Vegan-ish: A Physician’s Journey to More Plant-Based Meals: Vegan Green Goddess Dressing
I am Dr. Monique, Board-certified Family Physician and Founder of Physician in the Kitchen. With my NEW best-selling cookbook, Doc Fix My Plate! The Physician In The Kitchen’s Prescriptions For Your Healthy Meal Makeover, my other best-selling book, MealMasters: Your Simple Guide to Modern Day Meal Planning, my online course, Vegan-ish: How To Plant-Base Your Pantry and online cooking classes, I help busy households enjoy healthy plant-based eating without impacting their hectic schedules.
Hello MealMasters! People choose to adopt vegan or other lifestyles for a variety of reasons, and they are usually related to improving their health. They may want to eliminate the need for medications to treat their cholesterol or high blood sugar, or maybe they want to lose a few pounds to reach an ideal or preferred weight. By cutting out animal protein, you may notice an improvement in chronic conditions such as joint pain or kidney disease. You may also decrease your risk of developing certain types of cancer. For me, in addition to the known health benefits of a plant-based diet, I truly enjoy experimenting and testing recipes featuring vegetables or other plant-based foods. I also get to create in my “lab” while using my many kitchen gadgets and appliances. This year I am chronicling my journey toward more plant-based meals, and I am sharing with my readers my favorite foods, along with tips and tricks I have discovered along the way.
Today I am continuing my series, Dr. Monique’s Favorite Food ABCs. The foods that are on this list are here because of both their contributions to mouth-watering dishes as well their health benefits. So far we have discussed the following:
- A for avocado
- B for beans
- C for cilantro
- D for dairy replacements
- E is for egg substitutes
- F for fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables
- G for ginger and garlic
- H for herbs
- I for Indian Spices
- J for jackfruit
- K for Kale
- L for Lentils
- M for Maple Syrup
- N for Nuts
- O for Oranges
- P is for Portobello Mushrooms
- Q for Quinoa
- R for Rice
- S for Sweet Potato
- T for Tomatoes
- U for Unsalted Foods
- V for vegan meat replacement options
- W is for water
X for extra virgin olive oil. OK, so I stretched it a bit here, but can you blame me? Surely I do not have to explain why I have included it on my all-star list. Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is pretty much everywhere you look, and with good reason, because its mild flavor pairs well with so many different things (balsamic vinegar, I’m looking at you) and it can be used in anything from appetizers to dessert. In fact, many Italian restaurants offer olive oil with balsamic vinegar instead of butter with their delicious warm and crusty bread.
Let’s look at just a few of the multiple health benefits of EVOO.
- Rich in the good types of fat. Olive oil is made from olives, and it contains mostly monounsaturated fats which has been shown to decrease inflammation and may even decrease cancer. Monounsaturated fats decrease LDL (bad cholesterol) , the cholesterol that clogs arteries and leads to stroke and heart attacks
- Contains the antioxidant vitamin E which also helps fight inflammation. Inflammation increases the risk for chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
- Contains Vitamin K which helps your blood to clot and strengthens bones by controlling how calcium gets deposited in your bones.
- Despite being all fat, it it not typically associated with weight gain when used in small amounts. One tablespoon of EVOO (which is one serving) contains about 120 calories. While this can certainly add up if your recipe calls for 3 tablespoons or 1/2 cup, keep in mind that you will be eating fractions of that meal you prepared so the calories will be proportionate to how much you ate. Also, when being used to cook vegetables or in an otherwise low-calorie salad dressing, the net effect will be negligible because the accompanying vegetables usually are low in calories (depending, of course, on what else you add to them #allsaladsarenothealthy).
- Has antibacterial properties.
There are different types of olive oil, such as virgin olive oil (which is less expensive than EVOO), and light olive oil. EVOO is the highest quality and therefore the most expensive. It is made from the first pressing of olives, whereas virgin olive oil comes from the second pressing. My personal favorite is EVOO which can be used in many different ways to cook. It can be used in place of butter in baking or sautéing vegetables, although this is actually not recommended by some experts due to its’ smoke point (the temperature that an oil starts to smoke). For frying and cooking at higher temperatures consider using avocado, grapeseed, or peanut oils. EVOO is also a key ingredient in salad dressings and vinaigrettes in a 1:3 ratio (one part vinegar to three parts oil).
While many people (including myself, before I researched this blog) store their EVOO right beside the stove, that is actually not the best thing to do. It is recommended that you store it in a dark bottle or cabinet, away from the heat of your stove. This prevents oxidation that will turn your oil rancid (yuk!). However, I think that if you use your EVOO often (like I do) it will not have time to turn rancid. Just don’t buy large quantities of it at one time if you will not be using it that often.
Below is my recipe for Vegan Green Goddess Dressing, which uses EVOO and a BUNCH of green vegetables and herbs, including tarragon, chives, spinach, cilantro, avocados, and scallions. Be sure to post a pic and tag me @physicianinthekitchen if you make this recipe.
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