When I first started to eat a healthier diet, I began by increasing the healthful things I was already eating and already comfortable making, like salads. The problem was that once I had a huge green salad made – local greens, organic cucumbers, the whole nine yards, I had no clue what to put on it that didn’t have copious quantities of oil. I felt like an aspiring chef on Chopped where ‘salad’ was the required dish and they’d given me root vegetables, nuts and a stone fruit to make a dressing. Total deer in the headlights.
Fortunately necessity and the internet are the mothers of invention, so it didn’t take long before I found that whole food, plant based dressings are actually pretty darn easy and much more flavorful than their oil laden counterparts. This is not to say that I never use oil – I just try not to use much. This dressing, for example, has one teaspoon of toasted sesame oil for flavor. In my book, this is an acceptable use of a processed food, but for you sticklers out there, you could try a few tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds and get a similar effect.
[recipe title=”Carrot Miso Dressing ” servings=”1.5 cups ” time=”5 minutes ” difficulty=”easy”]
4 medium carrots, chopped (6 ounces)
1/4 large sweet onion, chopped (2 ounces)
1 packed teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons mellow white miso
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
3 medjool dates, pitted
Place all ingredients in a high speed blender, starting on low speed to break down the coarsely chopped vegetables, then gradually increasing speed to get a puree.
- I always freeze my fresh ginger, and then grate from there. That’s what the measurement is based on – grated frozen ginger.
- I had about a 3 tablespoons of regular rice vinegar left and topped the rest off with seasoned rice vinegar. You could use all seasoned rice vinegar and it would be a little sweeter than using plain.
For you long time vegans, who were making carrot miso dressings before I was even old enough to spell “M-I-S-O”, let me suggest a twist on the traditional preparation. Use purple carrots! And read Jo Robinson’s book Eating on the Wild Side. My dear friend Iva gave me this book for Christmas last year and it has changed the way I make produce selections. Robinson’s approach is that if you’re going to eat a particular vegetable, why not choose the most nutritious variety, which she then describes in a fascinating and very organized way.
On the topic of carrots, Robinson reveals that orange carrots are a relatively recent phenomenon, bred by the Dutch in the 1500’s from red and yellow carrots in honor of the House of Orange, whom had led a revolt against Spain. Too bad it wasn’t the House of Puce, which would have favored the ancestral and nutritionally superior purplish brown carrot.
So what does a purple carrot have that an orange carrot doesn’t? According to Robinson, both have antioxidants, but those in the purple carrots (anthocyanins) are more powerful than those in the orange carrots (betacarotenes). They taste the same to me, but admittedly it’s hard to do a blind taste test when I’m the only one home. If you’re in Anchorage, the Natural Pantry just got a gorgeous looking batch of purple carrots, so step up your antioxidant intake and get blending!
Robinson, Jo. “THE OTHER ROOT CROPS: CARROTS, BEETS, AND SWEET POTATOES.” Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013. 112-19. Print.