Welcome to Day 7 of 30 Days to a Food Revolution. Our guest blogger today is Alison from Sure Foods Living. Diagnosed with celiac disease in 2002, Alison’s world was turned upside down – in a good way. Feeling renewed energy and a sense of purpose, Alison wanted to share her experience with others and provide practical information about living gluten-free, which she does on her blog Sure Foods Living. Alison also teaches classes, leads a branch of the Gluten Intolerance Group, and does consulting – anything she can do to raise awareness and educate about gluten sensitivity. One of Alison’s daughters has severe food allergies, so Alison and her family are used to making meals that are dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, and nut-free in addition to being gluten-free.
Alison’s Recipe: 3-Ingredient Salad Dressing
Alison’s Tip: Serve Veggies & Salad Dressing to Kids before Dinner
Sometimes I feel that I am an extremist when it comes to food – well, at least compared to most people around me. I am absolutely against soda, for example, and think it shouldn’t be allowed to exist! It disgusts me that fast food chains have contracts to sell food on school campuses. I think it is totally strange that people let their children eat the new Goldfish crackers that are colored blue and red. Why would anyone do that?? Those colored fish don’t even resemble food!
Since my celiac disease diagnosis over seven years ago, I have been making the transition to eating more and more “real food.” Part of it is that I had to – when you are gluten-free, you don’t have as many options for eating processed and packaged foods. But the other part is that since I have become so aware of everything I eat and that I feed my children, I don’t want to put all that extra stuff – the additives, the preservatives, the artificial colors, the extra starches, the added soy protein, etc. – into our bodies.
So it was encouraging (and validating!) to see Jamie Oliver in his Food Revolution remove the flavored milk from the elementary schools, pointing out that they have almost as much sugar as soda pop. And an amazing thing happened – the kids drank the plain milk! It was inspiring to see him replace the processed frozen chicken nuggets with real, fresh chicken, and guess what – the kids ate it! WE are responsible for how we feed our children. We are responsible for making the good food choices for them and for teaching them what real food is and what it tastes like. It can be challenging with children, but almost everything is! Let’s not just give up or give in to this overly-processed society we live in. Let’s stand up for REAL FOOD!
I am excited to part of 30 Days to a Food Revolution. I still have much to learn myself, but I hope that I can do my part to inspire others to eat healthy and feed their children well.
One exciting thing happening at my house is that my daughters (ages 5 and 3) have started eating lettuce! Hooray! And not just romaine, but mixed baby greens with chard, arugula, oak leaves, spinach and others. The salad dressing for dipping is a must, and I am sharing my recipe with you down below.
Tip: Serve Veggies & Salad Dressing to Kids before Dinner
One tip I have for getting your kids to eat vegetables is to serve them with salad dressing as a dip before dinner. There are 1-2 hours of the day – I call it them the grazing hours (or the begging hours) – when it’s too early for dinner but kids want to eat and eat and eat. This can easily turn into a snacking frenzy, and the concern is always that the kids won’t be hungry for dinner. So take advantage of this hungry time! Lately I have put out a bowl of the salad leaves, or sliced carrots, cucumbers or other vegetables with salad dressing for dipping, and they eat them with vigor. It’s great because then if they eat their vegetables at dinner too, it’s the veggie bonus round!
Now, speaking of real food, let’s talk about salad dressing. When most people dress a salad, they open a bottle and pour it on. Looking at the salad dressing aisle of any grocery store makes this abundantly clear. Of course, any bottled dressing is going to have some kind of stabilizer, thickener or preservative. Read the ingredient list of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing and you will find sugar, cornstarch, MSG and lots of preservatives that are difficult to spell.
Making your own salad dressing is so easy, but a lot of people don’t do it. I have come up with a combination of three ingredients to make a mild dressing that my kids love. It’s good enough for grown-ups too, and variations can be added to spice it up.
This isn’t the greatest picture, but I love that the girls are crossing over each other to get at the lettuce and dressing. The lettuce bowl was full when they started.
Recipe: 3-Ingredient Salad Dressing
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup (the real deal)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
(This recipe can be doubled or tripled as needed, using the same ratios. Extra dressing can be stored in a jar for later use.)
If you are accustomed to making your own salad dressing, you need no instruction. If you haven’t made your own dressing before, here are the simple steps:
- In a small to medium bowl, whisk brown rice vinegar and maple syrup to combine.
I have a speckled counter – there is no pepper on the counter or in the dressing!
- Slowly add the oil in drops, then in a stream, whisking continuously, until all the oil is added. This will “emulsify” (I love this word) the oil and vinegar – you will see it blend and thicken. If the oil is added too quickly, or if you don’t whisk it, the oil and vinegar will remain separate. It has a better mouth feel and flavor when emulsified (I just had to say it again).
I should be whisking here, but I had to hold the camera!
Taste the vinegar/maple combination before you add the oil. Adjust the sweetness as you like.
- Any vinegar can be used instead of brown rice vinegar. The dressing’s flavor will change with each different type of vinegar. I used to always use balsamic vinegar, but I find it heavy-tasting now. The brown rice vinegar is so much lighter.
- Any sweetener can be used in place of the maple syrup. I love the way maple syrup sweetens without having a really distinct flavor like honey does.
- Any oil can be used in place of olive oil. I like using olive oil because it is healthy, but safflower oil and grapeseed oil are other mild-flavored oils that work well in salad dressing.
If you find this dressing a little boring (remember I made it mild for kids), spice it up! Before adding the oil, add any other spices or herbs to the vinegar. Garlic, mustard, wheat-free tamari or fresh herbs are a few ideas – you will have to play with the flavor. I am a big fan of salt – sometimes it’s all you need to make the flavors pop. Try grinding some sea salt and pepper over your dressed salad.
I hope you and your kids enjoy this, and let’s keep the Food Revolution going!
To see More Food Revolution visit Alison’s blog, Sure Foods Living.
In order to be entered to win one of 7 cookbooks, here’s what you need to do to gather entries into the drawing. The more you do, the more chances you have to win!
- Leave a comment on this blog on as many of the 30 guest food bloggers as you like. Each comment is an entry.
- Sign up for The W.H.O.L.E. Gang newsletter.
- Visit that guest blogger’s site and leave a comment there too.
- Tweet about this project using both of these in your tweet so I’ll find you #30days2 #foodrevolution
When the initial 30 days of guest posts are over on June 4th, we’ll pick the winners.