By Dr. Alexis Blanks, ND

In my opinion, one of the keys to making healthy delicious food is knowing how to make salad dressing. Dressings and sauces can make plain food so much more exciting and enjoyable. It doesn’t need to stop at what you put on your lettuce either, think quinoa (or other grains) salad, warm roasted vegetable salad, or even fruit salad.

Salad dressing adds a wealth of nutrients to our meals too. For example, using good oils such as olive oil, flax oil, or walnut oil easily adds healthy fats to our meals. Pungent herbs like basil and dill help digestion and spices like ginger and turmeric help to decrease inflammation in our bodies. Garlic is another ingredient I almost always add to my salad dressings. Fresh raw garlic has many benefits including being a great boost for our immune systems. Making our own also means that we avoid all of those questionable ingredients in pre-packaged dressing’s.

The best thing about making your own salad dressing is that the options are endless; there are so many delicious combinations that you could try! It’s not an exact science so you can play with the flavour until you get it just how you want it.

Here is my favourite “go-to” vinaigrette salad dressing:

1-2 cloves crushed garlic
¼ cup apple cider vinegar (or balsamic)
1/3 cup olive oil
1- 2 TBSP maple syrup
1 TBSP dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: Crush garlic, add other ingredients, mix well and serve.

*I really like to use a small blender called the “Magic Bullet” to make my salad dressings. It’s really easy and quick at crushing garlic. The high speed of the blender means that the salad dressing is well mixed so the oil and vinegar doesn’t separate. Incidentally – I recently called the company to check if the blender is BPA free, and they assured me that it is.

Creamy sunflower seed dressing:

2/3 cup raw sunflower seeds ground in high speed food processor/blender
juice of two lemons
3 cloves garlic, crushed
dried or fresh dill
olive oil
a little honey
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: Combine ingredients in high speed blender and blend until smooth.

With this one you could add less olive oil and water for a thicker sauce (goes well on white fish) or add more for a thinner dressing for salad.

Here are some other flavour combinations to try:

  • Ginger dressing: Lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, garlic, lots of shredded ginger, honey, salt pepper
  • Mexican style: Avocado oil, lime juice, cilantro, honey, chili pepper, cumin, salt, pepper.
  • Italian style: Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste (or sundried tomato), fresh or dried basil and oregano, a little water, salt and pepper.
  • Raspberry dressing: Flax seed oil or olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh raspberries, honey, dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
  • Asian style: Sesame oil, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and something to add a bit of salt: eg. miso, soy sauce, umboshi plum vinegar.

* For soy sauce I like “Bragg All Purpose Liquid Soy Seasoning” it’s gluten free and just made from soybeans and water.

* Umboshi plum vinegar is made in japan from a kind of fruit called Ume Plum and a plant called Shiso, same family as basil. It has a nice flavour but is very salty so you only need a little. I get mine at The Market on Yates.

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