Have you ever wondered why grocery stores have an entire aisle dedicated to condiments? Especially in the world of salad dressings, the options are no longer as simple as picking your brand of ranch, italian dressing, and thousand island. Nowadays, the selection has not only expanded – dividing flavors into “lite”, “low fat”, and “regular”, but there are a million other options and sub-flavors to choose from. Not only is there just ranch available, but you can get chipotle ranch, sriachra ranch, avocado ranch, honey bbq ranch, and more. This is crazy stuff! 21 Day Fix salad dressings are a hot topic for those new to Fix nutrition, so let’s explore and see exactly what options are available!
If you’re a purist, you can look in the nutrition guide and they provide recipes for you to make your own dressing. While this is going to be the absolute best option, it’s not always realistic to make an extra recipe if you’re already making a lot of other food (especially if you’re busy!). I’m going to give you some options – from good to okay to “maybe not so much”, and give you an idea of what to look for (and what to avoid).
Maybe Not So Much
I’m going to give you a pretty good rule of thumb – you probably will want to avoid any dressing on a non-refrigerated shelf. They will in general be packed with preservatives, ingredients you can’t pronounce, high fructose corn syrup, sugars, and various odd oils.
Let’s look at this label:
(This was found in the regular condiment aisle) This French dressing is fat free! And it’s only 50 calories per serving!! Okay, that doesn’t seem horrible, but let’s take a look at the back:
Here are the red flags:
- Second ingredient is high fructose corn syrup
- Sodium is high for dressing
- Additives including food color
- The only thing in there resembling food is the tomato puree.
When looking for salad dressings your best bet is to head to the refrigerated dressings. These are typically located in the produce section neared the bagged lettuce and salad kits. Typically, you will find these dressings to have fewer preservatives (hence the need for them to be refrigerated), and better ingredients all around. However, not all the dressings in this section are created equal. Take this Marie’s Simply Dressed Caesar dressing for example:
This is definitely a better option than the non-refrigerated dressings. BUT…this irks me (and I’ll tell you why):
This list is on the side of the bottle, which promises great things that you will find inside of this bottle. Made with extra virgin olive oil? That’s fabulous!!!! But…
The second ingredient is actually CANOLA oil, not olive oil. There is extra virgin olive oil in this ingredient list, but it is further down, #5 in the list. (As a reminder, the ingredients are listed in the order of quantity).
Canola oil is kinda sketchy in the land of clean eating. It is said that many of the sources for canola oil contain GMO’s, so it is not an optimal oil to use.
So yes, I’m a little irked at the way this product is misleadingly advertised. Yes, it IS made with olive oil. So they only win that battle on a technicality. Boo, Marie’s!!
Greek yogurt based dressings can be a great alternative to some of the cream-based dressings. Instead of a mayonnaise base, it uses the creaminess of the Greek yogurt for a cleaner option.
Here are a few of the yellow flag ingredients to watch for: corn starch, carrageenan (controversial and can cause digestive issues), canola oil (again, but further down on the list).
Also, while we are looking at the ingredients, check out the sodium content. If you remember above, the French dressing had 350 mg per serving. Both Marie’s and Opa have less, with 270 and 230mg each respectively. It’s definitely headed in a better direction.
A GOOD Option!
In general, vinaigrette are a delightful way to enjoy your salad. As you noticed with the creamy caesar and bleu cheese dressings above, you’ll notice that there were some additives in there (for the sake of keeping a good creamy texture). Let’s check this label out and see what we find:
Fruit juice as a natural sweetener! Besides not knowing what these “natural flavors” are, and the inclusion of xantham gum (which is..okay, but not optimal. Likely unavoidable in these type situations), this is one of the best labels I’ve seen on a supermarket grocery label. Also, the sodium content is even lower – only 150 mg.
Your best option is going to always be to make your dressings from scratch. When you make these yourself, you know what and how much you’re putting into your dressing. However, I can understand lack of time being a reason. If you DO want to make some dressings for yourself, I’d urge you to check out this list of recipes from Clean Eating Gluten Free Foodie (her poppy dressing is one of my favorites!).