Salads are one of the most common foods eaten in the United States. According to the Produce Marketing Association, four out of five of the most commonly purchased vegetables are salad ingredients: tomatoes, onions, carrots and lettuce. When prepared with an array of colorful plant-based foods, salads can provide your body with a wide variety of nutrients, but you can quickly decrease the health benefits by drowning those greens in dressing.
You’re probably thinking, “The dressing is the best part! I can’t eat a salad without dressing!”
Me neither. That sounds horrible! My favorite salads are topped with a creamy dressing like ranch or Caesar.
The good news is that you can make delicious salad dressings without oil or dairy products. Traditional dressings are high in fat and calories but provide few nutrients. Plant-based salad dressings are packed full of flavor, lower in calories, and provide fiber, vitamins and minerals. Plus, they only contain real foods, no weird additives that you can’t pronounce.
If you do a quick internet search for no-oil or oil free salad dressings, you will find hundreds of recipes. There are so many yummy options that it’s hard to decide what to try first! To get you started, here are the three dressings I’m craving this month:
Creamy Italian Makes about 1 ½ cups
1 ½ cups (15 oz can) cooked white beans, drain and rinse
½-1 cup water (start with ½ cup and add more to thin out)
2-3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried parsley
½ tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
Place beans, ½ cup water and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Blend/process until a creamy texture is achieved.
Scrape down the sides of the container and taste dressing. Add an additional tablespoon of lemon juice if desired. If the dressing is too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
Add the garlic powder, dried parsley, onion powder, dried oregano and salt to the blender and pulse until the spices are well mixed.
Refrigerates well for one week.
Raspberry Vinaigrette Makes about 1 cup
½ cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)*
½ cup raspberry or red wine vinegar**
8 whole medjool dates, pitted
2 small shallots
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
Water – to thin out as needed, start with 1-2 tablespoons
Black pepper to taste
Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Blend until a creamy texture is achieved.
Refrigerates well for 4-5 days.
*You can use any fruit in this recipe; blueberries, strawberries, peaches and mango are delicious!
**White wine or champagne vinegar goes better with peaches and mango.
Ranch Dressing Makes about 2 cups
1 ½ tablespoons dried parsley flakes
½ tablespoon dried dill weed
½ tablespoon garlic powder
¾ teaspoon onion powder
¾ teaspoon dried minced onion
¾ teaspoon freeze dried chives
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup raw cashews
1 cups water
Add seasonings to a small bowl and stir until well combined.
Place cashews and water in high-powered blender.* Process until smooth. If you want a thinner dressing you can add more water until it reaches your desired consistency.
Pour dressing into bowl with seasoning mix and stir until well combined.
Refrigerates well for one week.
*If you don’t have a high-powered blender, soak cashews in water for at least 2 hours. Drain the water and use new water to make the dressing.