Oil Or No Oil? That Is The Question. Plus Two Delicious Salad Dressing Recipes.

Tired of the same old balsamic dressing or just a drizzle of lemon juice on your greens? Me too!  I am constantly looking for variety in my dressings, but most recipes I’ve seen include a ton of oil, and I don’t want to add a lot of oils to my salad. It sort of defeats the purpose of a healthy meal and doesn’t taste as fresh as I want it to.  Simultaneously, I want my salads or buddha bowls to taste flavorful and satisfying every time I make one. My favorite thing is to just throw a lot of vegetables, tofu or tempeh I have in my fridge, and/or add some grains, beans or lentils from my pantry in to a bowl and make a delicious dressing to drizzle over it, and my meal is complete. It’s cheap, quick and very satisfying. I will spend a few hours on Sunday afternoon/evening cooking a bunch of ingredients for the week so they can quickly be combined in tupperware containers to go.

So do I use any oil at all in my diet? Yes and no. Vegetable oils, particularly, I stay clear of (which are not made from “vegetables” at all).  I am referring to processed seed oils like soybean oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil and a few others. They typically contain a large amount of trans fats, and can contribute to inflammation and cardiovascular disease. I will go more into detail of the negative aspects of vegetable oil in a later blog post.


I am not saying that all oil is bad.  Really high quality extra virgin olive oil can be great, as is coconut oil, and I use these sparingly in my food.  Coconut oil has in fact proved to be quite good for health.  Medium chained fats, like those found in coconut oils, are promoted for their ability to increase energy expenditure and to improve appetite satisfaction—resulting in weight loss. That being said, with everything else I eat that sometimes also contain fat, I try to monitor my intake on a regular basis.   If you want to read more about oils you should definitely avoid, check out Food Babe’s great article here.

Back to my dressings! Yesterday morning before heading into work, I made a carrot-ginger-cumin dressing which has a Moroccan spice accent, as well as a creamy avocado-lemon-parsley dressing. I love the bright colors, but most of all I loved how they came out! Oil was not missed at all.  Flavor packed and SO fresh – any bottled dressing don’t stand a chance next to these, I guarantee it!  Both were inspired by several amazing vegan websites I follow, and I added a personal touch to them. You can play around with what you put in, but hopefully this will give you some great ideas for your next salad.

You can add a little less water to these dressings and use them as dips – both options taste awesome!

North African Oil Free Dressing

Adapted from Dreena Burton’s Plant Powered Kitchen

1 cup raw carrot, cut in discs or small chunks (roughly 4 – 4 1/2 oz.)

1/3 cup raw cashews

2 – 2 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar or coconut vinegar

1 small clove garlic (or ½ medium clove)

½ – 1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1/8 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

¼ tsp ground fennel

kosher salt and black pepper to taste

About 1 cup water

Using a high powered blender, puree all the ingredients  Taste and add extra vinegar if you wish, and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Avocado-Lemon-Parsley Dressing

Adapted from mindbodygreen.com

  • 1 large avocado ripened (skin and pit removed)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 small clove fresh garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp  agave or maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Place all ingredients except  water in the bowl of a food processor or a high-speed blender. With the blade running, slowly add the water. Puree until smooth.  If you don’t mind oil, you can also include either extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil in here (about 1 tbsp) for an ever thicker and creamier version, but it really does not need it!


Butternut Squash Soup: A Healthy Comfort Food

Just because I want to stay fit and healthy, doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy rich, creamy soups. I’ve got the perfect recipe for you that you can make quickly and easily and that is sure to make your taste buds dance! I’ve always been fond of root vegetables, growing up in Norway we had them in abundance because they were some of the few things that would thrive in a cold climate. From beets and potatoes to turnips and kohlrabi – I have fond memories of them all and so happy to have learned they also provide tons of nutritional benefits.   My body also loves carbohydrates and I find when eating these starchy vegetables, I thrive much better than when I eat bread, pasta or other more refined sources of carbs.

What we didn’t really have in Norway was butternut squash, so imagine my delight when I discovered that glorious orange food in my new adopted homeland of the United States…

butternut-squashButternut squash is one of the richest sources of plant based anti-inflammatory nutrients such as omega 3s and beta-carotene, which are important for a strong immune system to help protect against colds and flu.  It is also an important anti-oxidant and provides a good amount of vitamin C, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, manganese, and copper as well as a good source of potassium, vitamin B2, folate, vitamin K, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and niacin.

The seeds from butternut squash makes a great, nutritious snack as well, much like pumpkin seeds- just wash them and dry them, and roast in oven with a sprinkle of salt.  Sprinkle on oatmeal, salads or just eat them on their own… delicious!

While there are several ways to prepare butternut squash, one of my favorite ways is to make a silky, creamy soup. It warms me up during cold winter days and also fills me up with less calories. Try the below recipe for a nice twist on the traditional soup. Having a good blender is important in this process – I’m lucky to be the owner of a Vitamix and so the pureeing is done in no time. You can also use a stick blender. I chose to add some chickpeas for added protein to my soup, but you can use any beans or protein of your liking to the soup to make it more hearty.

This is a perfect soup to make in big batches on a Sunday afternoon and you can portion it out and bring to work as lunch or heat up for dinner during busy weekdays. The soup also freezes beautifully.


1 large butternut squash, divided in half lengthwise, seeds scooped out

2-3 stems of fresh rosemary, thyme or sage (or all of them)

extra virgin olive oil to taste

1 tbsp cooconut oil

1 medium Vidalia (Sweet) onion, peeled and diced

3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed and peel removed

1 x 2 inch know of fresh ginger, minced

1 x 15 oz can organic coconut milk

1 x 15 oz can organic chickpeas (or soak and cook your own dried beans – about 2 cups)

1 small bunch fresh cilantro

4 cups organic vegetable stock (or more/less depending on how thick you want your soup)

salt, pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400F.   Prepare a sheet tray with tin foil.  Place the fresh herbs in the cavity of the two butternut squash halves, sprinkle with extra virgin olive oil (I use about 1 tbsp), and season generously with Kosher salt. Place cut side down on the sheet tray and place in oven on middle rack and roast for about 1 hour or until soft to the touch.

Meanwhile, heat up vegetable stock in a pot and steep the fresh cilantro in the stock.

Heat the coconut oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat, add onions and garlic and season withs alt. Saute for about 10 minutes or until soft.  Set aside.

When butternut squash is ready, let cool for just a little bit until cool enough to handle.  Scoop the flesh out of the skin and chop up into big chunks, and discard herbs in cavity. Remove cilantro bunch from the vegetable stock and discard.  In a blender, in batches, add some butternut squash and the onion -garlic mix along with the fresh ginger and a couple of ladles of the vegetable stock and puree. Add the batches to a soup pot until all done.  Heat the butternut soup gently over medium-low heat and add the coconut milk and chickpeas and combine and mix well until heated through.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh cilantro.