Creamy Oil-Free Balsamic Dressing

As a whole-food, plant-based purist, I discourage my patients from consuming oil. Not only is oil calorie dense, but many oils added to processed food are high in omega-6 fatty acids which can promote inflammation. Studies have shown that consumption of even olive oil can lead to an immediate decrease in the ability of our blood vessels to dilate (see my post “Is Olive Oil Heart-Healthy?”). These effect can persist for hours. I recommend that my patient get their fats from whole-food sources such as nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados. That being said, it’s still best to ideally limit even healthier fat consumption to less than 20-25% of total caloric intake, especially in those trying to reverse coronary artery disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

In addition to asking what to saute vegetables in, another common question I get is what to top salads with. There are some oil-free dressings on the market , but many of these contain added sugars. I’ve come across some recently in the refrigerated section that use avocado or tahini as a source of fat rather than oil. As I was preparing a salad last week, I came up with a quick version of a creamy balsamic vinaigrette that actually turned out to be quite delicious and easy.


  • 1 small shallot, finely diced (could substitute a couple of tablespoons of red onion)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews that have been soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, then drained


  • Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth. Can add more vinegar for stronger balsamic flavor, mustard for a little spiciness, soy for saltiness, or water to thin the dressing out.