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Eeee!! 18+ of the best salad dressing ideas…Coach Nancy helps us get creative and we’ll show you how to mix and match. Let’s think about making our salad dressings not such a big issue and let’s just get the greens by any means! 🙂

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I get a lot of questions about what I put on my salad, so let’s talk about it! It may seem like a simple topic, but in reality, it makes such a difference. A good dressing makes it easy to Eat to Live- and love it- for good.

Why do you need a dressing? It comes down to flavor and moisture. Dressing is the best way to spice up a drab salad.

My #1 tip is to chop my salads into tiny pieces. This serves two purposes:

  1. It makes it easier to eat
  2. It creates a more moist salad by releasing the juices from the vegetables. This in itself can actually serve as a dressing, or it means you can use less dressing. This is especially true if you use juicy fruit in your salads. Shredded apples and oranges or tangelos (either small pieces or juiced) are great.

If you hate eating salads, it might be because you’re chopping it too thickly- it’s just not appealing to eat it that way. The smaller you chop the fruit, the more surface area is exposed, so you get more flavor and juice. Yum! 

Rice vinegar is another great way to add moisture to your salad. It’s special because it’s only 4% acidic compared to 6-7% of most vinegars, so it’s milder and more pleasant to eat.

There’s another unexpected ingredient I love using as salad dressing. You’ll never guess! Sauerkraut. It packs in so much flavor, crunch, and tasty tartness with few calories. I like the Bubbies brand. One thing to watch is the sodium content: ¼ cup packs in 290 mg of sodium, which is fairly high if we’re aiming for 750 mg/day. But there’s an easy workaround: rinse the sauerkraut in a sieve to remove most of the salt. Sauerkraut is an acquired taste, but once you’re on board, you’ll never go back.

Salsa is another great dressing option. Like sauerkraut, you need to watch the sodium content. Green Mountain Gringo is a low-sodium option I like packing just 85 mg in 2 tablespoons. That’s not too bad, especially since you may be able to get away with 1 tablespoon on a salad. Salsa tastes great when combined with hummus: dollops of salsa and hummus are fantastic. 

Mustard is another great ingredient, and the Westbrae Natural brand has no sodium! Try these combinations:

  • Hummus and mustard
  • Salsa and mustard
  • Vinegars and mustard (balsamic is a great combo)

Balsamic vinegar is a personal favorite. The Napa Valley Naturals brand has 4% acidity and is quite thick and sweet, perfect for dressing. Watch out that the brand is not adding extra sugar. I recently picked up a lime jalapeno and white balsamic from a specialty olive oil shop- YUMMY! A little drizzled on top of a salad is fabulous. Some other varieties for salad include hickory and cherry balsamic vinegars. You may be able to find local speciality stores, or if not, there are lots of great online options. Look for 4% vinegars that are fruit-based and flavorful. Experiment for yourself and see what you love: you have to decide for yourself what tastes good! 

When it comes to fat on your salad, raw tahini makes a great base. Drizzled tahini and balsamic is a wonderful dressing. Almond butter is a new favorite of mine; again, just a tablespoon or two on a huge salad with some vinegar on top so it coats is great. The secret is to stir the salad thoroughly, so everything is coated.

We recently had a special request for dressings with no soaked nuts. There is nothing easier than a couple tablespoons of almond butter and balsamic vinegar! Throw it over the salad, and once you’re used to the amounts, you don’t even need to measure it. Remember, with Eat to Live we don’t count calories. Yes, almond butter has more calories than, say, salsa, but if you’re looking for the familiar fat-based mouth feel that you’re used to with oily salads, you can’t beat almond butter for dressings. It’s the easiest way to go, and the fat helps you absorb the micronutrients in the greens. Many minerals and vitamins are fat-soluble so you need the fat to get the most out of your meal.

Another hot tip is keeping a traveling kit for salad dressings on the go. Yes, I always take dressing with me in my purse, so I have no excuses for eating well! No matter what restaurant I go to, I can whip up my own salad dressings at any time. My kit contains:

  1. Dark balsamic vinegar
  2. Blackberry balsamic
  3. Tahini
  4. Table Tasty seasoning (for umami flavor)

When making up your salads, think of the flavor components you want to incorporate. You want flavors that are sweet, umami (savory), salty, creamy, sour, and spicy. By using all these tasty components, you may not even need a dressing!

Mrs. Dash salt-free seasonings sprinkled on top of a salad are great. I love the chipotle flavor and onion and herb.  Jalapeno seasoning is also great for a bit of spice. Get creative! Think about the flavor that will bring the salad some lift. What you sprinkle on top will make it more palatable and will help you to enjoy the great salad you created.

I hope these salad topping ideas helped! Remember, you don’t always need a salad dressing. Fruit and sunflower or pumpkin seeds can do the trick just as well. Think outside the salad dressing bottle. And if the salad is boring, add a bit of juice. Experiment over time with different options, and you’ll find what works for you. If you’re like me, it’ll work for a few days, and then you’re ready to switch it up to a new dressing. Have fun and be creative- remember, you can’t make a mistake! And continue to come back to our blog for new ideas. 

With these 18 salad dressing ideas, you have no more excuses for not eating great salads. Armed with these ideas, any obstacles you still encounter are solely due to your mindset, not because it doesn’t taste great. And don’t forget, if you like following recipes, there is a free 9 day challenge on our website. This plan is bursting with 9 days of recipes, groceries, meal plans, and everything else you need for a Nutritarian lifestyle. 


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