Creamy dressings are the perfect topping for a hearty salad, but most are made of some form of dairy. What’s wrong with that, you ask? Aside from the cruelty aspects of dairy, it contains excess hormones, pesticides, and often antibiotics. Even organic brands are still not the best option. In fact, dairy is linked to hormone-related cancers of the breast and prostate. Not to mention, dairy can bring about other issues that you probably want to avoid such as acne, osteoporosis, and an increased risk of bone fractures. Luckily, a plant based diet offers all of the helpful vitamins and minerals dairy products have to offer – and then some.
Replacing dairy milk with nut and seed milks (think hemp, cashew, and almond) doesn’t take a lot of effort, and nowadays tasty vegan cheese can be found at the health food store and made at home. But what about creamy and dreamy salad dressings? Finding dairy-free creamy salad dressings at the store can be a challenge, and most dairy-free dressing replacements just aren’t the same.
But, this problem can be easily solved by whipping up your own creamy dressings at home with nothing more than some special ingredients and some healthy nuts and seeds (no oil needed). Not only is the process pretty easy, you get to control the ingredients that go into each concoction you come up with.
Here’s how to use raw nuts and seeds to make your own delicious dairy-free salad dressing at home:
Choose and Soak Your Base
The first step is choosing the nuts or seeds that you want to use in your dressing. Cashews and macadamia nuts are extra creamy, but it’s worth experimenting with a variety of nuts and seeds because they all have something unique to bring to the table.
Consider these options:
- Pistachios give dressings a rich texture and flavor.
- Sesame seeds offer a tinge of tangy taste and a buttery texture (much like tahini).
- Hazelnuts have a zing to their flavor and really thicken up dressings.
- Hemp seeds are very delicate in taste and velvety in texture.
Before making your salad dressing, soak your nuts or seeds for at least 30 minutes before you use them. This will soften them up and help to release their enzymes so that they are easier to digest.
Pick Your Seasonings
While your nuts soak, it’s time to pick out your seasonings – this is where things get fun! Be creative and try new combinations to keep your salads slamming and your taste buds guessing. Want to make a ranch dressing? Throw in some dill, basil, and black pepper. Can’t get enough Thai food? Try curry and turmeric. Want something tangy? Bust out the Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar.
Here are some other ideas:
- Add avocado for extra creaminess and indulgent flavor.
- Include jalapenos to spice things up a little, or a lot.
- Throw in a little garlic for flavor and health benefits.
- Brighten things up with something colorful like edible flowers.
Remember that you will be adding water to your base in order to make the dressing creamy, so it’s a good idea to go a bit heavy on the spices so they don’t get drowned out during processing.
Add a Dash of Sweet and/or Sour
Your salad dressing is going to need a little sweet or sour (or both) to really impress your taste buds. Seriously, a little bit of sweet and sour turns a bland dressing into a tongue twisting taste masterpiece. An easy way to kick things up a notch is to squeeze a fresh lemon into the mix, but that isn’t your only option. You can use apple cider vinegar, brown rice vinegar, and the juice of a grapefruit. Sweetness can be added with the use of dates, raisins, and juice from your favorite fruits like pineapples, oranges, and even berries.
Blend Baby, Blend!
Now that your ingredients are all ready, all that is left to do is throw everything into your blender and let it run until your dressing is nice and creamy. Add just a quarter cup of water to your ingredients to start with, and add more water as you blend to get the consistency you want. If you add too much water to begin with, you may find that it’s necessary to add more nuts or seeds to thicken the salad dressing, and therefore you’ll lose flavor from your other ingredients.
With the help of these easy steps, you’ll be well on your way to creating your own unique blend of artisan salad dressings – all cruelty free and super tasty to boot!
By: Rachael Renee