Low Carb Green Goddess Dressing

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I recently heard from a friend who told me that her husband had gastric bypass surgery as a way to deal with both diabetes and kidney disease. Wow! This is a tricky combination because not only does he now need to lower his carb intake, but protein as well. Most successful diets depend on the “Lean and Green” approach meaning increase protein, lots of low-glycemic veggies and no carbs from grains or sugars. According to website Obesity Coveragepatients who have gastric bypass surgery are encouraged to eat small amounts of protein throughout the day. Eggs, skim milk, chicken and protein shakes are recommended in the Gastric Bypass Diet Guide. But, if one also has concerns for the kidneys, proteins need to be decreased a bit.

According to the Nephron Information Center, Americans consume over 100 grams of protein a day which is more than double what our bodies require. Excess protein in the body puts the kidneys to work – overtime! For a person with kidney disease, they still need protein to ensure good health, but a lot less. A 200-pound man only needs a little over 50 grams of protein a day and a 150-pound woman about 40. High Biologic Value foods (HBV) have about 7 grams of protein per ounce. These are the foods that come from animals and are a complete source of the essential amino acids and cause the least waste. A person with kidney disease needs just a couple of grams fewer than recommended, but enough to keep the body functioning. I would suspect that for gastric bypass patients on a low-calorie diet, the body will tap into the protein for energy and malnutrition is a risk. This is all very complicated!

So, what do you eat if you can only have small amounts of food that are low carb and low protein? Well, that got me thinking about my dressings, slathers and dips. Personally, I am happy with lots of low-glycemic veggies if I can top them with full-flavored foods like herbs, garlic and onions. My post gastric bypass friend is probably too sensitive to these intense foods right now, but hopefully eventually, he can enjoy foods with BIG herbal plant-based flavor.

Most of my salad dressings rely on raw honey to create that fabulously luscious combination of fat, salt and sweet that can quickly lead to weight gain if the daily carb load is too high. So, in the spirit of cutting out a bit of the carb from the dressings, I thought I would try using tofu to create a creamy herbal concoction.

The garden is brimming with cilantro and basil, and with the scapes I still have in the fridge, “Green Goddess” was on the docket today. This recipe makes about 1 pint of dressing/dip. I served it on a mixed green salad, but it would make a great dip for carrot sticks, celery sticks, cucumbers or roasted potato wedges. It would also be a flavorful sandwich spread.

Ingredients:

  • 7 ounces tofu
  • 1 large bunch cilantro
  • 1 large handful fresh basil
  • 5 garlic scapes or 2 cloves raw garlic
  • 1 Tbs. lemongrass (optional)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • dash of salt

Directions: Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy.

 

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Mint, Lemon and Garlic Scape Dressing

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Garlic scapes are the delightful necessity of the garlic plant. In order to transfer energy to storage in the bulb, we humans stop the reproductive process of the plant. The garlic is making seed in the scapes, and if we steal these delicacies, we also benefit from a generous garlic bulb. I only know this because I am the dwarf in the garden, “standing the shoulders of giants!” Some smart grower discovered this manipulation of nature, and now we all benefit! After cutting the scapes, growers let the garlic bulbs bulk up for about two weeks before digging. Once the garlic is out of the garden, I will hang it to cure in the barn for a few weeks, sort by size to keep the biggest for next year’s crop, and begin to the cloves it into my other summer favorite garlic recipe: Chimichurri!

 

Most people who try garlic scapes love them. In terms of texture, they are a solid juicy vegetable that even veggie haters can enjoy. And, yes, they taste like garlic, only more mild in flavor. There is no prick of heat that raw garlic bulbs give off. These can be munched raw, roasted or turned into any variety of pesto or salad dressing without any intense garlic off-putting. It’s unlikely that garlic scapes will function as well as garlic bulbs for a vampire deterrent.

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Since our garden is not only giving generous quantities of garlic scapes but lettuce and mint as well, I decided salad dressing would be the next scape recipe. As you all know by now, I am the jazz musician in the kitchen riffing on this, mixing in a little Doo Wah Diddy and throwing in a little Ella Scat for my final notes. In other words, I will give you the approximations for ingredients and then expect you to build your own composition. The key to salad dressing is the balance between acidity, salt, sweet and oil. You want it to zip and glide to give a full-mouth pleasurable sense. Jazz it up until that is achieved!

Ingredients:

  • 6 garlic scapes
  • 2 large handfuls fresh spearmint leaves – (Idea: add other herbs like dill, fennel, arugula, basil, oregano)
  • 2 lemons zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic (or any white wine or champagne) vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Directions:

Use a blender. Put all of these ingredients into the blender and zing on high until the dressing begins to look creamy. Taste. Adjust. Enjoy.

It’s the LITTLE Things in Life – Dill, Arugula and Mint

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My garden is still little. We had an early spring, but I got it in late. What do you make when you barely have lettuce, but the dill, mint and arugula are jammin’? You make a dressing, vinaigrette, or a dip sort of thingy, because the amount of ingredients needed is LITTLE, but the flavors are HUGE!

Seriously, you need to make this – or something like this – it’s very jazzy, meaning you can riff on it all you want! You have herbs, make this stuff! All you do is throw your junk in the blender, emulsify and enjoy. It’s the little things, the easy things, these things that make life so grand.

What do you do with this stuff? It can be salad dressing, marinade, a topping for grilled anything, a pasta sauce a chip dip, or straight from the jar if you think it’s ice cream! I would say it’s better than ice cream, but probably has the same fat percentage…a total yum job, but with a few enzymes and vitamins to help stave off guilt!

Here’s what I found out in yonder huge, but TINY garden: Dill

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New spring – green – shallots,

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Yuerba Buena – the good mint!

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Now, I am going to make you really mad at this point, because I basically just threw it all in the blender with a dash of this and a splash of that. Remember, it’s Jazz. You can do it! My measurements are approximate because I didn’t measure anything, but I know, if you have confidence, your herb dip will turn out great!

Ingredients:

  • 2 shallots
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced into the dip
  • 2 pinches of salt (taste to decide!)
  • 1 large handful arugula
  • 1 large handful dill weed
  • 3 large sprigs of mint with the leaves removed from stems
  • 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (this is where I am fuzzy on measurement- just pour it in so that the ingredients come together in the blender without and pushing or prodding.)

Directions:  Place all the ingredients in the blender and pulse until blended. Then taste to see if you need a little more salt. (Hopefully, you don’t need less!) If it was hard to blend, add more oil. Look at the picture above until you get it to look like that – Jazz!

 

 

Honey Balsamic Dressing

This is the salad dressing we serve on arugula to top the pizzas. It’s is a crowd pleaser. It’s a great all-purpose dressing that tastes great with any green, can be used on sandwiches or as a bread dip for appetizers.

I make this in a large bottle and store it in the pantry – no need to refrigerate. Makes approximately one quart.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 3 tsp. salt

Strawberry Vinaigrette

One of the sweetest treats delivered by our CSA this summer – diminutive, fresh and utterly perfect – strawberries! With a box full of veggies screaming “Chop Salad!” the strawberries seemed the perfect match to the fresh crispness of the greens.This could be the “red” part of your Fourth of July weekend!

Strawberry Vinaigrette

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Lemon Walnut Dressing

The inspiration for this came to me from the most recent issue of Food and Wine. Of course I changed the recipe a bit and left it in the food processor too long, but it worked out great for the Salad Petite Bouquet concept I had. It would be a great bottom-of-the-plate dressing for a roasted vegetable salad, or a wonderful dip for a crudite platter. The fresh lemon gives it a nice kick and the walnuts, a rich satisfying texture.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1 small shallot, quartered and roasted
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

The walnuts can be toasted in a 425 degree oven for about ten minutes, or over a flame in a dry pan. Either way, you want to make sure to move the walnuts around a little so they don’t burn or they will become bitter. Once they are toasted, let them cool on the counter for awhile.

If you choose to toast the walnuts in the over, throw the shallot into a shallow baking dish to roast until it begins to brown on the edges. Let the shallot cool as well.

Once the walnuts and shallots have cooled, pulse all the ingredients together in a food processor and add salt and pepper to taste. I used perhaps 1/4 tsp. of salt, but you may prefer more or less.

The Beet Goes On

After all those beets last summer, the last thing I expected to crave mid-winter was the flavor of the ruby-red tuber. It’s true. As of late, I’ve been pining, dreaming and in a constant state of agitation every time hunger strikes. To make matters worse, last weekend I bought a very noisy pomegranate. Every time I opened the fridge, there it was peeking at me through the crisper drawer  shouting, “BEETS! BEETS! BEETS! I want to eat BEETS!”

Fortunately, there was an easy solution to this incessant craving. In the freezer was one lonely container labeled, “Beet Bruschetta – Sept. ’09. Add feta and mint.” I decided to thaw it out and run it through the blender. I did not add the feta or mint although mint would be lovely. I did add a little more raspberry vinegar and olive oil to thin it out a bit, and then warmed it. Since it’s thicker than a traditional salad dressing, I thought it would present itself more appropriately on the bottom of the plate. The greens, cukes, thinly sliced onions and pomegranate seeds float on top.  Entonces, last summer’s Beet Bruschetta became today’s warmed beet vinaigrette, and those darn little pomegranate seeds had a fun ride on top. Now we’re both happy, and the salad –  a perfect mid-winter jewel.

To make this warmed beet vinaigrette, follow the above link to Beet Bruschetta.  Make the recipe, but leave out the feta cheese and then add about 1/4 cup more vinegar and 1/2 cup olive oil. Puree in a blender.

Spanish Lesson: Entonces means So.