Mango Zucchini Salad with “Faux” Parmesan (Raw)
I’ve been inspired by Fully Raw Christina’s Fully Raw Mango Avocado Salad to make a Twirly Bites Mango Zucchini Salad. Her recipe is simple but fantastic, with spiralized zucchinis as the noodle base and the sauce composed of mangoes, avocados, and a touch of rosemary. I ditched the creamy avocados and rosemary, and instead opted for a low-fat creamy chia seed base, added a touch of citrus with lemon juice, and of course pumped iron into this with molasses and thickened it up with dates. Hmmm, come to think of it, the only common element of our recipes are the mangoes and the raw zucchinis, haha. And – this probably goes without saying, but this is a pretty sweet dressing, but some of the sweetness is cut out with the chia seed pudding. All in all, this mango zucchini salad is light and refreshing.
The high iron mango dressing in this recipe has 4 special nutritional features that I want to give some love to:
- it is fully raw (great for optimal nutrition)
- molasses (used as a sweetener, thickener, and source of iron)
- dates (used as a sweetener and a thickener)
- faux parmesan (dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free cheese alternative – any guesses what it is!?)
- chia seed gel (used as the base and a thickener)
Keep reading for more information…
Raw food is admittedly a very small portion of my diet, but something I intend to eat more of – especially with my spiralizer! Raw food is most nutritionally dense, yet another perk to add to my growing list of benefits of spiralizing. There is a lot of debate about the right way to cook zucchini noodles (in particularly when it comes to boiling) – but if you eat them raw, we totally eliminate that issue altogether, woohoo! Raw zoodles tend to be a little bitter, but I find this sauce softens the noodles and masks the bitterness. If you’re new to cooking zucchini noodles, be sure to check out the Twirly Bites reference page on spiralized zucchini noodles!
As a dairy free, meat-free, and plant based high source of iron, blackstrap molasses is truly an incredible ingredient to cook with. I’ll be the first to admit, molasses slips through the cracks in my kitchen and I seem to “binge eat” molasses; I’ll add it into my cooking every day for a week, and then somehow forget about it until a month has gone by. Nevertheless, it most often shows up in my smoothies as a quick iron fix! Especially useful at that time of month… ladies, y’know what I mean?
1 tablespoon (22g, 60 calories) of blackstrap molasses has 15% of the recommended daily iron intake, which is pretty good considering how easy it is to squeeze a few tablespoons of molasses over the course of a day. This is groundbreaking for vegans and vegetarians – in just 6.6 tablespoons of molasses, you can have your daily intake of iron! Now there’s an argument for veganism!
One of the ingredients in this sauce is dates – which I love using as both a thickener and a sweetener in blender recipes. I had to double check and brush up on whether dates are technically considered raw. In case you’re wondering, the verdict is that they are indeed raw if dried under the right circumstances. According to Living-Foods.Com, to be considered raw, food has to be processed under 118 degrees Fahrenheit and depending on how it is prepared, dried food is often cooked to temperatures of 200 degrees Fahrenheit! Dates, however, are often sun dried – so, provided you source your dates properly, then yes this is technically a raw recipe! Pheuf, I’m in the clear!
If you’re wondering by now what the fluffy white stuff is on every photo, it’s “FAUX PARMESAN!” This will knock your socks off. Any guesses what it is?
Faux Parmesan = ground almonds!
You may have already seen me profess my love on instagram for this deceptively delightful way to fake cheese on a meal – in a totally soy-free, nut-free, dairy-free way! Ground almonds! Who would have thought! It’s going on everything this week, I’ve got ground almonds coming out the wazoo! 3 tablespoons of ground almonds have 6g of protein in them… which isn’t a lot, but it all adds up!
I’m not going to lie, they don’t taste like Parmesan, but it’s the look we’re after, not the flavor. If you want to add a cheesey flavor to a dish in a soy free, nut free, and dairy-free way, just use nutritional yeast. I smell an April Fools prank coming up…
Chia Seed Gel…
The base of this dressing is chia seed gel! Maybe you’ve had chia seed pudding for breakfast, had chia seed jam – or maybe you’ve never cooked with it at all (in which case you’re in for a real treat – they do magic tricks I swear). I tried making this recipe without any sort of “thickener” – but it becomes more of a juice at that point. Chia seeds provide an essential creaminess to this recipe, they are used as a thickener.
Chia seeds are notorious for their low to high ratio of calories to nutrients; a nutritionally dense superfood, chia seeds are crazy low in calories, fat, and carbs but have a high fibre content and density when soaked in water. If you want to read up on chia seeds, I recommend checking out Bob’s Red Mill page on Chia Seeds. Chia seeds are definitely one of my vegan cooking staples.
What Not to Do to this Recipe
I tried adding chia seeds to the sauce directly and then blending – bad idea. Definitely follow the recipe; create chia seed/water mix (chia seed gel), and add that to the sauce, then blend. And blend well. If you don’t, you will be left with a slightly gritty dressing. Not the worst thing in the world, but you might find it offputting. And remember, don’t skip the chia seed gel. nbsp;It adds an essential creaminess. Enough said.
Treat the sauce like you would a salad dressing and serve over the zoodles last – if you pack for lunch, do not store the sauce over the zoodles. Because so much of the sauce is water based, the sauce will separate and needs to be shaken before serving.
Possible Modifications to the Recipe
- If you don’t like sweet sauces, eliminate the dates
- Serve with diced mango to add more texture
- Sprinkle nutritional yeast on top
- 3 medium zucchinis, spiralized, 3mm blade, trimmed
- 1 mango
- 3 dates
- 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- Juice of half a lemon
- 4 tablespoons water + 2 tablespoons water
- Place chia seeds and 4 tablespoons water in a bowl. Give a gentle stir and set aside for ten minutes until chia seeds have plumped up and absorbed water to create a gel.
- Once the chia seeds have absorbed the water and created a gel, add all the ingredients for the sauce into a blender. Blend on high until creamy. Taste test - if there are any granules, continue to blend until completely smooth.
- Pour dressing over raw zucchini noodles. Eat immediately.
- Store mango dressing separately; pour onto zucchini noodles once ready to consume salad.