Create your balance. Design your life.

Easiest Trick in the Book

Well, maybe not the easiest, but for me, the perfect balance of simplicity and deliciousness. What am I talking about? Shortcuts to healthy home cooking!

The top struggles I hear from clients regarding homemade, healthy eating are:

•It takes too long to prepare everything fresh

•Not liking the way the food tastes

•Feeling confused about what’s healthy for them.

While this idea won’t solve all your healthy eating problems – some answers need to be discovered through trial and error, or with the guidance of a health care professional – I promise it WILL make your pursuit of healthy eating, at least some days, tastier, and easier.

Are you ready?

The ‘secret’ is….wait for it…. salad dressing. Yeah, you heard me: salad dressing!


We think of salad dressing as something to put on lettuce. Or maybe something that comes on the side of a plate of chicken wings. Did you know that salad dressing can be used quite successfully, and easily, as:

•A marinade: Marinate your meat or vegetables in Italian dressing, grill, broil bake or sautée.


•A pasta “dressing”: Toss hot pasta with a nice vinaigrette. If you have loads of time on your hands, add some grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, and baby arugula or spinach. WOW. This dish can be served as a hot pasta dish, or even cold or room temperature as a pasta salad (cold will require more dressing than hot. Continue to re-dress until you get the pizzazz you want)


•The basis for a sauce: Mix together an oil and vinegar and spice based dressing with some sesame, sunflower or nut butter. Throw some protein and vegetables into a pan, cook partway, then add your ‘sauce base’ and a squeeze of lemon or lime, and cook protein through. Improvise to make something sort of like a Thai saté.

•An easy way to favor up steamed vegetables: Steam vegetables, and dress them. Yep, that’s it.


•A jazzy addition for flavorful rice: Instead of dumping your rice and water in a pan, turn the heat on, throw the rice and some salad dressing in, and sautée of medium heat until the rice turns chalky. Turn the heat up and add your water, bring to a boil and cook as usual.

Discovering this easy trick changed my ‘need an easy recipe’ nights. The ideas above reference types of salad dressing you can easily make, or purchase in a bottle. Making salad dressing yourself is so easy, once you try it you’ll wonder why you ever did anything else. Hint: if you’re going to cook with it, getting the oil and vinegar to emulsify together is not important, which makes it even easier.

The other advantage of making your own, is that not only can you control and adjust for the flavors you like, such as using tarragon instead of basil, or dill should you be using this for fish, but you can avoid all those pesky non-essential extra ingredients in bottle dressing, like sugar, high fructose corn syrup, carageenan, and more. Should you decide making dressing is not in your future, look for a brand where the ingredients list resembles things you’d find in your own kitchen.

To get you started, here’s a recipe of my own:






onion powder (optional)

fresh, minced garlic, and/or onion and/or shallot

cider vinegar

olive oil

tahini (optional – adding this gives you the dressing in example three; You could also use sunflower or your favorite nut butter)

Place spices (a pinch of each) in a bowl with a 1/2 tsp of mustard, and two Tablespoons of cider vinegar. Mix. If you re adding fresh, minced garlic and/or onion or shallot, add that in now and let it sit for a few minutes to deflame the onion. Then, add some olive oil. Depending on the texture you like, you will probably add between one and three Tablespoons. Mix with a fork until it’s blended in. If you’re adding tahini (or sunflower or nut butter), mix that in now, one Tablespoon at at a time until it’s creamy.

If you don’t want to stir, put it in a small jar and shake. Experiment with small quantities to find the taste and texture you like, then make as much as you want. It will keep in the refrigerator for a few days to a week, depending on the ingredients you choose.

And that’s it! Enjoy :)



headshotnewAbout the author: Jen Kahn MS, RYT is Mind Body Therapist and Functional and Behavioral Nutrition specialist. Her practice focuses on supporting clients who are dealing with chronic health conditions, eating, and mood dysfunction, as well as those looking for a healthy kickstart or to take wellness to the next level. Through the blessings of modern technology she works with clients all over the world in private consultation and through online workshops. If the article above leaves you wanting more, you can contact her by email for further information about her products and services: When she’s not working with clients, running events, or writing, she can be found biking, cooking, painting, snuggling with her cats, inventing recipes, or doing nothing at all in the Pacific Northwest.

Salad dressing photo credit: <a href=”″>whisk some nice EVOO into a dab of honey mustard and a splash of white wine vinegar</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=“”>(license)</a>

Stir fry photo credit: <a href=”″>Stir Fried Squid with Laksa Paste – Arintji</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=“”>(license)</a>

Seasoned vegetables photo credit: <a href=”″>IMG_2455</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=“”>(license)</a>

Pasta salad photo credit: <a href=”″>Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Penne Salad with Goat Cheese</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>(license)</a>

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