For the last year, I’ve been in the midst of a transformation.
I wanted to feel better. I mean that in terms of my physical health and my self esteem.
At this point, I’m down about 60 pounds. I can’t believe it.
A lot went into this journey, but there were two points of focus: diet and exercise.
I didn’t latch onto some fad which required eating 2/3 of a caterpillar and 1/4 of a newt’s eye. I just limited my intake of calories. I also started working out 5-6 days per week.
Instead of depriving myself of my favorite foods and drinks, I either cut back or figured out a way to get the flavor without the calories.
My job doesn’t allow for the daily use of a microwave, so I’ve turned to salads. I once worked with a guy who ate salad without dressing. I just can’t even imagine. Can you?
The truth is that he’s onto something. All the calories in a salad come in the dressing. On top of that, the ingredients in most bottled dressings come with pronunciations that would make a nun blush.
Ranch and French, or Catalina, are my favorite dressings. They’re loaded with calories, so I and to find an alternative. Vinaigrettes get old.
For the Ranch:
- 1 7oz. container of Fage Greek yogurt
- 1/4 lemon
- 3 Tbsp. milk
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. dried parsley
- 2 dashes cayenne (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. smoked paprika
Whisk all ingredients together until the mixture is smooth. Refrigerate one hour or overnight.I like Fage here because it’s the thickest of the Greek yogurts at the supermarket.This version of ranch is rich and creamy. It’s great for a dip, too.
It has a kick to it. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, leave out the cayenne.
Two tablespoons is about 34 calories. Two tablespoons of Hidden Valley ranch is 140 calories. Food for thought.
For my Creamy Tangy Tomato:
- 1 7oz. container of Fage Greek Yogurt
- 1/4 cup V8
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp. honey
- 1 tsp. dried parsley
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
Freeze the rest of the tomato paste for a later use. Make a Bloody Mary with the rest of the V8. Trust me. You won’t regret it.
I like to keep these dressings in mason jars in the fridge. I portion out 2 tablespoons each morning to take with my salad.
If you like your dressings to be very loose and pourable, add more liquid: milk in the ranch and V8 in the creamy tangy tomato.
The ranch is great with a buffalo chicken salad. Try the creamy tangy tomato on a salad with chickpeas.
Because these dressings are thick, try tossing the salads with the dressings in a big bowl before serving. Saving calories at lunch means you have more calories to spend later, and by later, I mean dessert.
Tip: Branch out from the typical lettuce salad. I like to use French lentils. They keep their shape and they’re packed with protein.Combine 1 cup French lentils, 1/2 tsp. ground coriander, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, and 1 1/2 cup water in a pan. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes, reduce to simmer, and cook for 10-15 minutes drain.
In a big bowl, combine the cooked lentils, a handful of cherry tomatoes, half a red onion chopped, 1 cup of thawed frozen peas, and one can of drained and rinsed chickpeas. Add a big pinch of salt and pepper. Stir.
Divide this salad into 4 containers. Feast on it for lunch Monday-Thursday (eat out on Friday to celebrate the end of the work week).Each morning, I make a vinaigrette to pour on the salad. I like to make a different one each day, because it prevents the salad from getting boring.
I usually combine 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (substitute pistachio, basil, garlic or lemon oils) with 3/4 tbsp. vinegar (red wine, coconut, apple cider). I add in salt, pepper, and spices (garlic powder or ginger). Some days I use a drop of Dijon mustard or honey.
You’ll never get tired of salads again!