Eat Salads Undressed

Proper punctuation could have added quite a bit of grammatical value to the title of this story but perhaps not as much oomph, yes? The meaning however couldn’t be clearer – avoid dressing on your salads if you’re eating it to eat healthier, unless you know how much of it is being used and what went into it.

This morning I was browsing a list of foods and their nutritive values and was curious to see the most calorie-dense entries in the list. Sorting the table accordingly, I began scrolling down, not surprised to see animal and vegetable fats topping the list. As I scrolled down the long list oils, my curiosity grew – which would be the first non-oil item?

I skipped nuts, believing them to be easy game and continued waiting for The One. It turned out to be the home made version of French dressing! Now, all of us know that most salad dressings use oil of some sort of the other and we almost need a hit of smooth, aromatic olive oil in our salads to complete the expected flavour profile.

So here’s the problem. Quite a few of us look upon salads as saviours for our dietary regimes. True, they can be so. But certainly not if we drown the stuff in high calorie dressing! But, I haven’t yet shared the calorie count, have I? The mentioned number was 631 calories per 100 grams of dressing. If you’re thinking, “But I only use a tablespoon or two”, chances are you use two heaped tablespoons, so let’s make it three tablespoons, which is roughly 45 grams or nearly half the hundred grams you thought too much – about 300 calories in those three harmless looking tablespoons.

Put that into perspective – a 60 kilo person would need to walk briskly (10 minutes per kilometre) for about 2 hours and 25 minutes to burn those calories.

And you thought dressings were harmless? Learn to love the taste and smell of citrus, herbs and other natural, oil-free flavour components. Treat yourself to a light drizzle of good olive oil every once in a while. Undress that salad, now! 

Sid Khullar

Sid Khullar is the founder of Chef at Large, a blog that began in 2007. He enjoys cooking, writing, travelling and technology in addition to being a practising Freemason. Health and wellness is a particularly passionate focus. Sid prefers the company of food and animals to most humans, and can be reached at