Friday, November 30, 2012

Spinach, Mushroom, & Black Bean Quesadillas

You won't find any queso in these "Spinach, Mushroom, & Black Bean Quesadillas" (page 127), but you will find a savory stuffed tortilla grilled to perfection, and they come together in no time flat.  In today's culinary lingo, quesadilla is loosely defined as just about any filling you want, layered into a tortilla, and grilled in a skillet, with cheese no longer a strictly necessary ingredient. Omit the oil when sautéing the veggies (which also includes onions and garlic), and the filling will be completely McDougall friendly. Try to find a whole grain, no-oil added tortilla for the healthiest choice, such as the Ezekiel sprouted grain variety from Foods For Life. These tortillas make especially delicious quesadillas! Skip the oil when grilling the quesadillas by using a non-stick skillet - they will still brown very nicely, especially the Ezekiel brand tortillas, which include some natural oil from the sprouted seeds they contain.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

New World Chili

"New World Chili" (page 250) is named for the ingredients that explorers coming to the shores of America may have discovered growing here, such as butternut squash, pinto and lima beans, and corn.  An interesting blend of spices (allspice, chili powder, canned chipotle chili), along with mild salsa infuse this chili with bold and appealing flavors. This may not seem like a traditional chili, maybe more like bean stew or chowder, but delicious in it's own right. This is a wonderful dish for this time of year, hearty and warming, and leftovers keep very well. The only change I made to keep this within my preparation guidelines was to omit the oil when sautéing the onion.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Three-Alarm Potato Salad

Potatoes are high on my list of favorite foods, and I especially love potato salad. The "Three-Alarm Potato Salad" (page 68) is a slight variation on the traditional preparation, incorporating hot tomato salsa and minced fresh hot chilies to give it added zing. If you use oil-free vegan mayonnaise, there are no other changes necessary to keep this dish within McDougall guidelines. Minced onion, celery, and bell pepper provide a bit of texture (crunch), fresh parsley a bit of color, and an unusual addition, avocado, provides creaminess and also serves to offset the heat. I opted to peel the potatoes, although the recipe doesn't call for this, and I also opted to serve the avocado on the side, rather than incorporate it into the salad. (Since we weren't eating the salad in one sitting, and I thought the avocado might darken in the uneaten portion.) This is a fun twist on a time-honored favorite.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fresh Tomato Salsa

"Fresh Tomato Salsa" (page 567) is so easy to make, and perfect for those who prefer chunky salsa over blended styles. This salsa is a flavorful combination of Roma tomatoes, hot chili, red onion, fresh garlic, cilantro, lime juice and salt. I left the salt out as the bold flavors stood on their own. Not one change was necessary to keep this within the McDougall guidelines. This is great for Mexican meals, baked potatoes, dipping crackers, chips, or tortillas into, on steamed vegetables, in soups, just about anywhere you crave these flavors. Make it as spicy or mild as you like by controlling the amount of chili you add. I used one serrano, and it was the right amount of heat for our tastes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fresh Mint & Coconut Chutney

The "Fresh Mint and Coconut Chutney" (page 564) was very simple to prepare and added a nice sparkle to the  "Red Lentil Patties in Pita"  . Five simple ingredients - fresh mint, hot red chili, lemon juice, salt and coconut - combine for an explosion of flavor. What kept this even simpler for me was using crushed red chili flakes and shredded coconut (as opposed to fresh), and skipping the instruction to "process to a paste" in a blender or food processor. I think of chutney as a chunky condiment, much like a chunky salsa, and blending into a paste didn't seem as appealing. No changes were necessary to keep this dish McDougall friendly, although coconut isn't a food you want to indulge in on a regular basis. In a condiment such as this chutney, however, a little goes a long way.

Red Lentil Patties in Pita

"Red Lentil Patties in Pita" (page 122) is the 10th (out of 11) burger recipe I've tried from this book. The burger section has been most fun, and I often come back to these recipes when I'm craving a veggie burger. The mix for these patties consists of cooked red lentils, sautéed onion and potato, roasted cashews, and gluten or garbanzo flour (I used gluten), along with herbs and spices, all of which are combined in a food processor. Since everything ultimately ends up in the food processor, I didn't go to the extra effort of grating the potato before sautéing it, rather I just diced it into small cubes. The overall mixture came out quite moist, making it a tad bit difficult to form into patties; I could have added some oats or bread crumbs at this point, but decided since the patties were going to be tucked into pita bread, having them extra firm wasn't critical. These were very good, especially when topped with the  "Fresh Mint & Coconut Chutney". What I did to keep this within McDougall guidelines: Omitted the oil when sautéing the veggies; omitted the oil when cooking the patties; used whole grain, oil free pita bread.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Three Bean Soup

"Three Bean Soup" (page 161) can be assembled in a snap using canned beans, a smart choice since there are three separate varieties in this soup. It is very easy to keep this oil free, simply omit the oil when sautéing the veggies, and that is all the changes necessary. Besides the kidney, black, and white beans, this soup if full of healthy veggies - onion, carrot, celery, garlic, tomatoes - all simmered until the veggies are done, and seasoned with herbs and spices. A great cold weather soup, and leftovers are even better the next day. Doesn’t get much easier, or healthier, than this.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pecan & Date-Stuffed Roasted Pears

Since my husband is a big fan of desserts made from fresh fruit, I was drawn to the "Pecan & Date-Stuffed Roasted Pears" (page 482), as an alternative to poached pears (a favorite of his, but not so much of mine). These were amazingly delicious! Halved pears with the middles scooped out with a melon baller are stuffed with a mixture of pecans, dates, maple syrup, and spices. Margarine is supposed to be included in this mixture, but I substituted the one tablespoon called for with one tablespoon of tahini. For a milder flavor, you could also use almond or cashew butter (update 11/9/2012 - I just made this again using 3 tablespoons of applesauce instead of the margarine or nut butters, and it was delicious!), or leave out altogether with great results. The stuffed pears are topped with a sprinkle of fruit juice and baked in the oven. This is a wonderful dessert for the Autumn season, and very healthy (especially if you leave out the margarine). The recipe suggests serving these topped with chocolate sauce or raspberry coulis (recipes found elsewhere in the book which I haven't tried yet), or with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice-cream. We enjoyed them "plain" this time around, but may try one of the other serving suggestion next time I make them.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Cranberry Pancakes with Orange-Maple Syrup

I often reserve Sunday mornings for making pancakes. Having spent most of my life scheduling more leisurely activities around the weekends, the festive Sunday breakfast or brunch has become a tradition that now stands on its own. "Cranberry Pancakes with Orange-Maple Syrup" (page 514) definitely qualifies for Sunday fare, but would be equally as tasty any day of the week. Soymilk and silken tofu provide the wet ingredients for the pancake batter, with dried cranberries that have been softened in hot water added for extra flavor, color, and chew. The Orange-Maple Syrup is made by warming up maple syrup, fresh orange juice, and fresh orange chunks. The recipe also calls for margarine as part of the syrup, but I just left this completely out and didn't miss it a bit. I also omitted the oil when cooking the pancakes in my non-stick skillet, with excellent results. Instead of using all-purpose flour, otherwise known as white flour, try using whole wheat, or whole wheat pastry flour. Both choices work beautifully, and I actually prefer the heartier pancake made from whole grain flours. These pancakes make a wonderful and delicious Autumn themed breakfast.