Fresh Cranberry Salad Dressing

‘Tis the season, for fresh cranberries.

Are you craving a bright, lite, and healthy dressing to perk up your greens? Look no further.

fresh cranberry salad dressing

fresh cranberry salad dressing photo by vsimon

This one is simple, gluten free, fat free, low cal, packed with flavor and nutrition.

It can be sugar free too. I have successfully made it with Splenda for clients that want that. And I think your choice of sweetener, whatever it is, would work. Go ahead, give a go. And please let us know.

The cranberries give it wonderful body. This is a stick to your greens dressing. Not a slide to the bottom of the plate dressing.

Cranberry Salad Dressing

yield: about 1 cup metric measures
1 cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries 100 gm
3/4 cups water 180 ml
1/4 cup sugar 50 gm
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 30 ml
1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon to taste (it is less than 1 gm)

In a small saucepan, cook everything but the tarragon. Heat until all the berries plop apart and the sauce thickens.

Put dressing into a small bender and puree until smooth.

Add tarragon.

The dressing thickens a bit as it cools. When it is completely cool, stir in 1 or 2 tablespoons of water if you like it thinner.

Refrigerate leftovers, they keep for several weeks.

Serving suggestions

Skip the marshmallows and drizzle over mashed sweet potatoes. Oh, that is radical!

Or top a salad of fresh spinach and shredded chicken or turkey. And chewy dried cranberries, crisp apple slices, and crunchy walnuts.

What are your ideas?

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.

S is for Sorghum

Sorghum is my new favorite all purpose gluten free flour. I cannot use it straight up to replace wheat flour in every recipe. But it works in many. I also like that my regular grocery store stocks it now, it is not crazy expensive, it is easy to work with, and it’s whole grain. It is not a nutritional super food, but it sure beats refined starches.

Sorghum flour is successful in pancakes (recipe below), waffles, muffins, piecrust, and fruit crisp toppings. The flavor has some natural sweetness. And I am in love with sorghum syrup, which is made from sorghum stalks. They look and stand tall just like corn stalks.

Pancakes with sorghum syrup, fruit and a sprinkling of nuts for dinner is true comfort food for me. If you have sorghum flour on hand, you probably have the other essential ingredients in your pantry. 100% sorghum flour pancakes are a great introduction to sorghum.

I do make a special trip to the health food store to by 6 jars of syrup at time. It is thicker and not as sweet as pure maple syrup. Perfect for my taste. A mix of sorghum syrup and corn syrup is available in my regular grocery store. But I don’t want the corn syrup part. Just 100% sorghum syrup please.

My “go to” recipe for pancakes includes buttermilk, nice thick buttermilk. But I do not always have it so I substitute soured milk with tasty results.

Please notice, I use soured milk, not spoiled milk. You simply add a tablespoon of acid, like lemon juice or vinegar, to a measuring cup. Then add milk to the one-cup line. Stir and allow to sit for a few minutes and you will notice the milk curdles. That is soured milk.

Right now, there are many posts and comments in the blogosphere regarding the safety of distilled vinegar. Please see Gluten Free NYC and Tricia Thompson’s blog post on There is a simple solution if you choose not to use distilled vinegar, use lemon juice. You get a similar tart flavor, acid and no gluten.

I used cows’ milk, but you could try this with other kinds of milk. Goat, hemp, nut, rice or soy. I am interested to know if you try any of these and how you like the results. The lower protein milks probably will not curdle. But you still need to add the acid to make the baking soda fizz and raise up the pancakes.

The finished soured milk pancakes are a bit thinner than the buttermilk version. And the batter itself thinned while I was cooking the pancakes. The first pancakes cooked up evenly round. The later, thinner batter made scalloped pancakes that looked a bit like pretty flower petals. They all tasted great.

sour-milk-sorghum-pancake photo by vsimon

Sour Milk Sorghum Pancakes with Sorghum Syrup and Blueberries

Serves 2                                               Metric measures

1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar       15 ml  

   (not malt or flavored vinegar)

nearly 1 cup milk                                   225 ml

2/3 cup sorghum flour                           75 gm

1 teaspoon sugar                                  5 gm

1 teaspoon baking soda                         4 gm

½ teaspoon salt                                    3 gm

1 egg                                                    1

2 tablespoons oil                                   30 ml

1 cup blueberries                                   130 gm

sorghum syrup

Measure lemon juice or vinegar into a one cup liquid measuring cup. Add milk to the 1-cup line. Stir and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, soda, and salt.

In a small bowl whisk together soured milk, egg, and oil.

Add milk mixture to flour mixture, whisk until smooth.


stirring-out-the-lumps-in-sour-milk-sorghum-pancake-batter photo by vsimon

Preheat griddle and oil it. Ladle enough batter onto the griddle to make a 3-4” pancake. Do not make them too big, or they will be very hard to flip. Drop blueberries onto the batter. Cook until bubbles form on the surface. Flip and cook a few minutes more.

Adding the blueberries to the batter on the griddle evenly distributes the berries, and keeps the color of the pancakes lovely. Stirring the blueberries into the batter in the bowl can make the pancakes an unappealing grayish blue. This is a bigger problem with frozen berries as they thaw.

sourmilk (13)

sorghum-pancake-with-blueberries photo by vsimon

Sorghum has also saved the day for gluten free beer. Beer with pancakes?  Ick. No, I usually have tea or milk. I do not drink much beer so I cannot comment on sorghum beer. Other than, I think it is cool that it is available.

What wonderful things have you made with any type of sorghum?

Update 8-30-2009  This post was entered into the Slightly Indulgent Monday kick off blog event, started by Amy Green of  Simply Sugar and Gluten Free. The whole grain sorghum flour and the rich syrup make this slightly indulgent. I can’t wait to see what else is entered!