Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sweet Potato & Peanut Soup with Baby Spinach

The "Sweet Potato & Peanut Soup with Spinach" (page 158) contains just a few simple ingredients, but delivers deep and complex flavors. Orange sweet potatoes and onions are cooked tender, peanut butter is dissolved in the cooking broth, and a few seasonings are thrown in, with several cups of fresh spinach added as the final touch. The peanut butter gives this soup a smooth richness, and a pinch of cayenne gives it just enough warmth to make it interesting, but doesn't blow the dish away. This soup is easy to make, light enough to be a meal starter, but with a salad and a loaf of bread, it could also be the centerpiece of your meal.
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü Omit the oil when sautéing the onion; instead, use a nonstick soup pot and/or water, broth, or sherry as a sauté liquid.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Soy-Glazed Tofu

Baking tofu before using it in a recipe is a great way to firm up the texture and soak up delicious marinades. The finished product can be used in sandwiches, salads, stir fries, or as a main dish alongside a couple of vegetable side-dishes. I have a few favorite recipes for baked tofu, and now I can add "Soy-Glazed Tofu" (page 283) to this list. A simple mix of soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and sugar is the basis for this marinade, which is heated on the stove, poured over tofu strips, and allowed to sit for at least 30 minutes. The strips are then baked in the oven for another 30 minutes (along with any of the marinade that hasn't already soaked into the tofu), and that's it! The recipe calls for a lot of sesame oil, ¼ cup, but I opted to use just 1 teaspoon to impart that unbeatable sesame oil flavor, but without an excess of fat. You could leave the oil out altogether if you want, and it would still be delicious.  
Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Use just 1 teaspoon, or less, or none at all, of the sesame oil.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Barbecued Tempeh

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm usually not a huge fan of tempeh; but given the right recipe, this humble concoction of fermented soybeans can be truly inspiring! Such is the case with the "Barbequed Tempeh" (page 296). All the tempeh recipes in this book begin by having you simmer the tempeh for 30 minutes to mellow the flavor and aid in digestibility, and it seems that I have enjoyed it more since I started incorporating this step; it seems to take the slightly bitter taste out of the product once it's been simmered in this fashion. The barbeque sauce in this recipe is made from scratch, a concoction of onion, red bell pepper, garlic, crushed tomatoes, and molasses, along with some herbs and spices, all cooked for about half an hour on the stove. The simmered tempeh is browned in a skillet, the finished sauce is added to the browned tempeh, and all this cooks for another 15 minutes to blend the flavors. After the three methods of cooking the tempeh (simmering in water, browning, and simmering again in the barbeque sauce), the texture is superb - chewy, but not tough, and soft, but not mushy. The chunky sauce is tangy, slighty sweet, and piquant, very satisfying flavors. (Blend the sauce until smooth if you're not fond of chunky barbeque sauce). This would make a great barbeque sandwich on a crusty french roll.

Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Omit the oil when sautéing the onions, bell pepper, and garlic. Use a little water in a non-stick pan instead.
  • Omit the oil when 'browning' the tempeh, using a good non-stick skillet instead. Try not to use a liquid substitute for the oil, as you don't want to soften the tempeh.  The tempeh won't be as crispy or brown as it would be when using oil, but once you put the barbeque sauce over the top, you really don't notice the difference.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tofu Waldorf Salad Wraps

Anything tastes good in a wrap, according to my husband. Not sure what to do with those leftovers in the fridge? Put 'em in a wrap! But if you are in the mood for a more elegant approach, try the "Tofu Waldorf Salad Wraps" (page 114), inspired by the classic salad of apples, celery, walnuts, and mayonnaise served on a lettuce leaf. While this recipe uses these same ingredients, it also incorporates tofu, red onion, and parsley, creating a hearty filling to stuff inside a tortilla or lavash flatbread (I opted for whole grain tortillas this time around). This makes a big bowl of salad, enough for much more than the four wraps indicated in the recipe notes. However, it keeps well so you can enjoy the leftovers, even outside the wrap, maybe on a bed of greens. Don't be alarmed if you notice the salad has a faint purple hue after storing it for a day or two; the walnuts have a tendency to do this in certain dishes, which isn't such a bad thing! J
Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
  • Buy or make oil-free mayonnaise (see my review of Vegan Mayonnaise here)
  • Use whole grain, oil-free tortillas or flatbread.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Barbecue Sauce

In my perfect kitchen world, I would have unlimited time to make everything from scratch, including all my condiments. Having discovered the "Barbecue Sauce" (page 549), I may be one step closer to that dream! I might do whatever is necessary to make time to include this in my condiments repertoire. Did I say I love this barbecue sauce? It is good on hash brown potatoes, veggie burgers or loaves, baked beans, just about anywhere you want that rich tomato-y smoky barbeque flavor. This is a cooked sauce, consisting of sautéed onion, bell pepper, and crushed tomatoes, with added zip and flavor provided by garlic, jalapeño, vinegar, sugar, a couple of spices, and the key ingredient, liquid smoke. The recipe says the liquid smoke is optional, but I consider it essential! The recipe also says to serve this sauce hot, as in just off the stove, but I found it was wonderful right out the refrigerator as well. Make this sauce today and let me know what you think!  
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü  Omit the oil when sautéing the veggies; instead, use a nonstick saucepan and/or water, broth, or sherry as a sauté liquid.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's hard to imagine anyone who doesn't like "Chocolate Chip Cookies" (page 428), but even when you discover that making them vegan is ridiculously easy, you still have to be careful not to eat an entire batch in one sitting! The challenge with most recipes for vegan cookies is figuring out how to get around the added oil or margarine. This particular recipe calls for an entire cup of margarine, which equates to around 176 grams of fat (gulp!) and over 1500 extra calories. Not to mention, even vegan margarine or shortening is still not health food, and is something I try to minimize. In this recipe, I decided to use a blend of 2/3 cup peanut butter and 1/3 cup applesauce. Not that peanut butter is low-fat by any means, but 2/3 cup only adds 86 grams of fat and around 1000 calories, significantly less than margarine, and adds nutrients such as fiber, protein, and carbohydrates.  But what did I say about being careful about eating too many cookies in one sitting? This still hold true regardless! The peanut butter definitely adds a distinctive flavor to these cookies (which I really liked), and cookies made without butter or margarine definitely have more of a cakey nature than a crunchy cookie, but they are certainly no less delicious! This recipe does not include any "extras" such as walnuts or raisins, just your basic cookie ingredients - flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, etc.
Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
  • Substitute the one cup of margarine with a blend of 2/3 cup peanut butter and 1/3 cup applesauce.
  • Use whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose (white) flour.
  • Instead of oiling the baking sheet, use a non-stick pan, parchment paper, or a silicone product.