Bring on the flavor!
Eating healthy should never be boring. In fact, it should be just as flavorful, if not more, than eating any other way. The key to making all of your meals delicious is in learning how to season properly, and one of the easiest places to start is to master a few delicious, healthy homemade salad dressings, sauces and dips that can be used for multiple things.
Replacing the fat
I love fat as much as the next girl, and it absolutely has a place in a healthy diet, but the calories and fat grams add up quickly when they’re in dressings and sauces. I prefer to keep the fat at a minimum in my dressings and sauces, so that I can use larger amounts of dressing to flavor my food without adding crazy amounts of fat and calories. Also, I really, really love nut butter, so I prefer to get my healthy fats from nut butters, MCT oil and other healthy oils I use when sautéeing and baking.
I have found that the tastiest, healthiest way to replace fat in dressings and sauces is to use Neat Egg (chia and garbanzo egg replacer) or straight chia seeds. The advantage of Neat Egg is that the seeds are ground into a powder, so they don’t effect the texture at all, and your children (husband, wife, significant other) will never even know they’re in there. If you don’t have Neat Egg or cannot get it, these recipes will work fine with whole chia seeds, you will just be able to see them and get a slightly different (not as smooth) texture.
Mix it up!
Once you have made these recipes a few times, start to experiment – use different oils, vinegars, mustards, soy sauce, liquid aminos, herbs, etc. to add variety, and create your own healthy homemade salad dressing.
Another recipe that makes a great salad dressing is my Herb Ranch Dip, which can be thinned out with a little water, buttermilk or vinegar to get to a pourable consistency.
Sweet Onion Vinaigrette
This is a lightened-up version of the famous house dressing from my restaurant Sweet Kitchen & Bar. People would always ask to buy it by the quart to take home, and for a while I consdered packaging it to sell retail. This dressing is always a big hit with kids, because it is sweet and tangy and doesn't have an overwhelmingly oniony taste.
For a quick side dish (my son and stepson love this), I slice up seedless cucumbers and red peppers and toss with this dressing - simple, healthy done!
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons Neat Egg (or chia seeds)
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoons avocado oil (or olive oil)
- ½ cup sweet onion, finely chopped and microwave steamed for two minutes
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (for color)
Put all of the ingredients together in a blender, and process until smooth. Chill for an hour to thicken slightly. Store chilled, and use within seven days for best flavor.
If you prefer a slightly tangier, less sweet dressing, just cut back on the honey.
Classic French Vinaigrette
This is a light version of a calssic French vinaigrette - Neat Egg / Chia seeds are used to give the dressing body in place of most of the oil that would normally be in this dressing.
- 1/2 c. water
- 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
- 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. red onion or shallot finely minced
- 1 Tbsp. smooth Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme or fresh herb of choice , minced
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
Put all of the ingredients together in a glass jar, cover tightly and shake well to combine. chill for at least an hour to thicken slightly. Store chilled and use within five days for best flavor
*For a smoother texture combine the ingredients in a blender and blend well.
When replacing fresh herbs with dried herbs use 1/3 the amount so in this case it would be 1 teaspoon of dried Thyme instead of 1 Tablespoon of fresh.
If you have dried Herbs de Provence it is delicious in place of the Thyme - use 1 Teaspoon.