Friday, May 31, 2013

Chinese Noodles & Broccoli with Spicy Black Bean Sauce

Found in the Asian Noodles sub-section of the Pasta and Noodles chapter, "Chinese Noodles & Broccoli With Spicy Black Bean Sauce" (page 239) is fast, easy, and delicious (as the head notes say!). A few simple ingredients combine in a complimentary manner for a satisfying one-plate meal, ready to sit down to in under thirty minutes. It's probably the black bean sauce that gives this dish that certain je ne sais quoi, or maybe it's that magical combination of ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and hot Asian chili paste that is so irresistible. The recipe suggests using egg-free Chinese noodles or linguine, so I used Eden brand whole grain udon noodles, a perfect fit in this recipe. I skipped the step that calls for tossing the cooked noodles in sesame oil; instead I just rinsed them well to prevent sticking. I added the chopped cashews at the table to keep them crunchy, since I new I would have leftovers to serve the next day.
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü     Omit the sesame oil for coating the cooked noodles; rinse the cooked noodles in cool water instead.
ü     Omit the canola oil when stir-frying the veggies, and use a bit of sherry, water, or broth instead, and/or a nonstick wok or skillet.
ü     Use whole grain noodles, such as the Eden brand 100% whole grain udon.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Carrot & Orange Salad with Cashews & Cilantro

The "Carrot & Orange Salad With Cashews & Cilantro" (page 56) is somewhat reminiscent of old-fashioned carrot and raisin salad, with the oranges standing in for the raisins. As the recipe head note states, this salad "…is a delightful merging of color, texture, and flavor". Color comes from the carrots and oranges, texture from the crunchy cashews, and flavor abounds with the addition of fresh orange and lime juices, plus cilantro. The 'Theme of 3's' is present here (I'm always on the lookout for this since discovering many of these recipes incorporate this concept) with the color orange: orange carrots, oranges, and orange juice. Leaving the olive oil out altogether is easy enough in this very flavorful salad, with no substitutions required. If you find you need a little extra moisture, you could increase either, or both, the orange and lime juices. With the fresh orange slices right there in the salad, I found no need to compensate for leaving the oil out.
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü  Omit the 1/3 cup olive oil (and thereby eliminating 72 grams of fat!!!! Not to mention, 633 additional calories!). Add extra orange or lime juice if you desire.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Granola-Infused Oatmeal

I never thought about eating granola and oatmeal at the same time, but the "Granola-Infused Oatmeal" (page 521) had me doing just that. I have been hooked on the "Granola" recipe from this book since the first time I made it, and always have a canister of it handy in my pantry, and oatmeal makes it to my breakfast table several times a week as well. So it was a breeze to combine these two breakfast staples to try this recipe. All you really do is cook up a pot of oatmeal, sprinkle on some granola, and dig in. Technically speaking, the "infused" part of the recipe has you stirring the granola into the cooked oats and letting this mixture sit for a few minutes; but as the recipe also states, if you want to retain the crunch of the granola (as I did), simply sprinkle the granola on top without stirring it in. I added a drizzle of maple syrup and a splash of soymilk to my bowl before eating. This is a novel and tasty way to enjoy two of my favorite breakfast foods.
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü     This recipe is McDougall friendly as written!!! J

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Macadamia-Cashew Patties

I reached a milestone of sorts when I made the "Macadamia-Cashew Patties" (page 119), as this wrapped up all the "Burger" recipes in the "Sandwiches, Pizza, and More" chapter. This is a section of the book I come back to again and again for the delicious chewy burgers that never fail to please. While most of these burger recipes contain varying amounts of gluten flour, the key ingredient for binding the burgers and providing chew, this particular recipe did not. Still, these burgers held together very nicely, enough so to put on a bun and garnish with all the regular trimmings. Macadamia nuts are very high in fat, and not an ingredient I would normally have hanging around in my pantry. There is also an equal amount of cashews in these rich burgers, but since I like my burgers less hefty than the recipe directions call for, I can get six to eight patties out of the mixture instead of four, which reduces the overall fat content per burger. In addition to the nuts, these burgers contain lots of veggies: carrot, onion, garlic, jalapeño, and cilantro, as well as a variety of herbs and spices that add layers of complexity. A delicious veggie burger to be sure, but I wouldn't want to make them too frequently due to the high fat content.
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü  Omit the oil when cooking the formed patties. Instead, use a nonstick skillet without any added oil or liquid. They will brown up very nicely from the fat content in the nuts.
ü  If serving on a bun, use a whole-grain, oil-free variety.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Seitan With Spinach & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I finally found the perfect sun dried tomatoes, ones not packed in oil, nor so tough that they must be rehydrated before using. The brand is California Sun-Dry, and the variety I used in this recipe was "Smoked". These very tasty tomatoes were extra moist, fat-free and recipe ready for use in the "Seitan with Spinach & Sun-Dried tomatoes" (page 317). Served over cooked pasta, this makes for a very satisfying and quick meal (if you have prepared seitan on hand). This bright colors in this Mediterranean dish from the tomatoes, spinach, and olives make it pretty to look at, as well as satisfying and delicious.
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü  Omit the oil when sautéing the seitan; use a nonstick skillet with a little broth, water, or sherry instead.
ü  If serving over pasta, choose a whole grain variety.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"Buttercream" Frosting

For all of you who have ever made powdered sugar frosting, my variation on the "Buttercream Frosting" (page 503) will be quite familiar. Any recipe that calls for an entire cup of vegan margarine (such as this one) is going to be drastically different in nature once that key ingredient is substituted with something else, or is omitted altogether. By turning a buttercream frosting into a basic powdered sugar frosting, I have probably stretched the limits of recipe conversions. But if you don't mind having a slightly thinner, less creamy frosting for baked goods that are calling out for a sweet topping, this adaptation works quite well. However, you will have better luck if you frost your muffins or cupcakes or slices of cake just before you plan to eat them; otherwise this frosting will "melt" into the baked good over a few hours time. The great news is, you can store the frosting very nicely in the refrigerator until you need it, and frost your treat just as you are serving it up. This recipe has three variations to the basic mixture: Coconut, Spice, and Lemon. I made the Spice version, and used it to frost the "White Cupcakes With Variations (Spice)".
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü  Simply omit the 1 cup of vegan margarine, thereby converting this to powdered sugar frosting instead of "Buttercream". (You won't need an electric mixer to blend the powdered sugar and soymilk, just mix with a fork until everything is smooth and well combined.)

White Cupcakes With Variations (Spice)

Making desserts without added fat can be quite challenging. In the end, you just have to accept the fact that a no-oil-added dessert is going to have a distinctly different character than something made with shortening, margarine, butter, or oil. Once you decide you are okay with that concept, a whole new world of baking opens up, and if you are like me, over time you actually begin to prefer the heartier, earthier flavors of a cupcake or quick bread made with whole grain flours, and not saturated with oil. The "White Cupcakes With Variations" (page 459) were a big hit in my house, although with the alterations I made, they ended up resembling a muffin more than a cupcake. But there you have it - keeping it healthy does by default change the nature of the end product. A very basic recipe, these "cupcake muffins" consist of nothing more than flour, soymilk (turned into "buttermilk" with the addition of vinegar), sugar, leavening, and vanilla extract. Of course the recipe does call for oil, but instead I used applesauce with excellent results. There are three possible variations to the basic white cupcake, as the recipe would suggest: Coconut, Lemon, and Spice (and I wonder, do the variations count in the final tally of 1000 recipes?). I opted to make the spice variety, and also topped them with my own version of the "Buttercream Frosting".  
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü  Use whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour (aka white flour).
ü   Instead of using ¼ cup oil, use ¼ to 1/3 cup apple sauce. This is especially nice in the spice variety of this recipe.
ü  If you aren't using cupcake liners in your muffin tin, use a non-stick tin such as one made from silicone. Paper liners tend to stick to products cooked without oil initially, but after storing a day or two, will peel off easily.