Spicy Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing - The Rising Spoon

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Spicy Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

Spicy Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette | www.therisingspoon.com

Are you still buying bottled dressings from the grocery store? Hopefully your answer is no. If not, PLEASE STOP! 

The vast majority of salad dressings are high calorie, low quality, sugar-laden products. Just check the back label of your favorite bottle. Look for these words: sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and corn syrup. How high up on the ingredients list are they? Usually third or fourth, sometimes even second. 

Gross! Who wants to pay for a bottle of watered down processed sugar with some vinegar & seasonings added? 

Do yourself a favor and ditch the store dressings, especially the fat-free variety. A June 2012 study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research concluded that healthy fats are necessary for the body to absorb fat soluble vitamins (like carotenoids) in vegetables. So, when you opt for fat-free dressings—that are already high-calorie from the sweeteners added to make it taste better without the fat to flavor it—you're losing out on necessary vitamins and eating empty calories. 

Still, this isn't an excuse to load up on ranch or creamy caesar dressing, though a lot of people would love that. :) The best way to get the optimal absorption while still keeping the calories and fat reasonable is to add anywhere from 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons of a polyunsaturated fat like olive oil to your salad or dressing. Of course, you can always add more (a lot of vinaigrette recipes call for 1/4 cup or more of oil), but a small amount works fine. 

If you're finding out about the benefits of healthy fats for the first time here, hopefully you're feeling quite liberated. But let's take this liberation a step further—into action—so you can learn how to make your own dressing. 

It's ridiculously simple to create a basic vinaigrette. All you need is an acid (any kind of vinegar or lemon juice), healthy oil (preferably polyunsaturated like olive oil), mustard, natural sweetener (honey, real maple syrup, etc.), salt & pepper. That's it! From there you can add in all kinds of seasonings or swap ingredients to suite your personal palate. 

Here's my favorite go-to vinaigrette that I use every time I make a salad at home.

Spicy Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
A slightly spicy and sweet take on the classic vinaigrette. Quick, simple and healthy. Great on lettuce-based salads, caprese salad, fresh tomatoes, or as a dip for crusty breads. 
Servings: 2-3

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (look for a high quality, aged vinegar)
1 1/2 tbsp jalapeno or spicy brown mustard
1 tsp real* maple syrup (I use THIS)
3 pinches of sea salt (I use THIS)
5 grinds of black pepper
2 tbsp genuine extra virgin olive oil (I use THIS
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
*Note: Only use authentic, 100% maple syrup here. Unless clearly labeled with this information on the syrup bottle, what you're using is a cheaper, maple-flavored substitute made with corn syrup. If you don't have real maple syrup, use honey or sugar instead. It won't taste quite the same, but it's a much better alternative. If you're diabetic, just leave the syrup, honey or sugar out! 

Combine vinegar, mustard, syrup, salt, pepper & cayenne pepper (if using) in a mixing bowl or a jar with a tight fitting lid. Whisk together ingredients or shake vigorously with lid on if using a jar. Taste dressing & adjust seasoning if needed. Slowly pour in oil, whisking constantly to emulsify or shaking vigorously with lid on in a jar until the oil & vinegar mixture have combined. Serve immediately or refrigerate until use. Will keep for several days when stored in container with tight fitting lid. Oil will separate from vinegar mixture naturally. Whisk or shake to recombine oil before serving.

More condiment & sauce recipes:

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Spicy Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing | www.therisingspoon.com

I'd like to hear from YOU!

What's your favorite type of vinaigrette based dressing?

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. However, I ONLY recommend helpful products that I myself would use. And I'm really picky about what I share with you guys. Because I myself am super choosy about what I buy and consume. Recommending products that I love or want to own helps me cover the costs of running this blog and keep providing you with free, helpful information. And it costs nothing extra for you. Thanks! 

Elaina Newton is the creator, writer, and foodie behind the blog, The Rising Spoon. She's a self-taught cook and passionate about spreading basic cooking skills and information about real foods. She loves reading fiction, crafting, video games, dark roast coffee, cats, and rainy days. Connect with her on Pinterest, Facebook, Google +, and Twitter

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