Healthy Salad Dressing Ingredients

As we’re into summer now – though Scotland seems to have failed to get the memo so far – I thought I’d put together a little list of ideas for salad dressings. Salad dressings often get bad rep. and it’s often assumed that all dressings are high calorie and high in saturated fats. This is not wholly true though. There are a number of ways you can have a salad dressed with a proper healthy option. The fats in these dressings are ones which are good for you and which you do need, rather than a lot of saturated fats of which you don’t want a lot. It is more the acidic content you want to be wary of when it comes to vinegar-based or lemon based dressings (and that’s regarding your teeth not your body as a whole!) But as long as you don’t go overboard with dressing you’ll be fine. As always, it’s about balance, moderation, and common sense.

Here is my suggestions of dressing ingredients:

OILS

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • The standard minimal dressing if used on its own – plain but still flavoursome. Go for as high quality as you can as the better quality the nicer it is as a dressing. You want a full, rich, taste.
  • The history of this oil is immense – stretching way back to Ancient times, favoured by the Meditteranean for centuries and one reason for the area being renowned for having a healthy diet.
  • It is high in mono and polyunsaturated fats – the good fats.
  • Mixed with vinegars it makes lovely dressings.
  • It can also be infused with fresh herbs such as sprigs of rosemary (just pop the rosemary into the bottle in which it is stored and leave it until the hints of the flavour can be tasted in the oil)
  • You can also buy oils pre-infused with not only herbs, but also chilli, or other things like red peppers, or tomatoes.

Rapeseed Oil

  • A cheaper alternative to olive oil, it doesn’t have the distinctive flavour and is made from the seeds of flowers but if looking for a milder alternative to olive oil, then this may be a good oil to try.
  • Like olive oil it is high in the good fats.
  • If you’re in Scotland, like I am, you’ll know that at this time of year many fields are bright yellow due to the growth of Rapeseed, so if you like supporting local produce rather than imported, then that could be another reason for opting to use this.
  • Alternatively use some parts olive oil with some parts rape in dressings. You’d be in good company as if you check the labels of a lot of pre-packed salads at the moment, you’ll find that’s what supermarkets are doing too! (Cost effective)

Cold-pressed Coconut Oil

  • Coconut oil is one of the new ‘superfood’ craze foods and if were it not for the fact I’m über obsessed with coconut in all forms (fresh, desiccated, milk, water), I may not have tried it because as with all new ‘super foods’ it comes with a ‘nice’ price tag! Not too extreme, but I still would only buy it when its on offer.
  • This oil is solid at room temperature so if using as a dressing it will need to be warmed up (just leave some out in a small cup and it will melt if it is a warm day)
  • Unlike, traditional ‘healthy oils’ coconut oil does have saturated fats but from my reading on the subject, the form in which the fats take, are not as bad as other saturated fats in the way our body deals with them. (A quick search on a search engine will let you see my sources so go give them a read if you’re interested. As I make clear, I’m no nutritionist just a passionate healthy foodie who wants to keep her body as healthy as possible!)
  • The taste of the oil is gorgeous as it gives everything a coconut taste – hardly unsurprising (!) I use it a lot for cooking chicken.

There are more oils but these are my top 3.

VINEGARS

Balsamic

  • This includes standard balsamic vinegar, balsamic glazes, and infused balsamic vinegars (e.g. raspberry, orange, strawberry, or garlic)
  • Balsamic is a wonderful dressing on its own, combined with other condiments to map dressings, while it is also a great dip for freshly baked rustic Italian bread too.

White Wine Vinegar

  • This is a great base for a number of dressings – French, mustard, or simple vinaigrettes.

Cider Vinegar

  • Made from apples this is a traditional British vinegar
  • Although I personally don’t like this, I’m including it as comes with numerous benefits (There are even books devoted to the goodness of it.)
  • In dressings it is often used with salads containing radishes, walnuts, apples etc.

HEAT

Mustard

  • Mustard seeds or powder can both be used
  • Adds distinctive spiciness

Chilli

  • Adds a fiery heat
  • Cook first then chop finely or use dried chilli flakes

Horseradish

  • Great using for salads containing oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel)
  • Also great with thinly sliced beef in salads
  • It add an undeniable hotness

Garlic

  • Can use in a variety of ways – roasted, bought in an oil suspension, garlic paste
  • All of the above ways make great additions to salad dressings

SWEETNESS

Honey

  • Adds sweetness to dressings to counteract and complement the acidity / flavour of other ingredients e.g. lemon / mustard seeds
  • Goes great in mustard seed dressings

Maple Syrup

  • Similar to honey but with its distinctive flavour and less sweet (nutritionally lower in sugar too)

Dried Fruit

  • Dates (standard or the currently Medjool dates)
  • Finely chop or blend to a paste

Orange juice / Pureed Raspberries / Strawberries

  • All add sweetness and go lovely with balsamic based dressings

SOURNESS 

Lemon

  • The juice of lemon is a wonderful contrast to the flavour of salmon but equally goes with a variety of salads

Lime

  • Lime juice adds sourness again but with a less bitter taste

HERBS (just a selection)

Mint

  • A classic
  • Finely chop it in the dressing and also leave some to sprinkle over at the end too for a nice final touch

Fresh Basil

  • The basis of the tasty thing that is pesto!
  • Can be used blended (in oil / vinegar etc.), finely chopped, or whole

Oregano

  • My second favourite herb after basil
  • Use in a similar fashion to basil

Parsley

  • Can be used in dressings for many different salads
  • Looks great finely chopped sprinkled over the top too

NOT FORGETTING…

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Add these to taste and I also seem to finish with a twist of freshly ground black pepper over everything savoury I cook. You just need to check my previous posts to see!


Hope you found this useful,

Helen x

Find me on Twitter (@HLDCblog), Facebook (/HLDCblog), and Instagram (@HCRinstacam)


Copyright HLDCblog // Helen Redman 2014-2015.

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Top 10 Festive Ingredients

Top 10 festive ingredients graphic

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We are now well and truly into Advent and since I have gotten my university graduation week out of the way, I am going to try to blog more regularly. This time of year is definitely one of my favourites. There is a wonderful festive atmosphere greeting me if I go into shops, switch on the TV, walk through the High Street after sunset, or indeed, read fellow bloggers posts. Unfortunately, for the past several years during which I was in full time education, I have had the displeasure of having the festive period dampened due to exams looming over my head or, latterly, a 12 000 word dissertation deadline. Therefore, this is the first year in many that I can fully embrace Advent and the countdown to Christmas. As the focus of this blog is food, I thought I’d list my Top 10 festive ingredients. These are the fridge and store cupboard ingredients that I think on their own, or when combined with others, epitomise festive cuisine. The list has not been compiled in any particular order with the exception of no. 1. which, for me, I guess, conjures up thoughts of the divinely gorgeous scents of Christmas cooking. Although, I realise that if you are a vegetarian this won’t be featuring anywhere in your own list – apologies for this!

 So here goes,

My Top 10 Festive Ingredients:

1. Turkey

This provides the BIG EVENT for a lot of us on Christmas Day and is a great lean and healthy meat if not smothered in an abundance of fat and butter to roast! The fact it is lean is one of the reasons I eat it throughout the year, usually in the form of turkey breast steaks which I can season in a variety of ways depending on my mood. I’ll be posting some ideas on various ways to use leftover turkey closer to Christmas.


 2. Cheese

Wensleydale with cranberries cheese

Wensleydale with cranberries is my personal favourite for a festive cheese but of course there is an almost never-ending list of seasonal cheeses or year-round varieties that make for a good cheeseboard. Cheeses are not only for the after-dinner cheeseboard, however, they are also great served in cubes as appetisers, melted in a fondue, or as something with which to stuff red peppers or make heavenly smoked salmon pinwheels. (Cream cheese works best for this.) In addition, baked Camembert be used for a super easy starter. Other great cheeses are Stilton, Brie, Arran cheddar cheese (a favourite of mine), gruyere, chèvre,  and soft cheese seasoned with herbs and garlic (e.g. Boursin).


 3. Cinnamon

This is one of the key ingredients in the Christmas staple drink of mulled wine, as well as, festive hot milky drinks e.g. lattes, like my hot banana latte. Cinnamon is also a nice addition to Christmas biscuits (cookies for those in the USA) as it adds a festive flavour. And if you are a regular reader of my blog or if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I’m actually a huge fan of cinnamon year-round! TIP: For a very easy winter warming drink simply heat up some milk in a saucepan or in a microwavable mug with cinnamon and sweeten with honey. This is all natural and much healthier than ‘instant’ drinks in packets which have an assortment of artificial ingredients added.


 4. Berries

Think fruits of the forest blackberries, black cherries, red currants, and cranberries. They can be used to make an array of festive jellies, desserts, winter fruit salads, and, moreover, make an attractive table decoration. Cranberries are key. Cranberry sauce is a must for serving with roast turkey on Christmas Day and in Boxing Day sandwiches. TIP: Here is a recipe of mine for a blueberry sauce, but if you substitute the blueberries with frozen fruits of the forest, you’ll get a lovely festive sauce. Blend with a hand-blender for a perfectly smooth sauce or strain it through a sieve to get a fruit coulis.


 5. Chocolate

Now I’m not talking bog standard, chocolate, I’m talking fine dark luxury chocolate as it’s Christmas, which means the extra special varieties of foods come into play and it’s the season in which everyone deserves a treat. Give it, as it is, as an often fail-proof gift, or use it to make a luxury chocolate parfait, a rich chocolate cake, fondue or fondant cakes. It is also nice to melt some chocolate and make your own chocolate covered nuts and raisins as Christmas party snacks or accompaniments to desserts. TIP: See my post on Make-it-yourself Foodie-themed Christmas gifts for a great chocolate gift idea [COMING SOON!] Perfect for chocoholics’ palates, young and old.


 6. Apples

A selection of varieties of apples: Pink Lady, British Cox’s, and Royal Galas. Yes, apples are popular in my household!

These are perfect for making Christmas chutneys as gifts or my winter-spiced apples [my recipe here] TIP: Thinly slice and bake in the oven to make apples crisps – add some cinnamon before baking so a festive smell is wafted through your home!


 7. Cold meats (prosciutto, parma ham, black forest ham)

Parma Ham

These make perfect appetisers for dinner party guests, cheeky snacks for whoever has the task of doing the cooking (!), salads for starters [like this parma ham salad I made], and fancy ‘pigs in blankets’ (sausages usually wrapped in bacon but these are cleaner alternatives as they should be nitrate free). If buying prosciutto, make sure to buy a genuine Italian product which should be dry-cured with salt only and thus is free of artificial nitrates which have been linked to migraines as a trigger [1]. (From my own experience I can attest to this). Personally, Parma ham is my favourite prosciutto (Italian dry-cured ham). They never use nitrates or artificial products (see here).


 8. Sage

One word: stuffing. Need I say more? But, seriously, sage is a crucial ingredient in many recipes for stuffing and adds a great flavour. It is also a herb which is an antioxidant and provides a great source of Vitamin K.


 9. Nuts

These make a great Christmas party snack. There are so many to choose from and they are easy to serve. Which is your favourite? I’m most partial to pecans and coconut. Mmm…pecans! Almonds are the key ingredient for marzipan, so if you wish to make your own, you’d better stock up on a lot of almonds now! Marzipan is vital for Christmas cakes and other traditional festive foods. Christmas puddings, the traditional Christmas dessert, moreover, also contain a variety of nuts. Although, for me, neither Christmas cake or puddings make much of a showing in my Christmas dinner. *Gasp*. Too rich and heavy for me! TIP: Nut roast is a great alternative to roast turkey for vegetarians.


 10. Duck

An alternative to turkey for Christmas dinner, duck is a meat which a number of festive marinades can really compliment. Marinades and rubs for the duck really give the duck a festive taste and smell. So, for those who find turkey boring, or fancy a change this year, why not give duck a try?

There you go, that is my top 10. Feel free to reblog with a link to my post. The questions I’d love to ask you are – what is your top 10 or what do you think I should have included on my list that I haven’t? Comment below or tweet me @hldcblog.

For further festive updates from this blog subscribe on here, follow my account on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Have a great day,

Helen

x

Copyright ©Hldcblog2014

[1] http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/guide/triggers-specific-foods

Kiwi and apple refresher smoothie

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Ingredients:

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  • 2 kiwis (peeled)
  • 1 apple (I prefer peeled but you can leave the skin on if you want!)
  • 1 stick of celery
  • Water (the volume depends on how thick/thin you like smoothies to be – I used about 1/4 to 1/2 a cup)

1. Finish preparing the ingredients by slicing the kiwis, chopping the apple and cutting the celery into small enough pieces they can be blended easily.

2. Add all ingredients, including some of the water, to a blender and blend until fully combined together and smooth. Then add some more water if you’d like it to be a thinner consistency.

3. Serve and enjoy!

P.S If it’s a lovely sunny day or if you just prefer ice cool drinks, add some ice cubes at the start or serve over ice-cubes at the end for a cooler drink.

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P.P.S

Remember I’d love to see photos of the result when you make this – just Tweet me @hldcblog or use the hashtag #hldcblog on Twitter or Instagram (I’m @HCRinstacam!)

Have a great day,

Helen x