companion blog to the e-book the 24/7 Low Carb Diner

Companion blog to the e-book
Available at http://www.247lowcarbdiner.com

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Cranberry Week--Cranberry Chayote Salad

My favorite time of year is just around the corner. I love fall and the holidays so much. I just couldn't stand it and had the hubby haul out my grand assortment of pumpkins, scarecrows and leaves. We had a little cool weather here, and I jumped on it! Never mind that the mid 90s are coming back later this week. I will celebrate while I can. Besides, I am testing pumpkin recipes for the October Diner News, and I am just totally into fall. But forget pumpkin--cranberries are a wonderful cool weather treat. Granted they are good all year round, but they just seem to fit cooler weather. And just try to find a bag of fresh cranberries in August. It ain't happenin'. So, when Mary at Honestly Cranberry asked me if I would like to try her dried cranberries, I jumped at the chance. Here's the deal. All those dried cranberries you see at the grocery are filled with sugar. We know we don't need that. Finding an unsweetened dried cranberry is like winning the lottery. Here's your ticket.

If you use fresh berries, you know that they are....tart. (understatement)  My first thought was to sweeten them so they would be more like the craisin type food we know. BUT It is the nature of the cranberry to be tart.Why are we messing with that? Tart is a good thing. It is interesting. So off I went to make some interesting food. The first recipe, while a winner in my head, was a bomb. I had this idea for a cran-raspberry broccoli salad. It tasted fine--maybe even good, but it kinda looked like an oddly colored mess. Pink dressing on green broccoli did not make the prettiest of pictures. And these cranberries are so special, they need to be beautiful.

So it took me a little while, and Mary even had to check back on me to see if I got them. I did, and today was the day. Two recipes that are winners! I am sure there will be more to come. But in honor of Honestly Cranberry and entrepreneurs everywhere, I declare it Cranberry week. Yes I can do that.

The first recipe is dedicated to the PBS show A Chef's Life. I love to watch Vivian Howard explore local heritage type ingredients. She talked about a Thanksgiving salad that inspired me. This is really not even remotely similar anymore, although it does still contain cranberries.  The rest is all me. But I could listen to her accent all day. This is not the prettiest of salads, but then, neither way hers! My version has caulirice instead of rice. Walnuts instead of "pea-cans" (emphasis on the pe for those in the South). Sweetened chayote squash instead of apples. And of course, unsweetened cranberries instead of sweet ones. Actually, I can't remember exactly what she said was in the recipe, I just grabbed a notepad and started jotting down my inspiration. Thanks Vivian-- or sorry. Which ever.

This is slightly sweet, but the cranberries offer a nice tang. Totally not overpowering. They soak up some of the dressing and become soft. The caulirice is tender, mild and a little earthy. The chayote keeps some texture and adds interest. The feta adds the saltiness. I do think I remember Vivian talking about balancing such flavors, but I am so not a chef. I will never play one on television, although I was once a host for a shopping channel. True.


Cranberry Chayote Salad

2 cups minced cauliflower
2 tsp coconut oil
1 chayote squash
1/4 cup water
1 packet stevia
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 tbsp diced unsweetened cranberries
2 oz feta cheese
4 tbsp low carb Honey Dijon vinaigrette dressing

Using a food processor, mince a head of fresh cauliflower. Heat oil in a non stick skillet. Add 2 cups of minced cauliflower and toss to coat. Reserve remaining caulirice for another meal. Cook over low heat until cauliflower is just tender. Chill.

Dice the chayote squash. In a 2 qt saucepan, simmer the squash with the water, adding more water if needed. When squash is tender but not mushy, drain water. Sprinkle the chayote with a packet of stevia and set aside to cool. Toast walnuts until crisp.

In a large bowl, combine caulirice, squash, walnuts, cranberries, feta cheese, and dressing. Chill. Fluff before serving.

Serves 4:  138 calories   6 net g carb

I used a prepared sugarfree/lowfat honey dijon dressing. Vivian would never do that. Don't tell. Make your own fresh and maybe you will be a star too. It will be a few more calories, though.

So, perhaps you want to buy some of these cranberries? You can go a little crazy experimenting with them too. Let Mary know I sent you. And no, I did not get paid for this endorsement. I did get to try two bags of unsweetened cranberries. One sliced and one diced. This recipe uses the diced, but either will work fine. Remember, these are light, not heavy like raisins. A little goes a long way!  https://www.honestlycranberry.com/

I also have an amazing Cranberry Lemon Salmon Salad that I will share later this week. It is sooooo good. Unsweetened cranberries are not the only interesting ingredient there. Since it is cranberry week, I also hope to have a cleansing beverage for you. I have a bottle of unsweetened cranberry juice that should be arriving anytime. You will just have to stop by to see what I have come up with.

My new school started last week. I love it. It feels so good to be back with the kids where I am needed. Still waiting for board approval on my hours, so  I don't know how often I will be there. I may be posting from the coffeehouse next to the school while I wait for a ride. Hoping to get my cooking done on the weekend and my computer work finished after classes let out. We are down to one car right now, but things will be looking up soon.


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