Food Showdown: How to Dress Up Your Salad for Less

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Ranch dressing is one tasty topper that many dieters don't want to give up.  Unfortunately, the full-fat version can pack up to 120 calories and 12 grams of fat per a measley two-tablespoon serving! Luckily, you can still have your ranch and eat it, too, even while watching your weight: many dressing manufacturers toil over making lower-fat and lower-calorie versions of this creamy sauce that still pack plenty of flavor.

Both of these ranch dressing options are fat-free, but which one is lowest in calories: Hidden Valley Fat-Free Ranch or Kraft Fat-Free Ranch?

The Winner: Hidden Valley Fat-Free Ranch!

Consider Hidden Valley to be the ranch dressing authority. Their fat-free version contains less calories of its competitor, at 30 calories for one serving. Kraft's ranch dressing also makes a good choice compared to regular ranch, but loses this battle since it contains 50 calories. Flavor your salad for less by dipping each bite into dressing on the side, rather than pouring an entire serving (or two) on top of your salad. Other healthy dressing options include low-fat or fat-free vinaigrette, salsa (great for Mexican salads!) or a touch of olive oil and vinegar. You can also buy ranch seasoning packets and stir them into low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt for a protein-packed veggie dip!

What's your favorite way to dress your veggies?

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olive oil and vinegar Report
Moderation is the key. But I do agree with several writers about the ingredients. I like natural, too. I try to look for natural. I like making my dressings with Daisy Sour cream because it contains milk and cream. Not all those other modified ingredients.

Happy Sparking everyone!

rumbmel Report
I found WishBone Ranch Salad Spritzer. It satisfies my desire for taste of Ranch Dressing... 15 calories per serving of 10 sprays. Report
I just put a little salt and pepper on my salad, and enjoy the taste of the crunch vegetables!!!, mmmm, so goood!!! Report
I squeeze fresh lemon on my salad. It gives it a great tart taste. Report
I mix a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix with 0% Greek Yogurt & Non-fat milk. Tastes great & has only 19 calories per 2tbs serving! :D Report
I like to mix ranch dressing packets with fat free cottage cheese and put a little avocado and onion on my salad. Even better with a boiled egg.

I also like to mix ranch dressing with buttermilk and yougurt. Report
Honey mustard is my salad dressing of choice. I want to experiment mixing it with fat free Greek yogurt...should leave me enough fat to make the veggie nutrients absorb. Litehouse is my brand of choice. In the refrigerated section by the bagged salads. Report
A little fat in one's diet is NOT a bad thing - particularly with a salad, as fat-soluble vitamins are more readily absorbed when you consume some fat with your veggies/salad. People (and Spark!) need to focus on healthy fats rather than avoiding them altogether - they're a critical part of a healthy diet and including them is the only sustainable way to a healthy body weight. Stripping the fat out of a packaged product and replacing it with fillers and chemicals to save a few calories does your body no favours. I don't think SparkPeople should be promoting this. Here's a look at the ingredients in Hidden Valley's Fat Free Ranch Dressing (taken from the Hidden Valley website):

Water. Corn Syrup (i.e. sugar). Maltodextrin (which is also sugar). Sugar. Modified food starch (who knows what that is?) Buttermilk. Salt. Vinegar. Garlic and onion purees and dried garlic and onion, spice. Sour Cream. Xanthan gum (mmmm). Soy Lecithin (yummy!) Soybean oil. Monoglicerides (just like mom used to make!) Natural Flavors (which apparently is soy?) Artificial color (it's white?) Monosodium Glutimate (yep, that's MSG folks!), Lactic Acid, Phosphoric Acid, Disodium Phosphate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, TBHQ and Calcium Disodium EDTA as Preservatives, and Alpha Tocopherol.

Do you know what those things are? I'm willing to bet they're not food, and your body will process them like chemicals, not food. This isn't a nourishing product.

I've been a member of SparkPeople for nearly seven years and I'm beginning to be disappointed by it. I wonder if Hidden Valley made a donation to SparkPeople? Report
I use Penseys Spices Garden Salad Seasonings, 12 cals per teaspoon! I love it! Report
Years ago I discovered seasoned rice vinegar as a salad dressing when a company that makes it was offering free samples at a grocery store. It has been my preferred dressing ever since: tasty & light, naturally fat free (with no weird additives), & very few calories. Report
thanks hidden valley rocks Report
ttoday on sparkpeople there in the health news section it mentioned that in using fat free dressing we lose some of the nutrients in the vegetables in those salads and that some fat is necessary for us to get the benefits ..i'm sure we can do things in moderation and still come out ahead Report
I use vinegar and oil. just sprinkle it on Report
I use to put ranch dressing on just about everything; salads, veggie burgers, fries, pizza, etc. It was bad. I finally got sick of my addiction to ranch and decided I needed to cut it out of my diet completely. Because low-fat ranch is not as good as the regularl, I thought it best to just eliminate. It's been nearly 2 months since I've had ranch dressing, and I don't regret it. Best of all, the craving for it is gone. Yeah!!!!! Report
I use hummus or guacamole. They add a ton of flavor, have a dressing-like texture, and are healthy and full of good nutrients! Report
mix 1/3 cup fat free sour cream and 1/3 cup fat free buttermilk and chopped basil. Perfect yummy dressing and the strong flavours keep you from dousing your salad with too much. Report
This is my favorite! I actually have bought a case of individual HV FF Ranch packets from amazon so I always have it measured and one with me just in case! Report
GENE1955 - just went to Vitacost and ordered some of the Walden Farms dressing. I got the ranch and raspberry vinaigrette and some good vitamins. Thanks for the tip.
Thanks Coach Nicole for giving us this info on salad dressing. I can eat mine plain but hubby likes ranch. Report
I make my own dressing from fresh ingredients like lemon juice, raspberries, oranges and so on mixed with a bit of Greek yogurt. It adds so much to a salad and it has less calories per serving :) Report
I love the idea of mixing packet with Greek yogurt. I dont like plain salad. I usually just dip my salad in low fat dressing Report
I now use my salad dressing to enhance the flavor - not drown it out like in the "old days" so I stick to the 1-2 TBSP serving and count it on my Nutrition Tracker. Learning that we need to eat a little fat with our salad to get the nutritional benefits has given me a new perspective on what kind of bottled dressing I buy. I'm going to try dipping my fork in the dressing at lunch time today. My favorite dressing is a light balsamic vinaigrette. It works well with veggies or with a spinach and strawberry salad. Report
Most of the vitamins in salads are fat soluble. In order to get the benefit of them, we need fat. So unless we are eating something with fat in it with our salad, we are doing nothing more than filling our stomachs by using fat free salad dressings. We are wasting those nutrients. Report
I don't put salad dressing on my salad. If I am going to eat a salad I want to taste the fruits and veggies. Report
I hate ranch dressing if I have a cream type dressing its generally thousand islands or catalina. I usually have oil and vinegar or just a bit of olive oil Report
I use much less dressing by dipping the tip of my fork before stabbing the salad. I also often use low fat cottage cheese on my salad instead of dressing.

Bolthouse ranch is a yogurt based dressing. 45 calories, 1.5 gm fat and much better tasting than either fat free version, and with less chemicals and carbs. Report
Walden's Farm has many tasty and zero calories salad dressings. I like their Ranch,Russian,Thousand Island and their Sweet Jersey Onion. They have many other flavors also. Report
I try to put enough flavor into my salad (chicken, grapes, avocado, etc.) that I don't need a dressing but it's good to know which one is better!! Report
Fat free doesn't taste as good and is usually loaded with ingredients I can't pronounce. Dipping is a great idea we use all the time. Yeh for Hidden Valley. Report
I'm trying to eat more of them raw. Report