Summer is famous for unhealthy (but amazing) foods—huge ice cream cones, Manco and Manco’s pizza (where the heck did Mack go, anyway?), hot dogs, frozen Cokes. It’s enough to make a healthy eater sigh with regret and get all angst-y. Sure, I’m all about “everything in moderation,” but who in their right mind can eat just one slice of that legendary Ocean City pizza?
Instead of lamenting your teenage days, when you could eat everything under the sun without gaining a pound, let’s change your mindset. Summer should be the easiest time of the year to eat a healthy diet. Fresh, colorful produce is more readily available and less expensive, the warm weather is conducive for nighttime grilling, and bikinis are a constant encouragement to eat smart. And so, many of us turn to the healthiest thing we can think of: salads.
Or … not. As you hopefully know by now, a salad is not always the best menu choice when considering calories. No-nos such as bacon, egg yolks, cheese, and tortilla strips can really hurt the health factor. The most detrimental addition, however, is definitely the dressing. Creamy caesar, French, ranch, and bleu cheese can pack almost 100 calories per tablespoon! The chicken caesar salad at most restaurants clocks in between 600 and 800 calories; healthy with a side of guilt, please.
Traditional caesar dressing has egg yolks, cheese, and oil, which yields a very creamy, rich flavor. My version below removes the guilt but none of the flavor, thanks to the anchovy and garlic. If you don’t think you like anchovies but do like caesar dressing, then you actually do like anchovies. By pureeing this in the blender, air bubbles are beaten in and the dressing magically becomes creamy. This recipe would be easy to double and lasts at least a week in your fridge. I made a chicken caesar salad for dinner on Monday night, and on Wednesday I used the dressing over grilled veggies and pork tenderloin. One word: Yum.
Making your own dressing not only saves money, it also saves you from hefty doses of sodium, sugar and calories. This dressing clocks in at 68 calories per serving, 7 grams of fat, and 82 milligrams of sodium. Traditional creamy caesar dressing is 220 calories, 20 grams of fat and almost 500 milligrams of sodium per serving. It’s pretty much no contest.
Low-Fat Creamy Caesar Dressing
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
¼ c. white wine vinegar
¼ c. olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 to 2 anchovies, mashed to a paste
1. Place ingredients in a blender and blend 30 seconds or until creamy.
2. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, up to 1 week.
Per serving: 68 calories, 7 fat grams (1 gram saturated fat, 1 gram polyunsaturated fat, 5 grams monounsaturated fat), 82 milligrams sodium, 12 milligrams potassium.
>> Check out more Be Well Philly recipes here.
Becca Boyd is a wife and new mom who teaches culinary courses to students at Radnor High School. She creates healthy and delicious recipes in her West Chester kitchen and blogs about them on her website, Home Beccanomics.