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    Archive for the ‘salad dressing’ Category

    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Heart-Healthy Ranch Dip

    ranch-dressingIt’s only the second day of December and, as is probably the case with many of you, I have already received a handful of invitations to holiday parties, potlucks, and meals.

    If you’re looking to whip up a quick, healthy, and delectable contribution to an event over the next few weeks, I recommend you take no more than ten minutes to make this knock-out, nutritious ranch dip.

    FYI: you can turn this into a dressing by adding an additional third cup of water.

    YIELDS: 3 servings


    1/2 cup raw cashews (OR raw sunflower seeds OR avocado, although avocado will yield a greener color)
    1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons water
    1 small garlic clove
    4 teaspoons lemon juice
    1/3 teaspoon salt
    Light sprinkle of black pepper
    3/4 teaspoon onion powder
    3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 Tablespoon dry dill, finely chopped
    2 teaspoons dry parsley, finely chopped
    1.5 teaspoons dried chives, finely chopped


    In blender, mix cashews/sunflower seeds/avocado, water, garlic clove, lemon juice, black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder until evenly mixed.

    Empty mixture into bowl.

    Add chopped dill, parsley, and chives; fold into dressing until evenly spread out.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving, made with cashews):

    115 calories
    1 gram saturated fat
    240 milligrams sodium


    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Garlic Tahini Dressing

    tahiniI’ll be the first to admit I have culinary commitment issues.

    One week, a certain salad dressing might be the apple of my eye, only to suddenly seem ‘blah’ overnight.

    As a result, purchases of bottled salad dressings aren’t very fruitful for me.  After a bottle is approximately halfway used up, it sits in my refrigerator for months, unused and ignored until it expires.

    “I’m just not that into you,” I say apologetically as I empty it out in my kitchen sink.

    Alas, I don’t want to get a bad reputation in the salad dressing aisle.  That’s why I now make my own salad dressings in very small batches.

    This dressing below — a tasty break respite from vinaigrettes — is one of my all-time favorites.  It goes particularly well over crunchy raw salads or steamed vegetables.  I was inspired by the tahini dressing served by one of my favorite New York City vegetarian restaurants.  Thank you, Quantum Leap!

    YIELDS: 4 servings


    1/4 cup tahini
    1/4 cup water
    2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice
    2 or 3 garlic cloves
    1/4 teaspoon salt


    Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until evenly combined.

    Let stand for a few minutes and serve.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving):

    90 calories
    1 gram saturated fat
    150 milligrams sodium

    Good source of: Copper, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin C

    Added bonus 1: Tahini — also known as ‘sesame seed butter’ — is high in beta-sisterol, a phytosterol that helps lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

    Added bonus 2: Sesame seeds also contain sesamol, an antioxidant that helps lower atherosclerosis (that’s the technical term for “hardening of the arteries”) risk.


    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Spicy Peanut-Cilantro Dressing

    peanutsI have always been a fan of peanut dressing at Thai restaurants, so I decided to try making my own.

    The end product is delicious and, I suspect, healthier than what most restaurants serve.  It also doesn’t hurt that peanuts are a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats!

    This dressing goes wonderfully over a side salad of spinach leaves, chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, shredded carrots, and soybean sprouts.

    YIELDS: 4 servings


    4 Tablespoons natural peanut butter
    2 garlic cloves
    1/2 teaspoon poblano pepper, chopped (with seeds if you want an extra kick)
    1 Tablespoon tamari
    1.5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    1 Tablespoon agave nectar
    1.5 teaspoons ginger (powder)
    1 tablespoon cilantro, chiffonade
    1.5 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
    1/4 cup water


    Combine all ingredients in food processor.  Process until mixture is smooth and uniform.

    For best taste, refrigerate for 3 or 4 hours prior to serving.


    105 calories
    1.2 grams saturated fat
    3.9 grams monounsaturated fat
    250 milligrams sodium
    3 grams added sugar
    1.5 grams fiber
    4 grams protein


    Numbers Game: Answer

    saladdressingsThe average ladle at a buffet-style salad bar holds 4 tablespoons of salad dressing.

    This means that a single ladle of ranch dressing adds 300 calories and 500 milligrams of sodium to whatever healthy concoction you just created.

    At many “create your own salad” bars in New York City (where employees mix your ingredients of choice in a bowl and toss them in with a dressing), I have seen as many as THREE full ladles of dressing get globbed on, tacking on as many as 900 calories and over a half day’s worth of sodium.

    This is why salad dressings are always best on the side.  As a general rule, always use half of the amount you are given.

    The best way to prevent salad from turning into a Big Mac equivalent is to implement the “dip your fork into the dressing before getting salad on it” method.  This way, you always get flavorful bites and end up using a minimal amount of salad dressing.


    Numbers Game: “One” Spoonful

    saladbardressing1The average ladle at a buffet-style salad bar holds _______ tablespoons of salad dressing.

    a) 1
    b) 2
    c) 3
    d) 4

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Monday for the answer.


    Numbers Game: Answer

    Cosi patrons, take note.

    Opting to have your salad of choice dressed with the house vinaigrette tacks on 357 calories.

    This partially explains why people sometimes express confusion when, despite substituting many of their regular foods with salad, weight loss does not occur.

    It is even more difficult to gauge how many calories you get from salad dressing at salad bars, where you use enormous ladles to dress your individual concoction (one full ladle can contain up to 600 calories of some dressings!)

    If you opt to have full-fat dressings, ask for them on the side, and aim to use no more than half of the amount you are provided.

    This is not to say that fat-free dressings can be poured liberally.

    Most dressings lacking fat provide flavor by throwing in higher amounts of sugar, thereby still containing a good number of calories.

    I suggest using a small amount of full-fat dressing and mixing it with other low-calorie ingredients (think balsamic vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon juice.)


    Numbers Game: Dress of Excess

    Cosi patrons, take note.

    Opting to have your salad of choice dressed with the house vinagreitte tacks on _______ calories.

    a) 196
    b) 238

    c) 310

    d) 357

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Wednesday for the answer.


    Summer Eatin’

    The latest video posted on the Small Bites YouTube channel offers tips and advice for a healthy and nutritious summer.

    Is mayo a microbiological bad guy? What’s a tasty and refreshing replacement for ice cream? Are you preparing your salad in such a way to ensure maximum absorption of nutrients?

    Find out more in this short video, where I also introduce you to a key player of the Small Bites team!


    Numbers Game: Answer

    Recent studies by Brian Wansink of Cornell University’s Applied Economics and Management Department and Pierre Chandon of the European Institute for Business Administration found that, on average, people underestimate the caloric content of “healthy sounding” dishes (like a grilled chicken salad, pictured right) at chain restaurants (and most dishes at “healthy sounding” restaurants) by 20 percent.

    This false sense of security is quite deceptive.

    It’s one thing to eat a grilled chicken breast on a bed of vegetables with a tablespoon of dressing or olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but quite another to accompany it with a ladle of dressing that can contribute up to 500 extra calories.

    And it’s not just calories that can be underestimated with healthy sounding choices.

    Here’s a shocker:

    An order of medium fries at McDonald’s contributes 221 milligrams of sodium to your day.

    An Asian chicken salad from that same chain? 1,030 milligrams — and that’s before you add a single drop of dressing!

    Once you pour that packet of dressing on, the total sodium content shoots up to 1,790 milligrams.

    The best tactic is to always be aware of what you are eating.

    For instance, does your grilled chicken sandwich come slathered with a thick layer of mayonnaise? Is your whole wheat wrap a foot long? Is your brown rice and vegetable stir fry drowning in sauce?

    Don’t be afraid to take charge, either. Ask for the dressing on the side, substitute mustard for mayo on your sandwich, and request that your stir fry be “light on the sauce.”

    Just remember to tip well!


    Quick Tricks: Cutting Down on Sugar

    The average adult in the United States downs between 20 and 25 teaspoons of added sugar a day, severely exceeding the recommended maximum of 10 teaspoons (40 grams).

    Below, some tips to cut down on added sugar without sacrificing taste.

    * When buying canned fruit, make sure it is packed in its own juices rather than an artificial, heavy syrup. Remember, fructose, the naturally-occurring sugar in fruit does not deserve the same concern as processed, refined sugar. You save: 8 grams/2 teaspoons of added sugar.

    * Have regular Cheerios for breakfast and add your own dried fruits and nuts to it, rather than pouring a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. You save: 8 grams/2 teaspoons of added sugar per cup of cereal.

    * Forego packaged salad dressings for homemade vinaigrettes (combine vinegar, the oil of your choice, and any spices and herbs that suit your mood). You save: 10 grams/2.5 teaspoons of added sugar).

    * Add your own toppings (raising, nuts, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract) to plain oatmeal rather than purchasing flavored oatmeal packets. You save: 12 grams/3 teaspoons of added sugar.

    * When craving chocolate, have a serving of one comprised of 85% cocoa, rather than milk chocolate. You save: 17 grams/4 teaspoons of added sugar.

    * Buy plain yogurt and add your own fresh fruit to it, rather than purchasing flavored yogurt. You save: 20 grams/5 teaspoons of added sugar.

    * When looking to quench your thirst, have a glass of flavored seltzer rather than one of regular soda. You save: 32 grams/8 teaspoons of added sugar.

    * In a rush and need a snack bar? Forget Zone bars (17 grams/4 teaspoons of added sugar), Power Bars (18 grams/4.5 teaspoons of added sugar), and Luna Bars (11 grams/3 teaspoons of added sugar). Instead, reach for Lara Bars or Clif Nectar Bars (most of which have 0 grams of added sugar, or at most, 2 or 3 grams — less than 1 teaspoon!)

    Remember, low sugar does not always mean low calorie! Always read food labels to determine how many calories you are getting. It is still possible to overeat without having too much sugar, but a lower intake is better for our overall health.


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