Tuesday, May 06, 2014

wholefood step-by-step: #18 make your own marinades and salad dressings

When I was growing up, my mum made salad dressing by squeezing the juice of one lemon into a teacup, adding a glug of olive oil, a teaspoon of dried Italian herbs and one chopped garlic clove. She would make that first and then leave it to sit while she prepared the rest of the meal. The last step before announcing that dinner was ready would be to dress the salad. I still love that basic dressing and equally the memory of my mum that it conjures for me. I also remember the many regular barbecues we had and that my mum made her own marinades for the meat. Again there was always garlic involved, olive oil and herbs and sometimes soy sauce, honey or mustard. Always simple. And delicious.

Commercially prepared salad dressings and marinades are perfect products for food manufacturers to fill with sugar, salt, GM oils, and additives that may pack a punch on flavour but can also be not so pleasant to digest and for those sensitive to additives can leave them with nausea, asthma, eczema, migraine, mood and behavioural problems to name a few.

Let's take Kraft Zesty Italian dressing as an example. Ingredients: vinegar, water, soybean oil, canola oil, sugar, salt, garlic* red bell peppers*, onions*, xanthan gum, spice, oleoresin paprika, potassium sorbate and calcium disodium edta (to perserve freshness). *dried

If you're wondering what potassium sorbate (202) and calcium disodium edta are, like I was, in a nutshell they are synthetic preservatives/additives.

As with many food additives approved by Food Standards Australia New Zealand and other food governing bodies these are deemed safe 'in moderation'. I have written before that one person's moderation is another person's overload and of course 'safe in moderation' does not take into account individual sensitivities to additives, or the cumulative effect when consuming a high processed diet. Potassium sorbate for instance can also be found in cheese, ice-cream, bread, pasta, processed meat, dips sauces and wine and skincare products.

Alternatives to commercial marinades and salad dressings

Once you have a few home made marinade and salad dressing ideas you'll never buy commercially prepared additive filled ones again.

Basically you need in your pantry:
acidity (lemon, orange, lime juice or vinegar - apple cider, balsamic, red wine vinegar)
fat (olive oil, sesame oil, yoghurt, macadamia oil, coconut milk)
and then whatever herbs, spices or flavours (mustard, honey, tamari) you like.

And then the ratio is roughly 3 parts oil to 1 part acid and then flavour as desired.

To get you started check out:
Jamie Oliver's quick jam jar dressings
Honey, mustard and sesame marinade (I'd substitute the low salt soy for tamari)

If you want to keep a ready made dressing or marinade on hand read the fine print and avoid ones with additives and GM ingredients. I have used and like Bragg Healthy Vinaigrette and Ozganics Teriyaki.

Do you have a favorite homemade marinade or salad dressing recipe? Or additive free brand that you like? Please share it in the comments and it might become someone else's favorite too!


  1. This is one thing I made over in my diet quite a few years ago. I love balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, honey, and olive oil for salads. My husband is the marinator in our house. He has "secret" recipes which always incude beer and olive oil and a blend of spices - smoked paprika, garlic, dried thyme, rosemary, lemon pepper (with no salt added), etc... I think he just wings it every time but it always tastes great!

    1. Sounds delicious! A barbecue at your house sounds good. x

  2. We've found a few ways to vary salad dressings - this summer we used labna as a lovely creamy dressing for grilled zucchini salads, and making herb infused vinegars with ingredients out of the garden is always a handy standby as a shortcut or when the plants have dies down for the winter (e.g. tarragon).

    1. Nice suggestions! Thanks for stopping by x


Thanks for your comments. I read every one!

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