So you know that the vegetables that make up a salad are all Paleo, the meat that goes on those veggies is perfectly Paleo, and the cheese that makes for an almost mouth-watering salad is, well, pretty much NOT Paleo. But what about the dressing? What do you put on top of the salad to moisten the veggies and meat and make it all taste, tangy, salty and zesty like salad should taste?
A member wrote in asking just that question today, and here is what I told her:
A Paleo approved salad dressing would be something like olive oil with lemon juice or (maybe) vinegar. Spice it up with herbs, salt and pepper if you’d like. Put some fruit in it and blend it all together and you have yourself a raspberry or peach or (insert fruit here) vinaigrette. Or add nuts and seeds or avocado. Give it a creamy texture with some coconut milk from a can. The possibilities are endless – you just need a blender.
Some Paleo-ish people take liberties with their salad dressings if they have certain kinds that they love and can’t give up. Just be careful of things like dairy and soy in salad dressings, which are pretty obviously not Paleo and very common in ingredient lists. Also look for things like postassium sorbate or other unrecognizable things they put in there to preserve it. Dressings can be FULL of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup or refined white sugar, too, so watch it. There are some high quality, delicious dressings in Whole Foods in the refrigerated section in the produce area that are very Paleo friendly with very few ingredients and no preservatives or weird colorings.
So above I suggested lemon juice instead of vinegar to go with your oil. Why is that, you might ask? Cordain’s camp posits that vinegar and other fermented foods help contribute to leaky gut and ultimately insulin resistance. Others whole-heartedly endorse vinegar on their Paleo-ish diets, saying that it actually helps eradicate leaky gut. The Weston Price Foundation, which is built on a hunter-gatherer platform, is all about fermented foods. I always go back to the question of whether or not our most ancient ancestors would have eaten it. The answer is that not only could Paleo people have made vinegar themselves, but mother nature could make it on her own if she tried really hard. Very simple recipes for vinegar go something like this:
1. Obtain some sort of juice from some sort of fruit.
2. Put it in water in an open container.
3. Wait a couple months.
And that’s it. So you decide. If you were an ancient person, would you take the time to create some acidic vinegar to balance out the flavor profile of your wild weed salad? I doubt it, but you might stumble upon a lemon tree and squeeze one of those in it. Or you might just be lucky enough to find a pool of sour apple water somewhere. Yum…