A Summer Salad Dressing – Mediterranean Style

I love salads in the summer, and often will make them so large that they are a meal onto themselves.  Often, I won’t follow a particular recipe, but certainly enjoy a “Greek” type of salad with lots of feta cheese crumbled over lettuce, cucumber, tomato, onion… and anything else I might have.

I like to whip up my own salad dressing as well – and a dear friend of mine from Greece says it’s pretty similar to what she would do for a salad dressing. Often, I don’t measure the ingredients very precisely but after enjoying salad with the dressing, my son asked me for the recipe so he could duplicate it. So… the next time I made it, I decided to precisely measure the ingredients.

This is an oil and vinegar dressing – there is supposed to be a precise ratio of oil to vinegar but I can’t recall what that is.  Of course, vinegar and oil don’t mix well together unless you add an emulsifier, which helps to bind the oil and vinegar droplets together. The molecules are still not really “mixed” together, but instead the emulsifier works as a surfectant. And emulsifier for oil and vinegar (or water) have opposite sides, one of which is attracted to water and the other is attracted to the oil droplets.

For an emulsifier, I like to use mustard powder because it works well and also provides a taste I enjoy.

So, here’s the ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, Minced (Yes, We love garlic!)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Himalayan Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Teaspoon White Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Basil
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/8 Teaspoon White Pepper
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Mustard Powder

I combine all the ingredients and then use an immersible blender to mix it all up together.

Drizzle over your salad. Enjoy!

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Blueberry & Kale Smoothy

blueberriesBlueberries! Ever since I was little, I’ve loved blueberries and try to find ways to incorporate them into our regular eating. My son absolutely adores blueberries and I can remember times when he was little, after a big bowl of blueberries sat down in front of him, his lips and fingers would be stained blue.

The blue colour, according to the Ontario Blueberry Grower’s Association is due to the “high levels of anthocyanin” in the berries. Anthocyanins have a known high anti-oxidant value, but it is debatable whether they provide much value to humans after digestion. But regardless, blueberries are a healthy snack and we find them delicious!

Combined with kale, we’ve been enjoying a smoothy including the main ingredients of blueberries and kale. I don’t particularly like raw kale, but I know it has many health benefits.  And at this time of year, kale is in abundance at the local Farmer’s Market, and quite inexpensive.

Some of these listed benefits include:

  • Enormous amounts of Vitamin K
  • Rich in important minerals
  • Lots of fibre (helps to reduce bad cholesterol)
  • May be a cancer preventative food

So, we try to get good amounts of kale into our diet on a regular basis. And I’m pretty lucky a my 13 year old son doesn’t mind trying new things and enjoys a wide variety of vegetables – but raw kale does have a taste that is not pleasant for everyone. The answer to that is to mix in a good handful of blueberries into the smoothy, which takes the edge of the raw kale taste. It actually tastes great when served very chilled on a hot summer day!

We’ve been using the recipe (more or less) found over on the HHB website. It’s one of my favourite websites as they investigate claims about health foods and supplements, and look for the science, if it exists, to determine whether or not there is any basis for any number of health benefit claims.

Some suggest that fresh blueberries are the best, and while that may be true if you are able to actually go out and pick them and then consume them within a day, you may want to consider the idea of purchasing frozen ones from the grocery store, instead of the ones in the fresh produce section.

The reason for this is that when commercial growers pick their blueberries, they are frozen immediately, thereby ensuring the quality. On the other hand, blueberries found in the fresh produce section may have been picked several days before they arrive at the grocery store or supermarket, and have lost some of their quality in the days between being picked and when available for sale.

But fresh picked are definitely wonderful, if you can get your hands on them!

If you’ve had problems with the taste of raw kale, but know you should be adding more of it to your diet, consider the kale blueberry smoothy. Perhaps add a few drops of stevia as well, to sweeten it up.

Here’s the recipe from HHB.