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Kick Up the Flavor With Healthy, DIY Salad Dressing

Liz Merritt
July 7, 2017
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We can eat all the healthy greens and veggies in the world, but if we undo those good deeds with heavy salad dressings, it’s all for naught. That’s where healthy DIY salad dressing know-how comes into play.

The key to light AND flavorful dressings is understanding how to use oils, acidic ingredients, herbs and spices to boost – and compliment – the natural flavors of the salad. And don’t forget plain, Greek yogurt. This simple ingredient can turn any dressing into a creamy salad-worthy sensation.

DIY Salad Dressing Know-How

DIY salad dressing

Healthy oils and flavorful acidic ingredients are the foundation of any DIY dressing.

Think of healthy oils as the foundation of any DIY dressing. Extra-virgin olive oil and avocado oil are the staples in my kitchen. Nut oils, such as walnut oil, can also bring a nice, buttery flavor to dressings. My general rule of thumb with salad dressings is to combine 2 parts oil to 1 part acidic ingredients.

Next, be creative when it comes to the acidic ingredients. These ingredients bring the flavor posse to the table. Some popular acid bases include balsamic vinegar, citrus juices (lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange), mustard (spicy, dijon, honey).

Fresh herbs (and even dried) crank up the flavors to a new level. Basil, oregano, cilantro, parsley and dill come to mind. Freshly-minced shallots, red onion, garlic and ginger add further textures and flavors to DIY salad dressings.

Want your dressing slightly sweet to dress a citrus salad? Add a touch of raw honey. Need a saltier option? Use Himalayan pink salt or sea salt. A coarse grind of pepper for good measure, and voila, salad is served.

DIY Favorites

Here are some of my favorite DIY salad dressings to try with your next salad. Note, all dressings can be stored in mason jars in the refrigerator for several days or divided into individual containers for meal-preppers on the go.

Basic Garlic Vinaigrette

This is a great year-round staple to keep handy for any occasion. Use this in the place of bottled Italian dressings for a lighter, fresher alternative.

Print
Basic Garlic Vinaigrette
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 
Course: Salad
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 100 kcal
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. Himalayan pink salt
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp. Italian herb mix
  • Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a medium bowl. Transfer to a Mason jar, cover and store in refrigerator. Shake gently before serving

Tangy Citrus Vinaigrette

This one is a favorite in the summertime because of the light, tangy citrus zing it brings to salads and side dishes. I use this one as a marinate for chicken, pork loin and fish, as well.

Print
Tangy Citrus Vinaigrette
Prep Time
15 mins
 


Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 100 kcal
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil
  • 1/4 cup orange juice freshly squeezed
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • 1/4 cup green onions finely chopped
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a medium bowl. Transfer to a Mason jar or other glass container. 

  2. Cover and store in refrigerator. Shake gently before serving

Creamy Avocado Lime Dressing

Sometimes a creamier dressing is all that will do. This one offers a healthy, tangy twist that will dress up any occasion.

Print
Creamy Avocado Lime Dressing
Prep Time
15 mins
 
Course: Salad
Servings: 8
Calories: 100 kcal
Ingredients
  • 1 avocado large
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt plain, fat-free
  • 1/2 cup lime juice freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients, except salt & pepper in a blender. Blend until smooth.

  2. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  3. To make a thinner dressing, add water or additional oil.

  4. Cover and refrigerate before serving. This dressing will store for 1-2 days only, given the dairy base.

Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Sweet-tangy fresh raspberries lend a zing to this dressing when combined with a nice balsamic vinegar. Pair this with a chicken or steak salad for a treat.

Print
Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
Prep Time
15 mins
 
Course: Salad
Servings: 10
Calories: 115 kcal
Ingredients
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients, except basil, salt & pepper, in a blender. Blend until smooth.

  2. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in chopped basil.

  3. Store in a Mason jar or other glass container and refrigerate. Shake gently before serving

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