Paleo Salad Dressing

Making a good salad dressing can be hard if you’re on the paleo diet because you can’t use dairy products. However, there are several great dressings that you can make that aren’t off limits.

Ranch dressing uses dairy products such as buttermilk and mayonnaise, but this special paleo ranch dressing will give you that taste you’ve been craving. To make it, start by soaking 1/2 cup of raw, unsalted cashews overnight and drain them. Next, grind the cashews in a food processor on the grind setting until you have a powder, and then, use the regular setting to make a cashew paste. Next, blend one cup of coconut milk into the mixture a tablespoon at a time. If you want a slightly thinner dressing, then use 3/4 of a cup instead. Once you have a smooth paste, pour the rest of the milk and the juice of a lemon inside. Next add 1/2 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and dill as well as a tablespoon of freshly chopped chives or scallions. Mix them all together, and you’ll have an excellent and healthy ranch substitute that can go on any salad or be used as a zesty dip. Without the buttermilk of classic ranch dressing, you won’t have to endure the problems to your digestive system that it can cause.

If you prefer a simple vinaigrette, then this next recipe is for you. All you need to do is mince up 1 1/2 cloves of garlic and put it in a large bowl. Next, add 1/4 cup each of red and white balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons of stone ground mustard, a teaspoon of sea salt, 1 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil, and just a dash of black or white pepper. Mix everything together until the liquids start emulsifying and pour it into a glass bottle. This can also go onto your favorite paleo-friendly salad since olive oil is considered a healthy fat, which is a definite plus on the paleo diet. Also, vinaigrettes like this are always a healthy alternative to creamy dressing whether you’re on the paleo diet or not.

Photo by EvelynGiggles under creative commons

What is the Right Amount of Fat to Eat?

There’s a lot of debate about what the right amount of fat to have in your diet is. Really there is no “right” amount of fat to eat, although the ratio of fat to carbohydrates will probably be higher on the Hunter gatherer diet than many other diets out there. One of the main things to consider when deciding what macro-nutrient ratios to aim for is what your personal goals are and what your lifestyle and activity levels are.

A diet consisting of 50% fat, 35% protein, and 15% carbohydrate is a good starting point. However, the more weight a person is aiming to lose the lower there carbohydrate intake should be and the higher their fat intake. Regardless of ratio a person looking to lose weight should try to keep their carbohydrate intake below 100g a day, because intake above 100g can cause fat loss to stall out due to excess glucose and insulin response. This ratio should also keep protein intake at about the right .7g to 1g per pound body weight.

Almost any modern version of the hunter gatherer diet you might find will have fat representing the largest proportion of the diet and as the primary nutrient used for fuel. This might be surprising to some, since the Hunter Gatherer diet is known for causing fat loss and because the conventional wisdom is so against high fat intake. This represents another instance where the conventional wisdom is incorrect. In reality when fat intake is high the body starts switching to a fat based metabolism which makes the body burn off fat faster.

Having a high fat intake does make it more important to eat fats from sources that have good ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 fats. Historically, a hunter gatherer would have been eating Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats in close to a 1-to-1 ratio, however in the modern diet this ratio has shifted to be dominated by pro-inflammatory Omega-6 fats. In order to get the correct natural ratio of fats you should try to eat pastured grass-fed meats with a better omega-3 to omega-6 ratio than grain fed factory farmed meats.

– Jack

Photo by Naotake Murayama