Cranberry Carrot Salad with Lemon and Honey

carrot-salad (14) 

cranberry carrot salad photo by vsimon

Do you need a super quick crunchy salad? Perfect for dinner, or a brown bag lunch?

The simplest recipes are often the best. If you are short on time and just want the recipe, skip the middle and go to the bottom of the post. That is the simplest way. You could be eating this in five minutes.

But keep reading if you want info on the ingredients.

Carrots

If you buy shredded carrots, this mixes up in just a few minutes. Sweet, tart, and lively lemon flavor.

I like to keep a bag on hand. They hold up well, and are easy additions to soups, green salads, and even muffins.

Organic carrots

We can get shredded organic carrots in our market. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) website publishes a list of produce that has the highest, and lowest levels of pesticides.

The Dirty Dozen is the most likely to have high levels, and EWG recommends you by these items organic. EWG also publishes the Clean 15, produce that is least likely to have high pesticide levels. Buying organic doesn’t matter so much here.

You can print a wallet sized reference to take with you to the store. Carrots are #11 on the Dirty Dozen list.

Cranberries

Does a cranberry a day keep the doctor away? No, you probably need to eat  more than one. But a serving a day offers many health benefits.

Lemons

I like to use organic lemons because I am using the outside, the part that would be sprayed with pesticides. Organic lemons are smaller than regular lemons, so you might need two here.

Also, organic lemons are not waxed. According the The World’s Healthiest Foods web site, sometimes the wax is mixed with casein, a protein in milk. This would be a very low amount, but might be important to know if you have a severe milk allergy.

Lemon Zest

At my house, if a dish has fresh lemon juice, it has zest too.  I never miss the happy opportunity to inhale the fresh scent of lemon zest. You can smell it across the room, but it is even better right under your nose.

A microplane makes swift work of zesting the peel. Personally, I don’t measure the zest and use all of it, from the whole lemon. As you probably can guess, I can’t get too much lemon zest.

If you are using a different tool to zest, be sure to catch just the outer yellow rind. The white pith is unpleasantly bitter.

Cranberry Carrot Salad

serves 4 metric measures
4 cups shredded carrots 360 gm
½ cup dried cranberries 75 gm
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 45 ml
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest weightless?
2 tablespoons honey 30 ml

Stir it all together until it glistens.

Serve right away if you like chewy cranberries.

Store in the fridge and serve the next day if you like plump, soft cranberries.

BTW, lemon juice is a good source of citrate. Helpful to prevent kidney stones. Maybe a lemon a day keeps the doctor away too.

PS I am changing the subject now. This is so cool! Bon Appetit magazine is holding a blogger Holiday Bake-Off. I have entered Pumpkin Custard, Hold the Dairy. Wouldn’t you love to see a gluten free, dairy free winner?

There are several categories, including cakes, pies, custards, cookies, more. If you are a blogger, add your creations at BA Holiday Bake-Off.

Everyone can vote for your favorite in each category. I would be honored to receive your vote.

Sorghum Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chips

sorghum banana muffin

sorghum banana muffin photo by vsimon

Oh, these are big and beautiful. These muffins are adapted from a recipe for banana bread with chocolate chips.

Now it is gluten free, dairy free, and whole grain.

Banana pure makes them very moist and tender, not crumbly. And they hold well in the fridge without getting dry.

Vince says (always) that he would prefer some banana chunks, not all blended up. That suggestion (always) causes me to make faces. Banana chunks are just too slippery for me. He will have to make his own if he wants chunks. He (always) knows this.

I use dark brown sugar because it has more antioxidants than many other sweeteners. To me, 1 cup of dark brown sugar overwhelms the banana flavor, adding a molasses undertone. But most people like their muffins very sweet. And these are plenty sweet.

Some people (me) would be happy with less, say 3/4 cup of sugar. The ripeness of the bananas impacts the sweetness too. The riper they are, the sweeter they are. This is a great place to use bananas that are getting really soft, spotty, and fragrant.

The demerara sugar topping is fun. But it is optional. Demerara sugar is washed raw cane sugar, in big crunchy crystals.

sorghum banana muffin

nice tender texture photo by vsimon

Sorghum Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chips

makes 12 metric measures
3 large very ripe bananas, peeled 500 gm
¼ cup canola oil 60 ml
1 large egg 50 gm
2 cups sorghum flour 250 gm
1 tsp xanthan 4 gm
1 cup dark brown sugar, or less 200 gm
1 1/2 tsp baking powder 6 gm
½ tsp salt 4 gm
¼ cup chocolate chips 40 gm
2 tablespoons demerara sugar, optional 25 gm

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put bananas, oil and egg in a blender and process until smooth.

In a large bowl, mix flour, xanthan, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Pour blended bananas into the flour mixture. Stir until smooth.

Allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the xanthan to rehydrate. The batter will get thicker.

Put papers in muffins tins.

Stir the chocolate chips into the batter.

Evenly divide the batter into the muffin papers. Sprinkle generously with demerara sugar.

Bake for 30 minutes. It really does take this long.

PS I love banana muffins, but will not eat a raw banana. Most people just cannot understand that. I say, everyone doesn’t like something. For me, it is raw bananas. Do you love them? Or turn them into treats?

PPS Your opinion counts! Please see the poll in the sidebar and vote for the 3 topics you would most like to see in video cooking classes.

Mexican Meatball Soup

mexican-meatball-soup

Mexican meatball soup photo by vsimon

Soup for supper? This soup is hearty enough. Garnish with diced avocado and serve with cornbread or corn chips. Ah, comfort food.

Keep it simple

This was a tasty recipe as written. But I simplified it a bit, using a convenience ingredient available in the freezer section. It is a diced blend of onion, celery and sweet pepper.

I use it all the time to cut down on chopping (ha-ha). If you love the meditative rhythm of chopping, you can use 3 cups total of diced raw onion, celery and bell pepper. Any combination will do.

Keep it healthy

Super lean ground beef works well here. These little meatballs made with cornmeal are so tender. No need for greasy high fat ground meat. So I omitted the ground pork found in the original recipe.

And I subbed cooked whole grain brown rice for the white rice. I always cook this in a pressure cooker because it is fast and easy. It may be time to make friends with one.

Or, if you are not ready to make that first step yet, you can cook a batch of brown rice on the stovetop. Cool, and freeze some to add later to soups like this. It can go right from the freezer into the soup pot.

Keep it gluten free

Read the label on the salsa if you buy it instead of make it yourself. Most are gluten free, but check.

Mexican Meatball Soup with Rice and Cilantro

Adapted from a recipe on epicurious.com by Jill Cole of Fallbrook, California.

Servings: 6 to 8 supper servings.

Ingredients metric measures
10 oz frozen chopped onions/ celery/ pepper blend 300 gm
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1 gm
3 cups water                                  720 ml
1 28-ounce canned or jarred diced tomatoes in juice 800 gm
1 pound lean ground beef .5 kg
6 tablespoons yellow cornmeal 55 gm
1/4 cup liquid, milk or water 60 ml
1 large egg 50 gm
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1 gm
1 1/2 cup cooked brown rice ? Can you tell me?
1/2 cup chunky tomato salsa 120 ml
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro 20 gm

salt and pepper to taste 

diced avocado to garnish, optional                       

Preparation

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion blend and garlic. Sauté 5 minutes.

Add water and tomatoes with juices. Bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, make meatballs. Combine ground beef, cornmeal, liquid, egg, salt, pepper, and cumin, in a medium bowl. Mix well.

Shape meat mixture into little ½” balls. Add meatballs to simmering soup as you shape each one. Gently stir occasionally to keep them from clumping together.

Cover and simmer until meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. 

Add cooked rice, salsa, and most of the cilantro. Save a bit of cilantro for a garnish if you like.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

We like thick soups, but you can add additional water to desired consistency. Cook a bit longer if needed to warm it up.

Pour into soup bowls and garnish with diced avocado.

Leftovers? Heat them up in the morning and put in a thermos for lunch.

New info on rice

Arsenic in some rice? Really? Darn! Do I need to be concerned?

Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, writes a blog called Living Gluten Free at diet.com. Tricia is an expert on gluten free ingredients and labeling. A recent post is called Gluten-Free Diet, Arsenic, and Rice.

As noted in Tricia’s post, cooking rice in large volumes of low arsenic water and draining off the water can lower the arsenic content of the finished rice. See a scientific abstract at ScienceDirect titled Arsenic burden of cooked rice: Traditional and modern methods.

Bottom line: I am not overly concerned about the levels of arsenic in rice. I will continue to enjoy whole grain rices. And I will continue to cook it in a pressure cooker without lots of extra water. But my diet is not based on rice or rice flour.

Enjoy the large variety of gluten free ingredients, don’t get stuck on just a few. There are many gluten free whole grains and flours to choose from.

And in this recipe, you can omit the rice if you like. The soup will not be as thick, it will still be tasty.