Easy Light Italian Dressing

I like a variety of salad dressings, makes salads more interesting if they don’t always taste the same. I generally use a small canning jar but if you have a glass jar that you’ve emptied of whatever that’s at least 1 cup in size, wash it out and keep it for making dressings. I find it easier to shake for a few minutes rather than whisking.

In a small 1 cup jar, add:

1/2 cup avocado oil

1/4 cup rice vinegar (or whatever vinegar your family likes)

1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey (or 1/4 teaspoon monk fruit powder)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon Italian herb blend

Put the lid on the jar and shake vigorously for several minutes.

Want creamy Italian dressing? Simply use a little larger jar or whisk in a bowl the above with:

1/4 cup non-dairy yogurt, sour cream, or vegan mayonnaise

Orange Sauce

You’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • dash of salt
  • 1 1/4 cup stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 tablespoon vegan margarine
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free flour (all purpose or brown rice works best)
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange rind

In a small saucepan, heat the orange juice and honey along with the vinegar, salt, orange rind and stock. 

Mix together the margarine and flour into a paste.   Add to the simmering sauce using a whisk so that you don’t get any lumps.  Continue cooking sauce until thickened, only a couple of minutes.  Its now ready to serve.

Marinara Sauce

This is a remake of my Aunt Jean’s marinara sauce. I started making this recipe for my family as a teenager and have continued using it ever since. Many times, I made this for my roommate and son, brings back many memories.

Needed:

1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, diced

Cook for several minutes until onion is translucent before adding:

  • 2 garlic cloves diced
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 64 ounces of pureed tomatoes
  • 16 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • fresh oregano, thyme, and parsley (about 2 tablespoons of each)
  • monk fruit powder, stevia, or agave nectar if needed for additional sweetness

In a large skillet, saute the onion and bell pepper for a few minutes and then add the diced garlic and the grated carrot.  Saute until softened, about 3 minutes over medium heat.  Add the red wine (or mushroom stock) and cook off the alcohol.  Add the pureed and diced tomatoes and simmer over a low heat, covered, for approximately 1 hour.  Uncover and simmer an additional 15 minutes.  Add the fresh herbs along with salt and pepper to taste and the tomato paste.  If needed, depending on your taste, add additional sweetener. 

Green Goddess Dressing

This is a great dressing for any salad you want to put it on. If you want it creamy, add some vegan mayonnaise to the recipe. Yum, yum!

In a food processor put:

  • 1 ripe avocado, skinned and pitted
  • 1/4 cup dried parsley, or 1/2 cup fresh parsley (you can add more if you like parsley; not one of my favorite herbs so I didn’t use much)
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (or lemon juice if you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons ground pumpkin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Water to get to dressing consistency, 1/4-1 cup (my dressing came out fairly thick and I used 1/2 cup of water)

Blend until creamy and all ingredients are combined.  Here, again, I used some roasted whole coriander seeds that I pulsed in my spice grinder so they were not fully ground and the pumpkin seeds were also only partially ground.  This added some crunchy texture to the dressing.

Simple Curry Sauce (dairy-free, gluten-free)

This is a very easy sauce to make using a curry powder; I prefer the Madras curry powder. If you’re adventurous and want to make your own curry powder, there are a number of recipes and videos on-line (YouTube especially) which show the process.

In a small sauce pan, heat

2 tablespoons oil

then add

1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of curry, depending on your taste and cook for approximately 30 seconds until you can smell the curry. 

Add 2 tablespoons all purpose gluten-free flour.  Whisk and cook for several minutes. 

Whisk in 3/4 to 1 cup (the amount of milk depends on how thick you want your sauce) of your favorite milk (coconut milk works great here but rice, hemp, almond also work fine).

Easy Sausage Gravy (dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free)

I’ve been discovering many different things to eat for breakfast since I am now allergic to eggs. Sausage and gravy is one of my very favorites. So satisfying.

To make sausage gravy, fry in a non-stick skillet

  • 1 pound lean turkey sausage (if you use pork sausage, drain off fat before proceeding; and there are excellent meat-free sausages now available if vegan is desired)

When cooked, add

  • 2 cups of your favorite non-dairy milk (DO NOT USE SOY MILK)

Whisk until smooth

  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free all purpose flour (depending on the milk you use, you might need to use more than 1 tablespoon but no more than 2 TBS should work)
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk, except soy

Add to pan; whisk until smooth and thickened; this should only take about 2-3 minutes over medium heat.

Soy Sauce Substitute (soy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free)

I do so love Chinese foods but not an easy thing to find these foods that don’t contain soy. Harder yet to cook them without an alternative other than coconut aminos. Since I’m also allergic to coconut, that doesn’t work for me! So here’s a recipe for a substitute that isn’t as salty but adds that umami we crave with Chinese foods. I frequently make a double batch and freeze it in small 1/4 cup portions since it will last in the refrigerator only about 3-4 weeks but freezes very nicely.

In a small saucepan mix:

1 1/2 cups bone broth – I used mushroom but beef would also work

3 teaspoons vinegar

1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses

2 teaspoons date sugar (or date syrup)

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Bring to a boil and simmer until reduced by half. Cool.

Easy Ragu Sauce (dairy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free)

Who doesn’t love pasta? And for me, I love it all ways but with a ragu sauce, one of my all time favorites. I remember as a teenager, baking Italian bread to go with a spaghetti supper, ripping pieces off the bread and tasting the sauce, telling myself it was to make sure it was seasoned correctly but actually just because I love the sauce more than the pasta!

If you want to make this even quicker and easier than my recipe, begin as I did but instead of adding canned tomatoes and tomato paste, mix in a large jar of ready made tomato sauce (I happen to be addicted to Rao’s Sauce for Sensitive Diets).

This recipe will serve four. In a medium, deep saucepan, heated over medium heat, add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound Italian sauce, any type your family likes be it pork, chicken, or vegan (if using links, take the sausage out of the casing or slice after cooking)

Cook the sausage until browned (I always think of Anne Burrell when I say that – love her saying, Brown Food GOOD!). Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside. Add to the frying pan:

1 medium or 1/2 large onion, diced

1 sweet pepper diced, any color

1/2 cup grated carrot

6-8 ounces sliced or diced mushrooms (any type you like)

Cook until onions are translucent and mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add:

1 small to medium zucchini, diced

1-2 small yellow squash

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Stir the vegetables and cover the pan. I used summer squash but feel free to substitute any vegetables your family likes; I’ve even used small frozen Brussel sprouts. Cook 8-10 minutes until the squash are softened but not mushy. Add the sausage back into the pan along with:

1 32oz can tomato puree

1 16oz can small diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons Italian spices (oregano, thyme, basil)

This is where a large jar of prepared tomato sauce could be substituted (cooking time would be reduced to about 10 minutes and it would be ready to serve). Simmer for 30-45 minutes and add:

1 small can tomato paste

1 tablespoon agave nectar

Stir making sure the tomato paste is incorporated. Cook about 5 more minutes and serve with pasta.

Easy Spicy Barbeque Beans (dairy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free, vegan)

Being a New England girl, I’m not accustomed to barbeque beans; we are famous for our Boston Baked Beans where I come from (see recipe under side dishes). Since beans are a great source of protein and generally lower in carbs than many side dishes, I’m trying to use them more often as a side dish. Here’s a recipe that’s quick and easy (takes longer to make the sauce than the beans!).

Feel free to use any bean your family likes. And if you have time and prefer dried beans, soak them overnight or boil them for about an hour before adding the sauce, and the recipe is just as easy.

In a small saute pan mix:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, minced

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 small jar tomato paste

1/4 cup vinegar (I use rice but any kind will work)

1/4 cup maple, agave, or coconut nectar, or honey

2 tablespoons molasses

Salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 to 1 teaspoon

1 teaspoon-1 tablespoons hot sauce (or cayenne pepper)

sufficient bean liquid to thin the sauce

Heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the onions and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook a minute more, about 5 minutes all together. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients, mix thoroughly, and simmer over low heat for about a half hour. For a smooth sauce, use an immersion blender before mixing in:

1-2 cans (or about 1 1/2 cups dried beans that have been soaked or boiled) beans (I used red kidney beans because those are the ones I like but feel free to use any beans you have on hand).

The sauce makes enough for 2 cans of beans but I used only 1 and froze the other half of the sauce.

Serves 4

Stroganoff (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free)

I looked at a recipe for tempeh stroganoff, thought about turkey instead. It reminds me a lot of turkey tetrazzini in looks but definitely not in taste. I think this is mainly due to marinating the meat in my “fake” soy sauce and the addition of vinegar to the sauce.

When I think about stroganoff, I immediately think it should be served on egg noodles. Since I’m allergic to eggs, that’s not possible but I managed to find some pad thai brown rice noodles that worked quite well.

I used turkey in this recipe but it could be made with beef, pork, chicken or tempeh and be equally as delicious. Other vegetables would also do well in this sauce like green peas, string beans, or carrots.

Makes 4 servings.

In a medium bowl, mix:

12 ounces meat or tempeh cut into strips

3 tablespoons “fake” soy sauce (you could use tamari or coconut aminos)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

Marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes up to overnight.

In a large skillet heat:

2 tablespoon olive oil

Add meat (drained) and saute for 3-5 minutes, turning to sear. Remove from pan and set aside. Add:

1 medium onion, diced

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried thyme

24 ounces sliced or diced mushrooms (I used a mixture of 3 different mushrooms)

Salt and black pepper to taste

Cook until the onions are soft and the mushrooms cooked. Stir in:

2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour, more or less depending on the oil in the pan

Mix in:

2 cups non-dairy milk

2 tablespoons seasoned rice, sherry, or wine vinegar

Stir until mixture begins to thicken. Add the meat. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serve over noodles, rice or quinoa. Garnish with fresh parsley or chives.