Monday, September 29, 2014

Thyme-Scented Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives & Garlic

The "Thyme-Scented Sweet Potatoes with Black Olives & Garlic" (page 380) was another recipe that struck me as calling for an unusual combination of ingredients, but which turned out to be delightfully pleasing. This is a one-dish-meal, or side-dish if you will, where all the ingredients are combined in a skillet and cooked on the stovetop until done. I opted to use about ¼ cup of light broth instead of the oil called for which supplied enough liquid to steam cook the sweet potatoes. As luck would have it, and what sometimes happens when we find ourselves in the middle of nowhere, I was unable to find cured olives (i.e., kalamata), so I ended up using "regular" sliced black olives. I think the kalamata olives would have been better, but working with what I had available, I wasn't disappointed in the least.
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü Omit the oil and replace with about ¼ cup light vegetable broth.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cucumber & Green Olive Dip

At first glance, I wasn't sure how the combination of ingredients in the "Cucumber & Green Olive Dip" (page 14) would taste. Made from about equal parts cucumber, green olives, and tofu combined in a food processor, seasoned with garlic, parsley, and lemon, and just a pinch of cayenne to give it a mild kick, the resulting texture is rather soft, and surprisingly the cucumber flavor is more prominent than you would imagine. The recipe notes describe this dip as light and refreshing, and I would agree with that. It also says it is best eaten on the day it is made, but I found it kept pretty well for several days. It was especially nice as a dip for raw veggies and whole grain crackers.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü     No changes necessary! J

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Creamy, Crunchy, Fruit-and-Nut Sandwiches

The "Creamy, Crunchy Fruit-and-Nut Sandwiches" (page 111) wraps up yet another section in my journey to test all 1000 recipes in this book. This was the last of the twenty entries in the "Sandwiches and Wraps" section of the "Sandwiches, Pizza, and More" chapter, but most certainly not the least! Of course, I don't think I've met a sandwich I don't like. It's amazing how almost anything between two slices of bread can be transformed into a delicious and satisfying breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This spin on the everyday PB&J combines almond butter with agave nectar, chopped walnuts, and dried cranberries, which is then spread on whole grain bread, and filled with sliced fresh pear. What a winning combination! This recipe is open to endless combinations - vary the nut butter, use maple syrup instead of agave, switch up the walnuts with any other nut of choice, and use bananas or apples instead of pear. I used the Irish Soda Bread when I made these sandwiches, and it was a match made in heaven!  
 Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü Make sure the nut butter does not contain any added oils.

ü Chose an oil-free whole grain bread for the sandwiches.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Refried Bean & Salsa Quesadillas

Nothing could be easier for a quick lunch or snack than "Refried Bean & Salsa Quesadillas" (page 126). Whole pinto beans are cooked and mashed with a bit of chili powder, folded into a tortilla, topped with salsa and minced onion, than grilled in a skillet. Although not technically a quesadilla (derived from queso, the Spanish word for cheese, combined with the word tortilla), the idea of a Mexican style grilled tortilla sandwich has expanded to include any number of tasty fillings, sans cheese, this being a good example. Try to find a high quality oil-free tortilla if you can. I really love the Food For Life sprouted whole grain tortillas, made from whole grains and seeds with no added oil (Ezekiel 4:9 Srouted Whole Grain Tortillas). They are substantial and chewy, and brown nicely in the skillet without adding oil. I have now tried all seven entries in the "Fajitas and Burritos" section of the "Sandwiches, Pizza, and More" chapter of this book! J One by one, section by section, I'm closing in all 1000 recipes! ;-)

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü Omit the oil when cooking and mashing the beans. Just use a little bean broth or water instead.

ü Use oil free, whole grain tortillas. These can be hard to find! It seems you can find oil free or whole grain, but harder to find one that is both!

ü Skip the oil when grilling the quesadillas; cook in a non-stick skillet.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Irish Soda Bread

"Irish Soda Bread with Golden Raisins" (page 400) puts a vegan spin on this traditional St. Patrick's Day treat. Buttermilk is normally used as the liquid, but here soymilk soured with vinegar stands in for the dairy, providing the acidic environment needed to activate the baking soda. This is a free form loaf, rounded by hand on a baking sheet and crisscrossed with a big "X" just before popping in the oven. In the quick bread category, meaning non-yeasted, this hefty loaf is still quite firm and chewy, enough so to use for sandwiches (I found it made the most wonderful bread for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in particular). Just slightly sweet from the two tablespoons of sugar and the golden raisins, this also makes wonderful bread for morning toast. It made a large loaf for just the two of us, but kept well in the refrigerator for the week we had it around.
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü To keep this completely McDougall Friendly, the all-purpose (white) flour should be replaced with whole wheat pastry flour. You might find the loaf a bit too heavy with all whole grain flour, so at the very least, try a 50-50 blend of white flour and whole wheat pastry flour.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Red Bean & Bulgur Chili

If you like a little chew in your veggie chili, but don't like the idea of using faux meats, which are mostly comprised of highly processed soy isolates and other questionable ingredients, try the "Red Bean & Bulgur Chili", (page 251).  Adding bulgur provides the perfect texture and mouth feel, adding a level of pleasing complexity. The red beans are dark red kidneys, but any of your favorite beans would be equally as good here.  The vegetables include red onion, tomatoes, red bell pepper, and salsa (see the color theme here, utilizing red foods?), and is seasoned with garlic, mild green chiles, chili powder and oregano. The bulgur is added right into the chili pot, and doesn't take long to cook tender. If you have cooked beans on hand, this chili can be ready in just about an hour. Top off with diced red onion, vegan sour cream, and chopped cilantro at the table, if desired.  
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü Omit the olive oil when sautéing the veggies. Use a nonstick pot and/or substitute water or veggie broth for the oil.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Black Bean & Corn Burritos

Nothing could be easier for a quick meal than the "Black Bean & Corn Burritos" (page 127), and likely you have most of the ingredients in your pantry already. Sautéed onions, mashed black beans, corn, and salsa tucked neatly into tortillas, and lunch (or breakfast, or dinner!) is ready. The recipe calls for cooking the onion in oil, but that isn't necessary, just use a little water instead. Feel free to add a few more condiments to the burritos - I included shredded lettuce and sliced avocado to mine. Delicious!
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
 üOmit the oil when sautéing the onion. Use a little water, sherry, or broth instead.
üUse whole grain, oil free tortillas. I find the Ezekiel brand of whole grain sprouted tortillas a great choice.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lime-Cilantro Dressing

There is no end to what can go into a salad dressing, once you step outside the limited realm of Ranch/1000 Island/Italian/Blue Cheese. While these standard choices are good, especially when made vegan and healthy, there is so much more that can constitute a dressing or dip. Consider the case in point, "Lime-Cilantro Dressing" (page 103). This dressing was so good, I was using it on everything, including salad, steamed asparagus, wraps, as a topping for Mexican food, and putting a sour cream-like dollop on my chili. The base for this dressing is vegan yogurt, but since this can be hard to find, and it isn't always made with the purest ingredients, I opted to use homemade Tofu SourCream instead. Mixed into the yogurt (or sour cream) is fresh cilantro, fresh lime juice, a smidge of sugar, ground cumin, and cayenne. I also added a fresh clove of minced garlic, as it seemed to be begging for this, at least to someone like me who is kind of a garlic fanatic. I opted to pulse everything together in the blender to really infuse the flavors throughout, but the recipe just has you mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl. Although the notes mention this is best used on the same day it is made, I kept it around for a week with no deterioration of quality or flavor. Quite surprising to me, this recipe did not call for any added oil - a definite bonus!
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü     No changes necessary! J

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.