one green planet
one green planet

Salads are a staple in a plant-based diet, but what’s a salad without an amazing vegan salad dressing, right? Sure, there are store bought options aplenty, but we all know those are both pricey and processed. To keep things fresh an inexpensive, buy some simple ingredients to keep on hand and they’ll not only last forever, but also give you endless salad dressing combination possibilities. Here are five basic ingredients that will save you money, satisfy your tastebuds, and pack in a lot of flavor without oil, nuts, or added sodium. If you’re looking to save money and excess calories, these vegan salad dressing ingredients are for you:

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a must-have in my kitchen to use for many things, but especially for vegan salad dressings. It’s rich in enzymes for digestion, helps increase hydrocholoric acid in the stomach to aid in digestion, and it’s full of potassium, Vitamin C, electrolytes, and cleansing properties. It also gives salads a delightful tang and has been proven to help slow down insulin in the blood stream to lower blood sugar levels. This can help prevent an insulin spike at meals with higher carbohydrates and help promote sugar cravings overall.

I prefer the raw, organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the “mother,” which is the beneficial organism that apple cider vinegar contains. This also helps increase good bacteria in the stomach and can help fight off harmful yeasts.

2. Lemons

If you’re not already a lemon lover, it’s time to cross the line and step over to the “brighter” side of life with lemons. Lemons are fantastic for you – period. Buy fresh lemons, not the bottled juice, and use lemons liberally to flavor your meals. I just cut one in half, squeeze both halves into a bowl and mix whatever else ingredients I want to use to make a dressing. You can also use oranges and limes the same way but lemons hold the most beneficial health properties. They’re also virtually sugar-free and can be used in many other different ways, making them a versatile fruit to keep in the kitchen.

3. Black Pepper

Black pepper is a culinary genius in the kitchen. It flavors anything you add it to, in just a small amount. Salt is incredibly overrated, but pepper? It’s a must! Black pepper is actually helpful for boosting brain flow, aiding digestion, increasing the metabolism, and it contains antioxidants as a bonus. It will give your dressings the perfect amount of flavor without causing them to become too spicy.

4. Italian Seasoning

Italian seasoning contains a mix of oregano, basil, garlic, thyme, parsley, sage, marjoram, and some varieties have onion powder and rosemary. Italian seasoning is salt-free but packs a lot of flavor in just a couple teaspoons. It also gives you more for your money so you don’t have to use a ton of herbs and spices each time you want to make a dressing.

5. Mustard

Last but certainly not least is mustard. I know it sounds odd with the other ingredients, but trust me- it works! I also realize it’s not exactly salt-free, but overall it’s low in sodium, and you only need a small amount per recipe. Mustard packs a great deal of flavor with just a tiny amount, and it gives salads that “bite” you’re looking for that most people turn to oil or salt for.

* Note: I also usually add water to the ingredients to dilute them so the dressing isn’t too “tart.” It won’t water your dressing down, but will instead give it the texture of a vinaigrette.

Now that you know my favorite ingredients, here’s a few ideas for how I use them:

Combo #1 – To make one cup:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasonings
  • 2 tablespoon bottled mustard

To Make: Shake in a mason jar and enjoy through the week.

Combo #2 – Makes 1/2 cup:

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon bottled mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

To Make: Shake in a mason jar and enjoy for two large servings.

Combo #3 – To make one single serving:

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon bottled mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning

To Make: Shake all the ingredients in a small mason jar and toss over your salad.

The cost of all these ingredients is just at $10, if not less, and they can be found at any supermarket. The best part is that you can use the ingredients for many other uses and have a plentiful supply of dressing ingredients to last a couple months.

Enjoy these vegan salad dressing ideas! You’ll have a delicious salad in no time!

Image source: Heather McClees

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