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.

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.

Tzatziki

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Flipping through the food folds of memory, I came across an old friend. Back when I was in college at the University of Minnesota, I met a Greek woman who was working on her PhD in physics. Following the custom of international friends in my family, I invited her to spend Christmas with us. We shared the Minnesota culinary custom of eating Wild Rice Casserole for Christmas dinner, and she taught us to eat Tzatziki and drink Ouzo. We eventually lost touch with each other, but her friendship is still alive in this light, refreshing and very versatile sauce. I love to serve this with warmed pita bread as a simple appetizer, it can be used to top spicy Indian dishes like a chutney, and is great as a light salad dressing.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 medium English cucumber peeled

Pinch kosher salt

1 clove garlic

1 tsp. olive oil

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

5 to 6 mint leaves

Directions: Peel cucumber and chop into 1-inch pieces. Put all ingredients in food processor and zing.

Fennel and Rosemary Pesto

Fennel and Rosemary Pesto


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I never know what to do with the abundance of feathery fennel frond. I’ve often used a little chopped up in a salad, or a few sprinkles on a sandwich, but I always end up feeding most of the fennel fronds to the composter. Today I decided to make a pesto from it. I like that licorice flavor and thought it might pair nicely with the Onion and Fennel Galette I made. I didn’t want it to become too rich, so I left out any nuts and only used parmesan and garlic.

Ingredients:

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

4 cups fennel fronds

olive oil

4 cloves garlic

1/4 cup parmesan

Directions:

Throw it in the food processor. Add oil until you reach a creamy consistency. Nada Mas.