"If you had time and energy for only one made-from-scratch food, what would it be?"
At the top of my list would be a fresh salad with homemade salad dressing.
Why? A salad, when made with 100% fresh, raw, organic ingredients, does much to boost our body's immune function. It will be delicious and a powerful body pH booster. (Note: Healthy pH = good functioning immune system.)
Why make your own salad dressing? Because it is virtually impossible to find a bottled dressing that is made with healthy ingredients. It is worth the experience to read through the list of ingredients on a bottle of prepared salad dressing. Then ask yourself, “Is that what I want to put into my body, to feed my family?”
What are the main players of a healthy salad dressing? It's pretty simple: a healthy oil, sea salt, herbs, lemon juice or vinegar
Equally, it will have: No flavor enhancers (known as "excitotoxins," i.e., MSG) No food coloring No preservatives Nothing else that is unpronounceable and unidentifiable.
The main player in homemade salad dressings is olive oil, so let’s go over the main characteristics that we will want to consider.
Organic. Choose oil that is made from ingredients grown without pesticides, herbicides and insecticides, and free from genetically modified organisms (GMO's). In other words, the growers have farmed in a way that is sustainable, preserving the nutrients of the soil and preparing it for the next harvest.
Cold Pressed. This means the oil has been extracted from the olives without the use of heat. In this process, the oil never exceeds 98.5° and so nutrients are not destroyed. A quality extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil will always be bottled in dark tinted bottles to further protect this precious oil from oxidation (the breakdown and development of free radicals). If the olive oil is in a clear bottle, you can be certain that the manufacturer did not place much value on the quality of the oil that he is bottling!
Extra Virgin. This means from the first pressing of the olives and that the oil has met stringent standards. All of these qualities yields a precious oil that gives extraordinary flavor to your organic salads and pasta, drizzled and tossed with fresh herbs.
Enter center stage: Nutrient dense greens and veggies, drizzled with your own homemade salad dressing. Olive oil. Lemon juice. Garlic. Sea salt. Herbs. All organic. The taste? Mmmm!! You'll not want to go back to iceberg salads, slathered with Kraft Thousand Island!
Interesting “other information" about olive oil: * Did you know you can minimize fine facial lines with the use of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)? Splash your face with water and gently massage the oil into your face, taking special attention to lines and creases you want to minimize. Many have found that the use of olive oil is one of the ancient secrets of a youthful appearance.
* Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that is high in vitamin E and antioxidants, which helps keep the good HDL cholesterol levels up and the bad LDL cholesterol down. It takes 40 pounds of olives to produce one gallon of olive oil.
Now.....for the recipes!
Basic Vinaigrette Makes about 6 TBSP
Ingredients: 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (cold pressed) 1 TBSP vinegar of your choice (apple cider vinegar, white, red, balsamic) or lemon juice 1-2 garlic cloves, freshly pressed – approx ½ tsp ½ tsp salt (choose pink Himalayan, Celtic sea salt, or Redmond sea salt)
Directions: Measure all ingredients into a measuring cup. Whisk well. Flavors are enhanced if left at room temperature for ½ hour, but can also be used immediately. (I always use mine immediately!) Stir or whisk before spooning over salad.
Optional additions: ½ tsp seasonings (i.e., Italian or Pizza Seasoning, Braggs Organic Sprinkle, etc.) Few grinds of peppercorns
Basic Vinaigrette Variations:
A Greek Salad also uses a basic vinaigrette dressing. Red or balsamic vinegar is preferred. The salad consists of greens, cucumbers, red bell pepper, red onion and Greek (Mediterranean) olives or black olives. Pepperoncini (pickled peppers) can be added if you desire. Crumbled feta cheese perfects this Greek Salad.
If you want a creamy dressing, the easiest way to achieve this is with a stick blender and by using fresh garlic and a tablespoon or two of water. The action of the stick blender with the garlic and water “binds” the oil and vinegar together (emulsifying), making a creamy dressing. You can also experiment with adding a tablespoon or two of sour cream, Greek yogurt or yogurt.
Please use organic ingredients whenever possible.