There’s no time like the summer to easily take the plunge to eat at least one big salad every day. With such a bounty of fresh, delicious veggies like bib and romaine and green and red leaf lettuces, kale, chard, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini — fun veggies like broccolini, jicama, Napa cabbage, Brussels sprouts and heirloom carrots — not to mention the plethora of herbs like basil, thyme, Italian parsley, rosemary and coriander … you’re sure to find a medley of yummies that will tickle your taste buds.
I recently had a request for an easy salad dressing. What a great request since there’s no reason to drown your beautiful, healthy and nutritious salad with an unhealthy brand name salad dressing that might pack a whopping 20 grams of fat per serving! Of if you tend to reach for one of those low-fat alternatives you will most likely find high-fructose corn syrup or other hidden sugars which we know turns into fat.
So don’t do that! Instead, whip up a dressing made from real food such as almonds, cashews, avocado, your favorite hummus thinned down with water, or a flavored vinegar. Be sure to use some seeds like sunflower or sesame seeds and of course nuts to give your dressing a lovely creaminess (and you can use nut or seed butters in place of whole nuts and seeds). I also love to use avocados. This healthy little gem makes wonderful dips and dressings that are good for you and provides the type of healthy fats our body needs. Some people feel they should always go for a low-fat dressing, however in order for your body to absorb all the full benefits of the nutrient packed veggies in your salad it’s essential to be eating dressing made with healthy fats.
For whipping up tasty and healthy dressings and sauces, all you need is either a food processor . . .
or a blender (a high-powered blender helps when creaming up nuts and seeds).
Here are some ideas of what you might use in your dressing. Pick and choose different combinations of ingredients and flavors to create your own, fun, flavorful and healthy dressing:
|Flavor Ideas||Healthy Fat Ideas||Acidic Liquid Ideas||Other Ideas|
|Garlic, Onion, Dijon or Regular Mustard, fresh, dried or frozen fruit, fresh or dried herbs, spices, Mrs. Dash, or Spike||Cashews or cashew butter, walnuts, almonds, or almond butter, sesame, flax, hemp, or chia seeds or avocados||Balsamic vinegar, red or white wine vinegars, seasoned rice vinegars, infused flavored vinegars fresh lemon, lime, grapefruit or orange juice||Hummus, tofu, soy, almond or hemp milk, dates, raisins, figs, tamari sauce|
*I don’t list olive oil because I try to avoid any type of refined “fat” in favor of a “healthy” fat choice. If I use any oil in a recipe I only use a small amount like 1 tablespoon per batch.
Here are three simple dressings that I like and are quick to whip up.
About 6 to 8 servings (2 tablespoons each)
- 1½ teaspoons minced garlic
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- ¼ cup chopped avocado
- ¼ cup raisins
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ cup water
Place the first 8 ingredients, in a food processor or blender. Add ¼ cup of the water and then slowly add the rest. You can add or decrease the amount of water to your desired consistency.
Chill in refrigerator.
Easy Delicious Caesar Dressing
Makes about 2-½ cups
- 4 tablespoons slivered almonds
- 4 ounces Tofutti sour cream or 6 oz firm silken tofu
- 1-½ teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- ⅛ teaspoon ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons Tamari sauce
- 2 pitted Medjool dates
- ¼ to ½ cup water
Mix all ingredients in a blender adding the water in increments until you achieve the desired thickness. Scrape sides of blender until very well mixed. Chill in refrigerator for one hour before using on salad.
I’ve also used this creamy dressing on a spicy black bean pasta salad and it was delicious. (I’ll have to share that recipe later).
Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette Marinade or Dressing
Makes over 1/2 cup
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Tamari sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup avocado
- 1 tsp minced garlic (about 2 garlic cloves)
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
Put all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.
This dressing also makes a great marinade for roasting veggies on the grill,
on a bed of your favorite greens bursting with some cherry tomatoes, peppers, onions slivers of cabbage and carrots…whatever veggies your heart desires…
or even in your favorite hearty pasta salad….
The key: Don’t be afraid to mix up your favorite flavors. Make a small batch. Try it out and adjust your seasonings and flavors until you get it just right!
Also, when I use a dressing I don’t like to drench my salad – so that my delicious, crunchy veggies aren’t in swimming – a little dressing goes a long way – and won’t overpower the wonderful natural veggie flavors.