Spring has sprung. There may be another Nor’easter snowstorm coming our way here in Boston, but the geese are flying back, the crocuses are pushing up and spring is here. I love this time of year. I feel like I get a do-over; a chance to take another stab at some of the resolutions I made back in wintry January, but didn’t keep.
There is no better time for new starts and second chances in your healing work than springtime. There are more sunny hours and warm days when you can get out and move your body. New local produce is becoming available every week. Powerful energies of birth and possibility come with the warmer winds. We can harness all those shifts and re-commit to our health goals this year. We’ve got the wind at our back in a way we didn’t back in January.
One of the first items on most people’s “Get Healthy” list is to eat healthier, which usually includes eating more vegetables, and which is usually seen as a chore. Vegetables get such a bad rap. It breaks my heart. When we think comfort food we think mac-n-cheese, burgers, ice cream and pizza. But, if you make a salad right, with some yummy healthy fats and full flavors, I promise you, that can become your comfort food, too. Today I want to share with you some tips and mind-blowing recipes to make satisfying veggie salads a regular part of your diet.
We have guests over for lunch or dinner almost every week. Almost every time I hear some variation on this, “How did you make this salad dressing? It’s amazing! I’m eating more salad right now than I have in months because I just want to suck that dressing down.” That’s the first trick to eating more veggies – great dressings. Here are some more and those mind-blowing recipes below:
Make your own dressings. (See three recipes below)
Delicious dressings can turn any salad into a satisfying, mouth-watering meal and double as dips for veggies too. You can make a big batch in just 15 minutes and use it for five or six days. The recipes below have all kinds of healing properties as well. So, the dressing adds more nutritional wallop to your salad. On the other hand, storebought dressings tend to have a lot of sugar, preservatives, and colors, among other nasty things. They also just don’t taste very good. Nothing that has been processed and sat in a bottle for months is going to make fresh vegetables taste so good that you eat two bowls of salad just to get more dressing. That happens at my house every week since I started serving these dressings.
Make it an adventure.
Don’t be afraid of new ingredients. This is an important principle when trying to eat healthier (or trying to do anything, right?) For years, I would look in cookbooks and be put off by any recipe that contained even one item that was unfamiliar to me. How would I find it? What if my store didn’t have it? What if I didn’t know how to use it? What if I didn’t like it? Whine. Whine. Whine. Don’t be like me. It’s just food. If you’re going to get healthy you are going to need to do some things differently. Buying new foods will be one of them. Embrace the adventure. Ask friends who know more about food than you. Read about the ingredient online. Ask for help at the grocery store. Remember that, as my ten-year-old says, “Mistakes teach you.” Experiment!
Make it easy on yourself.
If making salads or cutting veggies for dipping is not in your routine, do a few things to make it easier.
- Get great, sharp knives or have your old ones sharpened to make chopping fast and easy. (But, if you have shabby old knives, don’t let that stop you. True confessions – my knives are ridiculously dull right now and I still chop pounds of veggies every day.)
- Buy pre-washed, pre-cut lettuce, spinach, arugula, and cabbage to use as bases in your salad.
- I prefer full carrots to “baby carrots” for all kinds of environmental and nutritional reasons, but when you’re getting started, buy baby carrots, pre-cut celery and other small or pre-cut veggies that are convenient for dips and salad.
Make it comfort food.
Comfort food usually has protein, fat and salt in it. Put healthy versions of those things in your salads. The dressings below have a lot of good fat and salt and one has protein, but you can add even more with the steps below.
- Add in some cooked veggies like chickpeas, white beans, steamed broccoli or steamed green beans to make the salad feel more like a meal.
- Add a handful of chopped nuts or half a chopped avocado to give the salad more healthy fat and feel more filling.
- Last, rotate through a variety of fresh veggies to give your salads color and taste: red peppers, fennel, purple cabbage, radicchio, zucchini, daikon, radishes, carrots, cucumber, celery, parsley, cilantro, and more.
And now, for reading all the way down here, you get a reward: The three best salad dressings in the whole wide world!
Garlic Mustard Dressing
This is also known as Hippocrates Dressing, because it is based on the house dressing at Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida. Garlic is nature’s antibiotic. It has so many healing properties, it would take a book to describe them all. To sum it up, it has antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. It is used to fight cancer and help stabilize blood sugar in diabetics, among so many other things.
PREP TIME: 10-15 minutes (including clean-up)
MAKES: Almost 2 ½ cups of dressing.
5 tablespoons Braggs Liquid Aminos
(Braggs is like a gluten and sugar-free, non-fermented soy sauce. In the U.S., it can be bought at any Whole Foods or other health food store and many mainstream grocery stores as well. Shaws and Stop & Shop usually carry it in the Northeast US. If you need to, you can substitute regular soy sauce; just experiment with the amounts.)
4 ½ tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons water
3 teaspoons ground mustard.
(This is simply ground mustard seeds and is usually available in any grocery store’s spice aisle. Some like more mustard flavor. Some like less. Feel free to experiment.)
1 dash of cayenne powder
1 – 3 cloves of garlic depending on your taste and their size
1 ¾ cups of extra virgin olive oil.
- Blend thoroughly all the ingredients, EXCEPT the olive oil, in a blender.
- Begin blending again and open the top a little so you can drizzle the olive oil down the inside wall of the blender while blending. This makes the dressing come out fluffy like mayonnaise and it tastes better.
Garlic Curry Dressing
This is a two-fer. The recipe for this is almost exactly same as the Garlic Mustard Dressing above. Simply replace the mustard powder with curry powder (available in any grocery store’s spice section) and get an entirely different and delicious dressing.
Tahini Ginger Dressing
This treat is based on a dressing in Rawsome, a fabulous recipe book by Brigitte Mars. It packs a nutritional wallop as well. Tahini is a sesame seed paste available in most grocery stores. It’s used a great deal in Middle Eastern cooking and is super nutritional. Tahini is a good source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, lecithin, magnesium, potassium, iron, vitamin E and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B15, and has other health benefits as well.
PREP TIME: 10- 15 minutes (including clean-up)
MAKES: Almost 2½ cups of dressing
½ cup Braggs Liquid Aminos
(See note in recipe above.)
½ cup water
½ cup tahini
(This is a sesame seed paste available at most grocery stores.)
Juice of 1½ to 2 lemons
1 inch of fresh ginger root or more, to taste
(Ginger root is in the produce aisle. Keep it in your freezer and you’ll always have it when you need it.)
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil.
- Blend thoroughly all ingredients, EXCEPT the olive oil, in a blender.
- Begin blending again and open the top a little so you can drizzle the olive oil down the inside wall of the blender while blending. The dressing will not get fluffy, but will blend better this way.
Enjoy your veggies and have a great spring! Let me know if you try these recipes. I’d love to hear how much you love them.
And please contact me here if you’d like more health and healing ideas for yourself or a loved one. I’m doing free 30-minute introductory health consults this spring and would love to talk to you!
To your healthy future,