By Lizzie Briasco, Dietetic Intern [University of Minnesota – The Emily Program]
It was hot, my new apartment was a mess, and I was very hungry and craving Chinese food – not the best combination when one first moves to a new city.
Instead of looking through Yelp for the best Chinese in town (a process that could take an indecisive young foodie like myself upwards of half an hour), I decided to go out on a limb – a very, very, thin limb – and see what I could come up with using what was already on-hand. I scoured my cupboards, fridge, and oven (you never know) for anything I deemed remotely related to Asian flavors, threw it all in a blender, and poured it over a cold salad with some soba noodles. It was one of the best meals I’ve had in Minneapolis thus far.
Homemade dressings are excellent alternatives to store-bought dressings for several reasons:
- You control the flavor, consistency, and what actually goes into the dressing;
- You can make as much or as little as you want, so you don’t have to worry about buying a large bottle and letting it go bad in the fridge;
- You can experiment with new flavors that may be more interesting than those in stores;
- Your dressing will lack artificial ingredients found in store-bought products, such as preservatives and food colorings, and have more natural ingredients such as olive oil and fresh herbs and spices;
- Depending on ingredients used, homemade dressings are usually cheaper than their pre-bottled counterparts are.
Dressings can also double as marinades or dips for meats and veggies!
This dressing has fresh ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and turmeric, all of which are natural anti-inflammatory foods that can help lower blood pressure. Peanut butter is rich in protein, fiber and potassium, and jalapeños (with or without seeds, depending on your taste for spice) are rich in vitamin C. Fiber aids in digestion, potassium helps lower blood pressure, and vitamin C is an antioxidant that may decrease risk of cardiovascular disease.
(Makes about 2 ½ cups, or 20 two-tablespoon servings)
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
- ¼ cup honey or agave
- ¼ cup sesame oil
- ¾ cup natural peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
- 3 tbsp. rice vinegar
- 5-in. piece peeled fresh ginger, whole
- 1 tbsp. turmeric
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 jalapeño pepper (use half the amount of seeds or no seeds for less heat)
- ½ cup water (optional)
- Blend all ingredients in blender until thoroughly combined.
- Add more of any ingredient to taste.
- Add to a salad, marinate veggies or chicken, or leave out the water and use as a dip!
Per two-tbsp. serving: 100 calories, 8g fat (1g saturated fat), 4g protein, 7g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 180mg sodium
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