Greens n’ Grains Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing/Dip

Greens n’ Grains Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing/Dip

Sometimes, it’s nice to have a thick, creamy dressing on a salad. It’s a bonus when that same dressing can be used as a dip.

A double bonus? This recipe is super healthy, oil-free and dairy free! Try the dressing/dip for this salad recipe and tweak it a bit to make it precisely to your liking.

Note: although a list of specific grains and vegetables were used for this salad, use whatever veggies and grains you have around.

Pour this dressing on anything you want! It’s a thick one, so thin it out if you prefer it that way. Add it to pasta, any vegetables (raw or cooked), potatoes (steamed, baked or for a guilt-free potato salad), crackers, pita slices, as a sandwich spread etc. You get the idea.

Salad

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked, tri-coloured quinoa (or any grain you like, such as regular quinoa, cous cous, barley, rice, millet, and so on)

2 cups chopped greens; I like to chop them into small pieces (any combination/ratio of your choice: arugula, romaine, spinach, kale, chard, Italian parsley, cilantro, etc.)

1 cup diced cooked potato

1 cup chopped purple cabbage

1 cup chopped snap peas

1 diced yellow pepper

1 diced orange pepper

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients.

Makes 9 cups of salad. Put to the side.*

*Alternatively, you could make the dressing first and refrigerate it before preparing the salad.

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Creamy Garlic Dressing/Dip

Ingredients:

1-19 fl. oz (540 mL) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1-19 fl. oz (540 mL) can white navy beans (also called cannellini beans), drained and rinsed

1.5 to 2 cups of plant-based milk of your liking (I used Eden soy beverage, which contains only organic soy beans and water. If you use a sweetened or flavored liquid, the taste will be different). If you don’t want to use any type of milk beverage, use water or vegetable broth instead. Start with 1.5 cups and add more to thin out to your liking.

4 dates (smaller variety), or 2 dates of the larger type

½ cup of lemon juice (fresh or bottled)

2 Tbsp of Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp, plus 2 tsp of garlic powder (adjust to less or more, according to your tastes)

1 Tbsp, plus 1 tsp of onion powder

1 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Add all liquid ingredients and dates to a blender. Do not blend yet. A high-speed blender is not necessary, but the dressing will be smoother if you use one. I used a Vitamix.
  2. Add the chickpeas.
  3. Blend slowly at first, and then build up the speed until all chickpeas appear blended.
  4. Add the dry ingredients.
  5. Begin blending again. Slowly add the white navy beans. It is at this point you’ll need to determine how thick/thin you want your dressing/dip. Add more soy beverage or water/vegetable broth, as needed. Add a little at a time, to ensure you don’t make your dressing thinner than you like it.
  6. Stop blending when smooth.
  7. Taste the dressing. If you want more garlic, add it. If you want more lemon juice, add it. Same with the salt. Tweak it to your liking. Blend and tweak again, if needed.*

Makes 4.5 cups of dressing. **

*I find the flavors in the dressing will taste stronger when tasting the dressing by itself. When the dressing is mixed in the salad, I find the taste milder. Adjust your seasonings as you desire.

**I used about 3 cups of the dressing on the salad, as I wanted it extra thick and creamy. Depending on how thick/thin you make it, and depending on how much you use on your salad, you’ll likely have a cup or two of leftover dressing/dip.

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My Vegucation

On my health journey, I’ve learned a lot. A LOT! I’ve read books, magazine articles, watched videos and listened to speakers and podcasts. I know plants are where it’s at for good health.

I’ve been convinced by information from scientific research as well as from the experiences of varied people. The most influential people who’ve shown me and convinced me about why and how to eat mostly whole, plant-based foods are:

  1. T. Colin Campbell, co-author of The China Study and Whole
  2. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease
  3. Dr. John McDougall, author of The Starch Solution and The Healthiest Diet on the Planet
  4. Dr. Michael Greger, founder of Nutritionfacts.org and author of How Not to Die

These amazing doctors figured out that what they learned in medical school taught them how to treat people with medication or surgery, once a chronic disease was present. It didn’t teach them anything about how their patients could prevent or reverse their illnesses (the top chronic diseases are: heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure). What did these doctors discover? Eating plants, and excluding animal products, is the answer to good health.

All four doctors discovered their knowledge through research and/or practical clinical experience. They dedicate themselves to finding the facts and to helping people learn HOW to be healthy. They base their beliefs on facts and evidence, which is highly reassuring.

If you’re trying to decide which books to read to help you on your journey to health, Campbell and Esselstyn’s books are the top two. MUST reads in my opinion. The next two books, which I highly recommend are McDougall and Greger’s books.

I’ve learned that an ideal diet for humans is whole plant-based foods. As much as possible, we want to choose to eat plants and leave animal products off our plate. We also want to try to choose foods in their raw state often. I’m not 100% plant-based, as I don’t know if I can ever be that perfect over the long term. I’m not vegan either. Being vegan is a commitment that goes beyond food. It involves the avoidance of animal products in all aspects of life: clothing, furniture etc. Although I’m making better choices by decreasing my use of products that harm the environment or animals, I have a lot to learn and a long way to go.

My primary focus now is my health.

Other amazing people who’ve contributed to my knowledge and understanding of good health through nutrition, as well as the need to eat to help our planet and the animals, are:

  1. Neal Barnard: author of many books, including The Cheese Trap
  2. John Robbins: Author of Diet for a New America (this was the first plant-based nutrition book I ever read, way back in 1990), The Food Revolution and Healthy at 100
  3. Brendan Brazier: athlete and author of The Thrive Diet
  4. Rich Roll: ultra marathoner; author of Finding Ultra; podcast host
  5. Julie Marie Christensen: founder of The Protective Diet Education Program
  6. Joel Fuhrman, author of many books, but in particular, Eat to Live and Fasting and Eating for Health
  7. Rip Esselstyn, author of Engine 2 Diet and Plant Strong
  8. Michael Pollan, author of Food Rules, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defence of Food
  9. Kris Carr: cancer survivor and author of Crazy Sexy Diet
  10. Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, co-authors of Skinny Bitch
  11. Chef AJ: food addict turned nutrition advocate and author of Unprocessed
  12. Brenda Davis: author of Becoming Vegan
  13. Victoria Morgan, author of Main St. Vegan
  14. Victoria Boutenko, author of Green for Life
  15. Meghan Telpner, author of Undiet: Eat your Way to Vibrant Health
  16. Kathy Freston: author of many books, including The Lean
  17. Thomas Campbell, MD, author of The Campbell Plan (and co-author of The China Study)
  18. Morris Hicks, author of Healthy Eating, Healthy World
  19. Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Eating Animals
  20. Michael S. Moss, author of Salt, Sugar, Fat
  21. Nancy Montuori from The Ordinary Vegan website and podcast

Specific documentaries that have helped me understand how food affects my health, the environment and the well-being of animals:

  • Forks over Knives
  • Hungry for Change
  • What the Health
  • Cowspiracy
  • Food Inc.
  • Food Matters
  • Super Size Me
  • Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
  • Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2
  • Fed Up
  • Plant Pure Nation
  • Vegucated
  • GMO OMG
  • Food Choices
  • A Place at the Table
  • Sugar Coated
  • That Sugar Film
  • Live and Let Live
  • What’s with Wheat?

All the documentaries listed have valuable information, but the top three on the list are the ones I’d recommend watching. Forks Over Knives (2011) was probably the first documentary about plant-based eating for health that really went mainstream. What the Health is more recent (2017). Either would be a good start.

Taking time to get vegucated helps to fuel my health journey. I continue to read, watch and listen so I can learn as much as possible. I’m grateful for all the plant-based pioneers who have provided me, and other newbies, with information and recipes.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out some of the resources listed above, definitely carve out some time to do so. You won’t regret it. Even if you aren’t ready to go 100% plant-based (I am somewhere between 90-100%), you can benefit by including more plant-based food in your diet and eating less animal-based products.

Wishing you health and success on your journey,

SignatureAli

 

 

Day 7 Plant Eating Challenge

My daughter and I have made it one week eating only plants!

It’s amazing how our bodies adapt to what we eat! When I was in a slump a few weeks ago, I was eating food that my heart knew was wrong for me. I ate processed junk food (aka: CRAP) and animal products such as: chips, McDonald fries, pizza, chicken fingers…I mean…YUCK!

The reason I kept eating crap is because my body wanted more. Why?

1. The salt and fat (probably some sugar in there somewhere too) in those processed foods is addictive. Companies design the food that way. And, I knew this while I was eating it, and I didn’t care! That’s how bad my slump was. I couldn’t get enough of it. If you want to learn more about the addictive powers of sugar, salt and fat, check out the book with the same title:

saltsugarfat

2. My taste buds wanted more fat and more salt. I craved those foods. In fact, I frequently turned up my nose at any vegetables. Now, my taste buds are as they are meant to be (not manipulated by the concoctions of processed food). When I eat cooked potato, WITHOUT any butter, it tastes good. I will be honest here, and say that I still use salt, and my husband often thinks it is too much. But, if I have to use a little more salt than I need to transition to plants? So be it. I can work on decreasing it later.

3. For me personally, part of my slump was related to my braces (just got them three months ago). Eating salad greens is not a whole lot of fun with braces. So, that had me drawn to soft foods and away from crunchier vegetables. Now, I just eat more green smoothies, and basically, my smoothie is my salad.

4. Another reason I kept eating that way is because, well, like I said, I was in a slump. It was easier to buy something premade than it was to think about preparing something. It was easier to just give in. I could see my weight increasing, so that didn’t help either. Slump continued.

I am so happy to say that my slump is over!

Each day, I am focused on accomplishing my other goals at the moment: working out every day (almost) and staying on top of my work commitments.

I don’t think about food at all, unless it is to think about what I might throw together for dinner. I don’t fantacize about the food I am going to eat later, like I used to. I don’t dive into bad food when I feel stressed.

First off, I feel way less stress.

And secondly, I deal with my stress in other ways, at least so far. I really like deep breathing. If I am on my way home from work, I often take many deep breaths, and push out the leftover busyness/stress from the day.

We just finished dinner: kale chips followed by baked sweet potato and regular potato fries. All cooked in my oven.

I don’t feel bloated or guilty. I feel satisfied and at peace.

What a concept!