I was never a salad person until I had the regular house salad at a local steak house about 5 years ago.
Ya’ll – it was dark green lettuce loaded with fresh-cut tomatoes, thinly sliced carrots and onions, chopped up hard-boiled egg, thick shreds of sharp cheddar cheese and the kicker – the very best blue cheese dressing I have ever tasted in my entire life.
The dressing MADE the salad. We have gone back to that steak house many times since, and in my times of being gluten and dairy free I had to forgo all the salad dressings for merely oil and vinegar. That’s when I realized what a HUGE difference the dressing made. I didn’t enjoy the salad nearly as much (does anyone enjoy house salads without dressing?).
Then I learned about genetically modified ingredients and food additives/preservatives and it ruined salad dressings for me. RUINED it I tell you. I realized that while I thought I was being so healthy, I was really filling my body with yucky, toxic ingredients. Let’s look at this popular dressing, it’s hard to see in the picture, but the ingredients are: vegetable oil (soybean and/or canola), water, egg yolk, sugar, salt, cultured nonfat buttermilk, natural flavors (milk, soy) less than 1% of: spices, dried garlic, dried onion, vinegar, phosphoric acid, xanthan gum, modified food starch, monosodium glutamate, artificial flavors, disodium phosphate, sorbic acid and calcium disodium EDTA as preservatives disodium insonate, disodium guanylate.
The ingredients I highlighted are ingredients that are NOT real food ingredients. Most of them are most likely genetically modified, and there’s just nothing healthy about this. This is also a very similar picture of most salad dressings, regardless of flavor, even those from the “more natural” brands will still contain soybean oil or canola oil.
I have yet to find a store-bought dressing that does not contain soybean or canola oil. These are two oils we try to avoid at all costs. Soy and canola are in nearly every processed food, are genetically modified, and there are a lot of studies that suggest soy messes with our endocrine system. (When you start to look at ingredients and realize how much soy we are actually consuming – that’s a scary thought. As a person with Hashimoto’s – an autoimmune thyroid disease, I can’t ignore the research that points to excessive consumption of soy being a possible contributing factor in my developing the disease. There is also research that suggests soy affects fertility.)
Both soy and canola are pretty flavorless (canola often has deodorizers added to hide the rancidity), cheap to produce, and they don’t harden when refrigerated. These are probably the main reasons they are so commonly found in salad dressings. I have tried making homemade salad dressings with olive oil and coconut oil and they do impart more of a flavor and they do harden when refrigerated which makes it difficult to apply to a salad without setting it out for awhile first.
So what do we do?
You have several options. You could buy from a brand that you trust and know doesn’t use genetically modified ingredients, and just accept that you will be eating soybean or canola oil. Or you can make your own salad dressing. I know that sounds intimidating, but it is SO SIMPLE. Stay tuned, next week I will be sharing some real food salad dressing recipes that literally take seconds/minutes to make, store easily, and taste delicious. We can all feel good about eating our salads once again!
Update! Check out these dressings in the series:
What kind of salad dressing recipes would you like to see featured?
For further reading:
- Studies showing adverse affects of dietary soy
- Why canola oil is not a health food
- Whole soy story: The dark side of America’s favorite health food
- Fertility: One more reason to not eat soy
- Canola oil: When a great oil isn’t so great after all
- Canola oil: Good or bad?
- GMO dangers