Welcome to the last week in our series of, ‘What’s In It Wednesday!’ It has been a quite the journey of looking a little closer at processed foods such as kraft dinner, kool-aid, taco seasoning, granola bars and bread. This week we are taking a closer look at salad dressing and why I think many store bought salad dressings sabotage all of our good efforts at eating healthier.

Today we look at Kraft’s Catalina salad dressing. So what’s in it you ask?

Ingredients:

  • Sugar, Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Vinegar, Soybean Oil, Water, Salt, contains less than 2% of Modified Food Starch, Phosphoric Acid, Dried Onions, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Natural Flavour, Red 40, Blue 1, Sorbic Acid and Calcium Disodium EDTA (to Protect Freshness). Source: https://www.nutritionix.com/kraft/classic-catalina-dressing-dip

Full disclosure, this ingredient list is for the American version of this salad dressing as I was unable to find a Canadian site with the ingredient list. Please keep this in mind should you choose to compare this article to a bottle on the grocery shelf here in Canada. I have learned that food manufacturers tend to not make their ingredient list easily accessible online from their sites. I think this is most unfortunate and causes me to question their motives.

  • There is approximately a teaspoon of sugar in every serving (1 tablespoon) of this dressing which is not surprising as sugar is the first ingredient!
  • Soybean oil – 93% of all soy grown in North America is genetically modified this should be avoided. There has not been enough research on the effects GMOs have on our health and I am not interested in being a guinea pig – are you?
  • 88% of all corn grown is genetically modified too and that probably includes the modified corn starch used in this dressing
  • Phosphoric acid – a chemical additive that interferes with the body’s ability to absorb calcium and robs your body of magnesium so if you have teeth or bone issues this is something you should avoid.
  • Natural flavour – natural flavour becomes the catch all for more uncertainty. We are unaware of the source of the natural flavour. Is it animal or plant? Many times, natural flavours have undergone just as many, if not more chemical processes to acheive a certain flavour. Not all natural flavours are terrible but I prefer to know what is going in my food. When in doubt, contact the company to find out just what’s in it. Natural flavouring can also be a type of flavour enhancer, which behave similarly in your body to MSG.
  • Colour – currently in Canada, food manufacturers aren’t obligated to specify which particular colour or mix of colours are included in the ingredients. If you or your child are prone to hyperactivity, or have ADD/ADHD or other behavioural concerns, these should be avoided. In this ingredient list, we can see that Red 40 and Blue 1 is used. Red 40 has been implicated in hypersensitivity, hives, swelling in the mouth and long term increased risk of cancer. Blue 1 has been linked to asthma, ADHD and allergies.
  • Sorbic acid – another synthetic preservative and although generally considered safe as a food additive by the FDA, it is another chemical added to our food. My concern grows when I consider how many chemicals are needed to create processed foods and the chemical cocktail they create for our bodies to produce.
  • Calcium disodium EDTA preserves the colour and flavour of foods but depletes your body of vitamin C, magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc and potassium.

My thoughts on low fat dressings – these type of dressings usually have additional ingredients to make up for the fat that has been removed. Most often, it ends up being thickeners and emulsifiers otherwise known as starches. These starches simply break down into sugars. Excess sugar gets stored as body fat. Low fat products often encourage people to eat more than they would normally. Did you know that there are fat soluble vitamins in veggies? Guess what helps our body absorb these vitamins? You got it – fat. Having some heart healthy fats such as olive oil is a great way to get the most from your greens!8R79J5IQSJ

Why not dress up your salad with a homemade dressing? Making your own salad dressing takes only a few minutes and the rewards of eating a fresh salad with dressing that will make your taste buds sing is only the beginning of the health benefits. Today, I’ll share with you two of my most favourite tried, tested and true recipes for salad dressings. It is the ones that you will most likely find in my refrigerator on any given day. And…for an added quick trick in the kitchen, they make a terrific chicken marinade! Check out this video for a walk through of one of my favourite simple salad dressings that I make!

Now for recipe number two, take a look at my ingredient list: 1 clove garlic, minced, 1 lemon freshly squeezed, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/3 c olive oil, 1 tsp dried oregano. That’s it, that’s all! Pop all the ingredients into a small glass jar and give it a shake. Now you are ready to dress that beautiful salad!

Garlic supports the immune system, may help reduce blood pressure and risk of heart disease.

Lemon supports the immune system, aids digestion, is a source of calcium, potassium and vitamin C as well as lends an all natural boost of flavour to food.

Sea salt contains trace minerals important for good health and is minimally processed before it reaches us. Please do remember to use in moderation though.

Olive oil is rich in antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties and helps us absorb fat soluble vitamins from our veggies. It is the healthy kind of fat that our bodies require to function optimally. Make sure that you purchase extra virgin cold pressed olive oil that has been bottled in a dark coloured glass bottle. Not all olive oil is created equally and looking for these key words on your bottle will ensure you are getting the right stuff and not some cheaply produced, poor quality oil.

Oregano contains vitamins A, C, E & K as well as folate, iron and magnesium. It adds a punch of flavour with added health benefits such as supporting the immune system, is anti-fungal and antibacterial.

Thanks for coming along with me on this little Wednesday adventure of finding out just what’s in packaged food. My intention has always been to arm you with the info you need to know to make great choices at the grocery store. There are some good choices out there and now that you know what to look for, you’ll be able to find them too or make your own recipes. This is our last week for, ‘What’s In It Wednesday,’ – that is unless you want more!!! If there is something that you have been just itching to ask me about, now is the time, I’ll pick a few more products that you suggest and come back to you with a fresh batch of, ‘What’s In It Wednesdays!’ I’ve had so much fun putting these together and I’ve heard from some of you already looking for more info on your family staples. Leave your suggestions in the comments and I just might pick yours!