During the month of January, perhaps a hair beyond that, I am embarking on a dairy-free diet.
Granted, I’m not one of those people that’s, “DIET! DIET! DIET!” I’m sure you’ve seen that on both my Instagram and this blog. I believe in eating healthy. I believe in eating balanced. I believe in eating two Tres Leches cake doughnuts followed by a hot chocolate from Doughnut Plant every so often. The old adage “moderation is key” is SO true, y’all.
My dairy-free diet does have a basis in my own health and not in vanity – regular dairy intake might be contributing to an increase in my body’s production of testosterone. FUN! Not that I’m becoming manly, but it’d rather have my hormones in balance, thankyouveryMUCH. Dairy can affect IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor-1) into our bodies; too much can lead to an imbalance as, in some females, it causes higher testosterone production. I might be one of those females. 💁
[Mind you, I am not a doctor! I’ve worked at a hospital for almost 9 years, but my background is strictly liberal studies and communications. Ha! Speak with your own medical professional if you think this may be a concern for you.]
Removing dairy is not a huge issue; sure, I miss cheese like WHOA, I’ve had to consciously meal-prep breakfasts more as I can’t easily grab a Siggi’s and fruit on my way out the door, and I damn near keeled over when my department’s Director of Nursing bought our office pizza yesterday, BUT…I’ve got this. I’ve just got to be creative and mindful.
I wanted to see if I could use the creamy power of pulverized cashews to make something insanely tasty. I’ve mixed in lots of things with cashew cream in the past, but as I had to sadly turn down ranch dressing for my salad at dinner the other night – damn near torture for me – I wanted to see if I could take those wonderful ranch flavors and make them into something not mixed into a cow’s utter secretions.
(I know, I made milk sound so lovely, right?)
The result was pretty damn good! I immediately texted my friend Liana – one of my best vegan friends to bounce my food ideas off of – as soon as I tasted it; I figured she’d be the only person immediately as excited as I was. Ha! I miss that quintessential buttermilk tang, but I was very shocked and pleased by what I created. In this case, the dill really saved the day when bringing that good ranch flavor to this dressing.
I can definitely survive any ranch cravings as long as I’ve got this in my back pocket…figuratively, of course. I’m sure it’d last a lot longer in my fridge. 😏
Vegan Ranch Dressing
(Makes roughly 1 & 1/2 cups)
– 1 cup raw cashews, left whole
– 3 cups of hot water, for soaking cashews
– 3/4 cup water, for inclusion in dressing
– 1/2 tablespoon avocado oil
– 1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely minced or 1 teaspoon dried chives
– 3 teaspoons fresh dill, finely minced or 1 teaspoon dried dill
– 2 teaspoons fresh parsley, finely minced or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
– 1 teaspoon garlic powder
– Juice of 1/2 lemon
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
Before We Get Started…
– Oil of choice can be substituted for avocado oil here. Olive oil works just fine.
1.) Add cashews to a large bowl and cover with 3 cups hot water. Allow to stand for at least one hour or up to 8 hours. (NOTE: I always do an hour of soaking with fine results.) Drain cashews and place into food processor or high-speed blender.
2.) Pulse cashews until a fine meal forms. Slowly add in 1/4 cup water and blend until mixture begins to thin out slightly; do this twice more in 1/4 cup water increments. With the final 1/4 cup of water, add in avocado oil. Blend until smooth.
3.) Remove cashew cream and add to large bowl. Gently fold in chives, dill, parsley, garlic powder, and lemon juice until combined. Add salt; add more to taste, if desired.
4.) Refrigerate dressing; will keep in fridge for up to a week.