If you are like me, you might eat 3 times more salads in the summer. The greens are so fresh and delicious, and the temperatures so high, that it makes total sense to cool off with a nice salad for lunch or dinner. Refrigerators across the US are filled with fresh greens at this time of year – and many refrigerator doors are adorned with several bottles of salad dressings – a flavor for every occasion. What you may not know is that lurking in that salad dressing bottle are a lot of ingredients that you might not eat if you knew what they were. That’s why I always make my own salad dressings.

Still not motivated to make your own? Let’s just review what you could be eating if you are eating store-bought brands:

Oil – every salad dressing has it and may times it’s the unsavory trans fat version, which you can read about here. Besides the nasty trans fats, the most widely used oils in commercial dressings are canola oil and soy oil. They are grown far and wide across the US and Canada and therefore far less expensive than oils made of plants that don’t’ grow well here – like olive oil. If you have any concerns about eating genetically modified foods, your should know that it is extremely difficult to find canola and soy oils in North America that are not genetically modified.

Your favorite store-bought brand may even be a “fat-free” dressing. Take this as a warning. When fat is taken out, water is usually added. Water is good for you and really not a bad thing to add to almost anything, but water does not absorb flavor like fat does. So without fat and flavor how are you supposed to sell salad dressing? Check the ingredients on any fat-free dressing– if there’s more water, manufacturers will have added more laboratory-manufactured flavor, which might even come in the form of added sugars and a chemical called mono sodium glutamate (MSG) which it can cause adverse reactions (especially headaches) to people who are sensitive to it.

Besides the artificial flavor concern, your greens are chock full of two nutrients, lutein and beta-carotene, which support healthy eyes and normal growth processes. Did you know that your body can only take advantage of these nutrients when your greens are served with some fat? So a little bit of healthy fat actually helps the body.

So what’s the solution? MAKE YOUR OWN. If you can find your way around a set of measuring spoons, and a measuring cup, and if you typically shake up your bottle of store-bought salad dressing before putting it on your fresh greens, congratulations! You have the skills it takes to make your own salad dressing.

Come to the Route 1 Farmers’ Market at noon on Saturday, June 21 at noon to find out how! I will be doing a cooking demonstration.

Read more about store-bought salad dressing ingredients at:
http://www.rodalenews.com/salad-dressing and