I am unsure why you would make a salad and cover it in oil. It seems very counter productive to the salad game and it is absolutely unnecessary. I’ll admit though, I am not a fan of oils in general, so if they are your jam, then you do you.
However, if you want a fresh dressing that is a little lighter, then you have come to the right place.
This salad dressing might be oil free, but it is flavour full.
Nuts have their own natural oils that are released in the blending process and for this recipe I have used sunflower seeds. They are just what I happened to have on hand. You can use whichever nut or seed takes your fancy, or whatever you have staring at you from the cupboard, as I did.
Sunflower seeds (option to toast) – 1/2 Cup
Apple Cider Vinegar – 1 Tbs
Garlic – 3 cloves
Water – 1/2 Cup
Tamari – 1 Tbs
Chilli – to taste.
There is the option to toast your seeds first, if they are of the toasting variety. Sunflower seeds are especially delicious after a few minutes stirred in a fry pan, over medium heat. Make sure to keep an eye on them, as they will look like they are not doing much at first and then BAM, burnt.
Next, you simply add to the blender.
It really is as simple. As. That.
When your sauce and dressing game is strong, your salad game levels up and you WILL want to make friends with salad. Every damn day.
Sunflower based dressings are good but are still runner up in my book. My numero uno will always be a tahini dressing so if that is your jam, I highly recommend checking my favourite recipe!
This creamy vegan mac and cheese is suspiciously too good to be healthy, but with most of the ingredients being from plants, it truly is.
There is the option of adding jalapeños to the sauce to give it a spicy kick which I am all about, but it is still a glorious time in the mouth without.
Before we get into it. Let us talk about vegan cheese and we can be honest and open here.
Vegan cheese is never going to taste like dairy cheese. You have to see it for what it is – which is DELICIOUS and minus the side of cruelty that comes from dairy.
What vegan cheese DOES deliver on is all the comfort and satiation that comes with regular old mac and cheese. Whilst still being entirely made from plants.
Depending on your pasta of choice, this meal can still be healthy, meaning that you can and should eat enough for ten men.
I do not eat so many grains, but when I do, one of my preferred is spelt. I find it to be a little easier on digestion but you can sub in your preferred pasta.
2 cups potatoes
¼ c jalapeños – optional and start by add half this amount. You then add the rest if so inclined.
½ c nutritional yeast
1/2 a lemon juiced
Tsp garlic powder
Boil the potato, carrot and onion until cooked and soft.
Meanwhile cook pasta of choice – Pulse pastas are good if you want a GF option.
Add everything to blender with all other ingredients.
Drain pasta and stir though sauce.
Garnish with spring onion and spices to taste.
It is 2020 people, you can now have your mac n’ cheese, not only vegan, but made entirely from plants. Literally, no bad bits! The spiciness isn’t for everyone, so I recommend a taste test before you go to town.
I want to show you what would be considered the vegan staples of my household.
Now, I am fortunate that I live in a fully vegan house. This makes it very easy to forget that there are people still eating animal products. Especially when you look into our fridge and you see butter, mayonnaise, cheese… just the plant based versions of them!
If you have read any of my others blogs pieces or watched my YouTube, you’ll know that I am on a healing journey. This means that my diet is more limited and ‘cleaner’ than most. I am going to show you the foods that I get down on daily but I know you also want to know about those more ‘typical’ vegan food staples.
Although they are not on my plate, they are very helpful when transitioning into vegan town. So yes, I will divulge.
So prepare yourself for a list of what I consider to be healthy staples and then some of the more delicious and indulgent ones.
Quick disclaimer (because I literally can’t help my health conscious self) – Vegan does not necessarily equal healthy and processed food is still processed food.
My Personal Shopping List Essentials
Additional Shopping List
Potatoes – purple sweet potato
Non dairy milk
On top of all this, we always have an abundance of fresh fruit and veggies on hand. It varies depending what is in season, but always oranges, melon, salad greens, cucumber, tomatoes, zucchini and capsicum
How to Utilise
Bananas are the oxygen of fruit. You just NEED them. They are so good in smoothies and are the creamy base of nicecream.
You can use them as a binder in baking if you are so inclined, as they work in the place of an egg. If a dessert recipe calls for sugar, you can use bananas instead for sweetness. They are also an effortless way of sneaking more calories in, just add a couple extra to your smoothie.
Natures candy! Amazing blended up with nice cream. You can add them to your savoury sauces to balance with a little sweetness. They are no doubt the healthiest sugar replacement as they are a natural sugar and a whole food.
They are an awesome snack as they are portable and they calorie dense for their size. They are also said to be good for digestion. Their potassium and high natural sugar content makes them good for refuelling the brain if you are quite active. Dates are full of minerals that support the adrenal glands and that will help to remineralise your body.
They are full of amino acids and are good for the heart. I notice that they digest better when I eat them on their own as a mono meal/snack, but occasionally will cover in excessive amounts of nut butter for kicks.
These we buy in bulk and have an abundance in the freezer at all times.
They are one of the better fruits for those with digestive issues due to their low glycemic index. So if you are following a Low Fodmap diet for IBS, berries are going to be your friend. Fresh berries are also not the cheapest in comparison to buying them in bulk. Having them frozen, they are ready and waiting and defrost quickly, so are ready to go on your pancakes with only a moments notice.
Hemp seeds have a mild, nutty flavour and are a good source of plant protein and fat. I don’t go crazy with the nuts and seeds as they are thought to be mucus forming, but hemp seeds only minimally so.
I have only recently brought them into my diet as I am attempting to increase my fat intake to see if it affects my hormones. I will report back when I know more, but 1-2 Tbs gives my smoothie an extra level of creaminess which I thoroughly enjoy.
Or limes! Over salads, in dressings and sauces. They are a flavour enhancer. I try to have the juice of one lemon with a tbs of molasses in warm water every day. The vit C in the citrus helps the body to absorb the iron from the molasses.
Sesame seed butter! Typically used for middle eastern dishes like falafel but I think it can and should go in everything. I use it in a lot of sauces and dressings for salads and vegetables.
A tahini, lemon and garlic dressing can dramatically level up your salad game.
Tahini on oats is amazing if you are so inclined or on your fruit. I personally try to keep my fruits and fats away from each other BUT I will never deny that it is crazy good on a banana or date.
Mustard is one of my personal favourite condiments both pre and post vegansim. I like the spicier varieties like Dijon and English but all have their place. Make sure to check the ingredients, sometimes there is a lot of unnecessary bullshit preservatives and additives, so opt for the more natural.
I have tried to recreate my own using mustard seeds, but am yet to nail a recipe. Mustard and tahiniare also a surprisingly delectable duo, so I recommend getting onto that immediately.
Avocado is life for both the vegan and non-vegan alike, so I don’t know how much I really need to say. They offer a level of creaminess to your sandwich so that butter is not missed. They are usually the star of any salad show. It is a great filler for vegan sushi.
Hash browns, roast potatoes, baked potato, potato salad, curries, soups, chips, wedges, mashed potato. The options. If you are eating out and vegan options are sparse, there is usually chips on the menu.
One meal that is heavily rotated in my house for dinner is roasted purple sweet potato, salad and hummus. It sounds like a plain Jane meal, but it is super satisfying.
Cashews are one of the best nuts to use as a base for sauce. They are fairly flavour neutral but deliver on the creamy factor. Think along the lines of an alfredo sauce, or mac and cheese. You can easily make a base sauce for a creamy pasta or a simple sour cream. For sweet dishes, like pancakes, you can do a cashew cream.
Nutritional yeast is your parmesan. You can add it to your cashew cream sauces to give it more of a cheese flavour. It is great sprinkled on popcorn and offers a plant based source of B12.
Quinoa is one of the better grains out there. It is more alkalising than most and less inflammatory. You can use it in your savoury dishes, such as roasted veggies, buddha bowls and in soups to thicken and to make more filling.
It offers a complete source of protein and can also be used in a homemade granola. I personally don’t eat too many grains like white rice and brown rice I find hard to digest, so quinoa has been an occasional sub in. It can also make salads more hearty!
Non dairy milk
In our house there will usually be some kind of nut milk on hand. Typically almond or oat milk. I don’t use them often, but if I do, it will likely be for a sauce. You use it just as you would regular milk, so in your smoothies, hot chocolate, coffee.
Always check the ingredients, because it is another product that often has a lot of unnecessary junk added. If you can, I recommend making your own. In Mexico I would buy fresh coconuts, drink the water and then blend up the pieces whole to make fresh milk. Almonds are even easier – soak over night, blend with water and strain.
Tamari is basically a wheat free soy sauce. Look for low sodium to reduce salt intake if that is your jam. Any asian style dish will need this and it is good to sauté or marinade veggies in. I add it to my sauce and salad dressing creations also.
If you are not up for being a kitchen wizard and making your own dressing, coconut aminos is your guy. It is the simplest way to pimp up your salad.
I rarely cook with oil. Instead I will use broth to sauté / fry vegetables. You can buy the stock cubes, the liquid boxed stuff or you can make yourself. If I am cooking and come time to taste test and something is missing BUT I can’t figure out what… in goes some broth.
You can add it to soups, sauces and stews and often it takes your meal from bland to grand.
Hummus. Oh my. Hummus was a life raft in a cheese-less sea when I first transitioned to veganism (there weren’t so many plant based cheese alternatives then). I know you can’t really compare them, but it really satisfies when there is a cheese platter and you can’t play… but then you realise there is hummus. Life is good again.
You can use it as a dip, spread or a dressing base. It is usually made with chickpeas but there are other recipes that are grain / legume free. Garlic, tahini, lemon juice are all going to help get the flavour nailed, and there is no need to add oil!
Butter and Mayonnaise
These products I rarely use and would not if they weren’t sitting there staring at me. I wouldn’t even think to buy them, but they are a staple in our house and in many vegan house holds.
I think they are probably two of the easiest products to use to transition off of the animal products as they are literally the same. There are some brands out there that don’t quite cut it, but some are actually better then the OG and without the side of cruelty.
A good source of iron and fibre. Think of them as a meat replacement. So good for burritos or in a Mexican style chile dish. They can go into salad. You can make a black bean soup.
If you have trouble digesting beans, soak them over night or opt for the smaller one like mung and adzuki beans.
This is a great staple to have on hand as it is easy to whip up a pasta dish with whatever you have left in the fridge. I have also given you many ideas for cream based sauces with the cashews, tahini and nutritional yeast.
I don’t eat pasta often (I am a fake pasta, zoodle wizard though)… but when I do, it will be usually be in the form of vegan mac and cheese.
If you are not wanting a heavy pasta, I highly recommend jumping on the zoodle train. This is something I DO get down on, on a regular basis and it sits much better in my body.
Kitchen Equipment Essentials
If you are inspired by my list of staples and want to level up your kitchen game, you are going to need the following;
Blender. I use ours multiple times in a day – smoothies, nicecream, dressings and sauces.
Once you have transitioned your kitchen into a plant based haven, you will forget the animal products! There is no PERFECT vegan so be easy on yourself, make simple switches and watch your taste buds evolve and adapt.
It’s so simple, so unsuspecting and so genius. We are going to combine these two things to make a bomb vegan tahini sauce in this recipe. It is eat-straight-off the spoon good, so I recommend to double the ingredients so that when you can’t stop yourself from eating half of it straight out the blender…. You’ll still have some left.
I don’t often make tahini because I will eat a jar in a matter of days.
I find that if I just have some toasted sesame seeds in the cupboard, I can still make pretty sensational dressings but I don’t eat the plain seeds by the spoonful. So they last me a little longer.
Tahini though. It is in a league of its own. I eat it on dates, on bananas. It balances sweetness so well, but it also serves its purpose so in the savoury arena.
This dressing I have over zoodles for the most part, but you could have it with salad or as a dipping sauce. On potatoes is always a good time.
It’s so good. I actually have food envy right now just writing about it and rewatching my recipe video. Damn that Charlie, with her hot little hands on that sauce.
She didn’t even know how good she had it.
¼ C Tahini
1-2 Tbs Mustard
1 Garlic clove
1 Date pitted and soaked to soft
1 Lime juiced
First and Final Step
Add everything to blender and add water slowly to reach desired consistency.
If you want to make tahini from scratch as I have done here, check out my recipe. Other wise invest in a jar of GOOD quality stuff!
That’s all Folks
Another example of kitchen black magic at its finest.
I love it when sorcery is so simple and yet still has the power to yield magical results. Not only does this sauce taste amazing, its relatively healthy if you’ve got yourself a decent mustard.
You really don’t need the oils and salts you see in other recipes to nail a sauce!
Sesame seeds are also considered one of the more healthy seeds out there. They have an alkalising effect on the body and are a great source of copper, magnesium and calcium. For such tiny little guys, they pack quite a nutritional punch and are much lighter on the body than cashews which a lot of sauces rely on for creaminess.