simple and delicious using only ingredients like; fresh garlic, EVOO, avocado oil, champaign vinegar, apple cider vinegar (so many more vinegars), mustard, lemons and salt and pepper... you will never catch me adding garlic powder or onion powder or even sugar. If I add a touch of sweet to contrast the acid I will always use a pure form like honey. I make this particular dressing in a large batch and have it ready to use in the fridge at all times so I never opt-out of eating my veggies for the sake of not wanting to make the dressing.
- 1/4 cup EVOO
- 2tbsp red wine vinegar adjust to your taste
- 2tbsp champaign vinegar or raw apple cider vinegar adjust to your taste
- 1tsp dijon mustard
- 1tsp mayonnaise optional - used for viscosity and to temper the acid
- 1 clove pressed raw garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
Combine the above ingredients, adjusting ratios to your taste. Once you find the balance that you like, write it down! This way you can scale this recipe up making a larger amount to keep in your fridge.
From this base you can add fresh herbs, play with different vinegars and really the sky is the limit. The good thing about salad dressing is that you really can't mess it up. You can always adjust the flavors, tasting as you go!