Vegan Ranch Dressing

Everyone’s favorite salad dressing, veggie sauce, and pizza crust dipper can easily be made vegan! Don’t give up the indulgence of a childhood classic, try this good-as-the-original Vegan Ranch Dressing! Oil-free, soy free, gluten free.

Vegan Ranch Dressing | AreYouKitchenMe.com

One of my favorite family memories from my youth was our Friday night pizza nights. My dad would make pizza (mine with no sauce, just cheese because I strangely didn’t like anything tomato-flavored) and it was the one meal we were allowed to eat in front of the TV. Sometimes my brother and I could even share a soda! Gasp!

Vegan Ranch Dressing | AreYouKitchenMe.com

I remember ordering pizza in college and ruminating aloud that I wished we had carrots and grapes… After a few blank stares, I had to explain that we always had baby carrots and purple grapes on those Friday nights with our pizza. The one thing no one thought was weird was that we always had Ranch. It started as a carrot dipping sauce and ended up being mopped up with bites of pizza…

Vegan Ranch Dressing | AreYouKitchenMe.com

However you enjoy Ranch dressing, there’s no doubt that it’s beloved but often demonized. Personally, I’m pro-anything that makes you want to chomp on some veggies or finish that last bite of crust. But if you’ve ever felt weird or freaked out by the ingredients in traditional Ranch (first of all, you shouldn’t be), making your own is the way to go.

It took me forever to develop this recipe because I usually make it using the highly unreliable “a little bit of this, a little bit of that” method. But because I think everyone NEEDS this recipe in their life, I spent some time measuring every “little bit” to land on a more exact recipe.

Vegan Ranch Dressing | AreYouKitchenMe.com

And let me just tell you, I am OBSESSED with this stuff. Dare I say, it easily beats the stuff in the green-capped bottle. Just saying. Using fresh herbs and a ton of acid gives the dressing a great kick and fresh flavor that has me addicted. Seriously, I just had to go dip a carrot stick in and have a bite as I’m writing this because I’m daydreaming about it…

Ok, I’m back down to earth. And I’m covered in Ranch dressing… Err.. what?

Vegan Ranch Dressing

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: ~2 cups

Everyone’s favorite salad dressing, veggie sauce, and pizza crust dipper can easily be made vegan! Don’t give up the indulgence of a childhood classic, try this good-as-the-original Vegan Ranch Dressing! Oil-free, soy free, gluten free.

Ingredients

  • 1¼ cups cashews, soaked*
  • 1¼ cups water, plus more if desired**
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. onion powder
  • 2 ½ tsp. salt
  • 4 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 4 Tbs. apple cider vinegar (I use Braggs)
  • 1 green onion, green parts, finely minced
  • ¼ cup finely minced fresh dill
  • ¼ cup finely minced fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. In a high-powered blender, blend cashews water, garlic + onion powder, and salt until creamy and smooth, 1-2 minutes. Scrape down the sides as needed.
  2. Add the lemon juice and vinegar and blend for another 30 seconds.
  3. Add the green onions and herbs and pulse gently (or stir with a spoon) to combine. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before using.

Notes

*You can either soak your cashews in room temperature water for 8-12 hours or you can soak them in boiling water for 30 or so minutes. I usually go the second route because planning is hard. **The dressing will thicken slightly as it cools in the fridge. I recommend waiting until it is completely cooled to add additional water to achieve the true consistency you want.

https://www.areyoukitchenme.com/vegan-ranch-dressing/

2018 Lessons

Every year brings its own set of challenges, rewards, and memories. But this year brought more lessons than I’ve ever experienced. Today, I’m reflecting on 2018 Lessons and the year that was.

2018 Lessons | AreYouKitchenMe,com

Well friends, we’ve made it to the end of another year. 2018 is winding down and 2019 is peaking up over the horizon. I haven’t been posting many recipes these days with the new job and busy holiday season. But I do want to share some thoughts and lessons I learned this year. 

Boy, was it a year of learning…. I learned to walk away from toxic environments. I learned that I don’t have to do anything that makes me unhappy. I learned I can do or be anything. I learned that all the knowledge and wisdom I need can be found within myself.

2018 Lessons | AreYouKitchenMe,com

But learning is almost always preceded by struggle. And struggle I did. Here’s an example of a lesson I learned through struggle…

For over three years I worked at a nonprofit with a strong mission, a family-like team, and mentors who pushed me to be my best. But most of my time there I was unhappy, unsatisfied. After three internal promotions/ job changes, I thought I’d finally found the perfect fit. Yet I was still miserable.

“Is it me? Am I the common denominator? Am I the reason these jobs make me so unhappy?” I asked friends. I thought surely I was doing something wrong or expecting too much. And then sometime this summer, I dipped into the worst depression of my life. I went weeks without social engagement, cried myself to sleep nearly every night, and didn’t have the energy to do the activities I love.

2018 Lessons | AreYouKitchenMe,com

I certainly didn’t want to feel this way! And I knew a huge part of my depression was job dissatisfaction. After (over)thinking about it for months, I finally decided my only option was to leave. I was beyond terrified. But what I finally realized was I didn’t have to walk into that office if I didn’t want to. So I took a leap.

When people say “it was like a weight was lifted off my shoulders”, we usually assume they’re being hyperbolic. But in all honesty, turning in my letter of resignation released years of tension from my back. I felt a lightness in my body and spirit and a confidence that I have truly NEVER known.

And so I learned that I have the strength to walk away from what doesn’t serve me.

Without a backup plan or safety net or meticulously scheduled next steps, I walked away. It was painful and scary and the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I now have a job that I LOVE and don’t spend nights trembling in bed at the thought of each next day. 

2018 Lessons | AreYouKitchenMe,com

It’s funny how much this decision about my professional life is intertwined with lessons I learned about my personal life. It’s no secret that one of my biggest struggles has been overcoming disordered eating. And this year, I made my biggest strides ever. This year, I let go of everything. I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it and did my very best to not feel guilty about anything.

And you know what? It was great. I had Christmas cookies outside of December. I ate bread for 75% of my meals. I drizzled olive oil generously over my entire life. I asked my parents to stop taking about weight loss and dieting in front of me. All of these things were also scary at first, but brought me so much joy in the end. I’ll admit that it hasn’t been all positive and that I constantly feel like I’m learning how far I still have to go. But I know I will go and it will be worth it. Yet another lesson in pushing through the hard stuff to get to what really matters. 

2018 Lessons | AreYouKitchenMe,com

I’m grateful for the lessons I learned this year. And what I want you to know from reading this is that lessons are hard. And sometimes you have to trudge through piles of shit to learn them. But just know that if you’re currently knee-deep in the trenches of shit, you are learning. You are growing. And you will make it.

And with that, here’s a quick rapid-fire round up of this year’s highs and lows.

Highs:

  • sitting on a secluded beach with my love in Bermuda
  • realizing how much I can love my natural hair
  • starting a podcast (shameless plug check us out here)
  • getting over my phobia of water to spend a  week swimming and snorkeling in Mexico- potentially my new favorite place in the world- with my parents + John
  • starting a great new job and working from home 
  • relaxed Saturday mornings at the farmers market every summer weekend
  • experiencing Harry Potter world!

Lows

  • losing my grandpa, a true inspiration to our whole family
  • feeling too low to ask for help but too scared to get through it alone
  • talking down to myself when my clothes don’t fit like they used to
  • the paralyzing fear of not succeeding

Again, I’m grateful for both the lows and the highs, for the lessons and joy they brought this year. Wishing you a VERY Happy New Year and sending love and peace for the year to come. 

Natalie

Spring Onion Lemon Orecchiette

Farmers market season is kicking into gear and I’m celebrating with a light and fresh pasta! Spring Onion Lemon Orecchiette embraces the bright and warm feelings of spring!

Spring Onion Lemon Orecchiette | AreYouKitchenMe.com

Allow me to walk you through my perfect Saturday morning…

Stretch in the morning sun beaming onto the cozy sheets through the skylight and rub the cat hair from my eyes. After a few morning snuggles, plant our feet into walking shoes and slide into my favorite leggings. An apple in hand and a stack of grocery bags in the trunk, head to my (second) favorite Columbus neighborhood. Even though we’re early, the streets buzz with pups on leashes and eager strawberry shoppers.

A loaf of bread, a pound of spring mix, and some juicy berries make their way into my bag. The wafting aromas from the taco stand, a few food trucks, and the local coffee shop call us to breakfast. Sit, snack, sip, and snicker at the toddlers toddling by. Pick up a handmade birthday card, a bursting bunch of carrots, and a few handful of sprouts as we meander back to the car. Leave the market full of peace and produce.

Spring Onion Lemon Orecchiette | AreYouKitchenMe.com

Ahh… How I live for the warm days of farmers market season. Our favorite market is the Clintonville Farmers Market because it’s the perfect balance of size, selection, and distance. We also love the North Market, which has fewer stalls and options, and the Worthington market, which is huge but chaotic and a bit far away for us. This article has a great write-up of all the local markets, if you’re interested.

Spring Onion Lemon Orecchiette | AreYouKitchenMe.com

I must admit, when we went to opening weekend of the farmer’s market this weekend, there wasn’t much by way of produce. I spent far too much money on some very young romaine and a tiny bag of sprouts, but the winner was the bunch of spring onions I picked up. Spring onions are similar to green onions but milder and sweeter. They’re great just lightly cooked and tossed in and on everything you make all week. The dark green tops are great as a raw garnish or thrown in at the end of cooking a warm meal.

Spring Onion Lemon Orecchiette | AreYouKitchenMe.com

When veggies are just beginning to peak their tender heads through the dirt, I like to treat them delicately and simply. But since we’re still not out of the cool evening season yet, I thought a warm pasta would be a great way to let the juxtaposition of spring shine. To be honest, I think you could also get away with serving this cool pasta salad-like lunch or side.

Spring Onion Lemon Orecchiette | AreYouKitchenMe.com

I chose orecchiette because of its fun shape and knack for cradling little peas, but pick whichever small noodles are taking up space in the back of your pantry. And if orecchiette sounds fancy and expensive, you should know that I picked up this bag for $2.19 at Aldi. Ballin’ on a budget, y’all.

Spring Onion Lemon Orecchiette

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Farmers market season is kicking into gear and I’m celebrating with a light and fresh pasta! Spring Onion Lemon Orecchiette embraces the bright and warm feelings of spring!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. orecchiette or other small pasta
  • 1 bunch spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow squash or zucchini, chopped small*
  • 2 cups green peas, fresh or frozen + thawed
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 4 Tbs. butter (I use Earth Balance)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (I use Violife), plus more for topping

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, bring heavily salted water to a boil. (It should taste like sea water!) Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, about 12 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large pan over medium heat and add 1 Tbs. of oil, the onions, and ¼ tsp. of salt. Sautee for 4 minutes, until just softened. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more, stirring constantly. Remove the onions and garlic to a separate bowl and add the second tablespoon of oil, the zucchini, and another ¼ tsp. salt to the pan. Sautee for 7 minutes, until softened but not mushy. Add the squash to the bowl with the onions.
  3. Add the butter to the pan and allow it to melt. Once melted, add lemon zest, juice, and all the veggies to the pan.
  4. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan. Toss in the parsley and grated cheese and season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve warm.

Notes

When chopping the zucchini or squash, I recommend cutting out the center seedy core. It gets sot and watery and just doesn’t belong in this dish.

https://www.areyoukitchenme.com/spring-onion-lemon-orecchiette/

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