Chocolate-Orange Vinaigrette

Salad instead of dessert? You bet! Sarah, thank you for your request, it truly inspired me and here are the results. Sarah has a sweet tooth and loves cookies but sugar in all forms are not healthy and contribute to many health problems. Even the recipes I’ve posted here on The Kitchen Twist that have some form of sugar in them I’ve been clear to point out that the health benefits of the sweetener are marginal at best. The forms of sugar I’m alluding to are: agave nectar, muscovado sugar, powdered sugar, maple syrup etc… Salad on the other hand is great to eat with seemingly endless health benefits! I recommend to eat one big salad daily if possible. I like using Sweetleaf brand stevia. Because it is less sweet than other brands it becomes more manageable to use and easily measured. If you choose to use another brand I suggest to use far less stevia.

This recipe is the first in a series of vinaigrettes that are clearly dessert inspired that I will be sprinkling among the various other posts through the spring and summer. With this vinaigrette on the salad as part of your meal, I highly doubt that dessert would even be missed!

THE TWIST

Cacao powder has more antioxidant activity than any food tested to date! In fact, it has up to four times the antioxidants found in green tea. Cacao powder is not the same as cocoa powder. The processing of cacao powder is so minimal that the nutrients are retained as opposed to being destroyed by the heat and processing associated with making cocoa powder. There is little difference between the taste and texture of the two, however, cocoa powder is generally darker in color. Raw cacao powder contains over 300 nutrients including: protein, fat, fiber, iron, magnesium and sulfur, which is considered the beauty nutrient as it helps form strong nails, silky hair, and beautiful skin. It also helps to cleanse the liver and it helps support the pancreas. Cacao powder helps us feel happy, excited, focused and alert, and causes an increase of a positive mood and decreased feelings of depression. Cacao appears to be the #1 source of magnesium of any food. Magnesium balances brain chemistry, builds strong bones, and helps regulate heartbeat and blood pressure. Magnesium deficiency, present in 80% of Americans, is linked with insomnia, anxiety, constipation, muscle spasms, difficulty swallowing, headaches high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, extreme fatigue and joint problems. This seems to be reason enough to eat more dessert inspired salads with this vinaigrette!

Nutrients in the orange peel lower high blood pressure and cholesterol and have anti-inflammatory properties. Also, studies on the vitamin C content in oranges indicate that eating a whole orange or consuming orange juice provides protective benefits far beyond simply taking a vitamin C supplement which tells scientists that there is more than meets the researchers trained eye in a humble orange.  The Vitamin C in the orange is part of a matrix involving many beneficial nutrients that work in concert with one another.

Balsamic vinegar contains antioxidant that may slow the aging process. It can also reduce the frequency of headaches, help strengthen the bones, prevent anemia and fatigue, and can help suppress appetite and therefore aid in controlling weight.

Stevia has such a negligible effect on blood glucose that it has become extremely attractive as a natural sweetener to help manage diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The wide use of stevia throughout many parts of the world has been without any apparent harmful effects and instead it helps greatly reduce cravings for sugar or sugary sweets and snacks. It is certainly an attractive option as a safe and natural sugar substitute.

Xanthan gum derives its name from a strain of bacteria and although it sounds a bit alien it is actually a completely natural product and is safe to use. This bacteria is frequently found on many fruits and vegetables. Xanthan gum works as a natural stabilizer in this vinaigrette.

Flax oil is full of omega-3 fatty acids which aid in brain and nervous system function, and can help reduce the inflammation associated with asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and migraine headaches.

Walnut oil is rich in manganese and copper, as well as melatonin, a hormone that aids in regulation of the body’s internal clock. Walnut oil also helps prevent plaque from accumulating in the blood vessels.

CHOCOLATE-ORANGE VINAIGRETTE

Zest and juice from 1/2 fresh orange (about 1/4 cup)
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 t cacao powder*
1/8 t stevia (Sweetleaf)
1/16 t xanthan gum (Bob’s Red Mill)
2 T flax oil
2 T walnut oil

Whisk the first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Combine the oils and whisk into the mixture to blend well. Serve drizzled over a salad of greens with sliced strawberries and walnuts. Serves 8. ©Janice Moreland http://thekitchentwist.com

See Sources*

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