Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Double-Sesame Tofu with Tahini Sauce

"Double-Sesame Tofu with Tahini Sauce" (page 292) is a perfect example of taking tofu to the level of fine dining. You can feel quite comfortable serving this quick and easy dish to guests of all dietary persuasions, vegan and non vegan alike. Tofu slices are dredged in a mixture of sesame seeds (white and black) and cornstarch, and cooked in a hot skillet until browned. A rich sauce of tahini (sesame paste), lemon juice and soy sauce is drizzle over the browned tofu, and that is all there is to it. If you have extra sauce, thin it out with a little water and turn it into gravy to serve over a side of rice or mashed potatoes. A steamed green veggie rounds things out for a complete meal.
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
  • Omit the oil for browning the tofu and use a nonstick skillet for this. You might find it necessary to use a very small amount of oil to prevent the tofu from sticking; if so, spray the skillet very lightly, then wipe out with a paper towel before adding the tofu.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tricolor Rotini with Pesto Bianco

Nothing is quite as satisfying to me as tender pasta coated in creamy pesto sauce, so of course I loved the "Tricolor Rotini with Pesto Bianco" (page 202), and was delighted with this white version of pesto, something I had never tried before. Made from pine nuts (traditional for pesto), plus cashews, artichoke hearts, and soymilk, the pesto is creamy and delicious and perfect with any pasta of your choice. I should mention, the recipe also calls for ¼ cup of olive oil, but instead I used ¼ cup of light vegetable broth with excellent results. The pine nuts and cashews add so much richness, in my opinion no additional oil is necessary, or missed if you leave it out. If you want to add a splash of color to this otherwise monochromatic dish, the recipe notes suggest sprinkling with minced parsley, basil, green peas, or black olives. I added a bit of parsley only, and thought this was delicious simplicity.
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
  • Omit the olive oil in the pesto sauce, replacing it with 1/4 to 1/3 cup of light vegetable broth.
  • Use whole grain pasta of your choice.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mixed Lettuces with White Radish, Snow Peas, & Yuzu Dressing

"Mixed Lettuces with White Radish, Snow Peas, & Yuzu Dressing" (page 52) is a simple salad that is pretty much summed up in the title of the recipe. The dressing calls for Yuzu vinegar which is made from the juice of yuzu, a sour Japanese citrus fruit. Since I was unable to find this, I used my favorite balsamic vinegar as a dressing instead (the recipe suggests substituting a mixture of rice vinegar and lemon juice for the yuzu if you can't find this specialty product). The recipe as written calls for 1/3 cup of olive oil, and simply omitting this completely will result in a purely vinegar based dressing. This works great if you use a mild, slightly sweet natural balsamic vinegar such as the one I used (Fustini's). Otherwise, you can use water instead of the oil and thicken the dressing with a ¼ teaspoon of guar gum (put all dressing ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously; let sit for about 30 minutes to thicken). Very simple, colorful, and tasty, this salad makes a great start to any meal.
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü  Omit the olive oil. Use a mild and slightly sweet natural balsamic instead, or a water based dressing thickened with guar gum.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Magical Mystery Chocolate Cake

"Magical Mystery Chocolate Cake" (page 446) truly is mysterious! The biggest mystery to me, though, is how I even ended up with something edible, after realizing halfway through I failed to follow the instructions correctly (note in instruction #2 you are to add just half the cocoa powder at this point, oops!). Upon discovering my mistake, my first thought was to start completely over, but I had used the last of my cocoa powder and sugar, and I didn't feel like going to the store for more, or throwing out my efforts altogether, so I improvised and continued on. Luck was with me! The magic pulled through and I ended up with a most extraordinary and delicious cake. The unusual preparation (spreading a thick batter into the bottom of a pan and topping with a very liquid concoction of sugar-cocoa-water) results in a final chocolaty confection that is densely cake-like on the bottom, moist pudding in the middle, and like the crispy top of a brownie on the surface. The recipe calls for ¼ of oil, but I replaced this with prune purée  (I used a small container of baby food prunes; applesauce would work just as well). Try this cake if you are feeling adventurous!
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü  Use whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose (white) flour.
ü  Replace the oil with an equal amount of prune purée or unsweetened applesauce.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Black Beans & Wild Rice

A one-pot meal, substantial and filling, and made with just a handful of ingredients, the "Black Beans & Wild Rice" (page 255) is very elemental and satisfying. You start by cooking the rice by itself until it is done, then adding cooked black beans, diced tomatoes, and herbs and spices. Last of all you throw in 3 cups of baby spinach, rounding out this dish of varying colors, tastes, and textures. The recipe says you may have to add a little water if the mixture ends up too dry, and I did end up adding about ½ cup (as opposed to the suggested "splash"). I also thought the dish could use a little pizzazz, so I added a teaspoon of smoked paprika and ½ teaspoon of garlic powder. This dish keeps well and makes a great filling for wraps.

 Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü     No changes required! J

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie

"Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie" (page 529) is the first smoothie recipe in the "Smoothies and Blender Drinks" section of the "Beverages" chapter, and is suggested as a quick breakfast alternative for those who might otherwise opt to skip this meal. That wouldn't be me. Not only do I always eat breakfast, it is usually fairly substantial, and this smoothie would likely be only a part of my overall meal. That being said, this was still a tasty treat (I had it as a mid-morning snack), made up of just three ingredients: chilled nondairy milk, frozen bananas, and creamy peanut butter. I found it a little too thin for my liking; I could have thickened it up with the addition of ice cubes or more frozen banana (per the "smoothie tips" provided in the sidebar), and if I make this again, I will keep this in mind.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

üBe sure to use peanut butter that contains no added oils.