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Reinventing My Summer Salad – Bariatric Edition

Last week I talked about hamburgers and sabotage.   I hope you got the chance to read that blog and if you didn’t, here is the LINK for it. 
This week I am sort of staying along the same lines of how we can sabotage ourselves with the food choices we make. Each season has food landmines.  When I think about Summer and the gorgeous ways we eat and entertain while the weather is nice and the sun is shining bright, one main dish that comes to mind is the “Summer Salad”.
There are so many ways to incorporate fresh vegetables and fruit into our diets during the Summer months.  Remember, I am from Quebec, Canada so our summers are very short and very hot and humid.  We don’t want to be slaving away in the kitchen over a hot stove or oven.  We grill outdoors at least 4 times a week.  We cook up perfect sources of protein along with tons of veggies on the grill.  It’s mid-June and I am not at all tired of smelling the food on the grill.
Another typical Summer meal for me is a big salad.  Gosh, so many ways to make the perfect salad.  You’ve got your typical Greek Salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, feta cheese, and olives topped with olive oil and salt.  
You’ve got the Caprese Salad with fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella cheese, topped with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
You’ve got the Cobb Salad that is loaded with eggs, ham, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a creamy dressing.
So that is where I am going with this blog.  Salad dressing … and all the ways to reinvent it.
Why would we want to reinvent our salad dressing?  Well, this is where it can go “all wrong” very quickly.  We have a beautiful bowl full of fresh veg, fruit, and protein, and then we top it with some salad dressing we buy at our local grocery store. The picture on the front of the label shows onion, garlic, cilantro, and a few other perfect foods.  What the front label doesn’t show is canola oil or any of the sugars, artificial flavors, colors, emulsifiers, stabilizers, and the list goes on and on.
For today’s purpose, let’s just talk about canola oil.  It is almost ALWAYS the first ingredient in your salad dressing.  It doesn’t matter if your dressing says “made with avocado oil or olive oil”… the first ingredient will be canola oil and then further down the list you will find the avocado or olive oil added.  
What’s canola oil? Canola oil is a vegetable oil derived from the canola plant.  Canola oil is not a good source of nutrients and it can contain small amounts of trans fats that are harmful to your health.  Trans fats, something like you will find in canola oil,  is not good for you.  They are associated with heart disease, obesity, and even memory loss.
So if your salad dressing contains canola oil, what can you use as a replacement?  My favorites are avocado oil and olive oil.  I don’t use them often but other healthy oils include walnut oil and pumpkin seed oil.  
Some of my Summer salads will have healthy oils added but what about a creamy dressing? How can you replace your favorite ranch dressing or your favorite creamy dill?  I’ve been experimenting with different salad dressings this summer and I want to share some ideas with you.
This recipe contains no added oils and it is high in protein and super healthy for you!  It is also packed with flavor.
*I use my food processor and I add:
  • 3 tablespoons of high-quality greek yogurt, 
  • 1 freshly squeezed lime or lemon
  • Splash of vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro or dill
  • Lots of seasonings like salt and pepper
  • A tiny amount of stevia
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of water if you would like it thinner
*blend for a minute and serve immediately or store in a glass container in the fridge for a few days.
Sheri’s Creamy Dressing is high in protein and low in calories!  I am not an obsessive calorie counter but I don’t feel like consuming 400 calories in salad dressing (if ya know what I mean). 
How easy was that?  Yes, I know it would be easier to just pour some pre-made salad dressing onto my salad but I am trying to stay away from the canola oils and my other worry is the amount of dressing I like to use.  The serving size on the back label of the dressing says 1 tablespoon.  Hello, who eats 1 tablespoon of dressing?  I use more like 3 big tablespoons.  That’s adding a whopping amount of calories and canola oil to my salad.
If you are not into cilantro or dill, you can just make the greek yogurt base and add whatever flavors you like. You can use my recipe or reinvent it to your taste.  Another option is taking one tablespoon of your favorite pre-made salad dressing as a base and to that, you add the greek yogurt and additional seasonings.  
When I was younger, I didn’t eat so many salads.  I didn’t worry much about a bit of salad dressing.  Now that I am eating salads every day, the amount of dressing I eat is going to make a difference in my overall health.  This is why I’ve started taking my salad dressing seriously.  I am reinventing it and finding ways to introduce different flavors to my salads.  I feel better about using greek yogurt as a base and I’ve also experimented with using cottage cheese as a base.
Let me know if you decide to try my recipe for your summer salads.  Give it a try.  You may like it!
Here’s to you and your health!

About the Author: Sheri Burke is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Bariatric Surgery Coordinator at International Patient Facilitators in Tijuana and Cancun, Mexico. She has worked with bariatric surgery clients for over 10 years and especially enjoys providing nutritional guidance to pre and post bariatric clients.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two teens and cooking up a nutritional storm in the kitchen.

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