Jessica Goldman Foung of Sodium Girl has an unusual dilemma, for a young and otherwise healthy woman: She can eat almost no sodium. She is on a mission to make low-sodium eating delicious — and today she offers her best tips on dressing a salad without salt, gluten, or other allergens.
Let me ask you this question: What are three things you're carrying in your bag this instant? Now let me make this guess: You didn't answer salad dressing. Right? For most people, carrying a bottle of vinaigrette seems like a strange idea.But for those of us with food allergies and dietary restrictions, smuggling sauces in one's purse (or murse) isn't so far fetched. How do you dress a salad at home, or at a restaurant, when you can't eat much salt, not to mention gluten and other allergens?
For those with food limitations, menus often only offer one safe option: Salad. A plate of dry, leafy greens and plain, fresh vegetables will fit into any dietary framework. But to make it a dish with substance, it requires some outside help, making that stowaway dressing essential.
But if you're not ready to tote around a bottle of homemade Caesar and you don't want to settle for a bland salad either, there are some simple tricks to dress up any salad without any dressing. Using standard restaurant staples — beyond just the olive oil and vinegar — you can give plain greens a lot of life.
I would be shocked to find a restaurant that doesn't have fresh citrus stocked in the kitchen or at the bar. Ask for a side of slices of lemon, lime, or even oranges and squeeze the juice over your greens. Or push boundaries by mixing a little grapefruit or orange juice with olive oil and black pepper for a dressing made table-side.
Fried or poached, a runny yolk adds color, creaminess, and (bonus!) protein to your salad.
If you're lucky enough to live or eat in a city filled with fresh avocado, make use of it! Slice it up or smash the green fruit before it hits the salad. The smooth, guacamole-like texture will help those veggies go down.
Their seeds and juice add slickness to your salad. Not to mention extra texture.
Strawberries, Blueberries, and Raspberries
Let the juices flow and ask for a side of fruit. When mixed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, the sweetness of berries or melon will brighten up the salad and add fun bursts of texture.
A spoonful of honey mixed with olive oil and citrus will prove satisfying for your salad. Especially if you're lucky enough to add protein (steak, chicken, shrimp) to those veggies.
Everyone has a kid's menu and almost every kid's menu has peanut butter and jelly. If you can eat nuts, a little peanut butter mixed with olive oil will make a peanut sauce dressing that wakes up a simple plate of vegetables.
Don't be afraid to ask for a side of sliced jalapenos or red chili pepper flakes. Peppers add perk.
Fresh herbs will brighten up any salad. With added citrus, olive oil, and even berries, you might even end up with a dish so colorful and inviting that it lands a permanent spot on the menu.
If you're ready to tote ingredients in your purse, don't forget about Greek yogurt and individual packets of tahini or peanut butter. Both options are not only packable but also lend tang and texture to vegetables and greens.
(Images: Jessica Goldman Foung)