Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Purple Haze Fruit Smoothie

Some of us of a certain age will remember the original Purple Haze, and maybe this was the inspiration for the "Purple Haze Fruit Smoothie" (page 531). This particular smoothie is bright, vibrant, and chock-full of vitamins and antioxidants. The purple comes from blueberries, which are combined with fresh mango, frozen banana, nondairy milk, and dates. Not an overly sweet smoothie (and part of this could be due to the unsweetened soymilk I use), the fresh fruit flavors are allowed to shine through. If you are fortunate enough to have a recording of the original Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix, by all means play the song while you sip this drink!

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • No changes necessary! :-)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Teriyaki Marinade

Once you try the "Teriyaki Marinade" (page 576), you might find you are buying the bottled stuff much less often. Made from fresh ingredients, nothing can beat the vibrant combination of flavors that come from crushed garlic, grated ginger, freshly squeezed orange juice, mixed with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar. The recipe also calls for oil, but I found this totally unnecessary and instead added two tablespoons of water to keep the volume the same. I poured this marinade over sliced tofu and after marinating for several hours, baked the tofu for about 40-minutes in a 375 degree oven. This is better than any baked tofu you can find in a store!

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Replace the oil in the marinade with an equal amount of water.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sesame-Crusted Seitan

If you are looking for a meat substitute that doesn't rely on soy isolates for that chewy texture, you might want to try seitan, a much healthier alternative made from wheat gluten. (Of course, if you are gluten sensitive, this wouldn't be the choice for you.) The "Sesame-Crusted Seitan" (page 309) is a flavorful way to prepare either store-bought or homemade Seitan chunks, and can be made in under 30-minutes if you have a batch on hand. Small chunks of seitan are dipped in soymilk and dredged in a mixture of ground sesame seeds, flour, salt and pepper, then quickly "fried" in a skillet on the stove. Instead of adding a lot of extra fat to this dish, I used a non-stick skillet and bypassed the two tablespoons of oil called for to fry the chunks. (The natural oil in the ground sesame seeds help with browning.) The final result is delicious and chewy! For a complete meal, serve with a scoop of brown rice and a side dish such as Crunchy Sesame Slaw, as the recipe notes suggest.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Use whole wheat pastry flour, brown rice flour, or potato flour instead of all-purpose (white) flour.
  • Use a high quality non-stick skillet and omit the two tablespoons of oil called for when "frying" the seitan chunks.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Chipotle Aioli

One of the happiest taste discoveries I've made over the past decade is that of the chipotle chile. Made from dried and smoked jalapeño peppers, the distinctive flavor is smoky, sweet, and slightly hot, and I can't seem to get enough of it.  I have chipotle chili powder in my spice rack, dried chipotles in my pantry, and I always have a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in my supply of canned goods. The "Chipotle Aioli" (Page 556) combines Vegan Mayonnaise with canned chipotle chilies, garlic, smoked paprika, and lemon juice for the most luscious spread I've had in a long time. The recipe also calls for olive oil, but I completely omitted this and didn't miss it at all, the other flavors make this aioli so vibrant. And, if you don't want to open an entire can of chilies to use just a couple, you can use ½ to 1 teaspoon of chipotle chili powder, and that works just as well. The first time I made this I used it as a dressing for a salad I put together from hominy, corn, black olives, and green onions - a wonderful combination of flavors! But you'll find many uses for this, from a topping for Mexican food, veggie burgers, sandwiches, rice and beans, grilled vegetables…you get the idea!

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Use oil free mayonnaise as the base, such as the Vegan Mayonnaise in this book (with my changes).
  • Omit adding any extra oil to the aioli - you don't need it, and you won't miss it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Chocolate-Cranberry Otameal Cookies

The more practiced I get with oil-free baking, the more of a feel I get for which ingredients (and how much) make good substitutions. Take the "Chocolate-Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies" (Page 431), for instance. In the past if I saw a recipe that called for ½ cup margarine, I would probably skip over it altogether, believing I wouldn't be able to make tasty cookies without the margarine. Now, I enjoy the challenge! The instructions in this recipe say to cream the margarine, sugar, and apple juice together. My work around for this was to take one large banana (you want at least half a cup, maybe a little more), the sugar, and ½ cup of applesauce and blend them in my Vitamix blender (any blender would work). I followed the rest of the directions as written at this point, increasing the amount of flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour) just a tad as the dough didn't seem quite sticky enough. These cookies were delicious, and although still a rich food that should be reserved for special occasions, I felt that they were made much healthier by my adaptations.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Omit the margarine and apple juice, following my instructions above for using  bananas and applesauce instead, blending with the sugar.
  • Use whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose (white) flour.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Root Vegetable Bisque

"Root Vegetable Bisque" (page 172) is a wonderful soup that can be served as a starter to a larger meal, or paired with a big salad and bread rolls for a lighter meal. The roots vegetables used in this recipe include shallots, carrots, parsnips, and potatoes, simmered in broth, and seasoned with garlic, thyme, and marjoram. The cooked vegetables are puréed and mixed with soymilk, and topped off with parsley and freshly ground black pepper. This soup is very elemental, satisfying, and warming on a cold day. I especially liked the golden color, but if you aren't overly fond of the vegetables listed, you can vary it to your liking, using any root vegetables of your choice.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Omit the olive oil for sautéing the veggies; instead use a non stick soup pot and/or water, broth, or sherry as a sauté liquid.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Baked Chocolate Pudding

I've made a lot of pudding in my life, going back a long, long way. I've made many different types of pudding, from that instant powdered stuff that comes in a box, to the "from scratch" versions that are cooked over the stove, to baked puddings and custards in water baths in the oven. In recent years I've started making vegan puddings using everything from silken tofu, to soymilk, to corn butter as the base. My favorite flavors are chocolate and butterscotch and I've been able to master beloved versions of both in my plant based diet. And, if there is one consistent thing about all these puddings, it's that they more or less wind up with similar outcomes, that is, the end product is sweet, soft and creamy. I've never made a pudding, for instance, that ended up being cake…until now! The "Baked Chocolate Pudding" (page 473), whether by accident or design, is really a recipe for chocolate cake. I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out if this was the intended goal, or if there was a misprint in the ingredients list in the recipe. The ratio of liquid (1 ½ cups soymilk) to flour (1 cup) seemed odd to me, and as soon as I had all the ingredients mixed together, including baking powder, it was clear that this would result in a cake, not a pudding. But what the heck - chocolate cake is good too!  I scraped the batter into individual serving dishes, baked as directed, and enjoyed these petite cakes very much! For the small amount of oil called for in this recipe (only 1 Tablespoon), I decided to use a tablespoon of peanut butter instead. That amount is not enough to interfere with the chocolate flavor, although I happen to really enjoy the combination of peanut butter and chocolate, and I will think about this idea for future baking projects.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Use a tablespoon of nut butter instead of oil.
  • Use whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose (white) flour.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Quick Herb Bread

"Quick Herb Bread" (page 399) is the first of twelve quick breads (meaning non-yeasted) in the Breads chapter of this book, and the ninth one I've tried so far. I really enjoyed this bread, and found it made especially good toast. Besides the herbs listed in basic recipe (basil, thyme, and marjoram), the recipe suggests using any combination that sounds good to you or complements your meal. I went with the recipe as written, and if I were to change anything, I might increase the amounts of herbs, as the taste was quite subtle to me.  This bread is easy to make, and goes together quickly. Flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour), baking powder and the herbs are mixed with soymilk, and if you followed the recipe exactly, oil as well; I used a scant ½ cup applesauce instead of the olive oil with excellent results.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Use whole wheat pastry flour or spelt flour (a suggestion in the recipe notes) instead of all-purpose (white) flour.
  • Substitute applesauce for the oil, about double the amount.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Molasses Spice Cookies

If cookies are what you are craving, you might want to try the "Molasses Spice Cookies" (page 433). The recipe uses molasses as part of the sweetener (along with sugar), and a list of spices that you might find in pumpkin pie - ginger, cinnamon, and allspice. And, as you might expect, the recipe also calls for margarine, in this case ¼ cup. However, I have been so pleased with the results of my fat-free baking efforts lately that I wasn't at all daunted by substituting ½ cup applesauce for the margarine. (Pureed prunes would also have worked here, since the cookies are already a nice brown shade from the molasses). The instructions say to form the dough into two logs, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least one hour, at which point you are to cut thin slices off of each log to put on the cookie sheet and bake. I'm not sure, but I think the fact that I didn't use margarine interfered with being able to slice the dough. The dough didn't firm up, as I'm thinking it might have had I used  margarine. But this did not stop me from forging ahead. I simply formed dough balls instead of dough slices, placed those on the cookie sheet, and baked as directed. These cookies were delicious, and I can't imagine the flavor was compromised whatsoever by my modifications. As the recipe notes say, these cookies are wonderful with a cup of hot tea.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Omit the margarine and substitute ½ cup of either applesauce or prune purée.
  • Use whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose (white) flour.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Fiery Pumpkin Seeds

The recipe for "Fiery Pumpkin Seeds" (page 6) was very easy to modify to omit the oil. All nuts and seeds have a considerable amount of natural oil in them that can be utilized without having to add any more. This particular recipe calls for a lot of oil - ¼ cup, which I think would have resulted in overly oiled seeds. I thought using a small amount of pure maple syrup would be a good substitute for the oil, coating the seeds with something sticky for the spices to adhere to, plus the combination of slightly sweet, slightly salty, and a bit spicy really appealed to me. This approach worked like a charm, and the end result was fantastic! The "fiery" part of this recipe comes from Tabasco sauce, and the seeds are further seasoned with paprika, cumin, and salt. These are a great snack to set out at a gathering - otherwise, you might find yourself eating them all too quickly by yourself!

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Line your baking pan with parchment paper instead of oiling it.
  • Do not use the oil called for in the recipe for coating the seeds. Instead, stir 1 Tablespoon of pure maple syrup or agave nectar into the seeds, then add the spices to coat.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Roasted Chickpeas

The recipe for "Roasted Chickpeas" (page 5) conjured up gustatory visions of those crunchy wasabi peas found in bulk sections of some grocery stores or in cans in the Asian food section.  Crunchy and salty, even spicy if so desired, definitely one of those addictive foods. But leaving out the oil in this recipe transforms the texture considerably, so I realized that I was not going to end up with this kind of snack after all. No matter, these are still fun munchies, either eating warm out of the oven, cooled to room temperature, or tossing into a salad. If you have cooked chickpeas on hand, these are super easy to make - drain and rinse, spread in a pan, top with seasoning, and bake until browned (in this case, they won't be "crisped"). The small amount of moisture left on the beans after rinsing them will help the seasonings adhere to them. Start with salt as a seasoning, but add whatever else sounds good to you, the possibilities are endless!

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Do not toss the chickpeas in oil. Instead, do not pat dry after rinsing and draining to allow the spices to stick.
  • Line your baking pan with parchment paper instead of oiling it.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Very Vanilla French Toast

When people find out I don't eat any dairy or eggs, they invariably get around to asking me how I manage without French toast. The answer of course, is I don't go without at all! Making French toast without cow's milk or eggs is so easy, and there are so many ways to do this, that nobody can tell the difference between the two. "Very Vanilla French Toast" (page 519) uses silken tofu and soymilk for the liquid component, and cornstarch to thicken things up, thus eliminating the need for both cow's milk and eggs. Flavored just slightly with sugar and pure vanilla extract, this is a simple recipe that allows the quality of the bread to shine through. Get the best Italian, French, or sourdough bread you can find, it really makes a difference! We used sourdough bread from Panera, and it was exquisite! Top with warmed pure maple syrup, or fruit topping of your choice to complete the presentation. The recipe calls for a tablespoon of oil to be added to the liquid portion of the dipping mixture, but leaving it completely out is no problem at all, you won't even miss it.  

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Omit the oil in the liquid portion of the dipping mixture.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Angel Hair Pasta with Olive Oil & Garlic

When I saw the recipe for "Angel Hair Pasta with Olive Oil & Garlic" (page 211), I had to smile. This was an exact replication of my standby, go-to fast-food I turned to when I wanted something quick, and something representing the epitome of comfort food.  Consisting simply of cooked pasta, olive oil, and fresh garlic (and sometimes topped off by parmesan and/or freshly ground black pepper), I think I could have lived on this food at one time. I never realized this was a bona fide recipe, a classic dish that actually had a name - Aglio-Olio (which means Garlic-Oil).  To me, this was nothing more than a pantry staple that I dearly loved, and had a hard time letting go of when I began to cook and eat oil-free. So when it came time to make this recipe, I was balking at the idea, knowing I would be leaving out the olive oil and significantly changing the entire presentation and experience. But I gathered up my courage and plunged ahead, using an ample amount of flavorful veggie broth to replace the ½ cup (yes, ½ CUP!) of oil called for in this recipe. Wow - that's 142 grams of fat! Somehow knowing that helped me move past my reluctance, and although I will always have fond memories of the way I used to eat this dish, using veggie broth was quite acceptable, especially if you are lucky enough to find fresh homemade pasta to mix it with. Be liberal with the veggie broth, the "juicier" it is, the better.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Omit the olive oil, using an equal or greater amount of flavorful veggie broth instead.
  • Use whole grain pasta of your choice.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Citrus Vinaigrette

For a light and versatile topping for salads or steamed vegetables, you might want to try the "Citrus Vinaigrette" (page 103). Using freshly squeezed orange, lemon, and lime juices combined with agave nectar and Dijon mustard, and spiced up just a tad with cayenne pepper, the flavors here are bright and vibrant. The recipe also calls for ¼ cup of olive oil. This actually comprises more than half the volume of the dressing, so it didn't seem workable to just "leave it out". Instead, I used ¼ cup water, and added ¼ teaspoon guar gum to thicken the dressing. I used this on a green salad made from butter lettuce and red onion, topped off with Agave-Glazed Pecans. Delicious simplicity!

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Omit the olive oil. Use water instead, and thicken the dressing with ¼ teaspoon guar gum. (This needs to be thoroughly whisked or shaken into the dressing and allowed to sit for at least 30-60 minutes to thicken up.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Agave-Glazed Pecans

The "Agave-Glazed Pecans" (page 6) are a sweet treat that can be enjoyed in multiple ways. I placed them on top of individual servings of pudding; I added them to simple salads of leafy green lettuce and red onion; I munched on them all by themselves. However you decide to try these, you likely won't be disappointed, unless you simply don't like pecans. A tasty combination of nuts, sweetener, cinnamon, and vanilla extract (I left the margarine out altogether), these make a great contribution to a holiday party spread. They are quite sticky, so I stored them in single layers separated by pieces of parchment paper so they wouldn't meld into one another. They should probably be eaten fairly soon after preparation. I cut the recipe in half since it was only two of us eating them.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Omit the margarine altogether.