If you’re looking to keep your calorie count low when enjoying salads, the easiest way to do it is to keep the fatty oils out of your dressing and just opt for whole foods that provide a good source of nutrients along with their fats. For example, olives, avocados, coconut, and nuts and seeds are all awesome options to use in whole food format versus just their oil. Why not get all the benefits of the food besides just the fat, right?

For example, you can simply add a tablespoon of your favorite nuts or seeds, or a quarter of an avocado to your salad, and then drizzle on some naturally fat-free salad dressings like those below. You then have yourself a nutritious and delicious salad that isn’t dripping with oil or dairy-based creamy sauces.

Give these a try for an incredible flavor that’s also healthy for you too!

Creamy Cracked Pink Pepper Dressing

Pink pepper offers a striking color to this dressing which makes any salad stand out from the crowd. The cucumber is loaded with minerals and provides a refreshing undertone, and the nutritional yeast thickens things up and gives the dressing more body. To make a batch you’ll need: 

  • 1 peeled cucumber
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp pink cracked peppercorns
  • 2 dates
  • Salt to taste

Place everything but the peppercorns in your blender and mix on high until well combined. Pour the dressing into a reusable container, add the peppercorns, and give the dressing a little shake. Add some extra flavor and texture to your mushrooms by marinating them in this dressing.

Zesty Cranberry and Lemon Herb Dressing

Why wait until a special holiday like Thanksgiving to enjoy the zesty flavor and health benefits of cranberries? Dried cranberries are available for use year-round, and they are a natural thickener which comes in handy when making homemade dressings. Not to mention, cranberries just so happen to help cleanse the liver and protect the heart. Gather the following ingredients to make this elegant salad topping:

  • 1 peeled zucchini (optional, for texture)
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • The fresh juice of one lemon
  • 3 sprigs each of basil, parsley, and thyme or a mix of your favorites
  • 1 tbsp sweetener of choice, or 1-2 dates

Just blend everything on high until it’s nice and creamy! This makes a great base for vegetable soup and stir-fry too.

Sweet and Spicy Curried Caper Dressing

Take your taste buds to India with the help of this rich and decadent dressing. The turmeric in curry powder acts as an anti-inflammatory and may even relieve headaches. The capers in this dressing provide a rich and salty flavor that will make your salad completely satisfying as a meal in itself. Get busy in the kitchen with these ingredients:

  • 1 peeled zucchini (optional, for texture)
  • ¼ orange juice
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ jalapeno
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all of the ingredients together to create a sweet curry dressing with a serious spicy kick. If you find the dressing too spicy for your liking, add a date or two to the mix to sweeten things up a little more. Drizzle this dressing on steamed veggies or rice to spice up your dinner plate.

Simple “Honey” Mustard Dressing

Honeybees have enough problems to face, and there is no need to add to them by exploiting their honey. Luckily, you don’t have to stress out the bees in order to enjoy foods that traditional have honey in them. Here’s a vegan take on the ever popular honey mustard dressing that you have known and loved growing up:

  • ¼ cup pitted dates
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic

Either blend the mixture until well combined, or mince the garlic by hand and replace the dates with agave nectar or maple syrup and mix the dressing by hand. This dressing also makes a great topping for wraps and sandwiches.

Make a couple batches of any of these dressings at a time so you always have something tasty and healthy to turn to when you’re in need of some extra flavor. Also check out some other oil-free, dairy-free salad dressing options for more naturally fresh ideas for all your salad recipes.

Lead Image Source: Jenni Shortt/Flickr