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November 13, 2012

Recipe for sugar-free slow cooker cranberry sauce

Sugar-free slow cooker cranberry sauce, with hints of orange.

My cranberry sauce failures -- undercooked, overjelled -- are the stuff of legend in my family. I admit that the molded cranberry sauce I watched slide down the sink drain as I inverted it onto a platter shook my confidence for a while, but it didn't defeat me. I've tried many versions of cranberry over the years, including spicy dried cranberry and pear chutney, my personal favorite. With several Type 1 diabetics in the family, I wanted to create a sugar-free cranberry sauce they could enjoy, and this one was a hit on our holiday table last Thanksgiving. Prepared in the slow cooker, with just a few ingredients (and no blurping splatters all over the stove), it's so good that nobody will believe it's also sugar-free. Make this several days ahead and store in the refrigerator; let it come to room temperature before you serve.

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October 11, 2012

Recipe for red pepper, kale and walnut dip (or spread) {vegan, gluten-free}

Red pepper, kale and walnut dip, or use it as a spread.

All year long I've been on a campaign to eat more kale. You can tell by my use of the word campaign that kale is a vegetable I'm learning to love, not one I loved from the start. Like most kids I know, I don't always want to eat my dark leafy greens, so from time to time I have to hide vegetables in my own meals. This mildly spicy red pepper, kale and walnut dip -- which you also could use as a spread on sandwiches or bruschetta -- began as a random ingredient pull from the refrigerator. I had some kale that needed to be used, a bit of leftover roasted red pepper in a jar, and a few walnuts. Harissa brought them all together in a Mediterranean-inspired dip, and nobody will ever figure out that kale is the green in it. Serve this at your next party, with celery sticks, carrots, or tortilla chips.


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September 30, 2012

Recipe for Greek lentil soup with red pepper and feta {gluten-free}

Greek lentil soup with red pepper and feta, a year-round favorite.

To everything, there is a season. Everything except lentils, which are timeless. Depending on what you have on hand, and what you find at the farmers' market, you can pair lentils with acorn squash, or tomatoes, or mint, or fresh green peas. Or you can make this Greek lentil soup with red pepper and feta using ingredients you probably keep in your pantry all year round. Lemon, feta and thyme (or oregano), the classic Greek seasonings, all play off the earthy lentils; you can omit the cheese and substitute homemade mushroom broth for the chicken stock to make this vegan. Lentil soup freezes beautifully, so make a big pot on the weekend, and portion it out for lunches or worknight dinners. Serve with a hunk of crusty bread and a light green salad on the side.

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August 19, 2012

Recipe for sugar-free, low-fat lemon frozen Greek yogurt

Lemon frozen Greek yogurt, sugar-free!

For a food writer, I'm kind of funny about food. I love strawberries, but not strawberry jam. I love crunchy raw carrots, but not mushy cooked ones. I love hummus, but not chickpeas. And I love frozen yogurt, but not regular yogurt right from the container. So it might seem odd when I tell you that I've been working for weeks to perfect this low-fat frozen Greek yogurt that's creamy and rich, with great "mouth feel" but no sugar, a diet-friendly, diabetic-friendly dessert I really love. I know it's a success because all five of our grandchildren, ages 1-1/2 to 11, ate every spoonful of it at dinner a few weeks ago.

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July 19, 2012

Slow-roasted or sun-dried tomato and basil hummus recipe {vegan, gluten-free}


When I turned 13 years old, my grandparents gave me the gift of a summer in Israel in honor of my bat mitzvah. I lived on a kibbutz, worked in the orchards and the chicken coops, and learned to love foods I'd never tasted before, like pomegranates, which we plucked from our own trees, and falafel, and hummus. It's so easy to make your own hummus. All you need are canned chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste), garlic (essential), olive oil, and a food processor or blender. Add whatever flavorings you have in the pantry. I love this sun-dried tomato and basil hummus; if you have your own slow-roasted tomatoes, substitute those for a more intense tomato flavor.

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Welcome to The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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