I stopped buying salad dressing a long time ago. Well, except for that one bottle of Annie’s Goddess dressing that I read positive things about on a blog many months ago. Like all the others, I found it lacking. I used it once and it’s been sitting in my fridge ever since. Besides the fact that they don’t taste very good, bottled dressings contain high amounts of trans fats, sugar, preservatives and, sometimes even carcinogens. Seriously, read the label some time.
As is the case with many of the changes we can make to care for ourselves better, it is so easy to make salad dressing from scratch in your kitchen. At the most basic level, you can just mix a plant-oil of your choice with some vinegar, and be done with it. But for something a bit more tasty, add one or more of the following ingredients: dijon mustard, maple syrup, lemon juice, miso paste, salt, pepper, minced garlic, ginger, and some of your favorite spices. Sometimes I even sneak a smidgen of wheat grass or spirulina into mine.
My all-time favorite salad dressing is lemon-tahini (basic recipe here), which I make in my Vita-mix. It takes a little more effort to blend and then clean the blender, but it’s so worth it. If you would like something even creamier, cashews will do the trick.
It’s effort enough to make a salad – washing, chopping, mixing – so for the bit of extra time it takes to whip up a healthy and nutritious topping it seems like a no-brainer to make your own. Do you have a favorite?
Tammy and Jim Shrier
“When Jim noticed that some pigs weren’t completely stunned before slaughter — some still fully conscious as they were hung upside down and bled out — he told his supervisor.”
This statement is from a Change.org petition started by Tammy and Jim Shrier, slaughterhouse inspectors for the USDA. Whether their claim — that Jim was punished for reporting inhumane conditions at a Tyson Foods slaughter house — is true or not, this petition shines light on the most important fact about how food is produced in the United States and elsewhere: it is barbaric. As Paul McCartney once famously said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”
You can read online, or watch on Youtube to learn more about the subject of animal rights, and if you have doubts about making a commitment to a plant-based diet, I would urge you to do so. In a culture where we are conditioned to think of meat as a commodity and a meal rather than the involuntary sacrifice of a sentient being, it is easy – even forgiveable — to be complacent. But if you wish to lead a life in which you limit the amount of suffering you cause — in other words, if you are a basically good human being — it is essential to face the difficult facts and consequences of the choices we make.
In the words of the Buddha, “If there is no wound on one’s hand, one can handle poison. Poison has no effect where there is no wound. There is no evil for the non-doer.”
The Animal Kill Counter
…that’s the only name I can come up with for the smoothie I just made. The nectarines I bought at the farmers market Saturday were on their way out already, so I juiced ’em, and then blended the juice in the Vitamix with some frozen papaya and pineapple. And there you have it. Holy. Wow.
One of my intentions in starting this blog was is to emphasize that the barriers to a healthier diet are only in our minds. I have found this true time, and time again. Believe me when I say that I am no four star chef, but once I equipped my kitchen, fridge and pantry with a few simple tools and ingredients, it became effortless to eat well.
This morning I did most of this week’s produce shopping at my town’s local farmers market which was abundantly stocked with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs. I’m sure I spent more money than I would have at the supermarket, but everything I bought was fresh, organic and at peak nutritional value.
When I got home I used the greens I’d bought to make a simple salad. My taste for bottled dressings has really diminished, but I find its quite simple and quick to whip up a vinaigrette, or when I’m feeling slightly more motivated, something creamier like my fave, lemon tahini dressing. Another bonus to making my dressing is that i can supplement it with a smidgen of wheatgrass powder or spirulina, or any other superfood supplement of my choosing.
While my salad and vinaigrette flavors were melding, I blended up a variation on the strawberry-cucumber smoothie in Julie Morris’ book Superfood Smoothies, which I highly recommend. Mine left out the mint (because I didn’t have any), used about half as many strawberries (because that was what I had) and substituted coconut water for water. Plus, I added my favorite smoothie addition, some avocado. Oh, and I left the skins on my cuke, mostly because I’d already chopped it when I realized the recipe said to peel it, but no matter. The result was pure delight — creamy, fresh-tasting, tangy and smooth and the perfect accompaniment to my salad.
All of this took about a half hour, cleanup was easy, and I was totally full and satisfied. Plus I have enough salad for a few more meals. So. Easy.
Today I made a lovely pesto made from basil (and kale!) I purchased at an urban farm in my city-in-the-country.
This farm stand is open 3 afternoons a week and also sells chard, string beans, onions, leeks, broccoli, squash, cukes, just to name a few, plus a number of herbs, all harvested in a former parking lot:
While I appreciate the abundant selection of farmer’s markets here in the Hudson Valley, there’s something extra special about getting your veggies, almost from your own backyard. To learn more about urban farming and its contributions to sustainable living, here’s one place to start.
I’ve got some kale crisping in the oven, some raw, vegan brownie bites setting in the fridge and I’m heading out to buy some hamburger buns for the veggie burgers I’m bringing along with these other delicacies to a potluck BBQ. We’ve been getting a ton of rain here on the East Coast lately so I”m grateful for sunny skies!
Duck Pond, at the Mohonk Preserve, New Paltz, NY
This is my first blog post on what I hope will be a source of information, enthusiasm, and inspiration for those who are interested in eating well, or at least better. My journey to healthy living has been a long and challenging one, impacted by illness, alcoholism & addiction, and life-long aversion to taking care of myself. Over time I’ve adopted new habits, discovered new foods, learned to enjoy cooking, and found that being healthy can be not only easy and enjoyable, but also fulfilling spiritually and emotionally. I do not diet, I eat — healthfully, and happily.