Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Black Bean & Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

Bean dips invite endless combinations of beans, vegetables, and seasonings, and each variation has something special to offer. The "Black Bean & Sun-Dried Tomato Dip" (page 13) is a simple mixture of sun-dried tomatoes, black beans, balsamic vinegar, parsley, and basil. Everything is whipped up in a food processor just to the point of leaving a bit of texture. This makes a wonderful topping for toast or bagels, a filling for tortillas, or a dip for crackers or veggies. You don't have to use the oil-packed sundried tomatoes as the recipe calls for. Look for the a brand like California Sun Dry for dried tomatoes packaged without any added oils.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Use oil free sundried tomatoes.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Asian Fusion Party Mix

I always get a little stressed when I see a recipe that calls for margarine, and especially when it calls for ¼ cup or more, because there often isn't a good way to leave it out, or make an adequate substitution. When reviewing the recipe for "Asian Fusion Party Mix" (page 4), I mulled over my options for replacing and/or omitting the margarine before finally settling on just leaving it out altogether. In this recipe, the margarine is melted to blend and fuse the seasonings, and coat the Party Mix (popcorn, breakfast cereal squares, cashews, pretzels, and wasabi peas) before baking the entire concoction in the oven. Because I opted not to use the margarine at all, the baking step became unnecessary, and much simplified the overall preparation. Granted, this alteration decidedly changed the intent of the recipe, but if you can get past the concept of a baked and oiled snack mix, this was quite enjoyable in its own right. The spices (garlic powder and seasoned salt) won't stick to the uncoated ingredients as well, but if you give the mix a little shake or stir before each serving, it helps to keep the flavors distributed. You can also spray Bragg's Aminos or soy sauce on the mixture before adding the spices to add a little extra flavor, and help the spices stick.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Select whole-grain, oil-free pretzels and breakfast cereal squares.
  • Select or prepare air-popped popcorn.
  • Use raw (or roasted without oil) cashews.
  • If possible, use oil free wasabi peas (may be hard to find!). Or, omit them altogether. 
  • Omit the margarine altogether. Use a little spray of Bragg's Aminos or soy sauce on the mixture before adding the spices to help them stick.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

White Bean & Dill Hummus

There are four hummus recipes in this book, two using traditional garbanzo beans, one using pinto beans, and one using white beans in the "White Bean & Dill Hummus" (page 11).  What keeps this rendition in keeping with traditional hummus is the inclusion of lemon juice and tahini. What makes it a little different is the addition of dill weed. Call it bean dip, call it hummus, but call it good! This ends up being a tasty blend of beans, tahini, fresh garlic, fresh lemon juice, dillweed, and a pinch of cayenne for a little zip. This is wonderful spread on toasted bagels, or used as a dip for crackers or raw veggies. Since tahini contains a fair amount of natural oil, you won't miss the olive oil by leaving it out altogether.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Omit the olive oil altogether. If you find the hummus is a little too thick, add a couple tablespoons of water or broth to reach the desired consistency as you are blending in the food processor.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Vegan Margherita Pizza

The Italian "Vegan Margherita Pizza" (page 129) is a scrumptious presentation of the colors of Italy with red tomatoes, green Basil Pistou, and white tofu (standing in for the cheese in this vegan version). According to the recipe notes, pizza in Italy is not as cheese laden as pizza in America, and it was only with the advent of Pizza Margherita in the late 1800's that any Italian pizza included cheese. Happily for those of us who don't include any dairy in our diet, the tofu, simply seasoned with nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper, makes a wonderful pizza topping. For the pizza crust, use the Basic Pizza Dough on page 128, or another one of your choice, making sure to keep it whole grain and oil free. Top this with the prepared tofu, Basil Pistou, and sliced tomatoes, and bake in the oven. This combination of flavors is highly tantalizing, and quite addictive. Find someone to share it with unless you don't mind eating an entire pizza in one sitting! Maybe it's the pesto, which adds a flavor layer not typically found in pizza. Maybe it's the homemade crust. Maybe it's having something fresh and hot out of the oven, instead of out of a delivery box. Try it and see what you think!

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Use a pizza dough recipe or pre-made crust that is whole grain and oil free. 
  • Omit the step that has you spreading olive oil on the prepared pizza dough. You don't really need it, and you definitely won't miss it.
  • Do not add any oil to the pesto; again, you don't need it, and you won't miss it.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Basil Pistou

Found in the Pesto section of the Sauces, Relishes, and Condiments chapter, "Basil Pistou" (page 565) is a basic pesto, minus the pine nuts. Made from just four ingredients - garlic, salt, basil, and olive oil (or broth, if you choose to omit the oil, as I did) - it blends together quickly in a food processor to be used right away on cooked pasta, vegetable soups, or even on pizza, as called for in the Vegan Margherita Pizza (stay tuned for a review on this next). Without the pine nuts or parmesan cheese, this version of pesto is a little lighter and thinner than most, but the flavor is still fantastic. Skipping the oil and using a lightly flavored vegetable broth instead keeps this tasty version of pesto completely guilt free.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Instead of olive oil, use an equal amount of lightly flavored vegetable broth. Start with ¼ cup and increase as necessary to reach desired consistency.