One of my Rules of Thumb is to stick with dressings less than 50 calories per serving (2 Tablespoons). Why? I know that a salad dressing isn’t going to fill me up. By sticking with low-calorie dressing, I can still get the taste and added flavor in my salad without wasting (potentially) hundreds of calories on something that isn’t going to leave me feeling full after my meal. I’d rather invest those calories in nutritionally dense fats and proteins. Wouldn’t you?
So how do I do it? Well, salad dressings can be deceiving! “Oil and vinegar” or clear dressings like vinaigrettes can seem like the best option, but they easily add 200-300 calories to salads. Personally, I’d like to spend those calories elsewhere! And I’m sure you would too. You can spend your time looking at and comparing the nutritional panels of various options or check out my recommendations below.
One important thing to note is serving size. Make sure you actually measure out the salad dressing, at least for the first couple of times. It can be very easy to splash your dressing on top and not realise how much you’ve really added. Once you’ve got a good idea of what 2 tablespoons looks like, you can be a bit more relaxed but don’t go overboard!
Here’s a good visual to help you understand the difference between salad dressings.
You guys know I spend a lot of time at Trader Joe’s. It’s just too full of amazing, healthy options! Here are some of my favorites under 50 calories per 2 Tbsp.
My Favorite Trader Joe’s Salad Dressings
Fat Free Balsamic Vinaigrette – 25 calories per 2 Tbsp
I’m usually somewhat doubtful about fat-free dressings, but this one is so good. It has a great vinaigrette tang without being over-powering. Having a classic vinaigrette in your cupboard is a good idea as it goes with most salad styles. Make sure you pick up the fat-free version, not the full-fat though as it can be easy to get them confused! Once they’re in your salad, if you’re used to the full-fat version, you’re highly unlikely to be able to tell the difference. A little swap like this can make a huge difference to your calorie intake over the course of a week.
Green Goddess Salad Dressing – 20 calories per 2 Tbsp
This dressing looks good enough to eat! Packaged up like a green smoothie, you know it’s going to be a delicious addition to any salad. Packed full of green goodness, I absolutely love this salad dressing. It goes especially well with a southern style, black bean salad. Try this in salads or stir through pasta dish as a healthy option (rather than heavy cream-based sauces). Make sure you keep this one in the fridge and it is fresh and hasn’t been pasteurized.
Soy Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette – 35 calories per 2 Tbsp
It can be hard to find a good sesame ginger vinaigrette. I love to have this in my cupboard to use as both a salad dressing and a marinade for meat, especially chicken or pork. I also sometimes use it as a dipping sauce for like summer rolls or dumplings. The Asian flavors in this can brighten up any salad. It’s got just the right thickness to really coat up everything in the salad as you mix it through. Delicious!
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