Saturday, November 7, 2015

Mango-Ponzu Dipping Sauce

Sauces can take a dish from ordinary to extraordinary, providing complimentary layers of flavor and complexity.  The “Mango-Ponzu Dipping Sauce” (page 558) is a fresh and bold sauce with just a handful of ingredients – fresh mango, ponzu sauce, and chili paste. If you have trouble finding ponzu sauce (normally found in well stocked grocery stores or Asian markets), you can make it from scratch without much effort (recipes abound on the internet). This sauce is hot, sweet, and piquant, all at the same time, and is wonderful served with tofu chunks, spring rolls, tempeh, seitan, or just about anywhere you would enjoy salsa or chutney. I thought it was especially good with the Potato Samosas I reviewed below. Happily, this dish was McDougall Friendly as written, and no modifications were necessary!

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” checklist:

·       No changes necessary!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Potato Samosas

You will find the “Potato Samosas” (page 44) in the Appetizers and Snacks section, but I found these hearty enough to serve as an entrée. I could probably live indefinitely on samosa-like food – hot pockets of dough stuffed with a savory filling. The possibilities are endless, and the comfort food rating is high. I did have to make a few adjustments to omit the oil, as samosas are traditionally fried in a skillet, or even deep fried. The recipe also calls for a significant amount of oil in the dough, and for sautéing the vegetables that go into the filling. The filling consists of potatoes and onion, with the optional addition of green peas, spinach, or cauliflower. (I like adding peas for a burst of color.) The dough is basically a mixture of flour, salt, water, and oil, plus a splash of soymilk, but I replaced the water, oil, and soymilk with 1 cup of plain, unsweetened soy yogurt, which keeps the oil-free dough tender. This recipe does take some time – it is a process – but the results are well worth the effort. If you have a Pocket Pie Crimper for forming the samosas, you will end up with a perfectly formed and pretty pocket, but you can also make these by hand following the recipe instructions. Instead of frying this in a skillet of hot oil, I baked them in the oven for 40 minutes at 375 degrees. Eat these plain, or with one of the dipping sauces suggested in the recipe notes.

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” checklist:

  • Substitute the water, oil, and soymilk in the dough mixture with 1 cup of plain, unsweetened non-dairy yogurt.
  • When sautéing the veggies for the filling, use a nonstick skillet and/or a little water, broth, or sherry instead of the oil.
  • Instead of frying the samosas in oil in a skillet, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake them in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes, turning once halfway through.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Millet-Stuffed Bell Peppers with Watercress & Orange

“Millet-Stuffed Bell Peppers with Watercress & Orange” (page 336) puts a novel and delicious spin on the traditional stuffed pepper. Millet isn’t a common grain for most of us living in this country, but the more ways I find to use it, the more I appreciate it. It is versatile, nutritious, and as a bit of a chameleon, can adapt itself to dishes ranging from sweet to savory. In this simple preparation, cooked millet is mixed with sautéed onions, watercress, chopped orange segments; mildly seasoned with pepper and coriander; then stuffed into bell pepper halves. These bake in orange juice until the peppers are tender, and the millet stuffing is heated through. Use any color of peppers that pleases you; I found red peppers on sale at the market the week I made these, so that is what I used. I made a couple of changes to the recipe to suit my own tastes. First, I didn’t pre-cook the pepper halves in boiling water before stuffing and baking them. I find this step softens the peppers more than I like, and the bake in the oven is enough for me. I also spooned the orange juice over the stuffed peppers, rather than pouring it into the bottom of the baking pan so the millet could soak up the delicious flavor. These keep well, so you won’t mind if you end up with leftovers – in fact, you’ll be glad of it!
Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” checklist: 

  • Substitute the oil for sautéing the veggies with sherry (which added a nice flavor), or water, or soy sauce

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Coconut-Peanut Sauce

Lately I’ve been experimenting with multiple versions of Bowl Food, a delicious way to prepare a healthy and delicious feast in a bowl. The concept is to create a layered meal of grains, beans (or tofu, tempeh, seitan, etc.), lightly steamed veggies, and raw or lightly cooked greens, all topped with a flavorful sauce. The possibilities are endless, as you can imagine. I used the “Coconut-Peanut Sauce” (page 557) to top a bowl meal consisting of brown rice, baked tofu, sugar snap peas, corn-off-the-cob, and steamed kale. Honestly, this sauce would add sparkle and pizzazz to anything you drizzled it on. The flavor combination of peanut butter, coconut, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, lime, and cayenne is a match made in heaven and the ultimate in Asian sauces. The recipe calls for coconut milk, a product very high in saturated fat. One cup of coconut milk contains 552 calories, and 57 grams of fat (51 of those saturated fat). By contrast, one cup of almond milk contains 30 calories, and 2.5 grams of fat (with 0 grams saturated fat). For this reason, I chose to create a substitute for the coconut milk in this recipe by mixing ½ teaspoon of coconut extract with one cup of almond milk. This is a delicious way to get the creaminess and flavor of coconut milk with almost zero fat. Your arteries will thank you, and your taste buds won’t know the difference!

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” checklist:

  • While coconut milk isn’t technically ‘forbidden’ on the McDougall plan, it isn’t recommended, either. To create a lower fat version of coconut milk that retains the same flavor, substitute with one cup of almond milk mixed with ½ teaspoon coconut extract.