Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mostly Raw Cranberry Apple Orange Dressing, & Something I Need To Tell You

Say, say, say, what do you say? ~ (Dr. Suess, Mr. Brown Can Moo)

Dr. McDougall says no added fat or oils,
Natalia Rose says no soy or peanuts, or potatoes
Dr. Joel Furhman says no bread, no pasta
Diana Stobo says no wheat,
Dr. Jeff Novick says no green smoothies
Robyn Openshaw says no yeast or sugar
Dr. T. Colin Campbell says no animal protien
Dr. Atkins says no fruit

My brain has been in a swirly.

Do you ever get tired of all the conflicting nutrition and dietary voices, and all they have to say?

Say, say, say, what do you say?

About one month ago I decided to try an experiment. Remove all added fat (even avocados, nuts and seeds, olives, soy, and oil additionally), and flour from my diet, to see if I could lose, unnecessarily, 15 lbs, recommended by Dr. John McDougall in hopes that I might heal a hormone imbalance.

After much sacrifice, I felt deprived for the first time on a whole foods, plant based diet. I felt like I was constantly having to tell myself, "no."

I came back home from a very physically intensive (I did a lot of movement and exercise!) vacation, strictly keeping all the McDougall rules, and I weighed more than when I began. And I can tell you why. I realize I was on vacation. I realize it was the Thanksgiving Holiday. I realize that I had to eat out more than usual. However, I know the main reason is because I felt deprived, so I ate. And ate. And ate. Every day, way more than I normally would. Because I. felt. deprived.

I have decided that, for me, the most important factor in eating healthily is that I not feel deprived. I need to feel free.

After reading so many nutrition books, and studying, feeling confused and frustrated, and experimenting on what makes my body feel the healthiest, I have had to stand back.

Step away from the books.

Take into account all of the information I have learned about foods, and their nutrient contents.

And then eat what my body is craving. What sounds good, what I like.

Create my own, Dr. Ashlee eating plan. Pay attention to how I feel, emotionally and physically, and then eat the foods that make me feel awesome.

I like being educated about foods, and their nutrition content, and then feeling the freedom to make choices as I see fit.

Being vegan is probably one of the most freeing choices I have ever made. I have not felt deprived, in fact, I felt like I was being given permission to not eat the stuff that had been weighing me down for so long. I also felt permission to eat some of the most delicious, and fantastic foods without guilt. Vegetables, fruit, breads, grains, beans, nuts, seeds...

When I walk into a produce or bulk foods section of a grocery store, and see all of the variety, I get ecstatic. I have to hide my excitement from all of the other shoppers around me. The choices. The colors. The variety. The endless possibilities.

While I do not call this fat free experiment a "failed" experiment, I do declare an end to it. I learned a lot. It was, actually, successful. Now that I feel so much freedom in choice, by deciding to not be a fat free, flour free vegan, I have relished in eating the healthiest of food. I haven't gone crazy and added cashew cheese to everything, made peanut butter cookies every day, and gorged myself on avocados and bread.

In fact, quite the opposite has happened. Now that I feel free to eat plant foods as I see fit, I find myself gravitating towards raw fruits and vegetables, cooked vegetables with some whole grains, and the occasional sweet treat. It feels great. I feel free again.

I do need to make sure that I clarify, and say that I do not add oils to my food, cooking, or baking about 98% of the time. So I still consider myself an oil free vegan. I'm not perfect. A good friend introduced me to the idea of homemade good! They require a tad bit of added oils, and I let myself have them every once in a while.

I have always felt that there are so many health benefits to avocado, nuts, seeds, tofu, and olives. As I have said, while I am not gorging myself on them, I do have a greater understanding of them. I understand that they are higher in calories and fat, and that they are more of a condiment or treat than a main dish. Now that I have that understanding, I have no need to demonize these foods.

What have I been eating lately?

Whole grain, hot cereals.

Rice, and cooked vegetables.

Indian Vegetable Biryani, one of my new favorite ways to eat rice and vegetables.

Raw carrot juice. Raw fruit.

The occasional, fat free, whole wheat cinnamon roll. Coming soon! They are so good!

We recently had Asian stir fry. And black bean burgers with baked potato fries.

Green smoothies. Green salads.

One of my new, favorite, mostly raw salad dressings.

In my decision to just let myself eat intuitively, taking my nutrition knowledge into account, I have found a new love for raw foods. Nothing replaces them in flavor and satisfaction.

Plus I can stuff my face with them, all day, because I am a big eater. I love to eat volumes and volumes of food. Never did well with the small portions idea.

The original version of this dressing requires that the cranberries be cooked. After making the dressing according to the original recipe, it came out too sour and gummy (I tried replacing oil with instant corn starch).

I understand the health benefits of raw cranberries, and thought, why? Why do the cranberries have to be cooked first? Can't they be raw?

I tried using the cranberries raw, and adding raw apple, raw orange juice, and then a little bit of soy yogurt, instead of oil.

The result?

A tangy, slightly sweet, refreshing, and mostly raw cranberry dressing.

Perfect for Christmas, with all the familiar ingredients and smells of the Holidays.

Mostly Raw, Holiday Cranberry Apple Orange Vinaigrette
Inspired by Angela Liddon


1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, preferably organic
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1.5 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed clementine or orange juice
1 gala apple, or other sweet apple, preferably organic, cut into large chunks
3 tablespoons soy vanilla yogurt (optional, it just makes the dressing more creamy, and less sour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black Pepper to taste (I used about 1/4 teaspoon)
1-2 teaspoons stevia powder
2-3 tablespoons pecans, (optional, for garnish, or pulsed in, adds buttery flavor)


Place all ingredients in blender (except for pecans) and blend until completely emulsified, about 1-2 minutes.

Optionally, after dressing has been completely blended, add pecans and pulse into the dressing (you want them to remain in chunks). Chill in refrigerator for optimal taste. Enjoy on fresh salads.


Now It's Your Turn:

What do you say? What is the most important factor for you in being able to enjoy eating healthy foods?


  1. That salad looks absolutely beautiful! For me the most important factor in enjoying healthy foods is preparation. Gotta have it in your lunch box in order to eat it at work!

    1. Ah, thanks, Aimee!

      That's very true about preparation...

      Guess what? I got a kale salad at Whole Foods Market -- pre-boxed. It was kinda' small -- but really yummy. And no oil. Thanks for the tip!

  2. WRITTEN BY TABITHA: (I don't know why it didn't post here?)

    this post came at the same time i was at the peak of those feelings
    all the crazy conflicting information!
    i too have been eating more mcdougall recently...but i have a hard time believing that your body doesn't need a little more of the healthy fats. avocado, nuts and seeds, etc
    i also got a copy of a new book that eliminates the seven most common foods we have intolerances for...which conflicts with a lot of other 'methods of healthy eating'

    i agree
    you need to gather information
    then sit back and decide what makes you feel good
    and go with it

    and i to need to eat A LOT of food!!!

  3. I totally understand how you feel! I felt like I was going crazy doing a 30 day Juice feast, eating raw, then whole foods, then back to raw. A year later, I couldn't understand why I had tried so many plant-based diets and lived them strictly, but yet I wasn't noticing results. I was mentored by a fellow blogger and I became introduced to the book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price. The thought of another book ---ugh. But I gave it a try and it completely opened my eyes! I don't know if you've heard of it, but it's about how Dr. Price visited 1930's 14 different societies untouched by modern food in the 1930s. The book is FASCINATING! He shows how they lived off the land and were not only healthy, they had amazing strength and vitality. No sickness, no infertility, no cavities. He found the most significant difference between their diet and the American diet was the high amounts of fats. It was something like 10 times the amount of the Americans in the 1930's. Not one of the 14 cultures were vegan, they couldn't grow enough food to sustain that lifestyle. They drank plenty raw grass-fed milk and made cheese, ate tons of fruits and veggies in season, ate meat about once a week, and the most important thing is they only ate grains & legumes if they were prepared properly, ie soaking, sprouting, sourdough leavening. About a month ago I started to eat this way, and I have actually LOST WEIGHT!(And I was already at my goal weight of 125) I feel better and I really believe this is the way we were meant to eat. Anyway, not trying to knock Veganism, but as somebody coming from that world and being confused, this really opened my eyes and food just seems so simple to me now.

    1. I am totally open to all nutrition books. I don't take it as a knock on veganism at's the scientist in me. That book, in particular, sounds like a good read. Although I think I have heard some really negative things about Weston Price. I think he may have been funded by the dairy industry for some of his studies? I could be wrong?

      I love grains when they are soaked and sprouted, without yeast. Oh, I wish I had the time to do all of that! Maybe someday...I am just taking things one at a time, I guess. It also sounds like they really didn't eat any processed foods, which I think is a huge problem in our day. None of those people in the communities mentioned have fast food restaurants, Twinkies, pop tarts, etc.

      I also have to think about the practicality of eating the way Price mentions: how many people have access to grass fed, raw dairy? You have a farm, with great access to these foods, but here in New Mexico it is illegal to sell raw, grass-fed milk in stores. I would have to join a very expensive group buy that ships in milk from Texas in order to drink that kind of milk. Maybe I could afford it, but how many others could? Whereas I can find plant milks at most stores, even Target. It's more practical. And I can make them at home, for cheap, in minutes.

      Your food adventures seem particularly interesting. It really is a journey to try and figure all of this out. Thank you for sharing, DaNelle!

    2. I really love the Weston Price studies. The book is a fantastic read. I know I feel a million times better with fats in my diet and that book helped me understand why. I also think the Budwig diet as well as Udo Erasmus (he wrote "Fats the heal, Fats that Kill") and created the Udo Oil 3-6-9 blend that you see at health food stores. Also the books "Know Your Fats" by Mary Enig, P.h.D. and "The Coconut Oil Miracle" by Dr. Bruce Fife. All of these books contribute to my conclusion that healthy forms of fats are crucial. :)

    3. DaNelle, I did a little more research about Weston Price, and it seems to me like Weston Price's publication is entirely different than the current Weston A. Price Foundation. (The foundation itself, seems a little corrupted, and twisted from Weston Price's original intent).

      My sister (Aimee, above) owns the book, and when I go to Utah in a few weeks, I intend to read as much as I can of it. Thank you for the suggestion.

      I love that we can have this kind of discussion, here! Love it!

  4. There are actually a few dairy farms here is South Salt Lake City that can sell raw cows milk but it is still required to go through a cleaning process and filtering. But I don't think it is boiled so much and they don't add the chemicals to it. I read a very interesting article about it a couple years ago. You have to buy it straight from the farmer and go pick it up. But how many of us would have the time to do that. I think you better buy a cow,Ashlee! you know I am teasing you......maybe I will buy a cow.....

    1. Just don't *have* a cow.....just kidding. Lame-o joke, I know.

      I've just had so many problems with dairy that I choose to stay away from it gladly now. It's been the cause of years and years of issues. I'm pretty convinced that cows milk was meant for baby cows, and not for me.

      Reading, "The China Study," also really helped me to understand better the science behind choosing to not consume animal products/protein.

      You don't need to be vegan to be healthy, or make healthy choices, I will be the first one to admit that! But I have just found that vegan works best for me in terms of trying to get as many health benefits as possible.

      I have grown to really love it. Even if I die just as soon as I would if I were omnivore, I just find that it works for me. I think we each have to figure out what works for us, and do it. Find out what makes us feel awesome, and then choose it. And that is definitely an individual choice, that's the beauty of it. I just like finding recipes that share that common ground of seeking better health -- recipes that anyone can make and love. No matter what their eating choices are.

  5. i really do think I am horribly allergic to yeast