Salad lovers rejoice! One of the most difficult things about making a salad "vEgAn" is the dressing. It just ties everything together with textures and flavors and quite literally determines what kind of salad experience you are going to have. There are about a million and a half supermarket salad dressings out there right now, so dressings are pretty popular.
What you may not know is that most of these contain processed oils, artificial flavors and colors and words you can't pronounce. Many "healthy" dressings will use canola oil in place of olive oil and a lot of "vegan" salad dressings use soy. Why? because it's cheaper and they last longer on the shelf when they're processed. Next time you're in the store, pick up a bottle of salad dressing and check out the ingredients list.
There's nothing inherently "wrong" with oils but highly processed vegetable oils such as canola (unless specified cold-pressed or "extra virgin") should be avoided. Side note on canola oil and why to avoid it. When it is used in products it has most likely been heat treated, broken down and chemically altered. This exposes your body to oxidized and rancid chemicals which contribute to chronic inflammation and other degenerative diseases. When it is heated it releases free radicals and chemical compounds that feed cancer cells. It also contributes to heart disease due to high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids. The list of reasons to avoid this and other processed vegetable oils is long, and I encourage you to do your own research.
When you are choosy about ingredients, you inevitably find a way to make your own food. So, in an effort to find the perfect "super clean" salad dressing, I started in my kitchen, where else? I gathered inspiration from people in my healing community and started playing around with ingredients. Here's what I came up with.
Zucchini Hemp Seed Salad Dressing
1/2 medium zucchini
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/2 lemon juiced
1tsp coconut aminos
1/2 tsp garlic powder
small handful of fresh basil leaves
dash of water if needed to blend or to thin
sea salt (optional)
Add all ingredients to a food processor, Nutri-bullet, or use and immersion blender. You could use a regular blender but there aren't many ingredients so you may have more trouble blending. I personally use a Nutri-bullet and it works wonders.
Here's the best part. You can play with this recipe a bit and add different herbs to your liking, the possibilities are ENDLESS!
Swap out lemon for lime juice and add cilantro for a zesty taco or nacho topping.
Swap out basil for fresh mint and dill for an herby Italian style dressing for salads or pasta salad.
Add some ground mustard seed or fresh horseradish for something a little spicy to add to salmon.
For a dip, add some tahini to thicken it up.
Using the base of zucchini and hemp seeds gives you a nice, smooth texture and the hemp seeds contain fat to give it a little bit of muscle.
Hemp seeds are rich in healthy fats, proteins and minerals. Did you know that 3 Tbs of hemp seeds contain 15 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber and 20% of your daily recommended iron intake? These little seeds pack a punch. They're also great on top of salads, in smoothies and oatmeal. Click here for a full list of proven benefits.
This dressing will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It's a great way to get some extra servings of vegetables and healthy fats into your diet. A fresh, gluten free, dairy free, oil free, sugar free plant based salad dressing without any additives, preservatives or harmful ingredients. YUM!
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