The Salad Dressing Formula

Margaret Floyd is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner based in Los Angeles, CA, who helps clients transition from their current diet to a “naked” (read: unprocessed) diet to help them resolve all sorts of health and weight issues.  She wrote Eat Naked: Unprocessed, Unpolluted, and Undressed Eating for a Healthier, Sexier You, a great guide to eating unprocessed foods. Her follow-up, The Naked Foods Cookbook, co-authored with Chef James Barry, is due to come out in May, 2012.  Margaret blogs at Eat Naked Now, and you can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Salad Dressing Formula

Imagine this: You sit down to lunch over a big heaping bowl of salad. Every color in the rainbow is represented, all your favorite goodies from sun-dried tomatoes, some artichoke hearts, maybe an olive or two. Tender greens, fresh herbs, juicy tomatoes. Maybe some leftover wild salmon from last night’s dinner.

Your mouth is watering as you tuck into your delicious, unprocessed lunch and you reach for the bottle of salad dressing.

Just as you’re about to pour, you remember it’s October Unprocessed and maybe you better check out that ingredients. You’re pretty confident it’s got only the good stuff because after all, it’s screaming its health benefits from the label. Low fat! Low sodium! Organic!

What a disappointment to find the list filled with artificial crap you can’t pronounce.

It’s sad but true. I’ve seen many gorgeous, nutritious, absolutely amazing salads get destroyed by this stuff.

Salad dressing. It sounds so healthy and innocuous, and yet it’s one of the places so many un-naked and over-processed ingredients sneak into the lives of even the most well-intentioned real food lover. Even – and perhaps most deviously so — in those dressings that advertise all their health benefits. Additives, preservatives, low-quality (rancid!) oils, flavor enhancers, emulsifiers, colorings, excessive amounts of salt, and of course, sugar (or worse: artificial sweeteners).

The bad news is that 99% of commercial salad dressings out there have this problem. The good news is that making your own is ridiculously simple.

Here’s the formula:

  • 3 parts high-quality oil – extra virgin olive oil, hemp seed oil, flax seed oil, pumpkin seed oil – get creative! Think outside the olive oil box.
  • 1 part something acidic – vinegar, lemon, lime
  • A dash of salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Some fresh or dried herbs if you’re feeling fancy

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar and give it a big old shake. That’s it. You’re done! Keep it in the fridge for the week and use it when you need to.

You can experiment with different oil and vinegar combinations. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Flax seed oil and lemon, with a pinch of ground mustard seed
  • Hemp seed oil with apple cider vinegar, and a sprinkling of fresh thyme
  • The classic Italian extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, with some oregano, basil and garlic
  • For something a little more Asian, try sesame oil (unrefined) with lime, and stir in some peanut butter and a dash of tamari

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19 Responses to The Salad Dressing Formula

  1. Jessica October 6, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    Thanks so much for this post. Salad dressing was one of the big obstacles I had while shopping for this month!

  2. Laura @ The Art of Cooking Real Food October 6, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    Once you start making your own vinaigrette, the store bought ones are disgusting. So easy, so economical, so versatile. Great advice to share!

  3. Cathy/ShowFoodChef October 6, 2011 at 5:44 pm #

    This is one of my favorite subjects, in fact I have a post on making salad dressings on an upcoming Simple Saturday. You did a really good job of breaking it down. At my house, I’m always throwing these together with what ever I have left sauce wise, acid, etc… it’s so fun. Great post 😀

  4. Pam October 6, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    I consider mustard a required ingredient as well because it makes the oil and vinegar mix together so much better.

  5. theseven October 6, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

    And if you’re as lazy as I am, you can skip the jar and just drizzle the oil and then the vinegar directly on the salad and toss it. Salt and pepper to taste.

    • Dominique Cortara October 10, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

      that’s how they do it in Italy : )

  6. Ellen October 7, 2011 at 12:31 am #

    I like to reduce the oil, and partially substitute it with honey:
    1 part honey
    3 parts vinegar
    1 to 2 parts oil
    some mustard
    salt, pepper, herbs

    It makes the whole dressing less acid.

    • Ellen T October 7, 2011 at 5:51 am #

      Good idea, Ellen. I like my dressings a little sweeter, so Im going to try using a little honey. Thanks, from another Ellen.

  7. Jenn October 7, 2011 at 5:23 am #

    We’ve been making our own salad dressing for a little while now, and we are loving it. We use very little oil. Here are the rest of the ingredients:

    EVOO
    White balsamic vinegar
    fresh minced garlic (1-2 cloves)
    ground mustard
    dash salt & fresh ground pepper

  8. Tt in nyc October 7, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    I actually love creamy dressings and will often use hummus thinned with a bit of unsweetened almond milk, basalmic, and handful of cilantro or fresh herbs. Or sub a bit of greek yogurt and mix with the basalmic and salt and pepper. Creamy without the crap.

  9. rita October 7, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    Thick kefir mixed with herbs and garlic is yummy.

  10. suzy October 8, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    I love making homemade salad dressing. I can’t believe it took me so long to try it since it is so simple. I make homemade blue cheese, cilantro vinaigrette, and sun-dried tomato vinaigrette but now I can branch out and try more using those ratios.

  11. Dominique Cortara October 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    right on!
    I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met are flabbergasted that I make my own dressing!
    One especially stands out in my mind: A woman with a garden, who loves vegetables, whose nickname was tofu, but who has a whole shelf of salad dressings… : / what is wrong here?
    I chalk it up to the fact that she grew up with processed food and is still doesn’t realize she can make a much better dressing at home that tastes fresh and that costs less, and her kids will like it.
    I’m so happy to see this post. Salad dressing is important!!

  12. Charlotte J.R. October 13, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    Getting rid of salad dressing is the first tasty step to letting go of processed food entirely. Why compromise delicious fresh or organic foods with all those preservatives and thickeners? Gross. Beyond the taste, the second most fun part is experimenting with oils: sesame, walnut, flax, olive, peanut or chili, then the acids: Bragg’s amino acids, orange, lemon, lime, soy, balsamic, apple…..a little salt, pepper and mustard and voila! You can also add flavors like citrus zest, chopped nuts, garden herbs, garlic, tahini, ginger, nut butters…

  13. Denise April 16, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Great post! I made my own salad dressing for the first time yesterday. Do you have a salad dressing flowchart? The breakfast one was fabulous and I’m on the hunt for the others you’ve put together :)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Défi jour 5: Vinaigrette, ça baigne? | Brutalimentation - October 7, 2011
  2. A Month of Unprocessed Food: Can You Do It? | Family Kitchen - October 18, 2011
  3. October Unprocessed: Easy Formula for Unprocessed Salad Dressing | Eat Naked Now - March 30, 2014

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