Salad Dressing: It’s OK to buy the bottle

How does one introduce themselves to a blog? Who is MinnesotaMrs and what qualifies me to be contributing to The Hack’s Bloated Belly? The answer is just that—I have on more than on occasion cooked up a meal that contributed to The Hack’s bloated belly, and he approved. I guess he decided that my amateur cooking talents and opinionated personality qualify me to offer up my thoughts on food to the virtual world…or he’s amused that a skinny pageant queen would bake pie crusts the old fashioned way, with lard (don’t judge, some things just have to be done right) and savor a lamb burger with a couple rounds of Summit Pale Ale. Whatever the reason, here I am, qualified or not- with plenty of opinions to share.

As the perfect house wife (c’mon this is the Internet, I get to be who ever I want) I shop for and prepare approximately 21 meals every week. As a fitness professional I do my best to ensure that the majority of those 21 meals are healthful and well balanced. As a foodie I refuse to compromise taste, texture and flavor for nutrition. I want to have my cake and eat it all, or at least one appropriately portioned slice. So what’s my secret? How do I do it? All those meals, all so healthy, all so delicious? The answer my friends, is salad dressing.

Before you go jumping to conclusions, I’m not talking about a rabbit food, all-veggie diet—not even close. I use salad dressing as a marinade for steak and chicken as often as I use it on salad. The real secret is the right dressing. Sure, you can make your own, and on “foodie” blogs one can read the heavy-handed the guilt trips about how one should really make their own, that there’s no excuse not to, blah blah blah.

And you can make your own. And I do that sometimes. But, come on folks. Admit it. You buy salad dressings. You do! And that’s OK!

You should follow these two rules, however, for purchased dressings.

Rule number 1: DON’T EVER by low fat or light dressing.
Rule number 2: DON’T EVER, EVER by fat-free dressing—yuck!

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The foundation of a great salad dressing is a high quality oil, ya know, the GOOD FAT that your body needs and your taste buds crave. The favorite everyday salad dressing at our house is Newman’s Own Olive Oil and Vinegar. This is my go to dressing for chicken marinade, quinoa or grain based side-dishes and salads/veggies. Newman’s Olive Oil and Vinegar is like the girl next door of salad dressings, nothing too flashy, but just tempting enough to get noticed. If you haven’t tried this dressing, stop reading now, go to the store, by a package of chicken breasts and bottle of Newman’s OO and V, marinade overnight, bake or grill your chicken and be impressed with your very awesome cooking skills.

When the girl next door no longer makes your taste buds water or you have some foodie friends like The Hack coming over for dinner, try one of the bright whimsical creations from Salad Girl.image

I LOVE Salad Girl dressings and although we have never met I am quite certain myself and Salad Girl creator Pam Powell are soul sisters. She, like me, believes that salad dressing has a higher calling- to be used as marinade, dip, drizzled over pasta or rice or taken as a body shot (Salad Girl is that good). My favorite creation so far is 24-hour marinaded then grilled ribeye steak using Salad Girl’s Blueberry Basil. As an added bonus Salad Girl is a local, family-run, organic company and its blog is overflowing with delicious, healthy recipes and ideas.

Last on my list for this post is Brianna’s, specifically the Real French Vinaigrette, because I have an awesome recipe for this one to share with you—and they clearly understand the sexy girl next door fantasy.

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Try this:
Asparagus and Eggs
4 peeled, chopped hard boiled eggs
one bunch of blanched asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup of Brianna’s Real French Vinaigrette
Mix it all together and chow down.

It’s simple, it’s awesome, it’s great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. So, go forth, cook better, healthier, more delicious food with your guilt-free purchase of salad dressing at the grocery store! Stay tuned for more…if The Hack doesn’t can me after one post.

Leah Nicholson (MinnesotaMrs) is an ass-kicking personal trainer, a damn fine home cook and…Mrs. Minnesota United States 2012. Follow her at @MrsMN2012.

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