Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dazzling Vegetable Salad

"Dazzling Vegetable Salad" (page 57) is the kind of salad I could make an entire meal out of. With beans, olives, and avocado in the mix, the salad is quite substantial. There is also lettuce, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, and bell pepper. With all the colors and textures it is also beautiful to look at, dazzling, actually! The dressing is supposed to be a simple vinaigrette of olive oil and fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper. Instead, I used my favorite balsamic vinegar from Fustini's Oils and Vinegars ( out of Traverse City, Michigan. This vinegar is aged for 18 years before being bottled, and is so good and so mild, just a small splash on any salad makes the perfect stand-in for oil based vinaigrettes.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sqaush Soup with Pecans & Ginger

During a visit to the Farmer's Market in Alpena, Michigan I came across a huge winter squash called Sweet Mama. With a name like that, I had to buy it! After some investigation on the internet, I discovered this is another name for the Japanese kabocha squash, and I further discovered the "Squash Soup with Pecans & Ginger" (page 171) calls for kabocha. What serendipity! The deep orange flesh and texture is similar to butternut or buttercup, either of which could easily sit in for Sweet Mama if she is unavailable. Either way, this elegant soup is sure to please.  This is a blended soup of squash, onion, celery, ginger, and broth, enlivened with a sprinkle of spices, sweetened by a splash of pure maple syrup, made creamy with soymilk, and topped with an enticing sprinkle of toasted pecans and crystallized ginger. To keep this oil free, simply omit the canola oil when cooking the onion and celery, using a nonstick soup pot, or a little broth instead. Autumn is the perfect season for this soup!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bountiful Breakfast Burritos

"Bountiful Breakfast Burritos" (page 512) make great fare for Sunday brunch, but are so quick and easy to prepare, you don't have to wait for a special occasion to enjoy them. Start with sautéed veggies (green onion, spinach) and tofu, add fresh tomatoes, salsa, and (vegan) sour cream, and roll it all up in a tortilla of your liking. As usual, no oil necessary at all for sautéing the veggies, just use a non-stick skillet, or a little broth or soy sauce in place of the oil if you wish. The hardest ingredient in this dish to keep oil free and whole grain is the tortillas. If you are lucky enough to have access to a market that carries "Food For Life" brand products, look for the Ezekiel 4:9 tortillas. They are both whole grain and oil free. In most markets you end up having to choose either whole grain or oil free. Make your own vegan sour cream (Tofu Sour Cream), as this is another product that is difficult to buy oil-free.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Southern-Style Beans-and-Rice Soup with Collards

"Southern-Style Beans-and-Rice Soup with Collards" (page 155) might become our new favorite dish to have on New Years Day. On this day in our house we always have black-eyed peas (for good luck), and greens (for prosperity). Here is a dish that puts them both together in a most delicious fashion. This dish is compiled of just a handful of fresh ingredients: black-eyed peas, collard greens, onion, garlic, rice, and broth. I cooked our peas from scratch - they cook up very quickly - but you could use canned, fresh, or frozen just as easily. Omit the oil when sautéing the onions (use a little water, broth, or sherry instead) to keep this within McDougall guidelines. Another change I made was to cook the brown rice first before adding it to the soup. For one thing, the instructions say only 30 minutes is needed to cook the rice once you add it to the pot, but I've never had brown rice cook that quickly (and the recipe does call for brown rice). I also don't have good luck having brown rice cook "done" when it is cooked along with several other ingredients, even if I had increased the cooking time. You may not have to cook the soup for an extra 30 minutes after adding the collards either, depending on how well-cooked you like your greens. I ended up cooking the black-eyed peas from scratch, the greens and rice separately, and throwing everything together afterwards. It does sort of take the simplicity of the preparation away, but from experience, I knew I would be happier with the results. Tabasco sauce is a must to pass around at the table!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tahini-Lemon Sauce

I made the "Lemon Tahini Sauce" (page 558) specifically for the pita bread Falafel Sandwiches, and it was absolutely the perfect finishing touch for these pocket bread sandwiches. Made from tahini, fresh garlic, lemon juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, and parsley, the combination of flavors are vibrant and addictive. The recipe calls for 2 Tablespoons of sesame oil. I literally used about 2 drops of oil, probably less than ¼ teaspoon, just to intensify the sesame flavor a little bit. But the tahini already brings the sesame flavor to the mix, so not too much oil is really necessary, in fact, you could probably leave it out altogether and still have an awesome sauce. The tahini I used was quite thin compared to some other brands I've had in the past, but if you are using the thicker paste, the recipe allows for this by having you add a little water to the mixture to thin it down. The recipe suggests using this on any number of things - baked tofu, greens, rice and beans, even cooked noodles - and I plan to try them all!

Falafel Sanwiches

As anyone who has been following my blog knows by now, both my husband and I are big sandwich fans, and any meal is just right for a sandwich of some sort. Recently I tried the "Falafel Sandwiches" (page 117), and were they ever good! I had never had falafel at home until this recipe, and what a difference! No more greasy over-fried garbanzo bean balls for me! In this recipe falafel patties are made from chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley, oats and spices, dredged in flour, and pan fried until golden brown. I admit, it is a little difficult to get that "golden brown" effect when "frying" oil-free, but in my non-stick skillet, I still get a bit of browning and that nice crusty edge that is so satisfying. The finished patties are tucked into pita bread (easy to find these whole grain at most markets, but not always oil free) along with lettuce, tomato, and Lemon Tahini Sauce. Delicioius!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Seared Portobello Fajitas

Sometimes the simplest of ingredients come together for the best combination of flavors, as they did in the "Seared Portobello Fajitas" (page 125). Strips of portobello are quickly cooked over medium high heat with onion, chili pepper, and spinach, seasoned with cumin and oregano, and wrapped into warm flour tortillas. Add salsa and Green-Green Guacamole, and you're there! This was a quick meal to put together, on the table in less than 30 minutes. To keep this within the McDougall guidelines, I omitted the oil when sautéing the vegetables, and used whole grain tortillas (the Ezekiel brand of tortillas are wonderful!). I took a picture of the mixture before wrapping it up to show all the vibrant colors.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Green-Green Guacamole

"Green-Green Guacamole" (page 9) is an excellent way to enjoy the rich flavor of guacamole with a little less of the fat. Instead of using just avocado, this recipe incorporates shelled edamame and steamed zucchini, cutting the avocado portion about in half. In addition to the base of avocado, edamame, and zucchini, the dip is seasoned and flavored with garlic, salt and fresh lemon juice. To keep the preparation simple, I softened the sliced zucchini in the microwave (instead of sautéing in a skillet). I also did the same thing with the edamame, instead of boiling them in a saucepan. These two shortcuts saved me time and having to use both a skillet and saucepan. However, if you don't care to use a microwave, the directions as written accommodate this preference. I also chose not to cook the garlic (the recipe has you sautéing this with the zucchini), but I like the bite of raw garlic, especially in guacamole. I just added the raw cloves into the food processor along with everything else. Enjoy this totally delicious dip anywhere you would any guacamole.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Potato Salad with Seitan Strips & Tarragon-Mustard Vinaigrette

"Potato Salad with Seitan Strips and Tarragon-Mustard Vinaigrette" (page 71) makes a hearty and filling entrée salad. Cooked potatoes, red onion, and celery are added to browned strips of seitan, and then all is dressed with a delicious vinaigrette. There were a couple of challenges trying to keep this dish oil free, as one tablespoon of olive oil is called for to brown the seitan, and another 1/3 cup used in the dressing. Browning the seitan was easy in my non-stick skillet, so that challenge was quickly overcome. But whenever a recipe calls for as much as 1/3 cup of oil, I know I can't just "leave it out". It really is the main ingredient in this dressing. I decided to substitute the oil with an equal amount of light broth which I thickened with ¼ teaspoon of guar gum (simply mix the guar gum into cooled broth and let sit a few minutes to thicken). I used the other ingredients in the dressing (Dijon, garlic, vinegar, and tarragon) exactly as written. This came out fabulous! This salad was so good, I probably could have eaten the entire recipe by myself, but I went ahead and shared it with my husband. He thanked me for that!