I love salads. LOVE them. Even at my heaviest weight, I ate salad almost every day, especially in summer with fresh veggies at their most abundant. On a hot summer day, nothing tastes better than cool and crispy (and luscious) salad–NOTHING! Not even cupcakes. (Mark it down, I said it.)
The downside is that while I LOVE salad, I don’t LOVE it plain. Enter the potentially ruinous arch enemy: salad dressing. I don’t know if it’s like this everywhere, but if you order dressing “on the side” here in the southern U.S., you’ll likely end up with something like this:
At at least one local restaurant, you’ll get two little cups of dressing! To be fair, their salad is a LOT bigger, but still. That’s too much dressing!
And I should know, because I used to automatically pour my little cup of creamy Thousand Island all over my salad. Sometimes I’d add some more dressing, sometimes not. It was always a bad idea, especially since in years past, almost all of the dressings were of the creamy variety, not the wide range of vinaigrettes or healthy-fats dressings available today.
In previous attempts to lose weight, I tried different approaches to the salad dressing dilemma, none of which worked for me.
- I bought “lite” salad dressings, most of which I didn’t like and would eventually throw out. (I actually prefer Miracle Whip Lite Salad Dressing over the regular for my tuna salad needs, but even then, I use only a tablespoon or so for the whole salad.)
- I’d get the “full-strength” dressings and dot them over the salad, but that never tasted quite right.
- In restaurants, I’d seen other people (always women) spear their lettuce onto their forks and then dip it into the little dressing cups. That didn’t seem to accomplish much, other than to coat each and every bite with dressing, so I only gave it one half-hearted attempt.
- I tried just squeezing a lemon on top. I don’t much care for lemons, unless they have an icebox pie wrapped around them, but I tried it anyway.
- I’d try to eat the salad plain.
Salads just didn’t taste right with any of those options, so eventually I’d quit eating them, thus eliminating one of the few remotely healthy things I was eating at the time. (Fruit, turkey, grilled chicken, and tuna were the others.)
When I began my tippy-toe approach to losing weight, I knew that I had to find a workable solution. The difference this time was that I believed that I could!
That’s when I started the tip-dip of the fork into the dressing method, which I was sure I had invented only to discover that other people had been doing that…forever. Where were they when I needed a good example, is what I want to know.
Anyway, I felt kind of silly (but no sillier than the time I tried dipping the fork full of lettuce) dipping just the tips of my fork in the dressing and then spearing the veggies onto my fork. By the third bite, I was hooked! It’s the perfect amount of dressing in each bite! And even with a ginormous salad, I eat a teaspoon or less of dressing total. (Seriously, wait staff often ask me if I didn’t care for the dressing, there’s so little of it used.)
When I realized how little dressing I was using, I quit worrying about whether it was “lite” dressing or not. I ate the dressing that seemed to best compliment the saladt. These days there are lots of healthier options available (hello, mustard vinaigrette, my new friend!), but if I’m feeling like good old Thousand Island, I’ll have it. Just very little of it.
What’s your approach to salad dressing? Skip it? Eat it in small measures? Go for the fat-free or other varieties?
Or do you have a favorite healthy salad dressing recipe you’d care to share? I’ve got a brand new bottle of EVOO, and I’m not afraid to use it!
Hope you’re all looking forward to a fun and healthy weekend! I’m off to my workout. This is my family reunion weekend, so I need to get my metabolism into high gear!