Well, hello again!! It’s been a while since my last post, and I’ve updated my 2017 Goal list with the task of building more consistency with my posts here.  Its been a crazy learning curve figuring out WordPress, and starting to learn to manage the different social media platforms.  In complete honesty,  I also let the process of sharing my story overwhelm me a bit, as some days I feel strong, and empowered by my experiences, and by reaching out and being able to help people, and other times I still need time to reflect.  To balance this, I’m going to keep sharing my story, but also more regular posts of things that interest me, and explain my perspective too.. a few recipes, and maybe sometimes, just a quick hello 🙂  

Back on topic with today’s post, and this morning I was looking at recipes to post for my FLAG group, and reading about healthy fats as part of a nutrition program I’m in.  It reminded me that before I found Whole30, or started on my journey to a healthy lifestyle, I’ve always been concerned about food security and wanted to learn more about my food.. what’s in it.. where it comes from.. how its handled.. etc. 

Let’s go back a few years and see how this started.  

A few years back there was a controversy about Fireball Whiskey being pulled from shelves in Europe and I follow the EU food standards because I feel they are more progressive than North American standards.  Why was it being pulled?  Because Fireball had levels of propylene glycol (PG) that exceeded the EU standards. I work in environmental consulting, and contaminated sites, and one of the things we test for in water is propylene glycol which is a component of anti-freeze, but in food, the FDA lists it as “Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) food substances“.  Granted you would have to consume more of it than you would ever find commonly in food for it to be toxic, but still, what does it do to your body to routinely expose yourself to toxins even at low levels??  

This made me wonder where else it was lurking in my food??  

With just a little a bit of research, I discovered it is used in many foods for flavoring because it adds sweetness, and an emulsifier to stabilize oil-based products. A quick search turned up a list of foods including

-salad dressing
-ice cream
-packaged cake frosting
-and more…
Of course, you don’t want to be over consuming any of those things, especially Fireball!!!

This information made me run to the fridge to check my salad dressings.. and… THERE IT WAS!!!  

Propylene glycol was in all my salad dressings!!!!  In several cases, it wasn’t far enough down on the ingredient list to make me feel comfortable about what I was eating.  This was long before Whole30, weight loss,  and learning about reading labels, or the amount of sugar in salad dressings.  This was my first experience in proactively reading food ingredients, and it was making me very uncomfortable with the way I was treating my body.  It was the beginning of my understanding of what “Whole Foods” are and the shift in my perspective towards understanding the importance of what I eat on my health.  

The take-home message today is that you only have one body so treat it well!  
Make your own informed decisions about what you feel is an acceptable level of risk with processed foods.  

Removing processed foods from your daily routine can seem like a daunting task, especially in the beginning of awareness and changing habits.  But making my own salad dressing was something I realized I could do quickly and easily.  Not only would it give me a chance to tailor the flavors to what I liked more, but I could also control the ingredients, and cut down on cost because making your own dressing has to be one of the cheapest changes you can make in your daily shopping routine. The first thing I did was go out and buy and immersion blender, and at first I tried winging it.  It turns out that I was TERRIBLE at making salad dressing which was a bit discouraging, and garnered me a lot of ridicule from my test subjects.  The ratio of vinegar to oil was way off.. and to say it had a sharp flavor was an understatement.  Then I found a template online that was a GAME-CHANGER!!!  I’ve since tailored it to my own tastes, which is more 2:1 oil:vinegar, and sometimes 1:1 if I’m adding something sweet or fruit.  

Now my favorite combo is just some avocado oil, some balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard (sugar free), some herbs, garlic and salt and pepper.  But in the summer, I also like to mix it up and add fresh fruit, especially raspberries.  

 The link I found this morning that started this whole post was one for 50 simple salads, and they had some great ideas. Experiment!! Don’t be shy about flavors.  And if you are looking for an easy way to reduce the sugar in your diet, making your own salad dressing is one of the EASIEST SWAPS!!  

Food Network 50 Simple Salads

Do you have a favorite go-to recipe/formula for salad dressing?  A kitchen hack for making salads?  I would love to hear about it.