Homemade Salad Toppings

I tend to go through phases with food, but in general I love salads. I especially love them during the summer when there is tons of fresh produce all around. However, one thing I don’t like is trying to buy salad dressings. Most dressings you find on your store shelves are loaded with added sugars, corn syrup, and other unpronounceable items that shouldn’t be in there. I mean aren’t most dressings just oil and vinegar based? So, what’s with all the other crap?

Many people don’t realize it, but you probably have all the ingredients to make a wonderful salad dressing right in your home! No additives, no weird colors, dyes, syrups, or preservatives. Just basic, good-for-you ingredients.

Here’s a recipe for one of my favorites. It has a balsamic vinegar base and is delicious on almost any salad and also on some hot dishes as well!

Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
Ingredients:
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1Tbsp Tamari (or soy sauce)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Pour over your favorite salad and enjoy!

This is also a great dressing to perk up any hot vegetable dish as well. During the winter I tend to lean towards hot meals rather than cold so I have been using this salad dressing on top of lots of cooked veggies, and even rice, to give them a ton a flavor.

And what’s a salad without a little crunch? I love croutons and find myself snacking on them, topping salads with them, and throwing them into a bowl of soup whenever possible. However, again, sometimes the store bought version isn’t always the healthiest. So why not make your own? It’s so simple and can be made in so many varieties depending on what you are pairing them with. The other day I cooked up some homemade croutons to go in my soup and I had them ready to eat in 15 minutes. Make a big batch on the weekend to last you all week or just make a single serving when needed. Below is the recipe for some Southwest Chipotle croutons I made to pair with my black bean soup at lunch.

Homemade Croutons (one serving)
Ingredients:
1 slice of bread of choice ( I used a sprouted whole grain bread )
olive oil cooking spray
salt/pepper
seasonings of choice (I used a Southwest Chipotle to give my soup an extra kick)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400F. Cut bread into 12-16 cubes (depending on what size you want your croutons). Spread the bread cubes out onto a baking sheet. Spray the bread with olive oil spray, flip over, and spray again. Season however you would like and bake for 8-10 minutes. The are done when they are golden brown and crispy.

Get creative with these. Think garlic, rosemary, smoked paprika, or even a cinnamon crouton to top a butternut squash soup!

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