Saturday, April 26, 2014

Golden Sunshine Roasted Veg Spread

There truly is no end to the different ingredients you can combine to make vegetable based spreads, and the "Golden Sunshine Roasted Veg Spread" (page 17) is a perfect example of that. One might never consider blending roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, bell pepper and onion to make a creamy spread for crackers, toast, or bagels, but once you make this you'll wonder why not! There is definitely a golden theme to this spread, with the deep orange yams and carrots, and yellow bell pepper and onion. The roasted vegetables come together into creamy perfection with the addition of tahini, giving it slight overtones of hummus. The spread is quite sweet, as you might expect with the vegetables being used, and I thought it needed some contrasting zest to perk things up, so I added a clove of garlic and a dash of cayenne to the vegetables when blending them in the food processor. Instead of roasting the veggies in the oven, my husband put them in a grilling basket and cooked them on the barbeque. I thought this added a more complex flavor to the end product as well.
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
üOmit the oil when roasting the vegetables; use a small amount of vegetable broth instead.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Barley & Winter Vegetable Stew

The "Barley & Winter Vegetable Stew" (page 275) is elemental, earthy and immensely satisfying. With simple ingredients such as onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, potatoes, and barely, it is a stick-to-your-ribs, warming stew perfect for a cold winter's night. The key to success for this stew is a flavorful and substantial broth; it can be a bit bland otherwise. I used a mixture of vegetable broth and mushroom based dark soy sauce. As the recipe states, the flavor improves a day or two after you make the stew, so plan ahead if you can and make it in advance.
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
üOmit the olive oil when sautéing the veggies; instead use a nonstick pan and/or replace the oil with water, sherry, or veggie broth.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Roasted Baby Potatoes with Spinach, Olives, & Grape Tomatoes

As you might know if you're a regular visitor to my blog, my husband and I live and travel full time in our 5th wheel trailer. Turning on the oven in such a tiny space can quickly heat up the entire house. This can be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on the weather! When I decided to make the "Roasted Baby Potatoes with Spinach, Olives, & Grape Tomatoes" (page 376), we were staying in Yuma, Arizona in March, with temperatures outside usually running in the 80s to 90s. Not an oven day! I figured this dish would probably be just as tasty if we roasted the potatoes outside on the grill, instead of inside in the oven, so that is what my husband did. I prepared foil packets containing the potatoes, savory, salt, and pepper, and my husband cooked them on the grill. In the meantime, I finished with the rest of the recipe preparations inside: sautéing the spinach and olives just long enough to wilt the spinach, and adding the grape tomatoes after everything else was done so they wouldn't overcook and disappear. When the potatoes were done, I tossed everything together in the skillet and the dish was ready to serve. If I were to cook the potatoes inside, I would leave out the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and coat the potato chunks with a bit of veggie broth instead so the spices would stick; I would then cover the cooking pan with foil for the "roasting" process. It's true you won't get a "browned and roasted" end product this way, but you will get deliciously cooked and creamy potatoes that are completely oil free. (You also eliminate about 40 grams of fat by leaving out the olive oil). If you are concerned about using aluminum foil, use a layer of parchment paper between the potatoes and the foil. This also helps prevent sticking. The is a very delicious preparation, and the leftovers make a great breakfast!

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü     Omit the olive oil, and follow the cooking instructions outlined above.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Pan-Seared Seitan with Artichokes & Olives

"Pan-Seared Seitan with Artichokes & Olives" (page 309) is labeled with the "f" symbol, for "Fast Recipes", meaning it can be ready to serve in 30 minutes or less. For this recipe, that is true only if you have premade seitan (purchased or homemade) and Tofu Feta on hand. Otherwise, this takes a bit of advanced planning to have all the components ready to assemble. Browned seitan is combined with sautéed garlic, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, and capers, and topped off with fresh parsley and (optional) Tofu Feta. I used the feta, since I had some in the fridge, and I thought it added a nice flavor layer to the dish. This recipe is another example of how versatile seitan is. This preparation offers pleasing textures and flavors, and is delicious served over brown rice.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:


ü Omit the oil when browning the seitan and veggies; instead use a nonstick skillet and/or use water, broth, or sherry as a sauté liquid.

ü     Use oil-free seitan.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Gnocchi with Red Wine-Tomato Sauce

At first the thought of preparing homemade gnocchi might seem daunting, but really, they are quite easy to create, and in my opinion, make the best little dumpling that can be used in a variety of dishes. Most people think of topping gnocchi with a red sauce of some sort, as is the case with "Gnocchi With Red Wine-Tomato Sauce" (page 232). And they are indeed delicious in this recipe! The gnocchi themselves are nothing more than cooked potato and flour, mashed thoroughly together, with a little parsley, salt and pepper thrown in for good measure. What was different for me this time around (I have made gnocchi in the past) was using baked potatoes, rather than boiled, and using them still warm from the oven. I do believe this made a positive difference in the texture of the finished dumpling. The prepared dough is shaped into rolls, and cut up into small pieces, which are added to boiling water to cook until done (which happens when the dumpling, the gnocchi, floats to the top of the pot.) The red-wine tomato sauce was a perfect Italian style topping for these, made from crushed tomatoes, dry red wine, basil, oregano, and garlic. You might want to add a pinch of crushed red peppers like I did to give it a little zip! Top with some vegan parmesan at the table. Truly comfort food!
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü  Omit the oil when sautéing the sauce ingredients. Instead, put all the ingredients into the sauce pan at the same time, and simmer per the recipe directions.
ü  Use whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose (white) flour for a heartier dumpling.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ginger-Spice Brownies

The recipe for "Ginger Spice Brownies" (page 437) is definitely a different approach to traditional brownies, but I found the deep and warm flavors of ginger (both fresh and powdered), cinnamon, and allspice combining wonderfully with the chocolate cake base. The chocolate comes from both cocoa powder and chocolate chips. The sweetener is from both molasses and sugar. And if all this wasn't enough, chopped walnuts provide additional richness and texture. This is a complex and sophisticated dessert, and with every bite I found myself focusing on a new dimension of flavor, texture, or aroma. I actually thought the finished product resembled a cake more than brownies, but that might have been because I completely omitted the oil, using puréed prunes instead. The brownies were exquisite still warm out of the oven, but actually seemed to improve upon sitting once they had cooled down, tasting best on the second or third day. This seems to be the case with most no-oil added baked goods - that is, they improve after a day or two. I opted to sprinkle individual servings with powdered sugar, but the recipe suggests poached fruit or a scoop of vegan vanilla ice-cream as possible toppings.
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü  Use whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose (white) flour.
ü  Omit the oil and use an equal amount of puréed prunes (or a jar of baby food prunes), or applesauce.