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Vegan salad dressings that help fight inflammation

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Summer is a great time to fill up on fresh salads packed with fruits and vegetables. But what isn’t so healthy is the dressing that usually goes on top of these salads; many salad dressings sold in food stores are filled with unhealthy oils, chemicals and additives that aren't doing our bodies any good. In fact, they may be creating inflammation. 

After suffering from chronic illness for 10 years, I finally found relief from integrative/functional medicine -- not drugs used to cover up my symptoms. We tackled my inflammation at the root cause, which helped heal me from a decade of chronic pain, illness and Lyme's disease. Where did we start? With the food I was eating. 

I switched to an organic diet, cut out all processed foods and started eating one-ingredient, whole, unrefined foods that fought inflammation instead of accelerating it. I fell in love with avocados, unique oils such as flax oil, nuts, seeds and hemp. These foods were inflammation-fighting machines for my body. 

Today, my inflammation is gone. My liver is perfect, my gut is healed and I'm me again. I'm living proof that real food helps fight inflammation and chronic illness. 

I've created a few easy salad dressing recipes that are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegetarian and vegan. Each dressing includes inflammation-fighting ingredients like turmeric, ginger, basil, coconut oil, garlic, parsley, kale and extra virgin olive oil. Chop up that salad and start pouring these dressings on top for your lunch today. Bon appetite!

Vegan Caesar Salad Dressing
Serves 6
• 1/2 cup raw cashews
• 1/2 cup sesame seeds
• Juice of 1 large lemon
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 garlic cloves
• 1/3 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon paprika
• 1/3 cup organic vegetable broth or water

Puree all in a blender or food processor; pulse until smooth. Adjust ingredients as necessary for desired taste and texture.

Ginger Kale & Carrot Dressing
Serves 6
• 3 large carrots
• 2 large organic kale leaves
• 1/2 shallot, minced
• 3-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
• 1/4 cup chickpea miso
• 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• 1/3 cup coconut oil
• 2 tablespoons organic vegetable broth or water
• Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Place the carrots, shallot, ginger, miso, vinegar, and sesame oil in a blender. Blend, scraping down the sides as necessary, until very finely chopped, about 1 minute.

Add oil and blend until nearly smooth, about 30 seconds. Add sea salt and pepper, to taste. If necessary, thin the dressing with up to 2 tablespoons water. The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Honey Shallot Dressing with Organic Moringa & Parsley
Serves 6
• Juice of 2 large lemons
• 1 1/2 teaspoons honey (or maple syrup if vegan)
• 1 shallot, minced
• 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon organic moringa
• pinch of crushed red pepper

In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients. Drizzle over salad; toss to coat and serve.

Basil Vinaigrette with Mustard Seeds
Serves 6
• 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
• 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
• 1 garlic clove, crushed
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients. Drizzle over salad; toss to coat and serve.

Amie Valpone is a celebrity chef based in New York City and editor-in-chief of TheHealthyApple.com. Specializing in simple, gluten-free recipes, Amie has been featured in numerous magazines and on well-known websites, as well as TV. Visit Amie on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.