No matter how small your backyard, there’s often enough soil to plant at least a few items. And when space is at a premium, the vegetation of choice tends to be ones that can land in a salad bowl. There’s not only a huge array of lettuces to cultivate, but also fresh green herbs, which have a delicate flavor and consistency, and which can be a much larger component of the salad presentation than most people realize.
That leaves us with dressings – the healthy ones you make yourself and that don’t come from a bottle. Here are three dressing ingredient options:
Apple Cider Vinegar. Apple cider vinegar, which can provide the acid kick to a salad dressing, is the fermented juice of pressed, fresh apples. An unpasteurized product, it contains “mother,” the nutrient-rich sediment responsible for the liquid’s amber-brown color which has a string-like appearance.
Stevia. When you’re creating a fruit-based dressing – try mashing up strawberries for a fragrant surprise – you might want to add more sweetener, such as stevia, which is twice as sweet as sugar. An all-natural product and a great alternative to artificial sweeteners, stevia comes from the sweetest part of the stevia leaf. It can also be used in beverages.
Cayenne Pepper. For upping the heat quotient of a salad, there’s nothing better than cayenne pepper, which is a powdered form of red chili pepper, a fruit from the capsicum family. What provides the heat is cayenne’s high concentration of capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide), a natural alkaloid. In traditional Ayurvedic health practices, it’s used for a variety of health-promoting purposes. Popular in Mexican, Cajun and Carribean cuisine, cayenne also contains vitamin A carotenoids, including the antioxidant beta-carotene, as well as vitamins B6, C and K, manganese and fiber.
What’s your favorite way to add flavor to salads? Share it with us in the comments below.
Laurie Steelsmith, ND, LAc, is a naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist who specializes in women’s health. She is the co-author of Great Sex, Naturally: Every Woman’s Guide to Enhancing Her Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine and co-author of Natural Choices for Women’s Health: How the Secrets of Natural and Chinese Medicine Can Create a Lifetime of Wellness.