Day 1 of 31: Salad dressing

I no longer purchase salad dressing.

Over the years, I have learned that there is a dangerous amount of sugar, salt, preservatives or all of those in SO many products we consume! After reading of the effect those things have on our health, I started trying to make healthier versions of as many edibles as I can manage.

We eat a LOT of salad here and have been eating them for years. We used to cover them in store-bought ranch, Italian, or Vinaigrettes but the calories, fat, sodium and sugar were out of control on most of those.

I started going through cookbooks, web sites and more to give making my own a try. Before starting from scratch, I loved the packets you buy with a glass cruet but they were not much healthier than the pre-made versions.

Homemade dressings can be made and mixed up for the week.  They are easy to blend up and can be used on salads, as a dip for wraps and more.

Healthy Creamy Salad Dressing Base

In a blender, add:
1 1/2 cups of raw cashews (these can be soaked in water for a few hours and rinsed first for better digestion or just as they are).
1/4 cup or so of Organic apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, or any vinegar of your choice.
2-4 Tablespoons of lemon, lime, or orange juice (freshly squeezed is best).
Sweetener: This depends on your diet. I started out using honey or preserves but now use Stevia more.
Add to taste.
A shake or two of sea salt.
A shake or two of pepper.
1-4 garlic cloves. Some prefer 1-2 cloves but I put at least 4!
2-4 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast (optional)
A hand full of fresh herbs (basil, parsley, dill or whatever) OR 1-2 tablespoons of dried herbs
Seasonings to taste – like onion powder, Mrs. Dash, and so on.

Optional: Add olive oil or coconut oil (melted) for added flavor and filling.

Blend all until creamy and if the dressing is too thick, add small amounts of water until it is how you want it. If it is too thin, add mustard, kefir, or juicing pulp to thicken. Most of the dressings get a LOT thicker after refrigerating!

Variations:
The ways this can be made are endless. Literally, I will go through my fridge and grab pieces of produce, peeled fruit or whatever goes with the dressing I intend to use.

* I will often add cucumbers to my dressings. They add liquid and a fresh, clean taste. Other lovely add ins are sweet peppers, hot peppers, carrots, avocado, baby leaf spinach and other leafy greens.

* If you eat dairy, it is nice to add plain yogurt, sour cream or buttermilk.

* Many times, brown, spicy, or regular mustard will help create a nice consistency and bit of flavor. If mixed well, the mustard won’t over power the flavor but add to it.

* Many of the main ingredients in the base recipe can be substituted with other choices. Cashews can be replaced with walnuts, almonds or pine nuts.

Something I LOVE using if I have a few extra minutes while making dressings is The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Domenburg. You can search out one main flavor or ingredient and it will give you item after item of add in possibilities that will go well with your choice.

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5 thoughts on “Day 1 of 31: Salad dressing”

  1. I love this and, having tasted your delicious homemade salad dressings, I can attest to their amazing flavors! I only wish I was as skilled as you in preparing these things on a homemade basis. I still purchase salad dressings but I do know how to use one homemade variety: I just use a simple splash of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. It has a great taste and is easy for non-cooks like me.

    1. Thank you 🙂
      They are actually coming out with some healthier dressings now! I was checking some out in the produce aisle when thinking of this series. I found a few with no sugar, low salt and few ingredients. Blake has his salads just as you shared (the balsamic vinegar and olive oil) often. The thing is – making healthy choices that work for us is what works in the long run.

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