Fig Balsamic Salad Dressing

My personal fig story

Black figsThe fig is an enigma to me, and I can only make dumb guesses as to why they are.  I don’t remember ever tasting a fig except in the Fig Newton cookies that I loved as a kid.  I seem to recall my cousins had a small fig tree in their back yard, but I don’t ever remember seeing any fruit on it.  Maybe, we just visited there during the off-season, I don’t know.

It turns out, however, that they are a prominently grown in my native state of Texas, and apparently, are very easy to grow.  They just never FIGured into our diets for some reason…”ugh” with the stupid puns!  That one just sorta caught my eye and was not a planned pun.

A few years ago I was working with a man who grew figs in his backyard.  He was from Jordan, and he had kept clippings of his original fig trees to take with him everywhere he had lived since leaving Jordan.  One day, while I was working on some construction estimates, he tapped me on the shoulder and presented a very large bowl to me, and asked me to try one.  I said, “what is it?”  He said, “feegs,” or, at least, that’s what it sounded like.  I asked, “Feegs?  What are they?”  “Feegs, just try one, they won’t hurt you!”  I’ll never forget how that first fig led to many others that day, and seeing the smile on his face when he shared them with everyone at the office.

The lesson I learned from that, among others, is that figs don’t grow in cookies.  They grow from a plant!  “If that don’t beat all!?”

Selecting the ingredients

cashewsSo, in my quest to create a dozen or so salad dressings that conform to the Eat To Live nutritional plan, I have made and written about a few of them that are tofu-based.  Needing some variety, I needed another medium for getting the taste variety I needed.  I’ve had this one in mind for a few days, and I’m perfectly satisfied with the results.

Needing something with oils, without adding any “cheat oils” from a bottle, I needed some kind of nut that is oil-rich in all the good ways.  So, I bought some raw cashews for this recipe am very happy with the flavor and consistency they bring.

To get the acidic flavor I wanted, I went with a rich, sweet balsamic vinegar, and it was the perfect choice for the flavor I was searching for.

Fig Balsamic Salad Dressing

Fig Balsamic Salad DressingIngredients:

6 black figs, diced
1 cup raw, unsalted cashews, finely ground
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup whole chia seeds
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk

Use a food processor or a nut chopper to grind the cashews, getting them as finely ground as possible so that the oils are released.  Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend to puree.  Chill and serve

Makes about 3 cups.

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Rich Tomato and Tofu Salad Dressing

This one is flavor-filled, slightly tangy, and has a beautiful color!

Rich Tomato and Tofu Salad DressingTurmeric and black pepper

With this dressing I bring back one of my favorite spices, turmeric, paired with black pepper to maximize the anti-inflammatory benefits of this deliciously pungent spice (see links below for more info on the nutritional value of turmeric and black pepper.).  Turmeric is also responsible for the orangey color!  Warning: If you’re a nail model, be careful using this spice without wearing gloves.  It could be a career-ender!  Also, be careful not to stain your countertop, your hands, and whatever else matters.  I guess it would be fine to let it touch carrots, huh?

Another tofu dressing

As the story goes, if you’ve read my other posts about salad dressings, I am on the Eat To Live nutritional program, and I am especially interested in the anti-inflammatory benefits of the plan due to my psoriasis and the psoriatic arthritis that had started to show its monstrous head a year or so after getting off-plan two years ago!  No doubt the plan helped me with this condition, and I should have known better than to leave it in the first place, especially since the food is all homemade and tastes so good.

Dr. Fuhrman’s mantra (Eat To Live) is “the salad is the main course!”  And, truthfully, without great salad dressings, many people are apt to give up on receiving the great health benefits available to them through Eat To Live, because the plan does not allow added oils or salts to the diet.  Further, ETL’ers have to search for salad dressings that do not have sodium or oils.  It’s so much easier, and far tastier, to make them at home.

Silken tofu is the perfect medium for creating creamy dressings similar in appearance and flavor to the ones I used to eat when I didn’t have a care in the world about my health.  In a blender, the tofu combines easily with other ingredients, and it can be kept for at least a week in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed jar, without losing any of its flavor.  (See my other tofu salad dressing recipes here.)

Other food uses

Like all of my homemade dressings, this one works great as a vegetable topping.  When I made this dressing, I was also roasting some plain slices of eggplant for use in another recipe, so when the eggplant was done, I nabbed a couple of slices off the roasting rack and put them in a saucer, covering them with the new dressing!  Finger-lickin’ good!

Of course, it’s great on a lettuce and tomato salad, just to stay with the salad dressing theme, right?

tomato3

Rich Tomato and Tofu Salad Dressing

Ingredients:

28 oz can of “no salt added” crushed tomatoes with basil
1 pkg silken tofu
1 level tbsp of turmeric powder (a little less would be fine, if you’re not sure you’ll enjoy it.  Turmeric is about as subtle as this guy!)
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 of roasted sweet bell pepper, sliced (I use yellow or orange ones to keep the color them going…and I like them better!)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 medium lemon
1/2 cup of your favorite vinegar (I used raw coconut vinegar I bought at Sprouts.)

Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until the dressing is creamy in appearance, like this:

tomato2

The dressing recipe takes about 15 minutes to put together, once you have roasted the sweet bell pepper, and that can be done anytime you are roasting anything, just to have it handy for later.  It makes about 32 oz, if I can keep from tasting it a dozen times while I’m making it.

There you have it!  A perfect, rich dressing for a “no salt added” and “no oil added” diet!

Further reading:

Dr. Weil’s take on turmeric
Why Pepper Boosts Turmeric Blood Levels, Dr. Michael Greger
Turmeric and Black Pepper Fight Cancer Stem Cells, Anticancer: A New Way of Life

Tangy Tofu Raspberry Apricot Dressing

I just finished last week’s batch of Sweet Tofu Salad Dressing and decided to jazz it up a little bit with some tangy berries and more vinegar.  This is sweet, but it has a little more “pucker” in it.

tangytofuTANGY TOFU RASPBERRY APRICOT DRESSING

Ingredients:

1 16 oz package of silken organic tofu
1 cup fresh organic raspberries
3 fresh apricots, sliced
1/2 cup fruit vinegar, (I used this dates vinegar from Durra.)
1/2 cup ground sunflower seeds

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients into a blender and puree. Keep refrigerated.  Makes about 28 oz.

Sweet Tofu Salad Dressing

The salad dressings in the Eat To Live program are important for a couple of big reasons.

One of the adages of Eat To Live is “Salad Is the Main Course!”  If the dressings are not bursting with flavors that satisfy the senses, then the salad — the main course! — can be rather dull and discouraging for newcomers.  The “no oils/no salt added” basic rule can feel very confining to a newcomer, so in my view, the more flavorful the dressings are, the more success a person is likely to have on Eat To Live.

Also, the dressings are an excellent way to create your own “favorite” with experimentation and combining flavors that appeal to you most!  The creative process is what makes this exciting for me, along with the actual personal contact I have with every element that goes into it.

This dressing is one I created this evening, and it is wonderfully light and pleasant to the taste buds.  See what you think about it.

Sweet Tofu Salad DressingSweet Tofu Salad Dressing

1 pkg (approx 16 oz) of silken tofu
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup tahini paste
1/4 cup fruit vinegar (I used Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar this time.)
1 cup fresh blueberries
4 medium shallots
4 garlic cloves
2 tbsp ground chia seeds
1/4 cup Italian parsley
1 tbsp red pepper sauce (I used Louisiana Hot Sauce, though it has a tiny bit of salt in it.)
2 tsp black pepper

Chop, dice, or slice all ingredients and combine them in a blender.  Blend on puree setting, if you have it.  If not, blend until the dressing has the thickness you like.
Makes about 40 oz.