Vegan Carrot-Ginger Salad Dressing

We have a new restaurant near us called Corelife Eatery.  It is not only gluten-free, but they serve real, live food!  What I mean by that is that there are so many vegetables available, bright and colorful, right in front of you as they put your order together.  It works similarly to Subway in that you can choose what you want to go in your salad, grain bowl, or broth bowl.  (Seriously, click on their link and check out their menu if you want new ideas to create your own new dishes!  They are amazing.)  While they mostly have meat options, they do have a vegan option in each category, as well as build-your-own options.  I tried a grain bowl the first time just as it was designed – no changes by me in line – with kale as the base, broccoli pieces, shredded beets and carrots, roasted tofu, quinoa, and more.  They topped it with a carrot-chili vinaigrette and shredded ginger on top of it all.  It was SO good!!  Like all restaurants, they aren’t necessarily cheap enough to eat supper there every day of the week, even for an eatery-style dining area.  So, what’s a girl supposed to do?  Create her own dressing, of course!  I mean, the salad part is easy enough.

Corelife made it simpler for me.  It has newspaper menus to take home that tell all about their delicious dishes and list what is in each of them.  (They are meticulous protecting you if you say you have an allergy, which is wonderful.)  The newspaper-menu also lists what is in their dressings.  Their carrot one starts with carrot juice.  Well, now, honestly, when I’m in the midst of the throes of making dinner, I’m not about to get out the juicer to squeeze a couple of carrots just for my dressing, only to have to clean up afterwards!  A food processor for shredding the beets is enough moving parts to wash.  I figured I could use a thicker dressing anyway.  Sooooooo, I threw a whole carrot into the blender with other stuff and gave it a whiz.  It was pretty good, but I forgot to write down exactly what I did…rats.

The next time, I made sure to write it down.  While this dressing works very well on any salad I have put it on, it tastes the best on red curly kale and alfalfa sprouts with shredded beets and avocado.  Anything else you add is…I hesitate to say this…icing on the cake.  (What a strange word picture to use about a salad….sorry.)  Cucumbers, red onion slices, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, olives all work very well.  For those of you who have never had raw shredded beets on a salad, you will be so surprised at how delicious it is!

This dressing is quite thick.  It sticks to the greens nicely.  If you want a thinner version, add more water and/or oil, or use smaller carrots.  Remember, dressings are really, really forgiving and you can add or subtract from the measurements as your tastes decree.  Don’t have flaxseed oil?  Substitute olive, or another healthy oil.  Love garlic?  Throw in another clove or two.  Prefer spicier dressings?  Add more sriracha.  Hate ginger?  Leave it out – it is still amazing.  Or put more in – but look out!  It will knock you off your chair!  If you want to get an extra, hidden veggie into your kids, try making a batch with half the garlic and no ginger so that they are happier with the flavor.  Let them dip whatever raw veggies they DO like into it.

I did not put salt in this recipe, because even a little bit seemed so salty to my taste.  I had crossed it out on my scribbled list, but thought that must be a mistake the second time I made it and added a few sprinkles.  Nope!  I figured everyone could add it directly to their salad if they wish for it.  You can always add a little to your blender if you wish.  I recommend starting with 1//8-1/4 tsp and tasting to see if you want more.

Carrot-Ginger Dressing

  • 2 large carrots, scrubbed or peeled, and cut into 2″ pieces
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 penny-sized slice of ginger (I used 2-3 last night and it was SO strong, but delicious)
  • 1 T. flaxseed oil
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce
  • 1-2 tsp liquid sweetener (I used raw honey, but Corelife uses agave)
  • juice of 1 lemon (you could use your favorite vinegar instead, but I’m not a fan of vinegar)
  • 6 T. water (if you use smaller carrots, use less water)

Throw it all into a high-powered blender and whiz for a minute or so.  You don’t want to go for too long, or it heats it up and destroys some of the nutrients, especially in the flaxseed oil.

Store in a small jar.  Mine fit in a re-purposed Trader Joe’s relish jar, which I would guess is about a cup.  (Don’t you love my exact measurements?  Sorry!)  It keeps in the frig at least a week, but mine never lasts longer than that before it is eaten up.  I recommend spooning it out of the jar, rather than pouring, because it is so thick, you can get more than you bargained for on your salad!

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Whole Grain Bread

love making my own bread.  Kneading the dough is so relaxing.  I made 6+ loaves weekly for my large family for years until we moved to Ohio….where my bread failed suddenly and miserably!  Think bricks.  I tried and tried to make it happen and finally gave up.  Years later I discovered why. The water where we live is extremely hard.  It is also possible that the flour I purchased was an all-purpose flour, rather than hard wheat flour, which will also cause loaves to be rather flat. Thankfully, I recently learned that adding some lemon juice to the dough fixes this problem.  I made sure to buy hard whole wheat flour this time, too.  Hallelujah!  Fresh bread again!  My family has decreased in size as the kids have gradually grown up, so I don’t make 6 loaves a week anymore.  I have to admit….it’s a WHOLE lot easier to only knead 2-4 loaves at a time!

  Homemade Whole Grain Bread

Yields 2 loaves, 8″ x 4″ (see note below)

  • 6 c. hard whole wheat flour (hard white whole wheat is even better for a sweeter loaf)
  • ½ c. dry oatmeal
  • 1 T. salt
  • 4 ½ tsp active yeast * (or 2 pkts)
  • 1-2 T. olive oil
  • ¼ c. honey or maple syrup
  • 2 ¼ c. water
  • ½-1 T. lemon juice (optional, only for if your water is quite hard)

Mix 2 c. of flour with salt in large bowl.  Set aside 1½ c. flour in a small bowl for kneading into the dough later (you probably will not use all of this flour.)  Set aside remaining 2½  c. of flour and oatmeal in yet another bowl.

In a saucepan, heat water, honey or maple syrup, oil, and lemon juice, if using, to 105-110 degrees.  Remove from heat and sprinkle yeast into the water.  Stir briefly and let rest 5 minutes, or until a little bubbly.  Pour yeast mixture into the bowl with the flour and salt.  Beat with a wooden spoon, or a whisk, until smooth and for about 1 minute longer to develop the gluten.  Let rest for 5 minutes (if using a spoon, just leave it in there.)  After that, add the remaining flour and oatmeal, mixing well.  The dough should look shaggy.  If it seems too wet still, add a handful of flour from your small bowl of kneading flour.  Dust the counter or kneading area with some of the kneading flour.  Turn out dough onto this and knead** in the remaining flour (give or take, depending on the weather and how dry the milled flour actually is this time and how accurately you measured the flours and water.)  More can be added if the dough seems extremely sticky.  Knead for 10 minutes, gradually adding a little more flour to the counter under the dough, until dough is elastic and springy.  It will slightly push back as you knead it.  If you add too much flour as you knead, the bread will come out hard; if too little is added, it will come out doughy and won’t bake well.

Let the dough sit while you wash the large mixing bowl out and spray or wipe it with olive oil.  Give the dough another knead or two and see if it bounces right back at you.  This will tell you that you kneaded it enough.  Better not enough kneading than too much!  Place the dough inside the bowl, flipping it over so that the top is coated with oil, or you can spray the dough with the oil.  Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and place in a warm (not hot!), draft-free area.  Let rise until double in size.

Oil your 8”x4” bread pans.  Punch the dough down and knead 2-3 times.  Divide the dough into 2 parts.  Form into loaves.  If there is any seam, place it bottom side down in the pan.  Slit the loaves lengthwise and spray or use pastry brush lightly coat with olive oil.  Let rise until double in size – about 1” above the pan. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.  The finished loaves will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Loosen the sides of the bread with a non-metal spatula and tip them out onto a cooling rack.

The bread slices best when it is 12-24 hours old, leaving smoother slices and less crumbs.  It can be sliced, bagged, and frozen for later use.  It keeps bagged on the counter about a week.

*If using fast or instant rise yeast, you will mix the yeast into the first mixture of flour and salt.  Heat the oil, honey, and water to 120-130 degrees.  You do not have to proof the yeast, or wait for it to dissolve in water.   Beat liquids into the dry ingredients and continue with recipe.

** Knead bread by folding the far side of the dough toward you and push down and away with the heels of your hands.  Then spin it ¼ a turn and fold over again.  Keep doing this for 10 minutes.  You can scrape excess dough off of your fingers that clings at the start and knead that into the dough as you go.  As you near the completion, you will add less and less flour to the surface beneath the dough – just enough to keep it from sticking to the counter and you.  It will change texture and turn from a slight messy shaggy heap into a ball, and finally into a tighter ball of smooth, elastic dough, which will spring back at you as you knead it.  This will be at about the 10 minute mark.  Try not to over-knead the bread.  If you have under-kneaded it, you can knead it a bit longer after you prep the rising bowl.

Note:  If you find that this doesn’t rise as high as you would like, you can double the recipe and put it into 3 loaf pans.  This makes a higher loaf.