Saturday, September 15, 2018

Roasted Potato Salad with Chickpeas & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Whenever I see the words “roasted vegetables” I think “oil”. I’ve tried several times to roast a variety of vegetables, using a variety of methods, but without oil, I have been unable to obtain vegetables that come out with that nice crispy outside and a creamy center. Some things can’t be precisely duplicated when you omit oil, but if you are okay with an alternative approach, there is no reason you can’t have an equally satisfactory outcome. For this recipe, “Roasted Potato Salad with Chickpeas & Sun-Dried Tomatoes”, page 69, I opted to precook the potatoes in my Instant Pot. I love the texture of potatoes that have been cooked whole, waiting to peel and dice after they have been cooked and completely cooled. The resulting texture is a very creamy, yet firm, and perfect for salads. That is what I did for this recipe.

The next challenge in this recipe was making the dressing, which includes 3 tablespoons of oil, half of the total dressing (three tablespoons of white wine vinegar makes up the rest). I mixed up a concoction of 1/3 cup light veggie broth, 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, and ¼ teaspoon of guar gum to thicken it up. This worked out perfectly!

The final challenge was finding sun-dried tomatoes that were not packed in oil. I like a brand called California Sun-Dry, a pouch of julienne cut oil free sun-dried tomatoes. They are soft, moist, and ready to eat right out of the pouch. I can’t always find these when I need them, so when I do find them, I get a couple of extra packages to save for later.

Once all these adjustments were in place, I was ready to compose the salad: diced cooked potatoes, diced shallot (or red onion), cooked chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, sliced green olives, parsley, and the dressing, all tossed together into a delicious salad, hearty enough to stand in as an entrée.    

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • Instead of roasting the potatoes in oil, cook the potatoes whole, and when completely cool, peel and dice.
  • For the dressing, substitute the 3 tablespoons of oil with 1/3 cup of light veggie broth, mix with the vinegar, and add ¼ teaspoon of guar gum to thicken.
  • Use oil-free sun-dried tomatoes.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

White & Wild Mushroom Barley Soup

“White & Wild Mushroom Barley Soup”, page 162, marks the 500th recipe I’ve made from this cookbook. I am now officially half way through the recipes!!! It has taken me a long time to get this far, 8 years, to be exact. I didn’t set a specific time goal for working through the recipes, and if asked back in 2010 how long I thought this project would take, I probably would have guessed I’d be done by now. The world and time move so fast, and since the publication of 1000 Vegan Recipes, there have probably been 1000 more vegan cookbooks published – which is a wonderful thing! But since I’m doing this just for fun, and hopefully to provide encouragement to others embarking on this path, I’m not too worried about the length of time it’s taking. I thank all of you who have hung with me over these last 8 years, some maybe there from the beginning, others joining along the way. I appreciate all your visits and feedback, and hope I’ve helped make a positive difference.

This soup was very easy to make, with simple whole foods (onions, carrot, celery, mushrooms, barley, dill weed, seasonings). Mushroom Barely soup is a classic, and this version includes the same basic ingredients to make it as pleasing as ever. The difference here is using a combination of both white and wild mushrooms, which as Robin Robertson notes, gives the soup an extra dimension. She also suggests using mushroom broth for a deeper flavor, but that isn’t strictly necessary.

I topped each of our servings with minced parsley, as called for, plus a dollop of homemade soy yogurt. I am quite sure I will never tire of this delicious soup.

Now – on to the next 500 recipes!
Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • Sauté the veggies in a little broth, soy sauce, or sherry instead of oil, and/or use a nonstick soup pot.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Breakfast Parfaits

“Breakfast Parfaits”, page 526, are fun, festive, and delicious. Even though if feels like you’re having dessert for breakfast, these parfaits are full of whole grains, nuts, and fruit. It is the perfect way to start the day, and with this on the menu, you can happily look forward to breakfast. While the dish can be prepared in a bowl if you wish, the parfait glasses do make a pretty presentation and add to the fun factor. The layers consist of granola, a puree of nut butter-banana-maple syrup, dried cranberries, chopped walnuts, sliced banana, and blueberry. I was able to get two layers of each into the glasses, and topped it all off with fresh strawberries.

This dish can be altered in several ways, depending on what’s in season, what you have on hand, what you like most. Any dried fruit can stand in for the cranberries, try almonds or cashews instead of walnuts, vary the fruit choices, sprinkle with flax or chia seed, use yogurt instead of the nut butter mix, use cooked oatmeal along with, or instead of, the granola. The possibilities are endless! I added a splash of soymilk to my glass to soften up the granola, adding yet another layer of goodness.

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • No changes necessary!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Spicy Eggplant & Tempeh Stuffed Pasta Shells

With just a few ingredients (but a bit of preparation), the “Spicy Eggplant & Tempeh-Stuffed Pasta Shells”, page 229, is both elegant and pleasing. As with all the recipes using tempeh, you start out by cooking the block of tempeh for 30 minutes in a pot of simmering water. This is done to mellow out the flavor and aid digestion, and while I do normally start with this step, there have been many times I’ve skipped it, and everything comes out okay. You can simmer the tempeh while baking the eggplant, and cooking the pasta, combing several steps and saving a little time. It is so easy to bake a whole eggplant, and once its done the skin comes right off, leaving you with a soft and creamy filling. (Line your baking sheet with parchment paper so you won’t have to oil it.)

The steamed tempeh is ground in a food processor, along with garlic (I tripled the amount, using 3 cloves), red pepper flakes (I doubled the amount, using ½ teaspoon), and salt and pepper to taste. If necessary, bread crumbs can be added at this point to firm up the filling. This simple, yet meaty and delicious filling is stuffed into cooked pasta shells, topped with marinara (oil-free homemade (see recipe here), or store bought), and baked in the oven until heated through. Top with oil-free vegan Parmesan or Parmasio (see review here).

A big green salad and a loaf of rustic sourdough bread will turn this into a delicious dinner.

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • Omit the oil when baking the eggplant. Simply line the baking dish with parchment paper to prevent it from sticking.
  • Use oil-free marinara, store-bought or homemade.
  • Use oil-free Parmesan, or home made Parmasio. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Spinach, Walnut, & Apple Soup

As the recipe notes state, the “Spinach, Walnut, & Apple Soup”, page 173, is light, which makes it a perfect first-course soup for dinner, or paired with a sandwich for lunch. The notes also correctly call this soup luscious, because even though this has a quite delicate consistency, the flavors are rich and satisfying. An unusual blend of sautéed onion, apple, apple juice, spinach, and walnuts are further simmered in broth, and seasoned with sage and allspice. This mixture is puréed, and finally a cup of soymilk is added to the pot. Each serving is garnished with toasted walnuts and diced apple, and since I had chives on hand, I added a sprinkle of those as well.

While this soup was likely meant to be more thin than creamy, I decided to thicken it with a flour and water mixture to make it more hearty (½ cup water, ¼ cup flour, blended smooth, then added to the simmering soup, stirring to incorporate and thicken).

The deep green color was inviting to the eyes, and the flavors were pleasing to the palate. The walnuts and apples added a nice layer of texture as well.

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • Omit the oil when sautéing the veggies, using water, apple juice, or broth instead.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Lemon Pepper Marinade

It is so easy to turn simple tofu (or tempeh, seitan, or even veggies) into something bursting with flavor with a sauce such as “Lemon Pepper Marinade”, page 576. A few simple but powerful ingredients go a long way to transform everyday food into something quite special. The flavor stars in this marinade include lemon juice, soy sauce, sugar, garlic pepper, coriander and cayenne. To avoid using the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, I substituted 2 tablespoons of water and added 1/8 teaspoon of guar gum for thickening. I used this to marinate diced tofu, which I later cooked in my air fryer, resulting in crispy and oil free chunks of tofu. Healthy, and delicious!

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • Use water instead of olive oil, plus 1/8 teaspoon of guar gum to thicken the marinade

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Creamy Curry Pasta & Vegetable Salad

“Creamy Curry Pasta & Vegetable Salad”, page 93, is a very pleasing combination of pasta, steamed and raw vegetables, and a very flavorful curry dressing. I am very fond of using bow tie pasta for salads, and since I had some on hand, that’s what I ended up using. Many recipes, including this one, give instructions for adding a vegetable to the pasta pot during the last few minutes of cooking, I suppose to combine steps, and eliminate the need to cook both things separately. Problem is, for me at least, I’m not that good at accurately judging when the pasta is going to be done, and I end up adding the vegetables (in this case, cauliflower) either too early, or too late. For that reason, I just take the extra step, and time, to cook the pasta separately, set it aside, and cook the vegetables on their own. The raw veggies in this salad include red bell pepper, red onion, tomatoes, cucumber, and cilantro.

I changed the dressing up quite a bit. As written, it was calling for 1/3 cup of grapeseed oil (along with lemon juice, curry powder, sugar, salt, and cayenne). While I could have substituted an oil free Italian dressing for this, or even just used water and thickened the dressing with guar gum, I opted to take a detour and make a different kind of  creamy dressing. I ended up using 1/3 cup each of plain unflavored yogurt, and homemade oil free mayo (see review here), leaving all the seasonings the same. Finally, the salad is topped with roasted cashews, adding a wonderful texture and flavor-layer. I was more than pleased with the outcome, in fact, I had to stop myself from polishing off the entire salad in one sitting!

This makes a very satisfying main dish salad, or in smaller portions, a tasty side dish. I’m certain it would be very nicely received at a picnic or potluck as well.

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • Omit the 1/3 cup of oil. Instead, substitute an equal amount of bottled oil free Italian dressing, or 1/3 cup water and thicken with ¼ teaspoon of guar gum.
  • Instead of oil, salad dressing, or water, try the substitution of mayo and yogurt as described above.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Singapore Noodles with Tempeh

According the recipe notes, this recipe, “Singapore Noodles with Tempeh”, (page 241), is a popular Indonesian dish also known as bami goreng or mee goreng. Since tempeh originated in Indonesia, it makes sense there would be many regional dishes showcasing it.

The preparation consists of four parts:

1) preparing the tempeh (dicing, steaming, and sautéing); 

2) preparing the sauce (blending peanut butter, coconut milk, water, lemon juice, sugar, cayenne, and soy sauce); 

3) preparing the noodles; and, 

4) sautéing the vegetables (bell pepper, cabbage, garlic, green onions, and ginger).  

Once the components have been prepared, fresh or frozen peas are added to the sautéed veggies, along with the tempeh and noodles, and finally, the sauce, with everything simmered just long enough to heat through. Top off with chopped peanuts and cilantro, and get ready to enjoy! There are so many complementary tastes and textures in this dish, it’s impossible to attribute the bursts of flavor to any one thing. Each bite unfolds into a delightful, multi-layered, taste experience.

Oil was called for in this recipe for tossing with the cooked noodles, sautéing the tempeh, and sautéing the vegetables. It was easy to leave it out in all instances. Rinsing the noodles thoroughly will prevent them from sticking, but if you wanted to include the sesame oil here for flavor purposes only, used like a condiment, a teaspoon or less would be effective, instead of the tablespoon called for. The tempeh and veggies can be sautéed in water, broth, sherry, or soy sauce.

In lieu of the coconut milk, I used soymilk with a few drops of coconut extract, to avoid the adding this source of highly saturated fat. This is a good way to include the coconut flavor without the fat.

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:

  • Instead of using oil for sautéing the tempeh and vegetables, use a non-stick skillet and/or use sherry, broth, water, or soy sauce as a sauté liquid.
  • Instead of coconut milk, use ¼ cup soymilk with ¼ teaspoon of coconut extract.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Pinto Beans & Corn

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Pinto Beans”, page 88, is made for those summer days when hot and heavy food just doesn’t sound appealing. Happily quinoa is a relatively quick cooking grain so stove time is minimal. I’ve been using my Instant Pot to cook whole grains, which puts out very little heat, also a definite advantage on hot days. Once you have cooked quinoa on hand, the salad goes together in a snap. The rest of the ingredients include corn, pinto beans, celery, chile pepper, cilantro, and garlic. The dressing, as written, consists of lemon juice, sugar and olive oil. I replaced all of that with the juice of one lime which provided the right amount of liquid to moisten the salad, and a nice bright flavor that wasn’t too tart. On a whim, I added sliced black olives, providing complimentary flavor and texture.  

Quinoa has become an increasingly popular whole grain recently, and I have to admit, I haven’t been quick to embrace it. But I did discover that it really does improve the flavor if you rinse the grain thoroughly before cooking, and I’ve also started adding a teaspoon of lemon pepper and a pinch of garlic powder to the cooking liquid for additional flavor. Also helpful is cutting back just a tad on the amount of cooking liquid so the grain doesn’t stick together. These three adjustments have made a big difference, and I am actually starting to appreciate it more and more.

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
Replace the dressing ingredients with the juice of one lime, or try using a bottled oil free Italian style dressing

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Wasabi Mayonnaise

It  doesn’t get much easier than this: “Wasabi Mayonnaise”, page 574, is simply ½ cup vegan mayonnaise mixed with a teaspoon of wasabi powder. That’s it! You can use the fat free homemade mayo recipe in this book (Vegan Mayonnaise), or store-bought if you can find a fat free version you like. Either way, if you are a fan of wasabi, you will really enjoy the kick from this spiced up mayonnaise. 

Use on sandwiches, vegetable salads, or, as the recipe suggests, as a spread on sushi. I found just using one teaspoon of powder wasn’t quite enough. It’s likely the heat level varies with brands, so start with one teaspoon, and add more if you want it spicier.

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Spicy Southwestern-Style Coleslaw

There are nine coleslaw recipes in this book, and the “Spicy Southwestern-Style Coleslaw”, page 76, is the 5th one I’ve tried. Coleslaw dressings usually fall into two categories: creamy (mayonnaise based), or tart (vinegar based). The dressing in this recipe calls for two tablespoons of vinegar, and ¼ cup olive oil, so  not quite creamy, and not quite tart. In this case, it’s hard to just completely omit the oil, as it makes up 2/3 of the dressing volume. My solution was to use ¼ cup water and 1/8 teaspoon of guar gum to thicken it up. Along with the southwestern spices (cumin, chili powder, and cayenne), this made a very delicious dressing for the salad, which consisted of both red and green cabbage, red bell pepper, and parsley (or cilantro, which seems more authentic for this dish).  

This salad is pretty to look at, tastes delightful, and gives you a super dose of those important cruciferous vegetables!

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
For the dressing, replace the oil with water and add 1/8 teaspoon guar gum to thicken.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Farro & White Bean Soup with Italian Parsley

How can you go wrong with a vegetable based soup? The “Farro & White Bean Soup with Italian Parsley” (page 156), is very similar to vegetable barley soup, and in fact, I find I can use farro in place of barley in just about any recipe. This soup also reminded me of a light minestrone, with the veggies (celery, carrots, onion, garlic), tomato, beans (cannellini), and grain combination. It was very easy to prepare, and omitting the oil required no extra effort or substitute ingredients. This is a delicious and nourishing soup, hearty enough to serve as a main dish, perfectly rounded out by a tossed green salad and whole grain bread.

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • Replace the oil with water, broth, soy sauce, or sherry for sautéing the veggies and/or use a nonstick pot.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Chickpea, Tomato, & Eggplant Stew

I’m now just about convinced I’m an authentic eggplant fan. Having recently tryed a handful of recipes from this book that include eggplant, a vegetable that in the past, I was only mildly fond of, I find I’ve changed my mind. Either these recipes are perfectly made for eggplant, or I’m getting better at working with it, or my tastes are just changing. In any case, I’m glad I am finally able to happily include this beautiful vegetable in my regular recipe rotation. The “Chickpea, Tomato, & Eggplant Stew”, page 258, is an elemental, earthy combination of onion, eggplant, carrots, potatoes, red bell pepper, chickpeas, and tomatoes, brought to full flavor with garlic, parsley, oregano, and basil. There are only two steps in the recipe preparation, sautéing a portion of the veggies, and adding the rest of the ingredients to simmer for a bit. Easy, satisfying, and tastes even better the next day, if you have any leftovers.

The recipe as written only calls for 1 tablespoon of oil. It’s easy to omit this altogether, using any other liquid you prefer for sautéing the veggies.

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • Replace the oil with water, broth, soy sauce, or sherry for sautéing the veggies and/or use a nonstick pot.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Creamy Artichoke Dressing

“Creamy Artichoke Dressing”, page 101, is versatile, zesty, and tangy, and makes a great topping for crispy lettuce salads, pasta salad, or even steamed vegetables. Although the recipe calls for a jar of undrained marinated artichoke hearts, meaning packed in oil, this worked out perfectly well using a can of water packed artichoke hearts instead. My first choice was frozen artichokes, which are superior in flavor to the canned, and are also oil-free, but I couldn’t find them the day I shopped for this recipe. The remaining ingredients are garlic, fresh lemon juice, salt, and cayenne, plus additional oil, which I omitted, using water instead. Everything goes in the blender and is processed until smooth and creamy, adding the water 2 tablespoons at a time until the dressing reaches the desired consistency. Because the artichokes add a lot of bulk, there really is no need to add any thickening agent, such as guar gum, if you leave out the oil. In fact, you may find you actually need to thin it down.

This is an easy dressing to make, whips up in a flash, and one I will likely make again. I can imagine it as a dipping sauce for oven fries, and as a topping for grilled tofu, tempeh, or seitan.

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • Replace the ¼ cup of olive oil with water, 2 tablespoons at a time, until desired consistency is reached.