V is for Vinaigrette

Vinaigrette, a sauce made with vinegar. And often with oil, but not always. Wait a minute, is vinegar gluten free?

Mostly, yes.

vinegar (4a)

orange-vinaigrette  peanut-butter-vinaigrette and crystal-vinaigrette photo by vsimon

Distilled white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and white rice vinegar are commonly available in the U.S. and gluten free.

Malt vinegar is made from barely, not distilled, and is not gluten free.

Tricia Thompson thoroughly reviews vinegar and gluten on her Living Gluten Free blog.

Vinegar Nutrition Science

Vinegar has two notable nutritional properties.

#1. Numerous scientific studies have shown that eating vinegar with high carbohydrate meals lowers blood sugar and insulin response after the meal.

So many gluten free products are loaded with highly refined starches. Switching to whole grains helps improve blood sugar. Maybe you have noticed that recipes posted here are likely to be whole grain. Simply adding vinegar to a meal also helps.

#2. You will feel full longer after a meal that contains vinegar. This can be important if you are trying to watch your weight and eat less.

Kinds of vinegar

Rice vinegar has the mildest flavor. You can buy it plain or seasoned. Sugar and salt are added to the seasoned variety. Plain white rice vinegar is the most useful, you can add sugar and salt as needed.

Golden hued apple cider vinegar tastes slight fruity.

Clear distilled white vinegar is a bit harsher in flavor, and is super inexpensive. The lack of color makes it versatile and other ingredients can mellow the flavor.

There are other vinegars worth trying too. Balsamic is dark, sweet and syrupy. Sherry vinegar is complex and potent, a little goes a long way. Both of these can be expensive, but worth it. Bottles of each are waiting in my fridge right now, to be splashed on garden veggies or to perk up a pan sauce.

Today we have three easy vinaigrettes to suit every taste. You can pass on the readymade stuff in the store. These take only minutes to make and cost just pennies. Adjust the recipes to your tastes. Feel free to substitute rice vinegar in any recipe where you want mild flavor. Or add more vinegar for a puckery zip.

Crystal Dressing

¼ cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar, Splenda or honey

¼ cup canola oil or walnut oil

In a small bowl, mix rice vinegar and sweetener. Allow to sit for a few minutes so the sugar (if using) can dissolve. Add the oil and stir briskly. This is really a treat with walnut oil if you can get it.

We originally used this with spinach salad that included berries, toasted whole almonds, and creamy goat cheese. We had a client who loved it so much he put it on everything, really everything. Maybe that is a bit much, but it does add a sodium free sweet-sour punch to salads, grains and veggies.

Orange Mustard Salad Dressing

Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home by Deborah Madison

1/3 cup orange juice concentrate

3-4 tablespoons vinegar

2 tsp Dijon mustard

Mix it up. You can add oil if you like more calories.

There is always a supply of OJ concentrate in our freezer. It is easy to scoop out only what you need, put the lid back on it and tuck it back into the freezer.

Top mixed grain and veggie salads with this bright tangy dressing. For example, add Orange Mustard Salad dressing to a mix of quinoa, sweet yellow pepper, shredded carrot and thin sliced red onions.

Peanut Butter Dressing

¼ cup sugar, Splenda, or honey

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons peanut butter

Mix it up. I like to do this in a mini blender, it is a bit quicker and smoother. If you are doing it by hand, hot water helps the peanut butter mix in.

This also thickens slightly when it is stored in the fridge. Make it ahead and it will be the right temperature and consistency.

Kids (and adults) love this on greens with sliced apples and chopped peanuts.

Do you make your own dressings? Or pickles? Please share your favorite uses for vinegar.

B is for Buckwheat

At our house, we love breakfast for dinner. And 100% buckwheat waffles are often our go to choice. I do not use 16 different flours, just buckwheat flour. No need for gums either. I adapted a popular buckwheat and wheat pancake recipe so it is now gluten free and much, much lower in fat.
You can easily make pancakes with this recipe. I just think waffles are more fun and I do not mind taking a bit of extra time at dinner. I also like to fill all the little holes with tasty toppings. These buckwheat waffles are light and fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside. Please do not let the color of the raw batter alarm you. It is gray with black specks. But it browns nicely as it cooks.
Like many whole foods, buckwheat is a nutrition powerhouse. One-half cup of flour is about 200 calories, only 2 grams fat, 6 grams fiber, and 7 grams high quality protein. It offers a wide range of nutrients. Notably, thiamin, niacin, B6, iron, copper, magnesium and manganese.
Best Buckwheat Buttermilk Waffles
Adapted from Buttermilk Pancakes ll at AllRecipes
Serves 2
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
2 tablespoons oil
Preheat waffle maker. And preheat oven to 150 degrees, or the lowest setting.
Mix dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl.
Mix liquid ingredients (buttermilk though oil) a medium bowl. Add to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
My waffle maker makes two 4.5 inch square Belgium waffles. Belgium waffles are thicker than standard waffles. I put one third of the batter into the maker three times. You might put more or less batter in at a time. Try not to overfill the wells or the batter will ooze out and make a big aggravating mess.
Cook waffles until steam no longer comes from the waffle machine. As each waffle is done, place in oven, right on the bare rack. This keeps them crispy.
Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer. They can be warmed in the toaster on a medium setting.
My favorite way to serve them is with some chocolate chips on top, all nice and melty. Then raspberry sauce, which are simply pureed berries from our garden that we freeze to use all year round. And some syrup, either sorghum or maple. Wow, what a treat.
The Worlds Healthiest Foods reports that regularly eating buckwheat helps control blood sugar. And it lowers total serum cholesterol, reduces LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), and improves the ratio of HDL (the good kind) to total cholesterol. Not bad for a silly looking seed.
Despite the wheat name, buckwheat is gluten free. The triangle shaped seeds are called groats, or kasha if they are roasted. Buckwheat is important in eastern European and Chinese cuisine. Today we feature a central European delight, Belgium waffles. You can also make simple All-American pancakes with the same recipe.