Monday, June 23, 2014

How to Be Your Own "Salad Samurai"

Naked salad. Not much fun.

I am frequently asked for recipes, and it seems like everyone needs and loves great Whole Food Plant Based salad dressing recipes. Ever since experimenting with seriously limiting the amount of nuts and seeds in my diet, I have had to go back to the drawing board with all of my favorite salad dressing recipes. 

It was Chef AJ who was the first to suggest (at least to me) making sauces and dressings with a cannellini bean base, as opposed to, say, a cashew nut base. While I cannot say that making that shift was easy peasy from a taste and texture perspective, it is worth it to me because that substitution cuts way down on the number of calories and grams of fat in the otherwise uber healthy food that I eat. And because I really am a volume eater, I'm looking for all of the ways that I can to cut the calories while still eating a Whole Food Plant Based diet.

So what I am here to tell you today is that after experimenting for the past two months with bean based salad dressing recipes, I have a 100% success rate. Basically, all you have to do is take any Vegan oil or nut based salad dressing recipe and use it as your inspiration. But instead of the oil or nuts, just use one can of rinsed and drained no-salt-added cannellini or Great Northern beans. Place those into your blender with the rest of the dressing ingredients from your dressing recipe of choice. Blend for a good long time to get a nice, creamy consistency, adding filtered water as needed to achieve your desired consistency.

It really is as easy as that. I have never had a bad result!

Here's just one example of how I make this principle work for me. The publishers of Salad Samurai by Terry Hope Romero were kind enough to send me a copy of this new cookbook. I love it! It's gorgeous and funny and totally salad-spirational. But, of course, it's not an SOS Free, nut free, Vegan cookbook. It's just a Vegan cookbook--as are most of what you will find out there today--and there are more and more great ones every day.

But it's no problem if you have a little kitchen confidence!

I can take basically any Vegan salad dressing recipe, use it as inspiration, and enjoy my meal. If a dressing recipe calls for some type of sweetness, like maple syrup, I will substitute a date or two as well.

The salad dressing that I made last night for dinner was inspired by Terry's Back at the Ranch Dressing on p. 17 of Salad Samurai. The original dressing called for 1/2 cup of cashews and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Just that would make most of you on a McDougall or Esselstyn-type plan turn the page and think that this dressing was not for you, right? But using the cannellini bean base, with added water for viscosity, resulted in a totally delicious dressing. In fact, I'm craving the salad that I packed for lunch because I'm excited about having this dressing again!

This dressing is just the beginning. Terry's book has so much great salad dressing inspiration.

HGK's New Bean Based Green Goddess Dressing
serves 6-8

1 can no salt added cannellini (or Great Northern) beans, rinsed and drained
juice of 1 large lemon
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp mellow white miso
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
fresh herbs: I used a BIG handful of fresh basil and tarragon from my garden. Use whatever fresh herbs you have!
filtered water to thin to desired consistency

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

We enjoyed this dressing so much on our salads last night. I made a really simple dinner of freshly washed and cut romaine lettuce, my new Green Goddess dressing, and a variety of toppings like beans, corn, steamed broccoli and prepared salads from Whole Foods. I stick to the prepared foods with the Health Starts Here label at Whole Foods, because they are supposed to be oil free ("they only contain healthy fats: You won’t find any extracted oils or processed fats in Health Starts Here meals. The only fats in them come from the healthiest sources: nuts, seeds and avocados."). But as you can see from those grilled vegetables at the top of that salad, I think Whole Foods has been messing with the Health Starts Here requirements . . . or someone at my local store goofed up . . . either way, I'm not happy about it (but it was delicious)!

Don't ever eat a naked salad again! Just substitute beans for nuts in any Vegan salad dressing recipe and you are good to go!

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