Food Showdown: How to Dress Up Your Salad for Less

4SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
6/23/2012 10:00 AM   :  62 comments   :  28,802 Views

Ranch dressing is one tasty topper that many dieters don't want to give up.  Unfortunately, the full-fat version can pack up to 120 calories and 12 grams of fat per a measley two-tablespoon serving! Luckily, you can still have your ranch and eat it, too, even while watching your weight: many dressing manufacturers toil over making lower-fat and lower-calorie versions of this creamy sauce that still pack plenty of flavor.

Both of these ranch dressing options are fat-free, but which one is lowest in calories: Hidden Valley Fat-Free Ranch or Kraft Fat-Free Ranch?

The Winner: Hidden Valley Fat-Free Ranch!

 
Consider Hidden Valley to be the ranch dressing authority. Their fat-free version contains less calories of its competitor, at 30 calories for one serving. Kraft's ranch dressing also makes a good choice compared to regular ranch, but loses this battle since it contains 50 calories. Flavor your salad for less by dipping each bite into dressing on the side, rather than pouring an entire serving (or two) on top of your salad. Other healthy dressing options include low-fat or fat-free vinaigrette, salsa (great for Mexican salads!) or a touch of olive oil and vinegar. You can also buy ranch seasoning packets and stir them into low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt for a protein-packed veggie dip!

What's your favorite way to dress your veggies?


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Comments

  • FOXGLOVE999
    62
    I prefer to make my own low-fat ranch with ranch dip mix and light sour cream, sometimes I add an avocado to make avocado ranch dip/dressing, yummy. I have to say I rarely agree with food recommendations from weight loss sites, I tried the Bolthouse dressings and thought they were terrible. - 10/9/2014   8:48:09 AM
  • LANALREED
    61
    I've never left a comment before, but I have to share this. My coworkers and I are hooked on Bolthouse Farms Yogurt Dressings. I keep Classic Ranch, Salsa Ranch and Ceasar Parmigiano in my fridge all the time. The 2 tablespoon serving is 25 calories for the Ceasar or 30 for the ranches and it tastes great! My coworkers also love the Asian Ginger and Vinaigrettes, which I'll get around to trying soon. Look for it in the produce department of your grocery store. Look at the entire line on www.bolthouse.com I bet you'll be hooked too. - 12/30/2012   12:33:30 PM
  • ANDY_54
    60
    Oh, cannot eat the fat free salad dressing--the brands I've tried taste sort of plastic-y to me. I take the lite or full fat versions, but use them sparingly. I depend on the flavor of what I add in the salad (edamame, peppers, olives, arugala, onions, carrots, cauliflower, even cold roasted brussels sprouts) to make up the flavor I don't get from the dressing--and it works! - 11/18/2012   6:47:35 AM
  • 59
    My absolute favorite salad dressing is salsa. It adds lots of flavor with almost no calories. Sometimes I'll sprinkle on some shredded part-skim mozzarella for a little creaminess, too. - 10/23/2012   3:33:46 PM
  • 58
    Luckily I don't like salad dressing, with the exception of a bit of low-fat thousand island on my crab louie, on my salads. I always order it on the side when I have salad out because most restaurants drown their veggies in it. Yuck. I prefer seasoned rice vinegar (at 20 calories per tablespoon) or some balsamic with a few drops of olive oil or fresh squeezed lemon. They all seem to enhance the flavor of the salad greens rather than over power. - 10/14/2012   3:14:28 PM
  • 57
    This is contradictory to what is posted else where on your site. You need fat with your salad to absorb certain vitamins. - 9/9/2012   8:00:54 AM
  • 56
    Here's a recent article on a study proving that "No-fat, low-fat dressings don't get most nutrients out of salads":
    www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/20
    12/120619FerruzziSalad.html

    Because why eat salad if you aren't getting the "good stuff" out of it? Worth a read! - 7/5/2012   4:03:22 PM
  • 55
    I'm finding that what I put in my salad makes the dressing a lot less important.
    I'm pretty much just using red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar. I like the the way it contrasts with the sweetness of the strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries in the salad. - 6/27/2012   1:45:16 PM
  • LEANNIMAL88
    54
    Bolthouse Farms yogurt-based salad dressings are the best! Low sugar and only 25 cal per serving. - 6/26/2012   7:19:14 PM
  • JJ_WALKER
    53
    I've lost 40 pounds in 8 1/2 months without "going on a diet". I don't believe in "fat-free" foods loaded with junk. I just count calories and fill up on healthy food, while enjoying 2% Greek yogurt with fruit every morning, and a square or two of dark chocolate nearly every day, along with normal food. I never feel cheated. When I'm really hungry between meals, I scarf some grape tomatoes or cucumbers. EAT REAL FOOD, just less of it, and EXERCISE! I walk 4-5 miles per day, in an hour or so, outdoors. - 6/26/2012   6:04:59 PM
  • SIERRYA
    52
    Sorry I dont agree. With salads you want some fat in there or you are wasting so many nutrients that are fat soluble. If you have cheese or meat fine go for the fat free but why eat something unless it is going to satisfy you. I would rather put my fav ranch on the side and dip my fork in the dressing before I put the salad on there. A diet trick I read somewhere years ago and just incorporated it in my life. Perfect amount of dressing per bite and I dont feel like I am depriving myself =). Usually always have some of my serving or dressing left over unless I was starving and used a BIG salad bowl for my meal lol.

    So far since Jan 2011 I am down 70 lb without ever going on a diet. Lots of small lifestyle changes like dipping your fork into dressing add up over time and you never feel deprived because nothing is forbidden in moderation.
    - 6/26/2012   3:32:24 PM
  • 51
    I really believe in the full fat. Not only do we need some fat in our diets it also helps satiate you so you eat less at your meal. I always only have 1 TBS of full fat dressing mixed with 1 TBS of something low cal. For ranch a bit of fat free greek yogurt, for Caesar (one of my favs) some lemon juice, vinaigrettes I have with whatever vinegar compliments them. I eat a ton more veggies this way too. - 6/26/2012   1:26:49 PM
  • 50
    Here's the huge issue I have with a majority of fat-free products: sugar! You may be saving on the fat grams, but the sugar can be twice or three times the "full fat" version. If you're watching your sugar intake, dressings like these can be little landmines! - 6/26/2012   1:13:59 PM
  • ANNMH130
    49
    Many of Annie's Natural Organic Salad Dressings are under 60 calories and very tasty: Raspberry Vinagrette, Lemon Zest, Fat Free Mango...to name a few. I eat salad 2-3 times a day by making it an after meal snack. - 6/26/2012   10:32:19 AM
  • 48
    Ranch dressing is useless calories in any form! - 6/26/2012   7:29:34 AM
  • BARBLAM1
    47
    In my opinion salad dressing usually is just not worth the calories. I do buy the Kraft ff Asian Dressing, but cut it with Balsamic Vinegar. I would rather have extra Vegetables or protein than waste 100 calories on dressing. I also tend to use hotter spices like Chili Pepper and LOVE Jalapenos. I have tried the no-sodium salt substitutes, but they taste metalic to me, but add some garlic powder and Red Chili Pepper and I'm happy with little or no salad dressing. - 6/26/2012   7:16:21 AM
  • 46
    When eating raw vegetables....it is good to have a little fat. Some of the nutrients need fat to be used by the body...some veggies also are better for you cooked...for one carrots. The important thing is making sure the fats consumed are good for you fats....olive oil, or avocado, or nuts or seeds. Eating well is chemistry...I am afraid we just are not taught enough to know what is good for us. Most of us eat with our taste buds rather than our intellect. Learning to eat mindfully is what this journey is all about.
    - 6/25/2012   3:02:10 PM
  • 45
    DH and I have used high-quality olive oil and a good balsamic vinegar for years. Then we found a balsamic that is meant to be for glazing (there are several, but we like Isola Classic Cream we found at Whole Foods, with just 27 calories in one tablespoon). The glaze is thick, so it sticks to the food rather than sinking to the bottom of the bowl. I like it so much that I stopped using the oil, and because it sticks, I use less than a tablespoon. - 6/25/2012   9:04:24 AM
  • SFLEENOR
    44
    My favorite salad dressing is Wishbone's Creamy Caesar, nothing else tastes quite as yummy to me. - 6/25/2012   7:16:41 AM
  • 43
    Both of these dressings are full of unhealthy crap! Why not try Annie's or Paul Newman low fat? We don't have to go without dressing or have something unhealthy or make our own! There are healthy options out there ... and they go on sale! - 6/25/2012   1:55:04 AM
  • 42
    Whatever dressing I do use, I don't use much of it. I prefer to taste the ingredients in the salad. I went to Wendy's & had one of their salads& got Marzetti's Raspberry Venegraite. That was very good!It wasn't as acidy as other brands I have tasted. - 6/25/2012   12:19:34 AM
  • 41
    What I'd really like to see on blogs/commercials/food packages that compare calories: use the word "fewer" rather than "less." Something has 20% fewer calories than something else. - 6/24/2012   10:01:27 PM
  • 40
    For a salad mix, I just like a squeeze of lime. yum. - 6/24/2012   9:53:33 PM
  • 39
    I agree with some of the other comments - no salad dressing for me! Why waste the calories eating something that isn't that good for me and also hides the woderful tatses of the foods in the salad??? - 6/24/2012   5:13:57 PM
  • 38
    Homemade full fat is the way to go - no crazy chemicals. Just use a tiny bit! Problem solved. Ugh - I know everyone's on their own stage of their health journey, but I absolutely HATE to see fat-free/chemical-laden things promoted on this site.... - 6/24/2012   2:16:26 PM
  • 37
    I make my own vinegrette with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and Pensey's Mural of Spice seasoning blend. - 6/24/2012   2:10:33 PM
  • 36
    I have totally given up on fat free dressings--I had a refrigerator full of ones I tried and hated, so I tossed them. I now use Ken's Healthy Options or Kraft Extra Virgin Olive Oil line (the Greek Vinaigrette is my favorite) and use dressings that are 60-80 calories for a 2 Tbsp. serving and are made with some olive oil--I am finding a real dressing to be a healthier, happier choice over a bunch of chemicals and sugar...and for just an extra 50 calories. If I don't want the 50 calories, I can take a 10-minute walk around the block. - 6/24/2012   1:57:38 PM
  • 35
    knew Hidden Valley was the winner from previous Food Showdown, but also read the article that some healthy fat (like olive oil) helps absorb nutrients in our salads better. So read the labels and make good choices. We make progress one decision at a time. - 6/24/2012   12:26:16 PM
  • 34
    Ranch is by far my favorite! I do not like the low-cal, fat-free versions - just no flavor. So am slowly switching to a vinaigrette or salsa. My Mother just put a bit of oil and salt on her salads - just enough to coat a bit. - 6/24/2012   11:35:54 AM
  • 33
    Following on what Monica W. and Woweetoo wrote, I looked up the Daily Spark article “Diet Myth #2: Plain Vegetables are Better for You.” This post describes how the nutrients in vegetables are absorbed better when accompanied by a small amount of fat.
    It’s much better to dress the salad with a bit of healthy fat than a dressing loaded with sugar, starches and stabilizers. It could be confusing when the same site gives contradictory advice, but some logical thinking can show us which message is the true one. - 6/24/2012   9:44:45 AM
  • 32
    olive oil and vinegar - 6/24/2012   9:41:52 AM
  • 31
    Moderation is the key. But I do agree with several writers about the ingredients. I like natural, too. I try to look for natural. I like making my dressings with Daisy Sour cream because it contains milk and cream. Not all those other modified ingredients.

    Happy Sparking everyone!

    rumbmel - 6/24/2012   9:17:56 AM
  • 30
    I found WishBone Ranch Salad Spritzer. It satisfies my desire for taste of Ranch Dressing... 15 calories per serving of 10 sprays. - 6/24/2012   9:03:41 AM
  • 29
    I just put a little salt and pepper on my salad, and enjoy the taste of the crunch vegetables!!!, mmmm, so goood!!! - 6/24/2012   8:19:23 AM
  • 28
    I squeeze fresh lemon on my salad. It gives it a great tart taste. - 6/24/2012   8:08:28 AM
  • 27
    I mix a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix with 0% Greek Yogurt & Non-fat milk. Tastes great & has only 19 calories per 2tbs serving! :D - 6/24/2012   5:43:05 AM
  • 123LACEY
    26
    I like to mix ranch dressing packets with fat free cottage cheese and put a little avocado and onion on my salad. Even better with a boiled egg.

    I also like to mix ranch dressing with buttermilk and yougurt. - 6/24/2012   1:34:13 AM
  • 25
    Honey mustard is my salad dressing of choice. I want to experiment mixing it with fat free Greek yogurt...should leave me enough fat to make the veggie nutrients absorb. Litehouse is my brand of choice. In the refrigerated section by the bagged salads. - 6/24/2012   12:53:13 AM
  • 24
    A little fat in one's diet is NOT a bad thing - particularly with a salad, as fat-soluble vitamins are more readily absorbed when you consume some fat with your veggies/salad. People (and Spark!) need to focus on healthy fats rather than avoiding them altogether - they're a critical part of a healthy diet and including them is the only sustainable way to a healthy body weight. Stripping the fat out of a packaged product and replacing it with fillers and chemicals to save a few calories does your body no favours. I don't think SparkPeople should be promoting this. Here's a look at the ingredients in Hidden Valley's Fat Free Ranch Dressing (taken from the Hidden Valley website):

    Water. Corn Syrup (i.e. sugar). Maltodextrin (which is also sugar). Sugar. Modified food starch (who knows what that is?) Buttermilk. Salt. Vinegar. Garlic and onion purees and dried garlic and onion, spice. Sour Cream. Xanthan gum (mmmm). Soy Lecithin (yummy!) Soybean oil. Monoglicerides (just like mom used to make!) Natural Flavors (which apparently is soy?) Artificial color (it's white?) Monosodium Glutimate (yep, that's MSG folks!), Lactic Acid, Phosphoric Acid, Disodium Phosphate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, TBHQ and Calcium Disodium EDTA as Preservatives, and Alpha Tocopherol.

    Do you know what those things are? I'm willing to bet they're not food, and your body will process them like chemicals, not food. This isn't a nourishing product.

    I've been a member of SparkPeople for nearly seven years and I'm beginning to be disappointed by it. I wonder if Hidden Valley made a donation to SparkPeople? - 6/24/2012   12:11:47 AM
  • HEYMANVO
    23
    I use Penseys Spices Garden Salad Seasonings, 12 cals per teaspoon! I love it! - 6/23/2012   11:55:03 PM
  • 22
    Years ago I discovered seasoned rice vinegar as a salad dressing when a company that makes it was offering free samples at a grocery store. It has been my preferred dressing ever since: tasty & light, naturally fat free (with no weird additives), & very few calories. - 6/23/2012   11:12:56 PM
  • 21
    thanks hidden valley rocks - 6/23/2012   10:51:24 PM
  • 20
    ttoday on sparkpeople there in the health news section it mentioned that in using fat free dressing we lose some of the nutrients in the vegetables in those salads and that some fat is necessary for us to get the benefits ..i'm sure we can do things in moderation and still come out ahead - 6/23/2012   10:28:57 PM
  • 19
    I use vinegar and oil. just sprinkle it on - 6/23/2012   7:45:42 PM
  • 18
    I use to put ranch dressing on just about everything; salads, veggie burgers, fries, pizza, etc. It was bad. I finally got sick of my addiction to ranch and decided I needed to cut it out of my diet completely. Because low-fat ranch is not as good as the regularl, I thought it best to just eliminate. It's been nearly 2 months since I've had ranch dressing, and I don't regret it. Best of all, the craving for it is gone. Yeah!!!!! - 6/23/2012   7:29:08 PM
  • AWESOMEKATY
    17
    I use hummus or guacamole. They add a ton of flavor, have a dressing-like texture, and are healthy and full of good nutrients! - 6/23/2012   5:23:29 PM
  • 16
    mix 1/3 cup fat free sour cream and 1/3 cup fat free buttermilk and chopped basil. Perfect yummy dressing and the strong flavours keep you from dousing your salad with too much. - 6/23/2012   5:02:11 PM
  • JENNIFERH625
    15
    This is my favorite! I actually have bought a case of individual HV FF Ranch packets from amazon so I always have it measured and one with me just in case! - 6/23/2012   4:34:15 PM
  • 14
    GENE1955 - just went to Vitacost and ordered some of the Walden Farms dressing. I got the ranch and raspberry vinaigrette and some good vitamins. Thanks for the tip.
    Thanks Coach Nicole for giving us this info on salad dressing. I can eat mine plain but hubby likes ranch. - 6/23/2012   4:34:04 PM
  • 13
    I make my own dressing from fresh ingredients like lemon juice, raspberries, oranges and so on mixed with a bit of Greek yogurt. It adds so much to a salad and it has less calories per serving :) - 6/23/2012   1:50:31 PM

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