Favorite Creamy Italian Low Calorie Salad Dressing

If you're trying to lose weight, chances are you may be eating lots of salads. The right low calorie salad dressing can transform your veggies from dull to delicious, but the vast majority of commercial dressings pack a caloric wallop which ranges from 90 to 120 high-fat calories per tablespoon. What's a dieter to do? The answer is simple - make your own!

One of the tastiest and most nutritious bases for home-made low calorie salad dressings is tofu. In use since the Chinese dynastic period, tofu is a bean curd made by coagulating soy milk much in the same way cow's milk is processed to make cottage cheese. It's inexpensive, available at most supermarkets, and easy to work with. Best of all, it's highly nutritious and low-calorie. A half-cup serving of tofu contains an average of 95 calories, which equates to less than 10 calories per tablespoon, only five grams of fat, and over 10 grams of protein. It's naturally cholesterol-free, a good source of iron, and rich in calcium, providing over 20% of the recommended daily allowance in one 1/2 cup.

The very soft or silken varieties of tofu are the best choices when making a low-calorie salad dressing. Use a blender for the smoothest results, but if you don't have a blender, a food processor, electric mixer, or even a wire whip will yield good results. Only use very fresh tofu, and immediately refrigerate any left-over tofu or dressing.

This recipe for Favorite Creamy Italian Low Calorie Salad Dressing is sure to become one of your diet staples. It has the creaminess and body of a full-calorie, full-fat dressing with a fraction of the calories - less than 15 calories per tablespoon. It's blend of seasonings give it a perfectly zesty tang, but feel free to add garlic powder, basil, a dash of mustard or any other spice you fancy. The dressing becomes more flavorful if made a day or so in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Low Calorie Salad Dressing: Favorite Creamy Italian

1/2 lb silken or very soft tofu

1 Tbs oil

2 Tbs white vinegar

1 tsp salt

Pinch of black pepper or more to taste, preferably freshly ground

Combine all ingredients and blend or mix until a creamy, smooth consistency is obtained. Transfer to a bowl if using a blender. Fold in:

3 cloves minced garlic

2 Tbs sweet pickle relish, if desired

1/4 - 1/2 tsp oregano

1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

This dressing is delicious on cold pasta as well as tossed salads.