Healthier Asian-style dressings for your salads and vegetables

It’s no secret we love Asian flavours in our recipes, especially dressings. Today we’re sharing a bit about our fave oils and Asian-style dressings!

Fat may be calorie dense, but it’s also one of the most important things we can put into our bodies. Our brain depends on adequate fat intake to ensure it’s working at its best, keeping cognitive function high. Not only this, fat plays an essential part in keeping our hormones, metabolism, membranes and reproductive system in check.

Vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as antioxidants lycopene and beta-carotene are all fat-soluble, which means you need fats in your diet to be able to absorb these. As you can see, fat is pretty useful!

Olive oils
Olives are a rich source of healthy, mono-unsaturated fats whilst remaining low in saturated fats. Olive oil is the juice of an olive once pressed, and extra-virgin is the most unrefined form of olive oil. The speed of pressing, variety of olive and freshness of the oil all play a part in the level of nutrients and flavour. Extra-virgin olive oil and olives are the main source of fat in the Mediterranean diet, which has shown to aid weight control and heart health.

Top tip: Aim to use a bottle of extra-virgin olive oil within 4-6 weeks of opening for freshness. For this reason, the smaller sized bottles are a great option.

High Quality canola and rapeseed oils – such as Good Oil
Canola and rapeseed oil, both from the rapeseed plant, can get a bad rap from time to time, however these oils aren’t all bad. Firstly, they’re great for cooking with or making dressings, as their flavour profile is neutral and they are more heat stable than olive oil so can be used in more cooking applications.

Beyond this, they actually have a higher ratio of mono-unsaturated fatty acids to poly-unsaturated fatty acids, which is considered the most beneficial ratio for our health. They also have the least amount of saturated fats of all the vegetable oils (e.g. soybean, sunflower, rice bran oil). Cold pressed versions of these oils also retain more nutrients, much like cold pressed olive oil. The World Health Organisation recommends moderate use of canola and rapeseed oils as a part of a healthy diet.

Sesame Oil 
Sesame oil delivers the flavour! Even just a drop of this oil gives a delicious nutty taste and aroma to dishes, perfect for Asian cooking. Sesame oil isn’t produced as largely as other oils due to the difficulty in the harvesting process for the seeds. This said, due to it’s bold flavour it also isn’t typically used for standard cooking methods or in large volumes in dishes. 

The fatty acid composition of sesame oil is mostly poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, and contains comparable amounts of saturated fats with olive oil. When used in moderation, sesame oil can be enjoyed as a part of a healthy, balanced diet. 


Our fave Asian-style dressings

Tahini Dressing

This dressing is great with slaw or lashed over steamed broccoli. It’s also great with vermicelli salad!

  • 1 Tbsp tahini paste
  • 2 tsp vinegar (e.g. rice wine, apple cider)
  • ½ tsp honey
  • Juice 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp water
  1. Mix together all tahini dressing ingredients in a bowl. Season.

Lime Mango Dressing

Add a tangy and tropical touch to your next salad with this simple dressing! Perfect combo with grilled chicken or tofu.

  • ¾ mango, diced
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  1. Add mango, honey and lime juice to a small food processor or blender and blend on high for 1–2 minutes until smooth.

2. Just before serving, fold through oil.

3. Chill for 1–2 hours in an air-tight container or jar in the fridge, or serve immediately.

Asian Dressing

This is great with our Chinese Chicken and Cabbage Salad for lunch.

  • 3 tsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • 1½ tbsp sweet chilli sauce or runny honey
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp sesame oil (optional)
  1. Place ingredients in a jar, screw lid on tight and shake to mix all ingredients together. 

Coconut Lime Dressing

  • 1/2 cup lite coconut milk
  • 1/2 red chilli, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 spring onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp mint, thinly sliced

1. Prep dressing ingredients.

2. Make dressing. In a jar or container, mix together all dressing ingredients with 1 tsp oil or sesame oil and 1/4 tsp salt. Serve with South East Asian style salads or slaws.

Meet the Nutritionist

Emma ‘Edamame’

Our in-house nutritionist Emma ‘Edamame’ was born and bred in mid Canterbury and has the health and wellbeing of Kiwis in mind at all times. As an NZ registered nutritionist (NZ Nutrition Society) with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science from the University of Auckland, she makes sure we’re all getting our fresh dose of local veggies and our meals are full of nutritious substance – thanks for having our back Em (and our waistlines!). When it comes to New Zealand produce, Emma is a whizz, with fresh berries being her absolute fave. Intrigued to know what food this nutritionist couldn’t live without? Fresh fish and seafood, delivering on both flavour and nourishment. As well as ice cream, especially real fruit ice creams, in the summer time! Life’s all about a tasty balance, right?

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