8 nutritionist-approved recipes to try this summer

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    Switching up what you eat as the weather gets warmer but feel like you’ve forgotten how to make all of your favourite healthy salad dressings from last summer?

    Fear not – we’ve asked registered nutritionist and co-founder of ARDERE, Lauren Windas for her go-to’s. Trust us when we say you’ll want to bookmark these recipes for the warmer months ahead – they’re simple, use common ingredients you’ll have in your cupboard and take no time to make.

    Why a salad dressing, then? Because they can make your salad – a powerhouse of vitamins, nutrients and minerals – into a flavoursome meal, adding a new dimension of flavour, shares the nutritionist.

    They can provide a myriad of health benefits, too. How? Well, fun fact: dressing your salad increase the absorption of certain nutrients that are found within your salad vegetables, shares Windas. “The fat in salad dressing helps absorb key nutrients such as lycopene and beta-carotene which can help protect you against certain diseases such as heart disease.”

    Normally comprising of oils, vinegars, herbs and fruits, that said, it’s important to consider what source of fat you use in your salad dressing, along with other additives. Also – make sure your salad is always a combination of carbs, fats and protein to form a balanced meal.

    Here, Windas shares her go-to healthy salad dressings. Don’t miss our roundups of expert-approved healthy breakfast ideas, healthy snack ideas, and healthy smoothie recipes, while you’re here.

    8 healthy salad dressings to try this summer

    Did you know? A number of store-bought salad dressings have the potential to actually negate the health benefits of eating a salad due to the addition of artificial flavours, sodium-rich preservatives and high quantities of added sugars such as high-fructose corn syrup, shares Windas.

    “It’s much more beneficial – not to mention fun! – to make your own,” she continues. Plus, they can be as simple as just one or two ingredients. Ready to get started? Here are some healthy salad dressings you can whip up at home.

    1. Olive oil and lemon

    Dresses: one salad portion.


    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice
    • A pinch of salt.

    Nutrition wins? Windas shares that this dressing is particularly easy to muster up, using just two ingredients that you’re bound to have at home. “Maximise the nutritional benefits by having this dressing over a vegan protein salad,” she recommends. Why? “Because when you consume foods with a high vitamin C content, such as lemon juice, alongside non-haem iron foods (i.e. plant based iron sources such as beans or lentils), it can help increase your iron absorption from these plant based iron sources.”

    Read our guide to vegan protein, vegan protein sources, and following a plant-based diet, while you’re here.

    2. Balsamic vinegar

    Dresses: one salad portion.


    • 1 ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar

    Nutrition wins? Things don’t need to be complicated, shares the expert. “Let go of a million-and-one ingredients and take things back to basics by adding a drizzle of balsamic vinegar to your salad,” she advises.

    Why? This is the perfect dressing for delivering a sharp punch and underlying sweetness of flavour when you’re in a rush, she explains. “Balsamic is made from the fermentation of grapes, contains no fat and very little natural sugars. Plus, some studies show how consuming a glaze of balsamic vinegar can help to lower cholesterol and decrease hypertension.”

    Healthy salad dressings: Balsamic vinegar

    3. Chimichurri dressing

    Dresses: One large sharing salad.


    • 1 cup chopped parsley
    • 4 garlic cloves
    • 1 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
    • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
    • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
    • ½ red chilli diced
    • ½ tsp of chilli flakes
    • ½ shallot diced
    • ½ tsp salt
    • A pinch of pepper.

    Nutrition wins? Derived from South America and traditionally served as a marinade with grilled meats, this dressing can also add a herbaceous, tangy and slightly spicy kick to your salad. On the health win front, it’s anti-inflammatory and due to its high parsley content, it’s full of vitamins A, C and K, she shares. “Combined with a mixture of other high anti-inflammatory ingredients such as garlic and healthy fats in the form of olive oil, this dressing is a nutritional powerhouse,” she goes on.

    Read our guide to the Mediterranean Diet for more on why consuming a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods is associated with a reduced risk of diseases that are linked with chronic inflammation.

    Healthy salad dressings: Chimichurri in a blender

    4. Honey mustard dressing

    Dresses: one large sharing salad


    • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
    • 1 tbsp honey
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
    • Pinch of salt
    • Pinch of pepper.

    Nutrition wins? Whilst more substantial evidence is needed, some studies show how apple cider vinegar has great promise for helping lower blood sugar responses following meals, the pro explains. “While this salad dressing includes some natural sugars in the form of honey, you’re in control of the sweetness levels, which is far more advantageous than some of the store-bought dressings ladened with added sugars and artificial sweeteners.”

    Ever heard of an apple cider vinegar for your hair? Read our Health Ed’s review here.

    Healthy salad dressings: Variety of sauces and salad dressings

    5. Immunity defence dressing

    Dresses: one large sharing salad


    • ¼ cup avocado oil
    • 3 garlic cloves chopped
    • 3 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 tsp honey
    • 2 tsp ground turmeric
    • 1 tsp dijon mustard.

    Nutrition wins? The ingredients such as the avocado oil (monosaturated fat) and lemon juice (high in vitamin C) in this dressing will help you maximise your nutrient absorption from your salad vegetables, shares the nutritionist. “Not only that, but it’s high in anti-inflammatory garlic and turmeric to help support your immune system.”

    Did you know? Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, may have protective effects against cancer and is a fantastic antioxidant to get more of into the diet, where possible, explains Windas.

    Healthy salad dressings: Woman pouring olive oil at salad. Preparing food in garden

    6. French dressing

    Dresses: one salad dressing.


    • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
    • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • Pinch of salt
    • Pinch of pepper.

    Nutrition wins? “Typically French dressings in the supermarket contain lots of sugar, so make your own at home for a lower-sugar version,” Windas explains.

    Healthy salad dressings: a french dressing on green leaves

    7. Tahini dressing

    Dresses: two portions of salad.


    • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 4 tbsp tahini
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 2 tbsp filtered water
    • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
    • 2 tsp maple syrup
    • Pinch of salt
    • Pinch of pepper.

    Nutrition wins? Fun fact: tahini is a paste made from sunflower seeds which are naturally rich in vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that protects your body’s cells from oxidative stress. “Plus, olive oil contains an anti-inflammatory antioxidant called oleocanthal, which has been researched for its potential to prevent cognitive decline, such as Alzheimer’s disease,” shares Windas. “When combined together with some citrus, mustard and a hint of sweetness, you’ve got the perfect delicious accompaniment for your healthy salad.”

    Healthy salad dressings:Homemade tahini or tahina, paste from ground sesame seeds

    8. Tamari lime dressing

    Dresses: one large sharing salad.


    • 2 tbsp tamari
    • 2 tbsp lime juice
    • 2 tbsp sesame oil
    • Thumb-sized piece of grated ginger
    • 1 garlic clove grated
    • 1 tsp honey.

    Nutrition wins? This is an Asian dressing everyone can enjoy, even those that are gluten-free, shares the nutritionist. “Replace the traditional soy sauce dressing that contains gluten with its gluten-free replacement tamari for an all round option everyone can enjoy,” she adds.

    It packs a punch on the health front, too. Ginger exhibits potent antiviral effects, helps reduce inflammation, is renowned for helping counteract feelings of nausea and can help with gastrointestinal distress, too. Not to mention the fact research has found it can help gut motility as well as have carminative effects on the stomach, helping to prevent bloating as well as helping reduce intestinal cramping.

    What more could you want?

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