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Adventures with Ami: The Salad Dressing Problem


If you are anything like me, the dressing used to be your favorite part of the salad :) That doesn’t have to stop you from enjoying salads now.  There are so many options for dressing up a salad once you start thinking outside the bottle!  I like to use the little quilted jelly jar sized canning jars for storing small batches of salad dressing.

Salad dressing ideas:

Any kind of bean, seasoned in the pan with the liquid, add the spices of your choice and toss with your salad.

Another great salad dressing is mustard!  You can doctor mustard up in a bunch of ways to make honey mustard, sweet/hot mustard, herbed mustard dressings etc.

In addition to mustard – another dressing to try: BBQ Sauce! Look for one without high fructose corn syrup and low in sodium. Thin it down with some water.
- Add it to a salad loaded with greens and beans and you have a BBQ salad

One of my favorite dressings is maple clove vinaigrette – maple syrup, water, apple cider vinegar, ground cloves.
- Shaken in a jar – you decide the ratios – if you want it sweeter or more tangy.

Baby food can make a great base for a salad dressing!
- Mango especially works well if you want a spicy sweet dressing! I add lime juice and cayenne pepper to make a sweet hot favorite of my husbands.
- I also made an apricot sweet potato maple dressing, adding in a touch of vanilla extract, cinnamon and maple syrup – thin with water – delicious!
- Another time I made apple peach cardamom dressing, apple/peach baby food base, added in cardamom, lemon juice and black pepper and a little water.
- You can make your own fruit purees of course, but the containers of baby food as a base is perfect for one or two salads.

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Another idea is to mix fruit in with your salads.  Add sweetness by adding berries, mandarin oranges or apple slices.

White beans pureed make a great base for all kinds of things! You can make a base for a creamy salad dressing from white beans, add herbs, maybe garlic and balsamic for a thicker herbed dressing.

Hummus makes a great base for a dressing as well!

Another great way to give your homemade dressings some heft… add chia seeds! The chia seeds will start to swell up and help distribute the dressing on the mixed greens.
- Do this only for recipes you plan on eating within the hour…before the chia seeds grow too much into a pudding :)

Other ideas for salad dressing: citrus fruits fresh squeezed over the green and diced herbs, like basil, dill, oregano.

Sometimes you just don’t need a lot of dressing if you mix up what’s in the bowl.

Other great ideas for what to put in your salads…

- Roasted potato cubes: think croutons!  So dice up some potatoes, crouton sized and bake with herbs and spices.
- Sweet potatoes work great for this too!

Another idea for tossing in your salad bowl – is lentils!  Little green lentils are perfect for sticking to the leaves and making a heartier dish.

If your salad isn’t filling you up, look to the size of the salad for guidance, and make it bigger!

If you have been following my blogs at all, you see how big my box salads are. No need for a bowl, just build them in the box of greens!
- Save yourself a dish that needs washing :)

If you salads aren’t filling you up, try some of the ideas here for adding heft to your salad: beans, lentils, tofu, potatoes.  You can also toss grains in with your salad!  Farro makes a great chewy addition.  Brown rice also makes a good base to build upon – add greens and beans to make a taco salad.

So keep the creativity in your big mixing bowl salad – they sky is the limit – there is no wrong answer as to what you can put in the bowl – as long as it is plant strong!

So you are all going to try some new dressings right?

Think outside the bottle!

*If you are on Engine 2 Extra and missed Ami’s “Salad Dressing Chat” you can download the transcript here. 

About the author

Ami Mackey
Ami Mackey is a food coach at Engine 2 Extra and has been plant-strong since 2011. She is also the Program Director at St Louis All City Boxing a nonprofit youth program. She earned certificates from eCornell in Plant-Based Nutrition & Fitness Nutrition from NASM.

8 Responses to “Adventures with Ami: The Salad Dressing Problem”

  1. Kathryn Bulver says:

    Love those ideas! I’ve been known to grab one of those baby-food (organic, vegan) things as a snack, but never thought of using the fruit ones as a base for a salad dressing.

  2. Becky says:

    One of our favorites is Dijon Mustard with Balsamic Vinegar. Simple and yummy. :)

  3. Martha says:

    Wow! Can’t wait to try a bunch of these! Thanks so much (I’m going to copy this)

  4. Xanthe says:

    Since stepping up my salads to the colorful plant-strong creations they are today, I totally don’t even want salad dressing anymore! It’s all about the spices, herbs, seasonings, vinegars, and salsas! Garlic flakes, onion powder, red pepper, cayenne, ginger, thyme, flaxseed, hot sauce, pico, lime, hummus, mustard, nutritional yeast…there’s so much potential there!

  5. Carol Stewart says:

    I’m working on my plant-based diet everyday. Salad dressings were just what I needed! Thank you.

  6. TJ Velasquez says:

    This look so good it’s time for my daddy to change he’s life around & start eating right NOW with AMI’s Blog we can do it

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