Hovenkamp's Gourmet Salad Dressings: Four Stars. You know what I
think would be a perfect salad dressing? One with little or no
calories and a fantastic taste that could make me forget I was eating a
low calorie product. You know what I think comes pretty close?
Well, you will if you keep reading this review. Hovenkamp's Produce in
Decatur, MI, makes a line of no sugar added, splenda sweetened, diabetic
and diet friendly salad dressings that actually taste good. Coming in
at between 2 and 6 calories per 2 tablespoon serving, these vinaigrette
style dressing have short ingredient lists that aren't full of scary
looking words, and decent flavors that tend to be liberal with herbal or
spice notes. I actually had a hard time deciding whether to give them
4 or 5 stars; I ultimately decided on 4 because to my tastes, they are
balanced too far on the side of sweetness. I have a pretty big sweet
tooth, but in these I thought that a bit more emphasis on acidic and
less on sweetness would have made for better dressings. Still, this
is purely a personal preference on my part, and I could see how someone
else with just slightly different tastes than mine would give this an
enthusiastic 5 stars. And even with my tastes, knowing that the
non-fat dressings I typically buy in the supermarket come in at around
50 calories per serving, well, it makes good sense to me to adjust the
flavor by adding a bit of lemon juice or vinegar to my salad as well.
This is one line of products that truly does live up to the way it's
If you don't happen to live in MI/IN area where these are sold in a
farmers market, they can be purchased through their ebay store at
(how I happened to find
them). You can also reach them at their email address of
, or at their snail mail address of:
South Bend Farmers Market
1105 Northside Boulevard
South Bend, IN 46615
They sell their bottles by the each, or lots of six. If you do
buy a lot of six, the shipping comes to just over a dollar per bottle,
making the price pretty reasonable for a shipped item. Hovenkamp also
sells a package of samples of each of the seven flavors, so you can try
them all without committing to buying an unknown. You can mix and
match the flavors you want if you do buy a lot of six., They have 7
varieties available. Here's a quick breakdown of what I thought of
each kind, with my listing my favorite first and then downward to my
least favorite. I'd like to keep it clear that even the one at the
bottom of my list is something that I have no problem splashing on my
salads and eating often.
Gingered Apricot Dressing: Bold with the tastes of fruit and spice, this
dressing is very balanced and and satisfying. Good on a salad, it
would also be home in a stir fry or used as a dipping sauce or
marinade. Fans of oriental style gingered dressings might do very
well to check this one out.
Raspberry Dressing: Strong with the flavor of berries, this also is well
balanced with sweetness. I like it as well as the sugared non-fat
versions I used to buy at the store.
Candy Onion Dressing: Are Candy Onions the Northern Midwest's answer to
Vidalias? They certainly do work well in this dressing, anyways.
The sweetness of the dressing is offset by the bite of the onions, and a
strong flavor of thyme.
Heirloom Tomato Dressing: Now we get into territory where I feel the
sweetness of these dressing is a bit out of place. The taste of the
tomatoes and basil is still pronounced, though, and this makes a nice,
very light alternative to a heavier French dressing.
Balsamic Dressing: Just a tad too sweet for me, but there is a decent
balance of acid flavor here as well. One of the few dressings that
isn't buffered with a heady dose of herbs, the flavors of the various
acidic ingredients really does come through pretty clearly.
Italian Herb Dressing: Quite a bit sweeter than I would prefer.
However, I see bottles of Sweet Italian Dressing on sale at all the
supermarkets around here, so clearly there is a demand for this sort of
product. A generous dose of herbs does give this a more interesting
flavor than the other types of sweet Italian dressing I have tried. I
can see how this would be a favorite of fans of this style of Italian.
Dill Dressing: Way too sweet for what I would expect from a dill
dressing. Maybe I've just been conditioned from years of eating
pickles, but my brain just doesn't like putting "Dill" and "Sweet"
together. There are acid notes in this as well, and a very generous
dose of dill as well giving it a full flavor, even if it is one that is
a bit unsuccessful to my tastes. This might work well to some people,
but it just doesn't for me.