Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Miso Soup

"Miso Soup" (page 152) is a simple, yet elementally pleasing soup popularized in recent years in Japanese and sushi restaurants. Although this may be relatively new to us, it is a staple in Japanese cuisine where it is consumed daily, even for breakfast. At times I find myself craving the soothing salty broth of miso soup, it seems to be just the thing I crave when feeling a bit under the weather. The basic recipe is just water, and miso paste (fermented soy beans), with maybe some soy sauce. Additional add-ins can include tofu, green onions, mushrooms, sliced carrot or daikon, and sea vegetables. This rendition stops with mushrooms, green onions, and tofu, and the end product is delicious simplicity. Happily, the recipe as written had no added oil, so no changes were necessary to keep it McDougall friendly! J

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü     No changes necessary! J

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Grilled Tofu With Tamarind Glaze

"Grilled Tofu with Tamarind Glaze" (page 289) is bursting with flavor, and is best served with something that will soak up the spicy sauce, such as rice, quinoa, potatoes, or cous cous. The sauce is comprised of sautéed shallot, garlic, and fresh tomatoes (fresh really makes a difference!), simmered with tamarind concentrate, spices, and sweeteners, and eventually puréed in a blender until smooth. The end result is a deliciously spicy and smoky barbeque-style sauce (an entire tablespoon of smoked paprika is used here), and there is enough extra to save for other uses after you use what you need on the tofu. (You won't be sorry, either, I found myself putting this on grilled potatoes, veggie burgers, scrambled tofu, just about anywhere you would use ketchup or barbeque sauce.) The tofu is marinated in the sauce for at least two hours before either grilling, sautéing in a skillet, or baking in the oven (all options are mentioned in the recipe). I chose to bake it in the oven on a baking sheet, using parchment paper to prevent sticking, set on top of foil for easy cleanup. Note: If you can't find tamarind, an easy substitution is mixing equal parts fresh lime juice, molasses, and vegan Worcestershire sauce.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü Omit the olive oil when sautéing the veggies. Instead, use a nonstick skillet and/or water, broth, or sherry as a sauté liquid.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Lemony Edamame Dip

The vividly colored "Lemony Edamame Dip" (page 14) is made from edamame (fresh soybeans) and frozen peas, with the addition of herbs and spices to bring it to life; the base recipe benefits even further from spicier or more flavorful add-ins, such as chiles, more lemon and cayenne, or savory herbs. While I have to admit this wasn't my favorite dip (I found the texture somewhat grainy, and the flavor too mild), it did present well on flavorful crackers, as did a scoop added to the top of a mixed green salad. I'm not sure if adding the oil to this recipe would have helped the texture, but I'm guessing in this case it might have. Maybe next time I'll try adding in a dollop of tahini as an emulsifier. If nothing else, this is a very pretty dip!
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü Omit the olive oil when processing the mixture, adding in water as needed to achieve a blended consistency.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Spicy Mushroom & Hot Pepper Calzones

I'm in love with pocket meals - samosas, calzones, pierogi, empanadas, pasties - you name it, if it comes wrapped in a warm-from-the-oven pouch, I'm bound to like it, no matter what's inside. Pockets stuffed with savory fillings take sandwiches to a whole new level, and "Spicy Mushroom & Hot Pepper Calzones" (page 133) are no exception. Calzones are decidedly Italian, are in fact, pizza folded into itself, and typical fillings would be the same as those you find on top of "unfolded" pizza. The dough is the same as you'd use for pizza (or bread), a simple yeasted bread dough of flour, water, yeast, and salt. The filling in these particular calzones is a delicious combination of sautéed mushrooms, garlic, hot cherry peppers, and tofu. The only problem with these delightful hot pockets is that it is almost impossible not to eat the entire batch in one sitting!
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü  Use an oil-free pizza dough, as the one called for in this recipe, from this book: Basic Pizza Dough, and use whole wheat flour, or at least a 50-50 blend of whole wheat and all purpose (white) flour.

ü  Omit the oil when sautéing the mushrooms. No sauté liquid is really required, as mushrooms release their juices as they are cooked, providing all the moisture you need.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Garden Gazpacho

Gazpacho tastes like summer, and "Garden Gazpacho" (page 179) is full of ingredients that might come out of your very own backyard garden -  fresh plum tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, red bell pepper, green onions, celery. This light tomato-based soup, served cold, is the perfect starter to a summer meal. The base of the soup is blended vegetables, with enough chopped (unblended) vegetables to keep it interesting, and with as much zing as you want, depending on the type of tomato juice you use and how much Tabasco you add. I especially liked the garnish of fresh parsley and kalamata olives! For some reason the recipe calls for adding two tablespoons of olive oil to the soup, but I left this completely out and didn't feel anything was missing.
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü     Omit the olive oil, no substitutions needed.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

I admit, I have been avoiding the quinoa recipes in this book (there aren't all that many), and if you have been following my blog, you may have read my earlier review of Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Tomatoes. As I stated there, I'm just not a big fan, but in the spirit of preparing all 1000 recipes, sooner or later I have to address the ones that use quinoa. Recently I got a new kitchen appliance called the Instant Pot (an electric pressure cooker/rice cooker/slow cooker/steamer), and I'm not saying that this has totally changed my opinion of this grain, but when I used the Instant Pot to prepare the quinoa for the "Mediterranean Quinoa Salad" (page 89), I have to admit, I liked it more than I ever have in the past! J There were enough other players in this salad to make it interesting, and this particular preparation reminded me of tabouli with the chickpeas, tomatoes, green onion, and cucumber. But the list of ingredients doesn't stop there. Add to that cured olives, toasted pine nuts, and fresh basil, not to mention the dressing, and no wonder I liked this salad! The vinaigrette style dressing calls for ¼ cup olive oil, but I completely omitted this without any substitutions and had excellent results. With the moist ingredients (tomato, cucumber, and olives) you hardly need anything else to "dress" the salad, and it is flavorful enough to stand on its own, although a squeeze of lime is a nice addition.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü Omit the oil in the dressing. No substitution is necessary.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Brown Rice Salad with Black-Eyed Peas

If you are looking for new ways to serve black-eyed peas, the good luck dish for bringing in the New Year in the American South, you might want to try the "Brown Rice Salad with Black-Eyed Peas" (page 85). The dish is labeled as one of the "Fast Recipes", meaning it can be prepared in 30 minutes or less, but this is only true if you already have cooked peas and rice on hand. Otherwise, plan ahead. The other ingredients in this salad include red onion, celery, roasted pecans, and fresh parsley, all of which is dressed with oil-based vinaigrette, if you follow the recipe as written. Naturally, I looked for a way to get around the oil-laden dressing (it calls for ½ cup!), and decided to use light vegetable broth in place of the oil. I still mixed this with the cider vinegar and herbs and spices called for to capture the intended flavors. This alternative worked very well, providing plenty of moisture to the salad, especially since cooked rice tends to soak up the wet ingredients. I enjoyed the contrasting textures in this salad - crunchy (onion, celery, pecans), chewy (rice), and soft (black-eyed peas).
 Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü   Use light vegetable broth in place of the oil when preparing the dressing.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Penne with Chickpeas & Rosemary

Pasta is fast food, and when you are looking for something you can put together quickly from food you probably already have in the pantry, "Penne with Chickpeas & Rosemary" (page 210) will fill the bill. Just six ingredients (not counting salt and pepper), and dinner is on the table in about 30 minutes or less. I didn't have penne on hand when I decided to make this, but I did have ditalini, the small tubular pasta often used in pasta salads, and decided this would work fine. A sautéed and warmed concoction of rosemary (or any other fresh or dried herb if you're not a fan), garlic, diced tomatoes and chickpeas is added to the cooked pasta and that's about all there is to it.  

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü   Omit the olive oil when sautéing the garlic and herbs and use a bit of water or broth instead and/or a nonstick skillet.

ü   Use whole grain pasta.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Corn Muffins

"Corn Muffins" (page 408) are really nothing more than cornbread in a muffin cup, and make a great accompaniment to most any bean dish. Just a handful of simple ingredients go into these muffins (flour, cornmeal, baking powder, soymilk, sugar, and salt), and they are in the oven in no time at all. The recipe does call for 3 tablespoons of oil, but I omitted that and used ¼ cup apple sauce instead. I opted to line the muffin tin with paper liners rather than oiling the muffin tin. Note: the muffins tend to stick to the paper liners initially, but the longer they sit, the easier the paper peels away.
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü Use whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose (white) flour.

ü Omit the oil and use ¼ cup applesauce instead.

ü Use a non-stick tin, or paper liners, rather than oiling the muffin pan.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Maple-Baked Rice Pudding with Dried Cranberries

You will find the "Maple-Baked Rice Pudding with Dried Cranberries" (page 475) in the dessert section of this book, but I prepared it for breakfast, as I love hot rice with sweetener and soymilk for morning fare. This dish requires cooked rice, so you will have to plan ahead a bit, but otherwise you'll find this is a super simple dish to prepare. Cooked rice is combined with soymilk, maple syrup, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and cranberries (or raisins) and baked in the oven until hot and slightly thickened. You might want to start slow with the sweeteners and taste the mixture before adding the full measure. I omitted the sugar altogether, as the maple syrup and dried fruit made the entire dish plenty sweet. The recipe doesn't specify white or brown rice, but I used brown. Wonderful hot out of the oven, or even at room temperature, but the rice tends to stiffen a little if served cold.
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü     Use brown rice instead of white.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Red Chard & Baby Spinach Lasagna

There are no less than eight lasagna recipes in this cookbook, and the "Red Chard & Baby Spinach Lasagna" (page 215) is the third one I've tried so far. I don't think it's possible to serve me a lasagna I won't like. This is comfort food extraordinaire as far as I'm concerned, and I'm always happy for the leftovers so I can enjoy it for several meals each time I make it. (I've also found lasagna freezes very well!). Cooked spinach and red chard (use all spinach or another color chard if red chard isn't available) are mixed with a blend of tofu, nutritional yeast, and a few sprinkles of herbs. Cooked lasagna noodles are layered with the tofu-spinach concoction, marinara, and vegan Parmesan cheese, then baked in the oven until hot and bubbly. The recipe calls for a pound each of firm and soft tofu, but I used two pounds of just firm and it came out perfect. This delightful lasagna would impress someone new to a plant-based diet, and makes a great contribution to a potluck. Add a green salad and warm sourdough bread for a complete meal.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü Omit the olive oil when sautéing the veggies. Instead use a non-stick pan and/or use water, broth, or sherry for the sauté liquid.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Four-Alarm Chili

"Four-Alarm Chili" (page 249) isn't for the faint of heart or those who prefer a less spicy pot of beans. If you have cooked beans on hand (or choose to use canned), this dish can be put together quickly, leaving you free to prepare the rest of your meal while the beans simmer on the stove. This is a simple concoction of sautéed onion, chiles, and garlic, added to crushed tomatoes, cooked beans and a few spices. What makes this chili so "alarming" are the three sources of heat: serrano chiles, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. But fear not, the heat factor can be moderated to fit your comfort zone without detracting from the overall dish - just use less chili and/or spice to suit your taste. And, be sure to put a pitcher of ice water on the table!

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü  Omit the olive oil when sautéing the veggies. Instead use a non-stick pan and/or use water, broth, or sherry for the sauté liquid.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Dijon Vinaigrette

Finding a satisfactory dairy-free, oil-free salad dressing seems to be a problem for many transitioning to a whole foods plant based diet. It took me a long time to get comfortable with the different mouth feel of oil-free dressings, and there have been many recipes tried and discarded on my search for the "perfect vegan oil-free salad dressing". I do have a handful now that I really enjoy, and make over and over, but I still like to try new recipes that sound good when they come along. Today I tried the "Dijon Vinaigrette" (page 99). Like all traditional vinaigrette recipes, this one calls for oil, in this case ¾ cup. That is a lot of oil! That is 162 grams of fat. I'm not one who puts just a few drops of salad dressing on my salads. Plus, my salads are BIG! I require about ¼ cup dressing on my plate of salad. You can see how quickly and easily the fat grams can add up here. My save-the-day ingredient when making salad dressings from scratch is guar gum. I simply substitute an equal amount of water for the oil, and when the dressing is complete, the last thing I do is add about 1/2 teaspoon of guar gum per cup of dressing. This thickens up the dressing and mimics the mouth feel of a dressing made with oil, to a certain degree. This particular recipe includes white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, shallot, basil, and parsley. The parsley and basil give the dressing its pretty green color, a nice surprise! If you use the guar gum method I described, you can indulge in this delicious herby dressing to your heart's content, guilt free! (Guar gum is found in bulk at many natural foods stores and from Bob's Red Mill.)
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü Omit the olive oil and use an equal amount of water, plus ½ teaspoon guar gum.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Tofu & Edamame Stew

For those of you who enjoy the humble soybean in its various incarnations, here is one for you: "Tofu and Edamame Stew" (page 293). This is a study in green and white. Green in the celery, edamame (fresh soybeans), zucchini, peas, and parsley. White from onion, garlic, potatoes, and tofu. This color scheme is pretty in the bowl, and it tastes just as good as it looks. Finish this off with flavorful herbs, spices, and a dash of cayenne, there is nothing missing from this healthy stew. The recipe directions call for browning the tofu in hot oil, but I skipped this step. Instead, I used an extra firm variety of tofu, pressed it in my EZ Tofu Press ( to make it even firmer, and "fried" the chunks in a dry nonstick skillet. You could even skip the "frying" or "browning" step, as long as you have firm enough tofu to begin with. The recipe encourages you to continue the green theme by adding spinach at the very end if you desire, or even introduce some color by including carrot or red bell pepper.
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü Omit the olive oil when sautéing the veggies. Instead use a non-stick pan and/or use water, broth, or sherry for the sauté liquid.
ü Omit the olive oil when preparing the tofu, and use the techniques I described in the recipe review.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Green Beans Niçoise

"Green Beans Niçoise" (page 369) is a hot version of the French classic salade niçoise, minus the lettuce, potatoes, and tuna. There are notes in the recipe for making this more like the classic, but I chose to try the recipe as written. Steamed-tender green beans are tossed with sautéed garlic, tomatoes, and capers, topped off with fresh parsley, and dashed with a bit of salt and pepper. Easy to put together, pretty to look at, and scrumptious to eat.
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
üOmit the olive oil when sautéing the veggies. Instead use a non-stick pan and/or use water, broth, or sherry for the sauté liquid.