Easier Chickpea Salad

Easier Chickpea Salad (Mock Tuna)

If you’re looking for a very simple chickpea salad (mock tuna) recipe that’s fast and easy to put together, you found it! This skips using any prepared mayonnaise, has no added oil, and is vegan. Below is a video demonstration of how to make the salad. The written recipe follows the video link.

Enjoy!
Judi

https://youtu.be/VwRaSHtKXGs

Easier Chickpea Salad (Mock Tuna)
Makes 1 or 2 Servings

½ cup cooked (or canned, drained) chickpeas
2 Tbsp to ¼ cup diced celery
2 Tbsp diced onion of choice
¼ avocado, diced
1-1/2 to 2 tsp white wine vinegar
1-1/2 to 2 tsp prepared Dijon mustard
Dash of black pepper, or to taste

Place all ingredients in a small food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped and somewhat creamy. Enjoy!

This is excellent by itself, served on a bed of salad greens, used as a sandwich filling, wrapped in a tortilla, or wrapped in large leaves of greens such as kale, collards, cabbage or lettuce leaves. Use this salad any way you would enjoy a tuna or chicken salad.

2 to 4 Servings…
1 cup cooked (or canned, drained) chickpeas
¼ to ½ cup diced celery
¼ cup diced onion of choice
½ avocado, diced
1 Tbsp (+1 tsp if more tang is desired) white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp (+1 tsp if more tang is desired) prepared Dijon mustard
Black pepper to taste

Chickpea Salad

Chickpea Salad (Mock Tuna) (Vegan, No Added Oil)

Here’s a simple salad made with chickpeas, vegan mayonnaise and sweet mustard dressing for a little tang. It can be served with a green salad, on a sandwich, in pita bread, as a dip with tortilla chips, on its own, or in any way you might include something like a tuna salad with your meal. It’s good no matter how you enjoy it! Below are video links showing how to make all the components, and the written recipes follow the videos. If you need a short cut, simply use your favorite mayonnaise and mustard dressing that you have on-hand.

Enjoy!
Judi

Sweet Mustard Dressing
https://youtu.be/q0mgJc7KVXk

Vegan Mayonnaise
https://youtu.be/GzL0x25V3TE

Chickpea Salad
https://youtu.be/yp8Yw0qQcn4

Chickpea Salad (Mock Tuna)
Makes 4 to 6 Servings

1 (15.5 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed OR 1-3/4 cups cooked chickpeas
½ cup sweet mustard dressing, of choice*
1/3 cup mayonnaise, of choice**
1/3 cup diced celery, more or less as desired
2 Tbsp small diced onion of choice, more or less as desired
Black pepper to taste

Place chickpeas in a food processor and pulse very briefly to coarsely chop them up. Transfer the chopped chickpeas to a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Chef’s Note: This salad is delicious on a bed of salad greens, used as sandwich filling, wrapped in a tortilla or pita bread, or served with tortilla chips as a dip. It may be used any way you would use a tuna salad.

* For an oil-free sweet mustard dressing, try my Sweet Mustard Dressing (recipe below).
** For a vegan mayonnaise option, try my Vegan Mayonnaise (recipe below).

Sweet Mustard Dressing (Oil-Free, Vegan Option) Makes About 3 Cups
1 cup of cooked or canned (and drained) white beans of choice
1 avocado, diced
½ cup water
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup maple syrup or honey

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Enjoy! Store extra in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 4 days.

Vegan Mayonnaise (White Bean and Avocado Mayo) Makes About 2 Cups
1 (15 oz) can of white beans of choice OR 1-3/4 cups cooked white beans of choice
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Avocado, diced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp water or aquafaba (reserved bean juice from the can)

Rinse and drain the canned beans, reserving the liquid from the can, if opting to use it. Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Use as you would any mayonnaise. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 5 days.

Cook’s Note: Since this is made with avocado, it will have a pale green tint, which is unlike traditional mayonnaise. However, the flavor is very similar to that of traditional mayonnaise.

Sweet Mustard Dressing

Sweet Mustard Dressing (Oil-Free, Vegan Option)

Here’s a yummy sweet mustard dressing, made without added oils. It can be vegan, if desired, by using maple syrup in place of honey. Either option will lend a different flavor, but either way is delicious and works well on any green salad or in any food calling for a honey mustard dressing. Below is a video demonstration of how to make the dressing. The written recipe follows the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Sweet Mustard Dressing (Oil-Free, Vegan Option)
Makes About 3 Cups

1 cup of cooked or canned (and drained) white beans of choice
1 avocado, diced
½ cup water
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup maple syrup or honey

One-Half of the Recipe (Makes 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups)
1/2 cup of cooked or canned (and drained) white beans of choice
1/2 avocado, diced
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp maple syrup or honey

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Enjoy! Store extra in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 4 days.

Fruits and Vegetables

Easy Ways to Add More Fruits and Veggies to Your Day

We all know we need to eat more plant foods…more fruits and vegetables, in particular. Most Americans don’t eat the recommended number of servings of these important foods yet they know they should. If you’re among that crowd and are looking for ways to include more plant foods into your day, I have some easy ideas for you to try.

Effective Way to Make Changes
First, remember that long-time habits cannot all be changed overnight (at least not permanently). The easiest way to make permanent change is to do it a little at a time. (Remember the saying, “Inch by inch, it’s a cinch; yard by yard, it’s hard.”) Pick something that’s do-able for you (such as always adding some type of fruit to your breakfast), make the change, and stick with it until it becomes second-nature to you…until you do it without thinking about it, and then you’re there! You’ve achieved that goal!

Next, keep that new habit and find something else to change in a positive way. Maybe find another way to add a vegetable to your lunch or to a snack food. Repeat the same process. Keep moving forward with this tactic, adding new changes when the others become a habit to you and they are “automatic.” Over time you’ll find that you’ve transformed your life (or at least your diet) for the good. Here are some ideas for adding more fruits and vegetables to your foods…

Breakfast
* Add fruit to cereal.

* Add fruit to yogurt and make it part of your breakfast.

* Add vegetables to an omelet. Mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, shredded carrots, greens (like kale), and tomatoes all blend well with eggs.

* Add fruit and greens (such as spinach) to a breakfast smoothie.

* Try a savory vegetable pancake. Sauté onions, carrots, spinach, and even mushrooms, then add them to a savory (not sweet) pancake batter. Cook as usual and enjoy (without the maple syrup). If you really want a topping, try unsweetened applesauce.

* Add diced apple to hot oatmeal or other porridge.

* Make a 100% fruit puree in advance to have available in the refrigerator. Top morning oatmeal with it.

* Is your morning time short? Try overnight oats with added berries. Add other fruits in the morning and you’ll have breakfast in no time.

* Try a loaded sweet potato for breakfast. Bake or boil it in advance, then warm it on the stove or in the microwave. Or, if time allows, pierce it and microwave it until it’s soft. Split it and fill the cavity with chopped nuts or your favorite nut butter and chopped fruit.

* Or fill a cooked sweet potato with scrambled eggs cooked with veggies such as sautéed onions, carrots, and chopped spinach.

* Sauté assorted vegetables such as kale, carrots, broccoli florets, mushrooms, and butternut squash. Add some beans, or top them with a soft-boiled egg. Have some toast, a side of cooked grain or even oatmeal.

* Add some sautéed vegetables to a breakfast burrito.

Lunch or Supper
* Enjoy a vegetable salad with your lunch (or supper), or as the whole meal. Add some fruit for sweetness, flavor and variety.

* Add as many vegetables as you can to a lunchtime sandwich. Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, sprouts, avocado, and spinach would all work well.

* Have some veggie sticks with or without dip on the side. Jicama, carrots, cucumbers, celery, bell peppers, grape tomatoes, radishes, and even sugar snap peas and snow peas. Most offer great crunch and chewing experience while the dip can add variety in flavors. This is a healthful alternative to chips.

* Enjoy a piece of fresh fruit for dessert.

* Top meat, chicken or fish with a salsa of choice.

* Add shredded carrots, zucchini, or yellow squash to meatloaf, casseroles, and burgers (both meat and meatless).

* Add shredded vegetables to pasta sauce as it cooks. Carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and yellow squash all blend well in tomato sauce.

* Add vegetables as toppings to your pizza.

* If you’re a meat eater, plan a meatless meal for one or two days a week. Plan a meal around a vegetable-based soup, stir-fry, or casserole. Add beans or legumes of choice for added protein.

* Use fresh vegetable or fruit slices as a garnish on your plate. Make a point of eating them rather than just enjoying their looks next to other foods.

* Stuff acorn (or other) squash, bell peppers, hollowed out zucchini, or spaghetti squash with a vegetable-bean mixture and enjoy that for supper. Be sure to eat the “bowl” along with the stuffing!

* Add vegetables to lasagna layers. Fresh spinach, finely shredded carrot, thinly sliced yellow squash or zucchini, and finely chopped steamed kale would all work well.

* When cooking rice or another grain for a side dish, add some frozen peas and even finely shredded carrots during the last few minutes of cooking time. Your grain will be embellished with vegetables for added color, nutrition and flavor. Not a fan of peas? Try finely shredded kale or spinach or something else that sounds good to you.

* Need a meal in a hurry? Make a quick quesadilla by stir-steaming or stir-frying some veggies (use a pack of assorted frozen (and thawed in a colander under running water) vegetables to make it even faster). Add in a handful of cooked beans, if desired. Place them on a tortilla and sprinkle with cheese of choice. Fold the tortilla, heat the tortilla on a frying pan to crisp it up some, and enjoy!

* Try cauliflower rice as a way to add more veggies to your meal. We’re not knocking rice here, just adding veggies. If you want the real thing (rice, that is), you could make a mixture of half rice and half cauliflower rice.

* Add finely chopped vegetables to polenta.

* If you’re not a huge fan of vegetables, yet want to add more to your meals, try dressing them up with your favorite salsa, glaze or sauce.

* Add pureed cauliflower, winter squash, sweet potato, or even bell peppers into sauces, mashed potatoes and even pot pies for added flavor, nutrition, and color.

* Try thickening soups and stews with vegetables instead of cornstarch. Okra will thicken, as will starchy vegetables like potatoes. Blended corn, mashed white or sweet potatoes, and pureed cooked root vegetables such as carrots may also do the trick. Although not “vegetables,” pureed beans in liquid can also be used to thicken soups. Blend equal parts of beans and soup broth. Add the slurry back to the pot and your soup should thicken.

* Try adding mashed, roasted cauliflower to mashed potatoes. This will make the potatoes healthier and creamier.

* Try a lettuce wrap. Make your usual taco, tortilla, or sandwich filling (but of course, with added veggies), then wrap it in a stack of lettuce leaves instead. Or take it one step further and try large collard green leaves, turnip green leaves, or flat-leaf kale leaves. Yet another way to add more veggies to your meal!

* Try a fish-less sushi. Use mushrooms, cucumbers, and avocado along with the sticky rice.

* Add some finely chopped spinach to your favorite risotto. Add it toward the end of cooking time since spinach cooks really fast.

* On a cold winter day, start your meal with a small warm bowl of vegetable soup as an appetizer. You’ll get veggies in and also curb your appetite so you don’t overeat.

* On a warm summer day, start your meal with a side salad or veggies and dip. Like with the soup, you’ll get more veggies in and curb your appetite a bit.

Salads
* Add vegetables to tuna, chicken, meat, or bean salads. Tomatoes, radishes, bell peppers, onions, would all work well. Serve on a bed of lettuce or spinach (and EAT the greens!).

* Include a green salad as a side dish with lunch and/or supper. Eat this, in addition to your “side” vegetable.

* Add variety to green salads by adding other vegetables such as red or green cabbage, spinach, carrots, green peas (frozen, thawed), mushrooms, celery, radishes, cucumbers, yellow squash or zucchini, broccoli and/or cauliflower, sprouts, sugar snap peas, snow peas, bell peppers, cooked green beans, scallions, tomatoes, radicchio, or any other vegetable you want.

* For a little sweetness, add some fruit to your green salads, such as pineapple, orange slices, grapes, berries of any sort, diced apples, diced pears, diced peaches, or mango cubes.

* Embrace “slaws.” Cole slaw doesn’t have to be limited to cabbage and mayonnaise. Red cabbage, green cabbage, shredded Brussels sprouts, grated kohlrabi, grated carrots, pineapple tidbits, grated apple, peanuts, hazelnuts, dried cranberries, raisins, celery root, beets, radishes, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, and even citrus fruits can all be incorporated into assorted vegetable slaws. Experiment and get creative with this one!

* Don’t get stuck in a rut with your salads. Vary your greens. There are plenty to choose from: iceberg, romaine, green leafy lettuce, red leaf lettuce, specialty lettuces, spring mix, baby green mixes, spinach, kale, shredded cabbage, even shredded collard greens…explore what’s available in your local store or farm market!

* Don’t just vary your bed of greens, but vary your toppings too! There are lots of possibilities including tomatoes, shredded carrots, celery, bell peppers, broccoli pieces, cauliflower pieces, cucumbers, cooked green beans, frozen (and thawed) green peas, sliced olives, raw yellow squash or zucchini slices, beet slices (pickled, steamed, or raw), asparagus (raw, steamed or sautéed), parsnips (raw, steamed or sautéed), roasted Brussels sprouts (or even raw), corn (canned, raw, frozen and thawed, steamed or boiled), shaved kohlrabi, jicama, shaved celery root, natural sauerkraut or other fermented vegetables (homemade is mild tasting and less pungent than the canned variety), onions (all varieties), butternut squash (raw, cubed and roasted, steamed, or sautéed).

* Don’t toss the broccoli stems! They’re perfectly edible. If the outer layer is too tough for you, shave it off with a vegetable peeler and save it for vegetable broth. Slice the remaining stalk into your salad for an added vegetable. They are crunchy but not tough, and taste like broccoli. Why toss them???

* Try making a vegetable salad without the greens, just for something different. Load it with tomatoes, shredded carrots, onions, bell peppers, cucumbers, sugar snap peas for sweetness, and any other veggies you want. Top it with your favorite dressing and enjoy!

Snacks and Other Foods
* Have some fruits and/or vegetable pieces available to snack on whenever you have a hunger urge. Sliced bell peppers, carrot and celery sticks, sliced radishes, sliced jicama, broccoli or cauliflower florets, whole cherry or grape tomatoes, raw sugar snap peas, raw snow peas, and sliced yellow squash or zucchini would all work well. Include some whole baby cucumbers for an easy grab and go, crunchy snack. For fruit, peeled Clementine oranges, grapes, apples, pears, sliced kiwi, cubed mango, diced pineapple, strawberries, plums, peaches, cherries (when they’re in season), and bananas would all work well for a quick and handy snack. On the run? Pack them in a to-go bag and you’ll have them whenever your “snack-attack” hits you.

* Boil a whole sweet potato with the peel on. Allow it to cool then store it in the refrigerator. When hungry, cut off a slice or two and enjoy it just as it is…plain and simple. When you get used to eating foods without added sugars, a boiled sweet potato will actually taste sweet to you.

* Add shredded fruits and vegetables to baked goods like quick breads and muffins. Shredded apples, carrots, yellow squash, and zucchini would all work well.

* Use a fruit puree as a dip on a fruit and cheese tray. Pureed raspberries and/or pineapple would be good.

* Use a vegetable puree as a dip on a vegetable tray. (Example: Roasted red bell peppers blended with a little balsamic vinegar.)

* Spread your favorite nut butter on apple or pear slices for a delicious, satisfying snack.

* Add mixed berries to some vanilla yogurt for a filling snack.

* Stuff celery sticks with your favorite nut butter.

* Enjoy a slice of cantaloupe topped with cashew cream or yogurt.

* Try spreading a tortilla or flatbread with your favorite nut butter, top it with thinly sliced banana and a few raisins. Roll it up and enjoy it right away, or wrap it for a to-go snack.

* Add fresh vegetable/fruit juice to your day, not as a meal replacer, but as a supplement.

Desserts
* Instead of making overly sweetened desserts like pie, cake and cookies, enjoy a piece of fresh fruit for dessert. When your taste buds get used to not being overrun with excess sugars, a piece of fruit will actually be refreshing and taste sweet.

* Puree fresh fruit to use as a dressing over another dessert such as cake, pie, pudding, and ice cream.

* Include fruit pieces or fruit puree into desserts like parfaits and puddings.

* Stew or poach pears with a little sweetener (sugar, honey, or maple syrup) and spice (ginger, cinnamon, cloves, star anise) for an elegant dessert.

* Try banana “nice cream” by blending a frozen (peeled) banana. Period. It’s delicious as it is, but can be embellished any way you want. When blending, add in a little vanilla extract, cocoa powder, or another fruit. It can be sweetened with whatever you want, if desired. Top it with chopped nuts, dried coconut, chocolate chips or your favorite fruit puree and you have a delicious, healthy, fruity dessert ready in very little time.

* For a refreshing dessert on a hot day, swirl a freshly made fruit puree of your choice into your favorite yogurt. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

* Make a parfait layering pudding or yogurt with 100% fruit puree, chopped fresh fruit of choice, and granola.

* Top your favorite pudding with a fruit puree (unsweetened, of course!), or small chunks of fresh fruit of choice.

* Make a refreshing fruit salad with whatever fruit you have available. Add a topping of 100% fruit puree, or stir in some pineapple tidbits with juice, then sprinkle with unsweetened coconut.

Plan Ahead
* If you know your time will be short during the work week, take some time on the weekend or one evening to prepare some fruits and veggies in advance. For instance, salad greens can be washed, spun dry, chopped, and stored in the refrigerator, ready for fast salad assembly any time you need it. Other salad vegetables may also be chopped in advance and stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for faster salad making.

* On a day off, make a large pot of soup that’s loaded with assorted vegetables. In fact, double the veggies (or at least increase the amount) called for in the recipe (if possible). This will increase the “hearty factor” of the soup along with the nutritional punch. Divide it into containers for grab-and-go lunches for the week, or for quick suppers when time is short.

* “Ditto” the above suggestion for making a large casserole with extra veggies on a day off. You’ll have lunches (or easy suppers) ready to go for the week.

* If you’re cooking something in the oven and have space, add some sweet potatoes wherever there’s room so they can bake at the same time. Enjoy them with meals during the week, or save them for special, sweet and satisfying snacks when needed.

* Keep frozen vegetables in the freezer. They can be ready at a moment’s notice to be used in a number of ways. Add them to soups, casseroles, stir-fries, quiches, pasta dishes, and rice or grain dishes. Thaw frozen vegetables like peas and carrots and add them to a green salad for extra nutrients, flavor, and variety.

* When grocery shopping, look for something new that you haven’t tried before in the produce isle. Make a point of including that in at least one dish during the coming week.

* Keep frozen assorted fruit in the freezer. This is handy especially when they’re out of season or you don’t have time to get to the store. They can be included in smoothies, blended into desserts, or thawed and used in whatever way needed.

* If you’ll be going off somewhere for the day, pack ready-to-go snack bags of easy to munch on veggies, like baby carrots, grape tomatoes, cucumber slices or baby whole cucumbers, sugar snap peas, snow peas, celery sticks, bell pepper strips, and maybe some easy to eat fruit like grapes, a plum, or a banana.

With all the suggestions above, I hope this gives you some ideas as to what will work for you in adding more fruits and vegetables to your day. If you have suggestions not mentioned above, please feel free to share them below! I’d love to hear from you!

Judi

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Vegan Mayonnaise

Vegan Mayonnaise (Oil Free)

Here’s a great substitute for traditional mayonnaise, if you’re looking for something that’s vegan and free of added oils. It’s easy to make and blends up quickly. Below is a video demonstration of how to make the mayo. The written recipe is below.

Enjoy!
Judi

Vegan Mayonnaise
(White Bean and Avocado Mayo)
Makes About 2 Cups

1 (15 oz) can of white beans of choice OR 1-3/4 cups cooked white beans of choice
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Avocado, diced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp water or aquafaba (reserved bean juice from the can)

One-Half of the Recipe (Makes about 1 cup)
1/2 (15 oz) can of white beans of choice OR ½ cup + 3/8 cup cooked white beans of choice
1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 Avocado, diced
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp water or aquafaba (reserved bean juice from the can)

One-Fourth of the Recipe (Makes about ½ cup)
1/4 (15 oz) can of white beans of choice OR Scant ½ cup cooked white beans of choice
¾ tsp Dijon mustard
¼ Avocado, diced
¾ tsp lemon juice
¾ tsp white wine vinegar
½ Tbsp water or aquafaba (reserved bean juice from the can)

Rinse and drain the canned beans, reserving the liquid from the can, if opting to use it. Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Use as you would any mayonnaise. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 5 days.

Cook’s Note: Since this is made with avocado, it will have a pale green tint, which is unlike traditional mayonnaise. However, the flavor is very similar to that of traditional mayonnaise.

Mango-Raspberry Fruit Dressing

Mango-Raspberry Fruit Dressing (3 Ingredients)

Here’s a really simple fruit dressing to make in no time. It blends up with a similar texture as applesauce, but the flavor is far better than the typical applesauce. It is naturally sweet-tart and has a greater depth of flavor than applesauce. Yet, it can be used in place of applesauce in most applications. If you need it a little thicker, simply add the optional ground flax seed and that will naturally thicken it. Below is the recipe along with ideas on how to use this simple fruit dressing. Videos are included so you can see how it’s made and how to use it.

Enjoy!
Judi

Mango-Raspberry Fruit Dressing
Makes About 1 Cup

1 cup mango cubes, fresh or frozen and thawed (About 1 medium mango)
1/4 cup raspberries (fresh, or frozen and thawed)
1 Clementine orange
1 Tbsp ground golden flax seed (optional)*

Peel and cube one fresh mango (if using frozen mango cubes, allow them to thaw before blending). Peel the Clementine orange and remove the pith that is in the center of the orange. Slice the orange pieces in half. Combine all ingredients in a small blender or food processor, and process until smooth. If you need more dressing, simply double or triple the recipe, as needed. Use immediately. Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator and use within 3 days. This may also be frozen.

*(Note: If you prefer a sweeter dressing, feel free to add sweetener of your choice. If you need a thicker dressing, add 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds when blending ingredients.)

Easy Ideas for Using this Dressing…
* Drizzle it over a fruit salad using any fruit of your choice. Fruit that would go especially well with this dressing includes: apples, bananas, berries, citrus fruits, grapes, mango, melons, peaches, pears, pineapple, tangerines, and watermelon.

* Swirl it into yogurt.

* Add it to a smoothie.

* Use it as an ice cream topping.

* Eat it as-is for a dessert or snack.

* Use it in place of applesauce.

* Partially freeze it into a sorbet.

* Drizzle it on cake.

* Top pancakes or waffles with this dressing.

* Use it as a cheesecake topping.

* Serve it chunky or smooth, slightly warmed or chilled.

* Serve it slightly warm over pork, poultry or fish.

* Swirl it into softened cream cheese or nut butter and spread the mixture on toast, a bagel, or into a sandwich.

* Serve it as a dip on a fruit and cheese tray. If desired, thicken it by adding up to 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds when blending the ingredients.

* Use it as a topping for pudding.

* Top porridge (like cooked oatmeal) with this dressing to add a fruity flavor to your hot breakfast.

* Add it to a parfait, layering yogurt or pudding with this dressing, assorted fruit, and even granola.

* Here a video on a simple fruit salad made with this dressing…

Fruit Salad with Mango-Raspberry Fruit Dressing

Fruit options that go well with this dressing:
Apples, bananas, berries of all types, citrus fruits, grapes, mango, melons, peaches, pears, pineapple, tangerines, and watermelon

Mango-Raspberry Fruit Dressing (Makes about 1 cup):
See the recipe above

To make the salad:
Make the fruit dressing. For drizzling over a fruit salad, the optional added ground flax seed is not needed. Cut up as much fruit as you need and arrange it on a platter or in a serving bowl. With a spoon, drizzle the prepared dressing over the salad. Extra dressing can also be served on the side. Enjoy!

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Simple Pineapple Dressing

How to Make Your Own Oil-Free Salad Dressing

 

The Components of an Oil-Free Salad Dressing
How to Make Your Own

There is a growing trend to forego added oils in the diet. With that, many people are looking for recipes for oil-free salad dressings. Recipes abound in the media, and the possibilities are endless. Yet our likes, dislikes, specific salad ingredients, and food sensitivities all work together to determine what we want or don’t want on our plate.

To help meet these needs, I’ve put together a list of basic components of an oil-free salad dressing or sauce. This list contains basic ingredient categories that any salad dressing would contain, with a list of possible items that could be used in each category.  This is not a specific recipe, but a blueprint of items to include to make your own dressing, your way. The possibilities are endless and limited only to your imagination! And, the list is not comprehensive. It’s simply not possible to list all potential ingredients such as herbs and spices. So, don’t feel limited to the list below. Use it as your guide and develop your own special dressing or sauce that meets your needs for the food you want to serve it with.

Enjoy!
Judi

Components of an Oil-Free Dressing or Sauce

1. A “Base” for Bulk

This ingredient should have a relatively neutral flavor despite the fact that it will lend a little flavor to your dressing. It will provide bulk or volume to your dressing and will also help the dressing to adhere to the ingredients in your salad or dish where the dressing will be used. This ingredient is the foundation of your dressing and should be your starting point.

Examples:

Steamed mushrooms
Yellow squash (cooked or raw)
Zucchini (cooked or raw)
Cauliflower (cooked or raw)
Winter squash (roasted, steamed, or boiled)
Green peas (frozen and thawed)
White beans (cooked)
Other bean of choice (cooked)
Blackeye peas (cooked)
Soft tofu
Garbanzo beans (cooked)
Yogurt of choice

2. Fat-Containing Ingredient

This component provides richness and smoothness to your dressing. It also helps the dressing to adhere to your salad vegetables. If necessary, it can be left out, but your dressing may be lacking that “something special” that’s needed to help give it body and give it a delicious, full flavor.

Examples:

Hemp seeds
Avocado
Flax meal (if using whole flax seeds, grind them separately first)
Chia seeds (soak them first)
Soaked nuts or seeds of choice (examples: cashews, sunflower seeds, almonds)
Nut butter of choice
Tahini
Cheese of Choice

3. Acidic Ingredient

All dressings need an acidic ingredient to help the flavor stand out when added to other foods. Your choice of which acidic ingredient to use will affect the flavor of your dressing in a big way, so consider whether you want a sweet and fruity or tart and savory flavor. A sweeter dressing would benefit from fruits and/or fruit juices and/or balsamic vinegar being used as the acid component(s). Dressings that need more tartness would benefit from adding a standard tart vinegar.

When choosing fruit, you have many choices. You could juice the fruit and add only the juice to the dressing. Or you could peel the fruit, remove seeds, and add whole segments of the fruit to your mixture. The pulp from the fruit would add fiber and bulk to your dressing. So, it’s a matter of personal preference and what you need at the time. I’ve tried both ways, and they both work well, depending on the outcome you want. Just be sure to remove any white pith from citrus fruit if adding whole fruit sections, since that can be bitter.

Examples:

Lemons
Limes
Oranges
Clementines
Tangerines
Pineapple (whole or juiced)
Raspberries
Strawberries
Blackberries

Apple cider vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Red wine vinegar
White wine vinegar
Rice vinegar
Any other vinegar of choice

4. Salty Component

Salt enhances the flavor of foods, and is added to many foods to bring out flavors and make them taste better. Despite that, many people need to reduce their salt intake for health reasons, while others want to reduce or omit added salt to prevent health concerns. There are ingredient options to choose from below that can be used if added salt is something you want to avoid.

Salt-Free Options:

Celery (Yes, celery added to a dressing will give it a salty flavor without any added salt)
Dulse or kelp flakes

Salty Options:

Sea salt
Capers
Fermented vegetable brine
Soy sauce
Tamari

5. Spicy/Savory/Herb Additions

These ingredients are optional, but will certainly add flavor to your dressing and will give it that distinct flavor you want your dressing to have. The list in this category is endless, so it’s impossible to include everything. Let your salad ingredients and other dressing ingredients be your guide on what to add so your dressing will have the flavor you hope for. Let your taste buds be your guide as to how much to add.

Spicy/Savory Options:

Jalapeno peppers
Chile peppers of choice
Mustard (prepared)
Ketchup
Bell peppers (with or without seeds)
Cucumber (with or without seeds)
Nutritional yeast
Onion (fresh or powdered)
Garlic (fresh or powdered)
Ginger (fresh or powdered)
Turmeric (fresh or powdered)

Herb/Spice Options:

Basil
Cayenne pepper
Cilantro leaves
Coriander seeds
Cumin
Dill
Italian seasoning
Mustard (dry)
Oregano
Paprika
Parsley
Pepper
Rosemary
Sage
Tarragon
Thyme
Turmeric

Also, any prepared herb blend or salt substitute seasoning blend that you like may be used.

6. Sweet Component

If you look at bottled salad dressings, most of them contain added sugar. There’s a reason for this. Sugar makes things taste good. Despite that, we’ve learned that added white, refined sugar is far from a healthful component in foods. So, we’re trying to avoid it. Hence, we won’t include white sugar in this list. Nevertheless, a little added sweetener of some type will enhance the flavor of your dressing, so this category should not be overlooked. It’s an optional ingredient, but can make a difference in the flavor of your finished dressing. Which sweet component you choose WILL add distinct flavor to your dressing, so choose one that will blend well with your other components.

Possible options:

Honey
Maple syrup
Molasses
Raisins
Dates or date sugar
Dried figs
Dried apples
Applesauce
Coconut sugar
Stevia
Fresh fruit (in general)
Mango
Berries of choice
Sweet cherry juice
Pineapple juice
All fruit jam
Tomato
Carrots
Balsamic vinegar

7. Liquid

After placing all the other ingredients in a blender and processing them, you’ll probably find that the mixture is way too thick and dry to be called a dressing or sauce. You’ll need to add some liquid to thin it out to be the consistency you want. The liquid you choose can simply be water, which will dilute all flavors in the mix. Or, you could choose to add a liquid that will enhance your flavors, mellow them out, add creaminess to it, or even duplicate (and enhance) a flavor that’s already in your mixture.

Here are examples of possible liquids to add to your dressing. Add whatever amount you need to bring it to the consistency you want. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Water
Coconut water
Milk of choice
Fruit juice of choice
Pineapple juice
Apple juice
Tomato juice
Vegetable broth

Directions

Place all of your ingredients into a high-speed blender, with a small amount of your liquid of choice. Blend until smooth. Add more liquid as needed to make the dressing the consistency you want. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Enjoy!

 

About Judi

Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Blended Creamy Orange Dessert

Blended Creamy Orange Dessert

Here’s a FAST and easy refreshing dessert or snack to make on a hot summer day. It’s simple to make, with few ingredients and can easily be tailored to your preferences. It reminds me of the Creamsicle popsicles I used to eat when I was young! The recipe makes 1 hefty serving or 2 modest servings, but can easily be increased to accommodate however many you need to feed. Below is a short video demonstration of how to make this dessert. The written recipe follows the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

Blended Creamy Orange Dessert
Makes 1 to 2 Servings

6 each (about ½ cup) frozen mango chunks
6 each (about ½ cup) frozen papaya chunks
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup coconut milk (canned, unsweetened, full-fat variety)

Place all ingredients in a small blender or food processor. Process briefly until smooth. Enjoy immediately!

Note: Sweetener can be added to this, if desired. This recipe can EASILY be increased to make whatever amount you need!

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Making your own vegetable broth is not hard. Yes, it does take a little time, but it’s a great way to use up some vegetable scraps and can save a lot of money over time if you use a lot of it when cooking. Why not give it a try? You can make a small amount just for starters to see how it goes for you. When you’re comfortable, make a big pot of it, divide it into containers holding the amount you expect to use at one time, and freeze it. It should keep for up to 6 months in the freezer. What you add to your vegetable broth can vary according to what you have available and your personal preferences. There are few “hard and fast” rules to making it, so why not make some? If nothing else, add it to homemade vegetable soup and you’ll be glad you did!

Below is a video demonstration of how I make my own vegetable broth. The written recipe is below that, followed by ideas on ways to use the leftover vegetables from the broth.

Enjoy!
Judi

Homemade Vegetable Broth

1 onion, chopped (or 4 tablespoons of dried minced onion)
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, sliced
4 to 6 cups chopped greens of your choice (i.e. kale, collards, cabbage, bok choy, turnip greens)
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2 Tbsp dried parsley
4 Bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper (to taste, optional)*
Water to fill the pot

Optional add-ins of choice:
Bell peppers
Mushrooms
Corn cobs
Any vegetable scraps you saved in the freezer for making broth
Sugar
Garlic
Nutritional yeast
Marjoram

Place all ingredients in a large pot with a lid. Fill the pot with water. Cover the pot and bring everything to boil. Lower the heat, and allow everything to simmer for at least 1 hour (2 hours or more is preferable to get the most flavor out of your vegetables). When the vegetables are well cooked and flavors blended, remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool some. Strain out the vegetables and place the broth in covered containers and label with the date made. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Note: When freezing broth, it is helpful to store it in containers that hold the amount you anticipate needing (or in increments of that amount). For instance, storing it in 1, 2 or 4-cup increments can be helpful when making soups calling for broth. Simply remove one or two containers and you’ll know you have the right amount of broth needed for your recipe.

* Adding salt, pepper, and other seasonings (such as garlic) is actually optional. Remember that your broth will be used in future recipes to add flavor to foods. It is generally not used alone as a soup in itself, but added to soups for flavor. Being conservative on seasonings allows you the freedom to season future dishes appropriately without having to take into consideration what was already added to the broth.

Ideas for using the vegetables from making the broth…
Yes, the flavor of the vegetables WILL be diminished after cooking them to make broth (at least, that’s the goal). But they are still OK to eat and there is still some nourishment left in them, along with their fiber. So, why not use them somehow? Here are some ideas.

* Season them with your favorite herbs and maybe a little salt and pepper, and simply eat them as a side dish with a meal. If the flavor is still too bland, combine them with some vegetables that were not used in making the broth. Cook the “new” vegetables however you want and add in the broth vegetables at the last minute, just to heat them up.

* Add them along with fresh vegetables to soups (especially vegetable soup), stews, and casseroles.

* Add them along with sautéed mushrooms and onions to an omelet.

* Puree them and add them to a Sloppy Joe mixture for bulk and thickening.

* Season them and serve them over rice or another grain.

* Add them to quinoa salad.

* Puree them and add them to chili as a thickening agent.

* Freeze them for later use.

* Squeeze them through a colander, in cheesecloth, or through a nut milk bag to get yet more broth out of them. Make pulp crackers with the pulp or add it to your compost pile.

* Puree them and add them to tomato or marinara sauce.

* Puree them and add them to burger patties or meatloaf (both meat or meatless).

* Puree them in a food processor, season the mash to your liking, spread onto dehydrator trays and dry them into veggie crackers.

* Puree the vegetables and stir them into softened cream cheese, cashew cream, or another base. Add whatever seasonings you like and use it as a vegetable dip.

* Puree the vegetables and use them as a base for creamy potato soup.

* If nothing else appeals to you, add them to a compost pile.

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began h
er journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

(Almost) Tropical Slushy

(Almost) Tropical Slushy

Here’s a REALLY fast, easy and delicious dessert or treat you can whip up in no time on a hot summer day. This is a spoonable treat, not your typical slushy that you sip through a straw. The recipe makes about 3 servings, but it could VERY easily be increased to make whatever amount you want. It’s best served right away, but can be kept in the refrigerator for later use and partially refrozen if needed.

Below is a video showing how to make this treat. The written recipe follows the video.

Enjoy!
Judi

(Almost) Tropical Slushy
Makes 3 Servings

1 cup very cold (or partially frozen) roasted butternut squash*
1 cup frozen mango cubes (not thawed)
½ cup canned pineapple with juice**

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. If you prefer a sweeter mixture, add a little sweetener of your choice. Serve immediately.

Note: This mixture is at its best when it is freshly made and has partially frozen elements in it. It will be like a spoonable slushy. Store any leftover mixture in a covered container in the refrigerator. The leftover mixture will taste good, but will not taste as sweet as when it is icy cold.

* For a true slushy texture, place the butternut squash in the freezer and use it when it is partially frozen (but not rock solid).

** Any type of canned pineapple may be used since it will be blended smooth. Fresh pineapple may also be used, but you may need to add a couple tablespoons of water or pineapple juice so it will blend smoothly.

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.