Creamy Winter House Salad Dressing

This dairy-free salad dressing will help you enjoy dark greens all year long! The secret to it's wonderful taste? Two special ingredients.

This creamy dairy-free dressing has rich undertones from surprising ingredients that make it perfect for dressing salads during the cold winter months.

Lately I’ve been craving big green salads and I’ve been almost obsessed with making this dressing to go over it!

The backstory to this dressing was a beautiful bottle of salad dressing my in-laws gave me from a restaurant up in Canada. My husband and I liked it so much that we were very sad when the bottle was used up. I wanted to create something similar in taste, but their dressing had a long list of ingredients, so I wanted something simpler to make at home. I honed it on two of the ingredients – tahini paste (ground sesame seeds) and tamari (gluten-free soy sauce). It sounds like such a strange addition to salad dressing, and a strange combination too, but it works so well!

When combined with olive oil and vinegar, the tahini adds depth of flavor, richness, and creaminess to the dressing. The tamari adds a more complex saltiness than just salt alone, and a deep satisfying flavor.

These two ingredients appear to be the secret to dressing we enjoyed from Canada, as it does taste very similar, despite being so much simpler.

A word on ingredients:

  • This is a good Organic Tamari brand.
  • Don’t use toasted tahini paste. I’ve been using a wonderful organic tahini paste from Trader Jo’s. This Organic Sesame Paste  looks similar. In the past, some tahini brands have been hard to deal with because the paste had gotten very hard, making it difficult to work with, but this brand and Trader Jo’s shouldn’t be a problem.
  • I prefer raw apple cider vinegar. If you need a substitute, I’d try fresh lemon juice.

I make this in a wide mouth mason jar with a wide mouth plastic mason jar lid (nonreactive lid).

For another dairy-free yet creamy salad dressing, see this other favorite salad dressing that pairs balsamic vinegar and coconut milk. Also, check out my cookbook, Fresh: Nourishing Salads for all Seasons for practical, beautiful salads.

This dairy-free salad dressing will help you enjoy dark greens all year long! The secret to it's wonderful taste? Two special ingredients.

Creamy Winter House Dressing

PDF file to print recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 1 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce, if not gluten-free)
  • ¼ cup of raw apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions: 

In a quart-sized mason jar (or container of choice), use a fork to combine the tahini paste and tamari, until smooth. Add the vinegar, and stir until smooth. Add the olive oil and stir again until combined. Put on the lid to the jar, tightly, and then shake to completely combine.

Serve right away, or keep refrigerated. Let the dressing sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, and then shake to recombine ingredients, if refrigerated. (I keep my dressing in the door so that it won’t harden quite as much as when I put it in the back of my fridge).

Thanks for supporting my blog by purchasing through any of the partner links in the post above! I appreciate your support. 

Easiest Gluten Free Cake from a Muffin Mix

This super easy and frugal gluten free cake got rave reviews! -- The Nourishing Gourmet

One of the things that made me first love being in the kitchen was baking. I love baking! Warm bread from the oven, juicy pies, sweet cakes, healthy muffins, pizza, bagels ¬– I love it all. I especially loved making baked good for my family and friends. I still have my love of baking, but I don’t always have the time or energy now to spend as much time baking as I’d like. In fact, as we have been in survival mode as I go through treatment for a chronic health issue, I’ve hardly been baking at all.

For us this last year, if we were in the kitchen it was making the most basic of basic things while we tried to figure out my health issues (things like super easy skillet dinners). Dinner was a priority. Making cookies weren’t.

However, when there was a special occasion (such as a birthday), I really needed to make sure I made something special for the girls. To them, it’s not a birthday unless we have cake. A couple of years ago they were horrified that I didn’t have a cake on my birthday. It was like having Christmas without a Christmas tree to them!

So while this addition to my series, The Low Energy Guide to Healthy Cooking, isn’t exactly centered on a healthy main dish, I think it’s important for those of us who need a relatively healthy option for gluten-free cake making for our family.

My youngest has a birthday coming up, and we had two fall birthdays, all during a time of ill health for me. I’ve never found baking to be tiring until recently when I’ve found most kitchen tasks to be tiresome and have had to keep things as simple as possible.

As I was scrambling to make the all important birthday cake, I figured out a method that kept sugar content lower and made things super easy and fast for me. Win-win!

My New “Secret” GF Cake Trick

You all know that I am a make-it-by-scratch all the time type person. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and with the girl’s birthdays coming up, I knew that having a homemade cake for them was really important to them. I was feeling extreme fatigue at that time, though, so I knew my usual soaked gluten-free cakes were not going to be an option. I also knew that all of the gluten-free cake mixes were extremely sweet – something we didn’t enjoy.

In a moment of inspiration, I found a gluten-free muffin mix that was more lightly sweetened and had good (not perfect, but good) ingredients in it. When I compared it to some of the gluten-free cake mixes, the muffin mix was only about half of the sugar content per serving!

We made it into a lemon cake for my ten-year-old’s birthday by simply adding lemon zest to the mix with homemade lemon frosting once it was baked. For my six-year-old, we added vanilla and sprinkles for a fun cake that she adored.

It wasn’t too sweet, they were super easy to make (even for me with my fatigue), and my girls felt loved and happy with their cakes. When I served this cake to guests at their birthday party, I was gratified to see that everyone liked the cake, and even a hard-to-please family member complimented me on the cake. Great news for a gluten-free cake made out of a muffin mix! With a frosting, the sweetness it just right for a birthday cake.

For their joint, Pokemon party, we did the same trick and made it into a Pokemon ball cake.

Tips for Success

This is the gluten free muffin mix we used.
Instead of using muffin tins, I just greased two cake pans. It took roughly the same amount of time to cook as the muffins on the package instructions. Since this will make thin layers, check for doneness a couple of minutes early. You can also make just one cake layer (just add more time to the cooking time).
I added lemon zest to both the cake and a simple frosting for the lemon cake (one lemon for each).
For the sprinkle cake, I added vanilla to the batter along with a generous amount of sprinkles. For the frosting, I used freeze dried raspberries and blended them into a powder in my blender. I added that to a simple butter frosting, and then lightly sprinkled with sprinkles.
For the Pokemon cake, I kept it a simple vanilla cake by adding 2 teaspoons of vanilla and then decorated with dark chocolate chips and red sprinkles on top of a plain butter frosting.
I was in survival mode, so I didn’t think of it in time, but you can order naturally dyed sprinkles! (Examples:This one or this one. )

Other ideas: Chocolate chip cake – add chocolate chips, Orange cake – use orange zest, Lemon Poppyseed: Zest of one lemon and 1 tablespoon of poppyseeds.

Two other bonuses? This is a very inexpensive cake to make. I thought about buying a cake from a gluten-free local bakery, but it would have been at least 6- 10 times the price. Plus, it’s so easy to put together even a beginner baker can easily make it (like one of your children!).

Special Thanks: Some of the above links may be affiliate links and help support the work on this blog. Thank you for supporting me by purchasing through these links at no extra cost to yourself. 🙂

The Best Kitchen Tool for Low Energy Cooks

Want to eat a healthy diet, but have low energy or are just busy? This is the tool for you.

Cooking is serious work, and it requires serious tools. Sharp knifes, large pots, heavy-duty pans – if you don’t have the right tools, cooking can be a practice in frustration. What I love about cooking is that with only a couple of good, but basic tools you can make a wealth of dishes.

But what I also appreciate about kitchen tools, is that there are some that substantially make your life easier. A slow cooker, food processor, or high powered blender, for example.

As many of you know, we are in the middle of treating for a chronic illness, which has been difficult to do with three young kids in the house. My husband and I have been keeping notes on our kitchen prep trying to streamline it where we could, keeping a list of simple, but healthy dinners we can throw together at the end of a long day, and buying things like pre-prepped vegetables.

But there was one kitchen tool that we didn’t have yet, that after thoroughly researching (and hearing the rave reviews of my extended family) I felt would be a tremendous help. The Instant Pot . This is a new kind of pressure cooker that is both safe, and extremely easy to use. The best part is I can make “24 hour broth” in 2 hours using it, or make a dinner with frozen meat on nights when I’ve forgot to defrost it.

My Instagram account is full of pictures from fellow mothers who are using theirs constantly as a way to bring nourishing food to the table in less time and less work. Nourishing soups, stews, broths, roasts, teriyaki chicken, and more seemed to populate my Instagram feed after being cooked in it.

My husband and I were trying to count our pennies to see if we could buy one this year, when my sweet sister and brother-in-law surprised us by buying one for us for my birthday! I was so surprised and so excited! After opening up the present, they served us a rich chicken soup that they had cooked in their own Instant Pot , and I couldn’t believe how fast they had cooked it! With only 30 minutes “at pressure” cooking, they had gotten a whole chicken to turn into a wonderful chicken soup that was as rich as my broths when cooked 18 to 24 hours.

You can bet your last dollar that I’m excited about this gift. I’m thankful because I know it will make my cooking so much easier and faster, and that is a true gift for us during this season.

This is the version we own: Instant Pot 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker.

(My one caution is that if you are really sensitive to even naturally produced glutamates, please be aware that pressure cooking increases them in certain dishes. )

This post contains affiliate or partner links. Thanks for supporting my blog!

5 Tips for Holiday Meal Planning with Low Energy

Low energy going into the holiday season? No worries! Here's how to simplify.

I love the holiday season. It’s been a favorite time of year for me since my childhood. But thinking of my childhood, it’s good to realize that our holiday traditions were simple, yet still magical for me.

Holiday meal planning doesn’t necessarily have to be stressful and overly difficult either. Elaborate and fancy meals are so much fun to plan, but when you don’t have the time or energy, it’s good to remember how simple holiday fun can be.

Because of health issues this year, we are picking and choosing where my energy goes, and this is true for holiday meals too. Here are four ways we are planning our holidays, with (and despite) low energy.

Simplify

I know this is obvious, but it’s so important! One quick example: Originally I had hoped to have gingerbread, hot cocoa, and popcorn for our tree trimming tradition. But we realized that, as nice, and even as doable as that was most years, it wasn’t always feasible for me. So our tradition now is something like this: Get a tree, put on our favorite Christmas music, and make homemade (and super easy) hot cocoa to sip on during the tree trimming.

Sometimes Joel and I make ours into mochas by adding a shot of stovetop espresso.

Pumpkin Spice Hot Cocoa -www.thenourishinggourmet.com

And you know what? As simple as the tradition is, it’s a fun tradition that we love that builds memories with a homemade and real food beverage.

Some years we may have the bandwidth for a Christmas cookie extravaganza, Christmas baking efforts, and loads of handmade Christmas gifts. It’s wonderful to have those years. But other years, things may be trimmed back, whether because of finances, low energy, ill health, or because there is a new baby in the house. And even though those trimmed back years may be more simple, there is no reason to think they will be any less memorable and wonderful.

For Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day meals, simplifying is important too. I’ll be honest. We love having our holiday meals be feasts! But we’ve also found that doing a more streamlined holiday meal can be satisfying. By carefully selecting favorite dishes that complement each other well, we’ve had lovely feasts that may not have made the table groan but were satisfying and perfect.

Buy

Pumpkin Pie Stuffed Apples (GF/DF) - The Nourishing Gourmet

This is a food website. Obviously, we talk about homemade food a lot here and I believe fully in the beauty of making your own food. But there are years when it’s a lot harder to make everything from scratch. There is nothing wrong with buying some of your holiday food pre-made. If you are lucky enough to live in a place like Portland, you could even buy your entire Thanksgiving meal (made with real food ingredients) to re-heat. While this will never be my first choice, and because of our food restrictions, likely never feasible, there is no reason to kill yourself for a holiday meal if you have other options available.

Other ideas: Buy premade pies or desserts, premade cranberry salad, or trimmed vegetables ready to cook.

Collaborate

Cranberry Goat Cheese Ball

Holiday meals are meant to be shared. While it can be a lot of fun to prepare the whole meal, on years where this is daunting, sharing the workload is helpful too! One year where I made the majority of the dishes, a friend showed up early to help me finish up all of the cooking, and it was so much fun! This year our Thanksgiving is shaping up well, and all of us only have a two or so dishes we are in charge of bringing.

Pre-make

Spiced-Cranberry-Orange-Sauce

When possible, pre-make what you can. Cranberry sauce, salad dressing, chopped vegetables, pie crust or pies, can all be made one to three days before the holiday. By doing just one simple task every day, you can spread out the work and have that homemade feast you love.

Enjoy

How to make mashed potatoes in a slow cooker (including dairy free options)

Finally, don’t forget, no matter how simple or how store-bought your meal ends up being, to truly enjoy the meal. The people you enjoy the food with are far more important than what is on the table. I love showing my love for them by the food I make, but I also know that laughing with them, enjoying my time with them, and showing them that I can relax with them is far more important than stressing over food. Holiday meals are meant to be joyous. If you have low-energy or are just having a crazy year, do what you can, and then sit back and enjoy the holiday. Put some music on, and maybe celebrate with a favorite holiday movie later. It doesn’t have to be fancy. But it should be full of joy.