3.21.2013

Vegan Caesar Dressing

I hope everyone has been having a splendid week.  Kevin and I got the keys to our new apartment yesterday and are moving things over at a bit of a leisurely pace, which is very nice.

The day before that, Tuesday, I ended up going to a doctor's clinic for what I thought was an ear infection coming on.  On my drive to the clinic, the pain in my ear had spread to behind my right upper cheek bone and eye socket.  I tried to breath deeply to lessen the pain, but when I breathed in too much, sharp pains shot up into the right side of my face.  By the time I got to the clinic and was taken to a patient room, the pain had worsened to the point that my right cheek was numb.  This really scared me to the point that I came close to fainting several times because I thought something worse was happening to me.  It turns out that I have TMJ (mandible joint problems) that flared up some sore muscles and tendons (think knee joint pain but in your face!).  The pain and anxiety caused my face to go numb, which snowballed into me panicking to the point of nearly fainting.

In the end, my doctor just recommended relaxing, breathing steadily, and taking Advil when I feel the pain start to come on in the future.  Essentially, I was having a massive migraine that was brought on my TMJ pain and stress.  The TMJ pain probably flared up in the first place because of stress, from clenching my jaw and not knowing it.  I went home and spent the rest of the day in bed with no lights and no sounds for the most part.  Kevin was so sweet and made me dinner (Mac and cheese, don't judge, it is my sick food sometimes), and he laid in bed helping me relax and watching some Netflix comedies to cheer me up.

In conclusion, migraines suck.  I have never had one before, but have seen my mom deal with them for years.  I just hope that they are few and far between, especially now that I am paying attention to how my jaw in working when it's at rest and when I am eating.  Overall the thing that scared me the most was my face going numb from the pain and anxiety.  My mind started racing uncontrollably thinking "what if something is neurologically wrong?" or "what if I have a stroke and my face will droop?"  I know, crazy questions, but in that moment, your brain thinks of anything and everything.  Thinking this way just made me panic and become more numb and faint.

After the whole ordeal was over, I just had to remind myself exactly why I eat the way I do and try so hard to be healthy: to have a long and healthy life free of disease.  This desire seems more and more real to me now.  At first when I began eating a nutritarian diet, I did it all for weight loss.  Over the last two years it has developed into doing it to feel good, have energy, sleep better, and to boost my immune system.  Now I'm seeing it in a whole new light to protect me from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and dementia later in life.  I couldn't imagine living with the fear of those diseases looming over me for life, and with a Nutritarian diet, I don't have to.

How has your reasons for living a healthy lifestyle changed over time?

Now onto something I have been excited to post since this weekend... I finally made a vegan caesar salad dressing!  I have been wanting to give this a try since this summer when I successfully made Vegan Ranch Dressing and Vegan 1000 Island Dressing.  For Caesar, I had no idea where to start.  I knew I wanted it to be nut based, have no oil, and very little to no sugar or salt.  I started this weekend by looking at the ingredients in my husband's Caesar dressing bottle, then started looking up how Caesar dressings are traditionally made online.  It turns out that a common ingredient in Caesar dressings is anchovy paste.  If that doesn't want to make you gag, I don't know what will!  If this slight fishy taste went into the dressing, I decided I could use a bit of dried kelp.  That would add a little bit of sodium to the taste as well.  Parmesan was also a main ingredient, so an easy fix was to use nutritional yeast.  Overall, I think I achieved the taste I was going for, and especially the consistency.  Hope you enjoy!


Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 3/4 cup water, more to consistency
  • 3-5 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp roasted garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp dejon mustard
  • 1 & 1/2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 dried date
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt or dried kelp
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder

Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 F.  Line a cookie sheet with foil and place several cloves of garlic, detached from the bulb, but not unwrapped fully.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the cloves are able to be pierced with a fork.
  2. While the garlic is roasting, prepare the other ingredients.  Boil enough water to cover the cashews in a small bowl, pour, and let sit for ten minutes before draining and adding it to the blender.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to a high power blender.  Once the garlic had roasted, peel off the outer layer and add approximately 2 tablespoons of roasted cloves to the blender.  Start with 3/4 cups of water and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and add more by the tablespoon to achieve the consistency and taste you desire.
  4. Blend on high until smooth and creamy.
  5. Store in a refrigerator for a bit before serving (remember the cashews and garlic that went in were hot or warm, which will make the dressing not quite the temperature you want).
  6. Serve on top of any salad, or for a Caesar Salad, have it on lettuce, sprinkled with nutritional yeast and croutons on top.  Enjoy!
Amy's Notes:
  • If you have a nut allergy to cashews, try making the recipe with sunflower seeds, pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, etc.  Or a combination of any nut/seed you would like.  Overall, it will give you a similar taste.
  • If you don't have dried kelp, it is not a major ingredient and can be easily left out.  I would suggest blending all of the ingredients together before adding salt, for you might not need it.
  • Be careful to add your water tablespoon by tablespoon.  I found the exact right consistency for me somewhere between 3/4 and 1 cup of water added.

2 comments:

  1. Amy, Visit your dentist. I had TMJ for years, it was very painful but I don't like to ever take any meds so I would just deal with it. It got worse over the years. One day I just couldn't open my mouth enough to brush my teeth even. Eventually my dentist convinced me a splint device would help me. It was pricey but worth it. At the time, neither my dental nor medical insurance would cover the device. I learned from my dentist that this was actually illegal in my state. (Illinois - the law at that time was that if you had both coverages as part of a group, they were required to pay a portion no matter what the policy said, IDK how that has changed in the past 15 year) You wear the device and it prevents you from clenching your jaw. This helped me sssssoooooooooo much. For a few years, I wore it every night. Now, I can tell when I am having stress and I can feel episodes coming on and wear it only when necessary. Hope the information is helpful. I love your recipes so I wanted to give you something in return!

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  2. nice recipes. I must be losing my cognitive abilities as I seem to be able to do everything to this but print. I'm old fashioned I guess.
    Am I missing something. I have to copy and paste now.................

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