Sunday, January 15, 2012

Best Vegan Creamy Salad Dressings

Trying to cut back on oils, processed soy, or both?

Most creamy salad dressings rely on concentrated fats (oils) and/or tofu (or tofu products, like tofu mayo/sour cream) to give the dressing that creamy texture. And that's fine, but if you're eating as much salad as you should be, you might feel the need to mix it up a little, and if (like me) you're always looking for ways to cut calories while maximizing nutrient density, here are a few ideas.

Watered Down Hummus

This sounded gross to me the first time I heard about it, but I tried it and now I'm an addict! I make my own hummus most of the time, but my all-time favorite hummus is Trader Joe's Edamame Hummus. I just put a big spoonful in a bowl, add about the same volume of warm water, stir, and pour on my salad. I find that strong-flavored hummus works best for this dressing.

Sesame Dressing

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this dressing for everything from falafel to a dip for raw veggies to a sauce for steamed greens. But it can be pretty high in calories, and the addictiveness of the flavor can make those calories add up quickly. So I make a regular tahini sauce and thin it out with water. It is super-delicious. All you do is start with a spoonful of tahini, slowly add water and lemon juice until at the desired consistency and flavor, and season with a bit of sea salt. Sometimes I use garlic but I've been enjoying the clean flavor of just the sesame and lemon. You can really thin this out a lot and retain the wonderful flavor.

Avocado Dressing (A.K.A. thinned out guac)

This stuff is decadent! Start with a ripe avocado in the food processor. Add lime juice, cumin, fresh parsley, salt, and water until at the desired consistency. Yum.

White Bean Dressing

This is a lot like hummus. Basically make a white bean hummus in the food processor with white beans, lemon juice, tahini (optional), white pepper, and salt. Add water until at the desired consistency.

Cashew Dressing

This can be done with most nuts and seeds. Soak raw cashews in enough water to cover for 1-2 hours. Blend both in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Add lemon juice OR a clear or light-colored flavored vinegar of your choice, garlic, and more water to desired consistency.

Ah the magic of water -- the more you add, the fewer calories end up on your salad. It's up to your taste buds to find the right balance between flavor and nutrition value. And certainly if you need to GAIN weight, keep it thick, as these dressings are chock full of health-supporting nutrients!


Renata said...

Awesome - thanks so much for this post - what great ideas - can't wait to try the tahini and avacado dressings!!!

zestyvegan said...

These are great, I love the edammame hummus from TJ's too, their eggplant hummus is my favorite. I love the idea of a thin guacamole dressing, yum!