Salad Dressing: Dump, Dunk, or Dip?

Are you a dumper, a dunker, or a dipper?

What do you do with your dressing?I’m talking about salad dressings. Many people elect to eat salads in restaurants as a way of controlling calories and getting more vegetables in their diets. But sometimes the added salad dressing can eliminate the benefits of the salad.

Generally, if you let the restaurant add the dressing, you’ll end up with a salad that is drowning in dressing. Sometimes it gets so bad that the dressing overpowers the flavor of the salad ingredients. To save the swimming lettuce, savvy salad eaters ask for their dressing “on the side.”

But have you ever watched what people do after they get their side of dressing? This is where the dumping, dipping, or dunking comes in.

Dumping is when a person takes the entire cup of dressing and dumps it on the salad. Those little cups of dressing look fairly small, but they usually contain about ¼ cup of dressing.

According to the USDA Nutrient Database, a 1/4 cup of regular commercial ranch dressing contains 253 calories (27 grams of fat, 3 grams of sugar, and 541 mg of sodium). One of my husband’s favorites is Caesar dressing, so I checked that out, too. Yikes! That’s even worse: 318 calories (34 grams of fat, 2 grams of sugar and 710 mg of sodium) in just 1/4 cup. I sometimes wonder why people ask for dressing on the side when they do this, but I guess there is some portion control because they at least know how much was dumped on the salad without a server doing it for them.

DunkingA more healthful approach to dealing with dressing is dunking. This is done by dunking the forkful of salad into the dressing before you eat it. Then you only get a small amount of dressing on the lettuce, and this can help you make the most of the dressing without drowning the salad in it.

A third method for dressing maintenance is dipping. This method is often recommended by healthful eaters, and is done by dipping the fork into the dressing before picking up the salad ingredients.

DippingBy dipping, the diner gets just the small amount of dressing that sticks to the fork tines with each bite. Dipping allows for the flavor to come through without nearly as much fat and calories per bite.

On average, it only takes one to two tablespoons of salad dressing to flavor two cups of salad greens. Overdoing it on dressing can really add calories to a potentially healthful meal.

So the next time you’re dining out, look for those dumpers, dunkers, and dippers.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

Want to feature salad in other ways? Check out these great resources!

Benefits of Salad Poster

Make Your Salad a Rainbow Buttons

Salad Secrets Cookbook

Oh, and here’s a free handout that highlights the keys of today’s blog post! Check it out!

Salad Dressing Guide

 

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updated on 10-26-2020