Friday, April 29, 2011

Mashed Potatoes and Greens

Two of my favorite foods, mashed potatoes and kale, come together in a most delicious way in "Mashed Potatoes and Greens" (page 374).  Three very simple ingredients - potatoes, kale, and green onions - make up the bulk of this dish, flavored with the most humble of our kitchen spices, salt and pepper. Although the recipe calls for a tablespoon of flax oil, and two tablespoons of margarine, I omitted this added fat and about 39 grams of fat.  A little more soymilk was needed when mashing the potatoes to make up for leaving out the oils, but no flavor was sacrificed.  What we didn't eat the first night, I made potato pancakes out of the next day, a great way to use up any kind of leftover mashed potato dish.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pinto Bean Patties with Chili-Lime "Mayo"

In my opinion, sandwiches should be one of the food groups.  Although I try not to get carried away with too many flour products in my diet, there are some days when having a sandwich of some sort at each meal would suit me just fine.  The "Pinto Bean Patties with Chili-Lime Mayo" on page 124 really hit the spot on one of my sandwich craving days.  The pattie is made from pinto beans, onion, garlic, cilantro and Creole seasoning, with gluten flour added to give the pattie firmness and chew.  The completed patties are lightly breaded then pan fried.  Although the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of oil for the pan frying, I omitted this completely and had good results cooking these in my non-stick skillet.  The Chili-Lime Mayo is simply vegan (and I would add oil-free) mayo with fresh lime juice and diced serrano chili mixed together.  To die for…!  I lightly toasted whole wheat bread, spread on the mayo, and added lettuce and tomato for a truly wonderful sandwich.  The recipe also suggests serving them on sandwich rolls or tortillas, which also sounded good.  I served the leftover patties with potatoes and gravy, which was equally delicious!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Scrambled Tofu with Chiles and Salsa

I keep forgetting there is an entire Breakfast & Brunch chapter in this book!  It seems most of my formal meal planning usually circles around dinner, but the good news is the "Scrambled Tofu with Chiles and Salsa" on page 508 would be just as delicious for the evening meal as it was for breakfast.  I admit, my version of this dish usually consists of mixing a package of Tofu Scrambler into a pound of tofu followed by a quick sauté in the skillet.  So, this was a little more effort, but not too much.  Red onions, canned green chilies, and plum tomatoes add color and flavor; optional vegan cheese is a nice touch, albeit a higher fat option; and salsa adds a nice zing to the finished product.  I added a pinch of turmeric for color, but totally not necessary if you aren't looking to make this dish look like traditional scrambled eggs.  I skipped the oil when sautéing the onions, that being the only change necessary to keep this McDougall friendly.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tempeh with Potatoes and Cabbage

"Tempeh with Potatoes and Cabbage" (page 302) is a hearty dish, I would call it a stew, that can also be turned into a goulash with the addition of optional vegan sour cream.  Browned tempeh, onion, carrots, potatoes, and cabbage are cooked in a savory broth of diced tomatoes, white wine, and vegetable broth until everything is cooked through, hot and bubbly, at which time you can stir in the sour cream if you opt to use it (I did).  In order to keep this oil free, I omitted the oil when browning the tempeh, using a dry non-stick skillet instead (less browning, but also less fat), as well as when sautéing the onions and carrots.  The sour cream was homemade and oil free, as well.  To quote the recipe, this is a great "stick-to-your-ribs cold-weather comfort food". (Note: The recipe called for 1 pound of tempeh, and I used just 8 oz, as it seemed like more than enough.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Morning Polenta with a Drizzle of Maple Syrup

Soft creamy polenta for breakfast is pure heaven and total comfort food, and I wonder why I don't have it more often.  "Morning Polenta with a Drizzle of Maple Syrup" (page 522) is pretty much the way I have always prepared my polenta, minus the vegan margarine this recipe calls for.  Very basic (polenta, water, salt, and pure maple syrup), and very soul satisfying. Add a splash of soymilk to eat more like a porridge. As a bonus, put any leftovers into a storage dish and it will firm up in the refrigerator for cutting into slices later, wonderful warmed up and topped with gravy or marinara sauce. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Jamaican Red Bean Stew

"Jamaican Red Bean Stew" (page 252) is a hearty dish with distinct flavors that, as the recipe promises, fills your house with the fragrant aromas of Jamaican spices.  Onions, carrots, sweet potato, and red beans are cooked in a thick sauce spiced with curry, thyme, allspice, and red pepper.  The recipe calls for coconut milk, which I avoid due to the high saturated fat content, and instead used 1 cup of soymilk to which I added ½ teaspoon of coconut extract.  Coconut milk would have helped thicken the stew, so to compensate for that, I stirred a tablespoon of cornstarch into the soymilk mixture before adding it in.  The only other change I made was to sauté the onions and carrots in a little water instead of oil.  Oh, and I did double the amount of red pepper flakes (from ¼ teaspoon to ½), as I wanted it a little spicier.  The recipe suggests serving this over rice or couscous to absorb the flavors of the rich sauce.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Seitan and Broccoli-Shiitake Stir-Fry

Although I do most of the cooking in our family, my husband has two specialties:  anything on the grill, and stir-frying.  I'm always happy when dinner falls into one of these categories and I get a break from the daily grind.  Such was the case with "Seitan and Broccoli-Shiitake Stir-Fry" on page 312.  Since my husband is highly allergic to shiitake mushrooms (and only shiitake) he used baby portabellas instead, a delicious alternative.  The seitan was part of a batch I had made a while back and froze, since the recipe in this book makes a very large quantity. Oil is called for twice in this dish, one for browning the seitan (using the seitan broth works as a good substitute here, although you won't really be able to "brown" the seitan), and once as a sprinkle of sesame oil for flavor, which can just be omitted.  My husband served this over brown rice, and we almost ate the entire dish in one sitting.  What was left over heated up well for lunch a couple days later.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Walnut-and-Cranberry-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

If you ask me, the "Walnut-and-Cranberry-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes" (page 347) belongs in the dessert section.  Although found in the Main Dishes section (maybe it's the red onion?), this concoction is sweet enough and rich enough to qualify as a special after dinner treat.  Studded with walnuts and cranberries, and sweetened just slightly with pure maple syrup, this dish was already decadent enough, without including any of the olive oil (for sautéing the onions), the margarine used to combine the walnuts and cranberries, or optional walnut oil (to be drizzled on top of the finished product).  I left out both oils and the margarine, and didn't miss them a bit.  I didn't have the best of luck keeping the skins intact after baking the potatoes, so I just scooped everything into a bowl and mixed it altogether, and didn't worry about putting the mixture back into the oven to reheat.  So, I guess I should call my version "un-stuffed"!  Quite a treat, and would be good served at a Thanksgiving Day feast.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Moroccan Lentil & Chickpea Soup

"Moroccan Lentil and Chickpea Soup" (page 164), takes plain lentil soup up a notch.  The addition of chickpeas add extra body and chew, while the seasonings give this soup heat as well as deep flavors.  The spices include fresh ginger, turmeric, cumin, and lemon juice as well as calling for a Harissa Sauce (recipe found elsewhere in the book).  Harissa Sauce consists of hot red chilies, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, garlic, olive oil, and vinegar which are alternatively toasted, sautéed, ground up, and processed.  Since I was feeling kind of lazy, I didn't want to make the Harissa in addition to the soup, so I just added red pepper flakes, caraway, coriander, and some extra garlic to the soup. This seemed to work perfectly well, although I can't compare it to using actual Harissa Sauce.  The only thing I needed to do to keep this McDougall compliant was omit the oil when sautéing the onion.  Leftovers were even better, as is often the case.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Asparagus Dijon

My favorite way to eat asparagus is just lightly steamed, topped with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of salt & pepper.  Maybe some garlic if I'm feeling extravagant. But ever afraid of getting into a rut, from time to time I will try something new, like the "Asparagus Dijon" on page 355.  This was quite simple, and consisted of combining Dijon mustard, sherry vinegar (I used straight sherry instead, since I didn't want to buy a bottle of vinegar I would likely not use very often), shallots, soy sauce, and oil.  Instead of oil, I used water, and thickened the vinaigrette with 1/8 teaspoon guar gum, an amazingly effective way to thicken up a dressing and keep it fat-free.  The recipe suggested the asparagus could be served warm or chilled.  I decided to be even more adventurous and serve it cold, a good choice, especially on a hot day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Last-Minute Italian-Style Pasta Salad

"Last-Minute Italian-Style Pasta Salad" (page 92) really does come together quite quickly if you have all the ingredients on hand, and even if you don't (like me), it is pretty easy to improvise.  For instance, the recipe calls for chives, but since I couldn't find any in the market, I used red onion instead.  I chose not to use oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes in order to avoid the oil (and I don't care for the flavor or texture of plain dried tomatoes), and used fresh cherry tomatoes. Instead of marinated artichoke hearts, I used water packed (again, to avoid the oil).  For the pasta, the recipe suggests penne, rotini, or another small pasta.  I happened to have mini bow-ties on hand, so that's what I used.  This is a very festive salad with fun ingredients such as kalamata olives, chick peas, roasted red peppers, capers, and frozen peas.  This was another recipe where the dressing was olive-oil predominate (1/2 cup, 108 grams of fat!!!). I simply substituted ½ cup water, thickened with 1/8 teaspoon guar gum, to the rest of the dressing ingredients (vinegar, basil, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper) with excellent results.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Seitan Noodle Casserole

"Seitan Noodle Casserole" (page 316) is definitely comfort food. Noodles, peas, seitan and mushrooms wrapped in a creamy sauce, sprinkled with vegan parmesan cheese, and baked in the oven until hot and bubbly, it doesn't get much better than that.  Although a bit preparation intensive, and using several pots and pans for boiling the pasta, sautéing mushrooms, cooking the sauce, and finally transferring everything to the baking dish, it turns out to be wonderful and worth it. (Interestingly, the recipe describes this dish as "a cinch to put together".) Initially I was unsure how I would get around the ¼ cup margarine (46 grams of solid fat!) called for in the white sauce, but after giving it some thought, I came up with a great alternative.  I simply put the broth, sherry, and flour in the blender, along with 2 tablespoons tahini (my addition to replace the margarine) and processed slightly until smooth.  I transferred this to a sauce pan and cooked and stirred until thick, then added the parsley and thyme.  Thick, creamy and delicious without any added fat.  Because I like most dishes saucier than called for (I think I've mentioned this before), the final outcome was not quite as "wet" as I would have liked.  Next time I make this I will increase the amount of sauce.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Provençal White Bean Salad

On warm days I love to build dinner around a hearty salad like the "Provençal White Bean Salad" (page 81) that use simple, yet filling ingredients that don't require a lot of cooking.  In this case, just a few minutes to steam the green beans is all the cooking time required if you use pre-cooked or canned white beans.  Fresh red onion and cherry tomatoes add contrasting colors, and nicoise olives provide tang and chew.  The biggest challenge was keeping the dressing oil free.  The recipe calls for 1/3 cup olive oil, over half the volume of the dressing, so I couldn't just omit it.  Using water in place of the oil would have diluted the flavors too much and made the dressing, dare I say, too watery.  I decided to blend 1/3 cup of vegetable broth with 1/8 teaspoon guar gum (for slight thickening), along with the rest of the dressing ingredients, and it turned out very good, just thick enough.  It makes me so happy when I can enjoy a delicious salad such as this without ingesting an additional 71 grams (gulp!) of fat - the amount found in 1/3 cup oil.