Thursday, February 28, 2013

Zucchini Sauté with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Olives, & Peppers

"Zucchini Sauté with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Olives, & Peppers" (page 384) is a Mediterranean style vegetable side dish that you can toss together quickly any time you have the ingredients on hand: zucchini, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, parsley, lemon juice, and…wait...what about the peppers? Funny thing is the ingredients list doesn't include peppers of any kind. But I cleared that up with a quick email to Robin Robertson, who explained that at the last minute when testing the recipe she added red peppers and thought they were so good, she would include them, but the update didn't make it to the final cut. To correct this omission, Robin said: "The addition should be “1 red bell pepper, cut into strips” and they get added when you add the zucchini." Easy enough! Even without any peppers (as I prepared it), this is a great way to prepare zucchini.
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü  Omit the olive oil when cooking the veggies. Instead, use a non-stick skillet and/or a little water, broth, or sherry as the sauté liquid.
ü  If using oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinse them off and blot dry before using them in the recipe. Alternately, buy the variety that comes in cellophane packages and rehydrate with water before using.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


I never realized how much better homemade granola is than anything you can buy in a store! This "Granola" recipe (page 521) is one I have made repeatedly, and consider it one of the shining stars of this book. Surprisingly (and happily!) the recipe as written contains no added oils, which is somewhat hard to come by in store bought varieties. The base ingredients are oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, raisins, coconut, maple syrup, cinnamon, and allspice. But this is just a start, as there are endless variations to try. Any rolled whole grain could fill in for the oats; walnuts or pecans can sub for the almonds; leave out the coconut if you're not a fan; used other dried fruits instead of raisins. No matter the combination, the end result is sure to please. I found I had to make a couple of adjustments to the instructions to make it work for me. First of all, I don't have a pan (nor an oven) big enough to accommodate the full recipe (which starts with 5 ½ cups of oats), so I always cut the recipe in half. I also found that 300 degrees isn't hot enough in my oven, so I have been roasting the granola closer to 325-350 degrees. I also found that the suggested roasting time (10 minutes initially with part of the ingredients, then another 15 with everything in the pan) isn't long enough to yield a crisp and dry granola. I've been adding another full 30 minutes, taking the pan out of the oven every 15 minutes and stirring, to get a crispy, golden and dry end product. One other hint: If you want to keep the dried fruit soft and chewy, add it after the granola comes out of the oven for the last time.
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü     Omit the coconut to avoid saturated fats.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Black Beans with Serrano "Aioli"

The "Black Beans with Serrano 'Aioli'" (page 256) is a wonderful way to jazz up canned beans, and in no time at all you have a spicy, creamy, delicious meal on the table. Of course you can use beans cooked from scratch, which would be better yet. Either way, black beans are simmered on the stovetop with tomatoes, then topped with the Serrano Aioli and chopped cilantro. The aioli is made from fresh serrano pepper, garlic, lemon juice, and mayo processed in a blender until smooth and creamy. Here is where you have to be careful with the added oils, as the recipe calls for ¼ cup olive oil as well, and the mayo you choose could also contain fat. I used fat-free mayo (Vegan Mayonnaise ), and I left the olive oil out completely. With the bold flavors from the garlic and serrano pepper, nothing was lacking in this topping. In fact, this would make a wonderful Mexican style topping on burritos, tacos, salads, tostados, enchiladas…you get the picture!
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü     Be sure to use fat-free mayo when preparing the aioli (Vegan Mayonnaise ).
ü     Omit the ¼ cup oil when preparing the aioli - no substitution is necessary.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pan-Fried Spuds

As a True Blue McDougaller, potatoes are among my best friends! I like potatoes no matter how they are served up, as long as there is no added oil. The "Pan-Fried Spuds" (page 525) use leftover diced baked potatoes to make the "home fries" version of hashbrowns, which is my preferred method. When roasting or "frying" a potato without oil, the results are better when starting out with a precooked potato. These Pan-Fried Spuds are O'Brien style with the inclusion of onion and bell pepper. Because I made these without the 3 tablespoons of oil, they were not as crispy as you would expect from a traditional fried potato, but delicious all the same. They are especially good topped with ketchup, barbeque sauce, salsa, or hot sauce. Although this recipe is found in the Breakfast section, these potatoes make a nice lunch or a side dish for dinner as well.
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü     Omit the oil and use a non-stick skillet instead. Do not add any other liquid as this will cause the potatoes to become soggy.
ü     You can cover the potatoes for a portion of the cooking time if you want to steam them slightly. This will yield a slightly less dry hash brown.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Banana-Walnut Breakfast Muffins

I used to be really intimidated by oil free baking. When my palate was accustomed to the texture of high-fat baked goods, the slightly different mouth feel that came in a fat-free product was a little off-putting. But over the years I've actually begun to enjoy the fat free versions of muffins, quick breads, pancakes, and cookies, much more so than their oily counterparts. The "Banana-Walnut Breakfast Muffins" (page 524) already have two things going for them to improve their chances of success after leaving out the oil - the inclusion of bananas which lend moisture and tenderness to the final product, and flax seed which is a good replacement for egg. The walnuts also lend a tad of richness and crunch. I replaced the 3 tablespoons of oil with about the same amount of applesauce (I used one of those single serving containers, unsweetened). Fat free baked goods usually end up tasting better a day or two after they bake, and this was true of these as well. A delicious treat, good not only at breakfast, but also a nice accompaniment to soup or salad, or a good anytime snack.
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü     Use 100% whole wheat flour, or 100% whole wheat pastry flour instead of half whole wheat, half white.
ü     Omit the oil and use an equal amount of applesauce (a nice complement to the apple juice also used in this recipe).
ü     Instead of oiling the muffin tin, use paper liners, or use a non-stick pan, such as the ones made from silicone. Note: if you use paper liners when baking fat free muffins, you might have difficulty removing the papers on the day they are baked. But by the next day, they should peel off easily.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

Curried Walnut "Chicken" Salad

Here is another recipe that can be transformed into a quick meal if you have all the ingredients on hand. "Curried Walnut 'Chicken' Salad" (page 83) can be served in wraps (like I did), or scooped onto a lettuce leaf as an alternative. Seitan stands in for the 'chicken', and is combined with chopped walnuts, celery, carrot, green onions, raisins, curry powder, and a combination of vegan mayo and yogurt. When I made this I was unable to find vegan yogurt, so I used mayo only, but added a teaspoon of lemon juice to give it the tang that would have come from the yogurt. Both my husband and I really liked these, but then again, there isn't much we don't enjoy in a wrap!

"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü     Omit the 1 tablespoons of oil when sautéing the seitan; use a nonstick skillet instead with a little water, sherry, or broth to prevent sticking (seitan will tend to stick without some kind of moisture even in a nonstick skillet).

ü     Make your own seitan (Basic Simmered Seitan), or make sure you purchase an oil free variety.

ü     Buy oil free vegan mayo, or make your own ( Vegan Mayo).

ü     Oil free vegan yogurt might be hard to find, but if available, use it. Or, just use all mayo as I did, and add a little fresh lemon juice.

ü     If using wraps, look for whole grain oil free varieties, such as the sprouted wraps from "Food For Life" brand of bread products.