Friday, March 18, 2011

Hunting for dressings...

I'm currently trying to find some good vegan oil-free salad dressings.  There are vegan dressings galore, but not so many that are oil-free.  They exist but are rarer.  Even rarer still are the dressings that contain no fat whatsoever (meaning no nuts/seeds) or that contain nuts/seeds that could easily be substituted out for a bean base.

Haha, what am I talking about putting beans is salad dressings for and why am I hunting up oil-free dressings?!

So, eating huge salads is a super healthy, high nutrient way to lose weight or maintain weight or just plain be healthy.  The problem is that salads, for whatever reason you choose to eat them, are easily over-dosed with dressing, just about negating any benefit of the vegetables consumed.  I heard it said once that there is no point in consuming 20 calories of lettuce only to smother it with 150 of dressing!  Which unfortunately isn't too far off as 2 cups of shredded romaine lettuce is only 16 calories and 1/4c of reduced-fat ranch dressing is 120 calories!  (I gave people the benefit of the doubt on the reduced fat ranch, as the regular ranch was nearly 300 calories per 1/4c.)

Who eats 1/4c of dressing on their salad??!?!?...You're asking...

Ha, well it's amazing how LITTLE the recommended serving size of 2 Tbsp of dressing really is.  Certainly not everyone falls into that category, but I frequently will see almost as much dressing as lettuce on someone's plate.

But I digress.  Eating lots of salads is a great healthy way to lose weight, but you have to be careful of the dressings.  So finding dressing "bases" other than oils are a great idea to cut out extra fat calories (besides, most dressing oils are not nutrient dense anyways).  Finding dressings that have raw nuts/seeds as a base (almonds, cashews, sesame seeds) are good substitute because raw nuts have lots of nutrients, the good fats, and fiber in them (and don't even get me started on how most of the American population could do with more fiber in their diets).  Unfortunately if you really need to lose weight or don't particularly want to get most of your daily fats from your dressing, it can still be easy to overdo with nuts as a base.  So I've started trying to substitute beans in for at least part of the nuts in some recipes.  This means you can go a little heavier on the dressing if you need to, without really packing on the calories.  Plus you are getting the good protein, fiber and  nutrients that are in beans (which you should be eating daily anyways) - a win win!  A good bean of choice is the Great Northern Bean, a nice mellow flavored white bean, which I currently use with cashews as a base for a vegan caesar dressing I found.  I don't think it's really noticeable - the bean flavor that is.

Unfortunately not all salad dressings, nut or oil based, lend themselves to being turned upside down and having beans substituted in as a base.

Hence the hunt for salad dressings....  Actually, in the two years that I've been eating a higher plant based diet and more salads, I've only ever made one vegan, oil-free dressing - the caesar dressing.  I've made tons of dips and hummus which I frequently will eat on a salad instead of dressing, but only one dressing.  I love it, don't get me wrong.  But variety is good.  So someone asked me about dressings the other day and I figured it was high time I actually find some more for myself too!

Do you have any good homemade dressings you can share - with or without oil?   You never know, it might just lend itself to going oil free for me!

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