After seeing Forks Over Knives, getting into the Happy Herbivore cookbooks and taking the Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition course from the T. Colin Campbell Foundation, I was more than ready to remove added oils from my diet. I had no idea that consuming these oils, even the so-called “healthy” ones such as olive oil, could cause damage to blood vessel linings and raise the risk of cardiovascular disease.
What I’m studying now through the Bauman Nutrition Consultant program has only confirmed this information. Though Bauman isn’t a proponent of oil-free diets, the program does stress the fact that most oils used in commercial foods and those available in bottles have been overprocessed or overheated, resulting in oxidation that leads to free radical damage within the body. Learning all this makes me want to continue staying away from added oils as much as possible.
Needless to say, going oil-free means avoiding just about anything that comes in a package. Not that I’m complaining; processed foods aren’t my thing either. But some things are heavy on the oil even when made from scratch, including salad dressings. Though I’m a big fan of dressing salads with straight-up raw apple cider vinegar, sometimes it’s nice to have a change of pace. Good luck finding a salad dressing that isn’t almost entirely oil — unless you can grab a bottle of one of Terrapin Ridge Farms‘ new vegan, oil free dressings!
The folks at Terrapin Ridge Farms were gracious enough to send me three amazing flavors of their new vinaigrettes: Toasted Sesame & Ginger , Dijon Mustard and Garlic & Herb along with a bottle of their (also vegan) Roasted Pineapple and Habenero Sauce. Every one is free of oil and has an ingredients list with things on it that you can actually pronounce. And, in case you were wondering, no oil means a lot fewer calories than traditional salad dressings: 5-10 calories per tablespoon instead of the 50, 80 or more found in other varieties. With all that going for them, how could I resist?
The Toasted Sesame & Ginger has a sweet, tangy flavor that’s more fruity than gingery thanks to the use of pineapple as a sweetener. It pours out thick with visible chunks of ginger yet is pleasantly light overall. I tried it on one of my chopped salads, but it would also make a lovely marinade or dip for baked tofu.
Garlic & Herb Vinaigrette features chunks of fresh garlic that enhance its flavor. A balance between sweet and savory, this dressing tastes exactly like its name implies. Just be forewarned: you will have “garlic breath” after eating this one!
I often make my own sweet Dijon Mustard dressing, but the stuff from Terrapin Ridge has serious zip! It’s more the consistency of a sauce than a dressing with a creamy texture and golden color that makes it as nice to look at as it is to eat. In a way, it almost reminded me of the honey mustard I used to eat before going vegan, so theoretically you could use it in place of honey mustard if you were in the mood.
The Roasted Pineapple and Habenero Sauce was an unexpected treat. Thicker and heavier on the sweetener than the dressings, this onion-and-bell-pepper-studded sauce still only has 25 calories per tablespoon. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to come up with a way to incorporate it into a recipe. My first thought was that it would make a fantastic marinade for tempeh or tofu, so that’s exactly what I went with.
This recipe was inspired by a Thai-style curried pineapple stir fry in Nava Atlas’ book, Vegan Express. That particular recipe uses some of the same vegetables along with pineapple chunks, curry powder and coconut milk to create a creamy rice dish with a balance of hot and sweet flavors. I wanted my recipe to have a similar balance, so I kept the pineapple, added some ginger and paired it with sweet, zippy chunks of marinated tempeh.
Since the sauce is fairly thick, I diluted it with water before adding the tempeh chunks. Steaming the tempeh beforehand allows it to take up the marinade flavors a bit more and takes away that somewhat funky fermented taste that sometimes turns people off. The sauce itself caramelizes as the tempeh cooks, creating a sweet coating of browned sugars–you’ll want to scrape the pan as you’re sauteing to make sure you don’t lose any of it. Or, you know, burn it, which would be a bummer.
You can serve this over rice or stir it in at the end to distribute the sauce evenly among the ingredients. Add some cayenne or hot curry powder for even more of a kick!
- 8oz. tempeh, cut into ¼-inch chunks
- ½ cup Terrapin Ridge Farms Pineapple Habenero Sauce thinned with ½ cup water to make 1 cup
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 1½ cups bell peppers, any color, chopped
- 1Tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 medium carrot, cut into thin half-moons
- 4 cups broccoli, stems chopped, tops cut into large flourets
- 1½ cups pineapple chunks, fresh or canned, drained of canned
- Place the tempeh in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place the pineapple habenero sauce in a shallow bowl. When the tempeh is done, drain and immediately add to the marinate, stirring to coat. Marinate for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Preheat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Place the tempeh in the pan, reserving the marinade, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 5-7 minutes. Scrape the pan carefully to incorporate any of the marinade that was left behind, because it will start to caramelize and you want that on the tempeh! When done, remove and set aside.
- Clean any leftover marinade out of the pan, return it to the heat, lower it to medium and add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, adding small splashes of water to keep it from sticking if necessary. Add the peppers and grated ginger and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the carrots and cook for a couple more minutes, until they begin to soften. Stir in the broccoli and cook until crisp/tender, 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the pineapple chunks, the tempeh and the reserved marinade. Cook and stir for a couple of minutes until heated through. Serve hot over brown rice or brown basmati rice.
The sweet and spicy flavor and slightly chunky texture of the sauce reminded me of chutney and inspired me to try it on a sandwich a few days after making this recipe. FYI–AMAZING. Especially if you toast the sandwich in a pan, panini-style, before eating.
If you’d like to try these dressings for yourself, the folks at Terrapin Ridge Farms are offering one lucky QV reader the chance to win one bottle each of the four flavors featured here. All you have to do is leave a comment telling me what your favorite salad combination is!
Contest deadline extended! Leave a comment by 8pm EST on Sunday, April 6th to enter!
One winner will be chosen via RANDOM.org. Please be sure to include a valid e-mail address when filling out the comment form so I can contact you if you win!
Giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered!