dressed up like a lady: Baby Stepping into a Plant Based Diet: Salad Dressing

Nov 20, 2014

Baby Stepping into a Plant Based Diet: Salad Dressing

Okay, you're making a power salad for your dinner as an easy default. What about dressing? You've probably heard how all those fatty dressings from the bottle will bloat the calorie content of your once-healthy salad, and all the unhealthy oils, sodium, sugars, and MSG (also listed in so many sneaky ways) in a bottle of Hidden Valley Crap are bad for your health and beauty, triggering your body to store unprocessed fat and additives in your tissues, and making you leach the minerals that make your bones strong and your skin look good. WELL FUCK.

No problem! You can just make your own! Suck it, Kraft! 

Power salad containing spinach, celery, cucumber, red bell pepper, red onion, radishes, an ear of corn roasted in the oven in its husk for like 15 minutes, a little raw saurkraut, and some cubed, steamed sweet potato, topped with Collars' Own Creamy Vegan Power Dressing.
A quick refresher for newcomers on making a power salad one of your go-to dinner recipes:  
Ever looked at your "recommended daily allowance" of vitamins and minerals and been like "How the fuck is it even possible to eat this much Magnesium (for example)?" It's possible if dark, leafy greens and other vegetables are a staple of your diet. Fresh veg is low in calories, but high in nutrients, which you can absorb quickly and easily. With veggies, your body doesn't have to divert energy it would use for your immune system or your dang sparkly eyes like it does when it's trying to assimilate nutrients from something hard to process, like meat. Remember, the amount of Calcium or B6 or whatever on the label means NOTHING if your body can't actually break down the molecules and use those nutrients. Hunger isn't just your body asking for calories to use as energy, it's also your body asking for nutrients. Start dinner with a big dose of those nutrients in a power salad. You'll feel much more in tune with your needs, and if you feel further hunger, you'll know it isn't just your body going  "UHHHH I NEED RIBOFLAVIN!!!" (or whatever).

Home made salad dressing can be quickly whirred up in the blender or the food processor, making it a really easy way to add any number of nutritionally powerful, deliciously savory ingredients that you might have trouble incorporating into something like a sandwich or pasta. And obviously, when you make it yourself, you control what's in there -- no nasty additives for you! 

Sometimes I plan for a power salad to be my whole meal, so I add ingredients that are nutritionally and calorically dense to the salad. Other times, I plan on eating a little something after my salad, like a homemade veggie burger or some hummus and crackers. When I do that, I know that's where I'll be getting that dense, necessary fat and/or protein, so I don't need to pack as much of those elements into the salad. Okay, so here are two salad dressing recipes, one for each scenario. I'll break down the benefits of the individual ingredients at the bottom of the post.

When you want a full meal out of your salad, this dressing will add heft, along with your other, more dense ingredients, like nuts and grains:

Collars' Own Creamy Vegan Power Dressing:

Fresh juice from 1 lemon
1/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
1/2 tsp Celtic Sea Salt
1-2 Cloves raw garlic to taste
2-3 Tbsp Tahini
1/2 Cup raw cashews, either soaked overnight or soaked using the 10 minute soaking process I describe here
1-2 tsp Organic miso paste (A tub of it can be expensive but it lasts a looooong time and it's super good for you. Get organic though, from a brand like Westbrae. Other ones have MSG and/or fish. Eew.)
1 Tbsp Raw Honey (Skip or replace with maple syrup if you're ethically opposed to honey -- no big.)

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add extra ACV if it's too thick. Miso is very salty, so if you go without, try adding a little extra Celtic Sea Salt. ACV is acidic, so if you don't have any, replace with more lemon juice.

Some random, delicious, good-for-you things you can try adding (and I have):

Avocado: If you cut it open and it's sort of mediocre but not actually bad. You know what I'm talking about? When it's just a little stringy? Puree it into your creamy dressing. It's rich and delicious and you won't need the cashews.
1-2 Tbsp of Healthy Oil: The thing about healthy, unrefined oils is that the less saturated they are, the more easily they go rancid, so do what I do and keep them in a squirtable container in the freezer. Try organic Hemp, Flax, or Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
A big handful of cooked beans: They blend well and add just a little texture, not to mention protein.
Leftover hummus: Totally done it. No shame.
Veggie broth: Try a few Tbsp if you want to thin it out but find find extra lemon or ACV too tangy.

When you want to keep the dressing light:

Collars Own Tangy Oil Free Dressing:

3-4 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
Fresh juice from 1/2 a lemon
2-3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
1/2 tsp Celtic Sea Salt
1-3 Cloves raw garlic to taste
1 Tbsp Organic miso paste (Same rules apply.)
1 Tbsp Raw Honey (Same rules apply.)
1 Tbsp dulse
Optional: 1-2 pinches of your preferred spice (Tumeric is really good for you. Cajun spice blend is also really delicious. Just be sure to check the label of a spice blend to make sure there's no MSG or any of it's other sneaky names. A while back I was like "How come my face gets puffy whenever I eat taco seasoning? Oh.")

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until fully incorporated.

Ingredient breakdown - In case you want to know why I pick some of these ingredients for health and beauty:

Lemon Juice and Apple Cider Vinegar: Fresh lemon (squeezed out of the fruit, not bottled) and ACV (the unpasteurized kind, like Bragg's) aid in digestion, increasing the HCL in your stomach and supplying enzymes. This is super important, obviously, because bad digestion is linked to weight gain as well as bloating and gas, and there's no point in trying to give your body the vital, beautifying nutrients it needs if you don't digest them. Lemon and ACV also have numerous documented health benefits, like killing pathogens in the body, lowering blood sugar, aiding in weight loss, and killing cancer cells.

Raw Garlic: The nutritional punch of raw garlic is insane. A one oz. serving offers a significant amount of Manganese, Vitamins C and B6. Manganese in particular is a mineral you need to properly absorb other nutrients -- very important. Raw garlic also has highly documented immune boosting properties, measurably decreasing the rate of catching a cold or flu. It's also got major antioxidant properties that reduce the the rate of Alzheimer's, aids in detoxifying heavy metals from your tissues, and combats bone loss and estrogen deficiency. Just try and make sure you and your partner both eat it. If you both have garlic breath, neither of you have to feel bashful about it. ;)

Miso: Eating lots of soy isn't good for you, unless it's fermented. Fermented foods are great for you, providing good bacteria that help your body extract nutrients of your food. That's the case with miso, which also has many, many other associated benefits, from its high concentrations of vitamins B2, E, K, calcium, iron, potassium, choline and lecithin, to it's major disease fighting, anti-oxidant properties.

Nutritional Yeast: Call this stuff "nooch" for short, like I do, and drive your friends crazy! Nutritional Yeast is crazy high in B12, which is otherwise not super concentrated in many plant based foods. All vitamins and minerals are important, but B12 is particularly vital for your metabolism. Don't lie, you know that makes it your favorite.

Dulse: Like all sea vegetables, dulse is very, very high in many minerals. Minerals are particularly important when it comes to your skin and hair, in addition, of course, to your overall health. Specifically, dulse is backed with iodine -- another vital nutrient for your metabolism. DING DING! What's kind of funny is that crappy table salt (see my first post in this series on why Celtic Sea Salt is your beautifying, non-crappy option) is often fortified with iodine, but the amount of sodium in a serving of traditional table salt, without other trace minerals present, has the anti-beautifying effect of causing you to leach your body's existing mineral stores -- potentially right out of your bones. Gross!

Tune in for more posts in this series. Next, I'll cover veggie burgers and hummus, talk about some more of my favorite nutritionally powerful ingredients for my staple meals, and talk about plant-based meals for kids. 


  1. at a certain point in the year, i get fucking SICK of salad. its cold (even in TX) and I want warm things in my body. last night I made a "winter salad" with roasted kale (not kale chips), mushrooms, acorn squash and carrots, topped with some quinoa, hemp seeds, a bit of EVOO, lemon, nooch & S&P. i were more hungry, I would have added some beans and nuts. IT WAS SO GOOD, plus roasting veg at 400 warmed up my old house so fast.


    1. Oh girl, hell yes. Last week it was like 14 here!

  2. Yay loving all the recipes!! Can't wait to try the top dressing recipe with roasted veggies, on salads and on power bowls. MMM.

  3. Oh my god this looks so delicious`~



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