An artfully crafted blend of herbs and spices

by lydia on August 20, 2010

That’s what it says on the back of the package of the Good Seasons Salad dressing mix. It also says it’s ‘all natural‘.  I beg to differ, please let me differ! I think you will agree with me once I get finished describing the ‘all natural‘ ingredients list. Are you ready?

Ingredients: Sugar, salt, sodium citrate, garlic, onions, spice, red bell peppers, carrots, xantham gum, maltodextrin(from corn), parsley, natural flavor, guar gum, citric acid. 

I so love this part, it says at the bottom again; All Natural * No preservatives. People are we really buying this nonsense!! Well I am not buying it PERIOD! 

Okay so let’s dig into what’s really wrong with this picture. First ingredient – SUGAR!! Why on earth does that need to even be in the dressing, let alone be the first ingredient. Do you think it’s to mask the yucky tasting ‘all natural’ ingredients? Second ingredient salt, which wouldn’t be so terrible if I knew it was good quality salt like celtic sea salt, but I assume it’s most likely rubbish table salt. The third ingredient is sodium citrate, when looking this up wikipedia simply stated, ‘Sodium citrate may refer to any of the sodium salts of citric acid, monosodium citrate, disodium citrate and trisodium citrate’. Most likely it’s referring to the third, trisodium citrate. So on further investigation, trisodium citrate is a chemical compound that is proported to be safe for human consumption, though I could not find what amount is considered a safe level. 

Next we have xantham gum (clearly I am skipping over the obvious ingredients such as onions ect…). Xantham gum is made by the fermentation of glucose or sucrose by adding some kind of bacteria. After fermentation it is precipitated from a growth medium with isopropyl alchohol, dried and then ground into a powder form. Later it is added to a liquid medium to form the gum, but it doesn’t say what the liquid medium is. I have noticed that xantham gum is a common ingredient gluten free bakers use, but get this, xanthan gum may be derived from a variety of source products that are themselves common allergens, such as corn, wheat, or soy. Yikes!! Good to know though isn’t it?!! 

Maltodextrin is produced from starch by partial hydrolosis and is usually found as a creamy white hygroscopic spray dried powder. (sounds appetizing ‘eh) When maltodextrin is digested it is absorbed as rapidly as glucose. So, it’s basically another form of added sugar. Not to mention it’s usually made from corn or wheat, two of the most allergenic foods around.  And as I said in prior post, natural flavor can often mean a product has hidden MSG in it. 

Guar gum, chemically broken down is a polysaccharide composed of the sugars galactose and mannose.  It is extracted from the guar bean, therefore it is not synthetic. It is proported to be of some health benefit, however it is also noted that it is also capable of reducing the absorbability of dietary minerals (other than calcium), when foods and/or supplements containing them are consumed concomitantly with it. Sounds like an issue much like the consumption of grains, legumes and nuts having anti-nutrients unless you soak them in an acid base. Though I don’t think we probably consume much guar gum in our diets, I’d say it’s an iffy product. 

As I said in the video in which I discussed the ingredients on the back of the other salad dressing bottle, citric acid often contains traces of MSG. Not to mention, excessive consumption of it is known to erode your tooth enamel. Ick! I’d say many of these obscure unrecognizable ingredients act like preservatives, wouldn’t you?! 

Now that I’ve uncovered the mystery of what’s really in one of America’s favorite salad dressing conveniences, let’s go ahead and see how easy it is to recreate it at home, shall we? There are about a million and one recipes out there recreating this classic we all grew up with. Here is one such recipe. I went ahead and made one similar to it, with a few tweaks of course, and it didn’t take up much time and I had all the ingredients on hand already.(other than the pectin which I left out altogether.)  I went ahead and made a decent sized batch of the dry mix to go ahead and freeze so that when I may have guests or a party, I can pull it out and whip up a batch real quick. You can even still use the classic cruet that is sold to go along with this blend. Super simple, and FAR more healthy! And you’ll know that you aren’t lying about hidden ingredients in your homemade version, such peace of mind you will have!!! 

To wrap this series up, I have asked my fellow Real Food Media Bloggers for their salad dressing posts to share with you. 

Lisa, over at Real Food Digest, shares a ‘Ginger Cumin Dressing‘ that sounds simple and delicious. In her post she also includes several links for more homemade salad dressing ideas that sound awesome. She also sent me a post she did on ‘How to Wash Your Produce’, which I found to be refreshingly simple and affordable. Finally, she shared a post for her favorite kitchen tool, a vegetable slicer. The salad she served up in this post using her slicer looks amazing!  Be sure to check out her posts!

Kate, from Modern Mama, shared a Caesar dressing recipe with me that looks tasty and simple. Also AnnMarie of Cheeseslave, sent me her ‘Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing‘ post. I love how AnnMarie often includes a personal story in many of her posts, along with great insight teaching folks solid nutritional information. Make sure you go visit these wonderful Real Food ladies with a passion to share the Real Food love!

More in this series..……….

A week of salad dressings

Ginger Vinaigrette

Domestic Goddess Dressing

Caramelized Honey Balsamic Dressing

Roasted Red Pepper Parmesan Dressing

Week Two: Salad Dressings

Creamy Feta Dressing

Kombucha Vinaigrette

Buttermilk Dressing



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Lisa @ Real Food Digest August 22, 2010 at 10:37 am

Lydia, this is a great post! The breakdown of ingredients was very informative. I can’t wait to try some of the other salad dressings. It’s a nice resource to have them all in one place to reference.

Lydia August 22, 2010 at 11:08 am

Oh thanks Lisa!! I appreciate you sharing your posts as well!!

Kirsten March 5, 2011 at 7:52 am

thank you so much for posting this! I made the Pioneer Woman’s drip beef sandwiches and used this seasoning packet. My husband and I are very sensitive to MSG, but when I checked the ingredients – it wasn’t listed. I sort of suspected it must have been hidden in there, but also kind of thought we were being silly.

Natalie at Perry’s Plate just posted a dry mix recipe for buttermilk ranch that looks great. I thought I was doing a good job at reading ingredients – now I have more to add to my list to look for – thank you!

The one good indicator of an artificial additive (for me) is the way I feel the next morning! And we felt terrible. I knew it had to be in there –

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