I’ve been making my own salad dressings for several years. I can’t even remember the last time I bought dressing from the store, but I learned something new today about using an emulsifier to combine everything so the oil doesn’t separate from the other liquids. Most store bought dressings have some sort of weird emulsifier you can’t pronounce, but there are a few basic ones that are very accessible. Honey, miso, mustard, maple syrup, and mayonnaise are the most common.
Try some of these ingredients and make your own dressing. Just remember to use the olive oil to liquid ratio concept. I prefer one part olive oil to one part other liquid. Some people prefer two or three parts oil to one part liquid. Try some ratios and see what you prefer. Just remember to use high quality cold pressed olive oil. Trader Joe’s has a California Extra Virgin cold pressed oil I like right now.
Here is a simple Asian sesame dressing recipe to be used with any greens. I finely sliced cabbage and zucchini with a mandolin on its finest setting. If you don’t have a mandolin, check out my post on mandolins.
Recipe for about 4-6 servings:
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- thumb size piece of ginger finely grated
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil (a few drops goes a long way)
- Add all ingredients to small mason jar and shake it like a Polaroid picture.
- Add to any greens. Add some toasted sesame seeds. (For ultimate flavor, buy raw sesame seeds and toast them in a pan on low right before)
I recently learned about the ANDI score and it really helped me identify the best foods to eat for optimal health. It stands for Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, which is basically a listing of every food and it’s nutrient content per calorie. It analyzes a wide gamut of micro-nutrients including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. If you are trying to improve your health, take a look and start eating some of these foods more.
I also wanted to touch base on a concept I truly believe in, which is the concept of incremental change. It’s the concept of baby steps applied to your health. You basically look at where you are at, develop an ideal long term goal, and then apply small changes weekly to help achieve that goal. Everyone has these grandeur new years resolutions, but most fade after a month or two because people try to do too much at once, get burnt out, and quit. I say take your time. If your eating out 7 times a week, strive to eat out only 5 times and cook 2 meals from whole ingredients. If you cook healthy meals everyday, maybe start growing a small portion of your food. If you are already growing a small portion of your food, figure out how to grow more in an attainable way. If you eat healthy, maybe start juicing or eating raw. Always push forward. Never stop learning. No matter how smart you are, you can always learn.
If you go from eating cheeseburgers to drinking 100% kale juice, you’ll probably throw up and you’ll never make that mistake again. You can’t put the cart before the horse, and by that I mean that you need to change your pallet SLOWLY! It takes about 3 weeks to change your pallet if you consistently eat something new. By eating whole healthy foods, you will naturally stop craving sweet, salty, and fatty foods and start craving healthier options. Getting used to the flavor of olive oil is a prime example. Start making your own dressings using olive oil. At first, you’ll get slammed in the face with the flavor of olive oil, but I guarantee you that you’ll get used to it after 3 weeks if you eat it everyday. Then you’ll develop the taste for a healthy fat (olive oil) instead of the unhealthy fats (french fry oil). Use the search function to find older posts for healthy salad dressings.
This process takes time. Don’t run before you can walk. And don’t give up!
Check out this index and see which foods you can handle and learn a new recipe using them. A quick hint: lentils are very quick to make (only 10 minutes) and delicious. If you are new to leafy greens, try chard and bok choy first and then graduate to kale and collards. Eat them steamed for a few weeks and then eventually start eating them raw in a salad. Cooking kills nutrients, so the goal is to eventually eat things raw. Also, learn to chew well because it aids in digestion.
One of my friends introduced me to using coconut cream in coffee instead of dairy cream. It is a whole different drink using coconut, but I recently experimented with using carob chocolote chips also, and I now have my favorite coffee. I use the organic medium roast coffee from Trader Joe’s, and it tastes amazing.
Just add a few spoonfuls of carob chips in the bottom of your cup, add a touch of coffee and mix it up until it melts. Then add the remainder of your coffee and as much coconut cream as you want.
On my drive back from Washington, I stopped by the Roque Creamery in southern Oregon to do some cheese tasting. They make some of the best blue cheese there, among others, and they had one of my favorite cheeses to date – Humbolt Fog. This cheese is in a world of its own. It’s a creamy goat cheese with a layer of vegetable ash running through the center, and the edges start to ooze as it ages.
After driving a few more hours, we stopped on the upper Sacramento river past Shasta for a little cheese and bread snack. Sitting on a rock on the river eating cheese – what a perfect way to end a day of driving.
On my trip to Portland, Oregon I had a chance to check out some cool food spots. Pastaworks is a market with a simple restaurant attached where they prep your meal in front of you. Like everywhere I go, I had to try some good local cheeses. I got a wodge of Boerenkaas raw milk gouda from Willamette Valley Cheese and a good slice of Rogue River Blue from Roque River Creamery.
Add a few thin slices of high quality salami and a fresh baguette, and we had an amazing pre-lunch snack. This is such a great way to taste some of the local artisan creations in the area before we hit the food carts.
It’s summer squash time, so here is an awesome recipe for sweet summer squash as a side dish. My favorite kind are the little disc summer squash that look like a UFO. I had some last year that literally tasted like butter. This is a simple recipe that is hard to mess up.
Coconut Summer Squash Recipe:
- 3 Summer Squash
- 1/2 cup Coconut Cream
- Fresh Thyme
- Salt and Pepper
- Cut squash into quarters and put in hot pan with oil
- Sautee on med-high for a few minutes, then turn to low.
- Let cook for 10-15 minutes on low until they are very soft and flimsy
- Add coconut cream and thyme. Cook for 10 more minutes on low
Bread is a really good book if you want to learn how to bake bread. It is very technical and covers a ton of technique. If you want to get really into bread making, you should check out this book. Its by Jeffrey Hamelman.
Today I had a friend over for lunch to eat and chill, so I made some Ahi tuna with shrimp noodles and veg. This is such a simple way of eating noodles and meat, and once you have the basics down its super easy to make. I usually make a sauce out of soy sauce, oyster sauce, olive oil, a touch of sesame oil, a tiny bit of fish sauce, garlic, and ginger. This is what I use, but you can substitute other ingredients to make it how you like. Make a nice mix of sweet, sour, savory, salty, and spicy. Then I mix half the sauce with cabbage. Simply cook any mix of vegetables, add the noodles (shrimp noodles from Ranch 99 are my favorite these days). Add the other half of the sauce to the noodle mix. Pan fry the Ahi with salt and pepper, and top it off with the cabbage salad. I forgot to add sesame seeds, but oh well.
It’s surprising hard to find high quality books that have both soulful imagery and a practical no-nonsense approach to cooking. When i started cooking years ago I came across Jaime Oliver’s books. I don’t really like any other network chef other than Gordan Ramsey because they all seem to lack soul and heart in their cooking. These books below, among others, are very conversational about the important concepts of cooking.
For me, I hate following recipes and rarely do so, but the concepts I’ve learned from these books has allowed me to know how to cook different ingredients and pair them with other flavors. It freed me from the recipe book and made cooking more comfortable. Cooking doesn’t have to be a stressful affair where you second guess your every move. Reading these books will liberate you from the confines of step-by-step instructions and give you confidence to experiment. If your a recipe follower, by all means do your thing. But that’s not for me.