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Tips for a Great Salad & the Best Low Fat Dressing Recipes

Cheri Sicard


The difference between a good green salad and something you feel duty bound to eat because you're determined to eat healthier can be momentous. You actually look forward to eating a good salad. But because of the very simplicity of the dish itself, many people have reduced this glorious addition to the meal to nothing more than some iceberg lettuce slathered in preservative laden bottled dressings. They might add a slice of tomato if they're feeling adventurous.


There is an art to a great salad. It's a simple art, but essential if you want great results. Follow these tips: When buying salad greens, look for bright colors and greens that look crisp, moist and fresh. Brown or dark green spots and withering leaves are a sign of aging. Look for heads of lettuce that are tight. To check if a head of lettuce is fresh, turn it over and look at the base, if it's starting to turn brown, look for one that looks more freshly cut. Wash salad greens well, nothing will ruin a good salad quicker than sand or grit. In order for dressing to stick, it is essential to make sure that lettuces are dry. If you have a salad spinner, this works well. Another option is to wash the lettuce in advance. Carefully roll the washed lettuce in some paper towels and place in a plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready for use. Add dressings to green salads immediately before serving to avoid soggy salads. The best way to be sure the entire salad is dressed is to toss it in a large bowl. You will also use less salad dressing using this method. Put the salad ingredients in a VERY large bowl add dressing and mix thoroughly, making sure all ingredients are coated. Using this method you will only need about 2 teaspoons of salad dressing per serving. Get creative and try different types of vinegars for dressings. Some salad favorite are red and white wine vinegars, cider vinegars and rice vinegars. Another nice salad dressing addition are flavored vinegars made with herbs, peppers or fruits.

How to make a Great Salad & Low Fat Dressing Recipes

For a simple vinaigrette that you can make right in the large tossing bowl try this formula which is enough to dress about 6-8 servings of green salad:

Sprinkle 2-3 teaspoons of the vinegar of your choice over the salad greens and mix well. Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of good olive oil over the greens, season with salt and pepper and mix well again. The salad is ready to serve.

When it comes to salad dressings, I believe low fat is better than no fat (unless you have a medical condition that says otherwise). Americans have gotten far too consumed with fat grams without taking into consideration the kinds of fats they are eating. A small amount of fat in a salad dressing can mean the difference between a good salad and a great one.

With that in mind, here are some of my favorite LOW fat salad dressing recipes. Try them in place of their richer counterparts. They won't destroy your diet or let your tastebuds down.

Low Fat Ranch Dressing

3/4 C buttermilk
3 T low-fat mayonnaise
2 T finely chopped fresh chives
1 T finely chopped fresh basil, or 1 tsp. dried
2 tsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. dry mustard 1/2 tsp.
sugar salt & pepper to taste

Makes about 1 Cup

Mix all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Dressing will keep for about a week in the refrigerator.

Low Fat 1000 Island Dressing

1/3 C low-fat mayonnaise
2 T ketchup
2 T lemon juice
2 T minced red or green bell pepper
1 T minced onion
1 T sweet pickle relish salt & pepper to taste

Makes about 1/2 Cup

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor. If consistency is too thick, add water, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Low Fat Blue Cheese Dressing

1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese
3 T buttermilk
1 T white wine vinegar
4 T crumbled blue or Roquefort cheese
black pepper to taste

Makes about 1 Cup

In a blender or food processor, process all ingredients except blue cheese until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in crumbled blue cheese. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Stir in the Roquefort or blue cheese. Season to taste with the pepper. Dressing will keep for a week or more in the refrigerator.

Low Fat Creamy Italian Dressing

1 C low fat sour cream
2 T red or white wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic
3 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 T Dijon mustard
1 T honey
1 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 T olive oil
2 T dry white wine
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

In a blender or food processor, process all ingredients except sour cream until completely mixed. Add sour cream and process just until mixed. Dressing will keep for about 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

Low Fat Asian Style Citrus Ginger Dressing

1 C frozen orange or pineapple juice concentrate
1/3 C rice seasoned rice vinegar
1 T soy sauce or reduced sodium soy sauce
1 T sesame oil
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. cornstarch

Makes about 1 Cup

In a medium saucepan, whisk all ingredients together. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Cook until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Cheri Sicard is the editor of a unique gathering spot for cooking enthusiasts with recipes, clebrity chefs, an online cooking school and free cooking newsletters
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