Sunday, May 31, 2015

Lemony White Miso Vinaigrette

Making tasty oil free salad dressing can be a challenge, especially when over half the volume of an original recipe comes from oil. Take for instance the "Lemony White Miso Vinaigrette" (page 102). As written, the recipe makes ½ cup dressing with over ¼ cup of this coming from oil (grapeseed and toasted sesame oils). A quick calculation on a fat gram calculator shows you this equates to 77 grams of fat, not to mention over 900 calories! After thinking about this for a while, I decided to leave all the oil out, and instead use 2 tablespoons of whole sesame seeds plus 5 tablespoons of water. I put all the ingredients (sesame seeds, miso paste, lemon juice, soy sauce, agave nectar, Dijon mustard, and water) into my Vitamix and processed until the sesame seeds were puréed and the dressing was emulsified. This was the perfect work around! The flavor was exquisite - bright, fresh, and tangy, but not overly. The texture was somewhat grainy, which I found favorable, I suppose from using whole sesame seeds, and miso paste also has a slight grainy texture. Using the whole sesame seeds instead of the oils added only 9 grams of total fat and 106 calories to this dressing, quite a dramatic difference! I used this dressing on a salad of dark leafy greens, sliced red onion, and sugar snap peas. Scrumptious! The recipe notes also suggest using this as a tofu marinade in addition to dressing salads.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Leave the grapeseed and sesame oils out completely. Instead use 2 tablespoons of whole sesame seeds plus 5 tablespoons of water, and process all the ingredients together in a blender until the seeds are puréed.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Purple Haze Fruit Smoothie

Some of us of a certain age will remember the original Purple Haze, and maybe this was the inspiration for the "Purple Haze Fruit Smoothie" (page 531). This particular smoothie is bright, vibrant, and chock-full of vitamins and antioxidants. The purple comes from blueberries, which are combined with fresh mango, frozen banana, nondairy milk, and dates. Not an overly sweet smoothie (and part of this could be due to the unsweetened soymilk I use), the fresh fruit flavors are allowed to shine through. If you are fortunate enough to have a recording of the original Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix, by all means play the song while you sip this drink!

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • No changes necessary! :-)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Teriyaki Marinade

Once you try the "Teriyaki Marinade" (page 576), you might find you are buying the bottled stuff much less often. Made from fresh ingredients, nothing can beat the vibrant combination of flavors that come from crushed garlic, grated ginger, freshly squeezed orange juice, mixed with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar. The recipe also calls for oil, but I found this totally unnecessary and instead added two tablespoons of water to keep the volume the same. I poured this marinade over sliced tofu and after marinating for several hours, baked the tofu for about 40-minutes in a 375 degree oven. This is better than any baked tofu you can find in a store!

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Replace the oil in the marinade with an equal amount of water.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sesame-Crusted Seitan

If you are looking for a meat substitute that doesn't rely on soy isolates for that chewy texture, you might want to try seitan, a much healthier alternative made from wheat gluten. (Of course, if you are gluten sensitive, this wouldn't be the choice for you.) The "Sesame-Crusted Seitan" (page 309) is a flavorful way to prepare either store-bought or homemade Seitan chunks, and can be made in under 30-minutes if you have a batch on hand. Small chunks of seitan are dipped in soymilk and dredged in a mixture of ground sesame seeds, flour, salt and pepper, then quickly "fried" in a skillet on the stove. Instead of adding a lot of extra fat to this dish, I used a non-stick skillet and bypassed the two tablespoons of oil called for to fry the chunks. (The natural oil in the ground sesame seeds help with browning.) The final result is delicious and chewy! For a complete meal, serve with a scoop of brown rice and a side dish such as Crunchy Sesame Slaw, as the recipe notes suggest.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Use whole wheat pastry flour, brown rice flour, or potato flour instead of all-purpose (white) flour.
  • Use a high quality non-stick skillet and omit the two tablespoons of oil called for when "frying" the seitan chunks.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Chipotle Aioli

One of the happiest taste discoveries I've made over the past decade is that of the chipotle chile. Made from dried and smoked jalapeño peppers, the distinctive flavor is smoky, sweet, and slightly hot, and I can't seem to get enough of it.  I have chipotle chili powder in my spice rack, dried chipotles in my pantry, and I always have a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in my supply of canned goods. The "Chipotle Aioli" (Page 556) combines Vegan Mayonnaise with canned chipotle chilies, garlic, smoked paprika, and lemon juice for the most luscious spread I've had in a long time. The recipe also calls for olive oil, but I completely omitted this and didn't miss it at all, the other flavors make this aioli so vibrant. And, if you don't want to open an entire can of chilies to use just a couple, you can use ½ to 1 teaspoon of chipotle chili powder, and that works just as well. The first time I made this I used it as a dressing for a salad I put together from hominy, corn, black olives, and green onions - a wonderful combination of flavors! But you'll find many uses for this, from a topping for Mexican food, veggie burgers, sandwiches, rice and beans, grilled vegetables…you get the idea!

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Use oil free mayonnaise as the base, such as the Vegan Mayonnaise in this book (with my changes).
  • Omit adding any extra oil to the aioli - you don't need it, and you won't miss it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Chocolate-Cranberry Otameal Cookies

The more practiced I get with oil-free baking, the more of a feel I get for which ingredients (and how much) make good substitutions. Take the "Chocolate-Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies" (Page 431), for instance. In the past if I saw a recipe that called for ½ cup margarine, I would probably skip over it altogether, believing I wouldn't be able to make tasty cookies without the margarine. Now, I enjoy the challenge! The instructions in this recipe say to cream the margarine, sugar, and apple juice together. My work around for this was to take one large banana (you want at least half a cup, maybe a little more), the sugar, and ½ cup of applesauce and blend them in my Vitamix blender (any blender would work). I followed the rest of the directions as written at this point, increasing the amount of flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour) just a tad as the dough didn't seem quite sticky enough. These cookies were delicious, and although still a rich food that should be reserved for special occasions, I felt that they were made much healthier by my adaptations.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Omit the margarine and apple juice, following my instructions above for using  bananas and applesauce instead, blending with the sugar.
  • Use whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose (white) flour.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Root Vegetable Bisque

"Root Vegetable Bisque" (page 172) is a wonderful soup that can be served as a starter to a larger meal, or paired with a big salad and bread rolls for a lighter meal. The roots vegetables used in this recipe include shallots, carrots, parsnips, and potatoes, simmered in broth, and seasoned with garlic, thyme, and marjoram. The cooked vegetables are puréed and mixed with soymilk, and topped off with parsley and freshly ground black pepper. This soup is very elemental, satisfying, and warming on a cold day. I especially liked the golden color, but if you aren't overly fond of the vegetables listed, you can vary it to your liking, using any root vegetables of your choice.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

  • Omit the olive oil for sautéing the veggies; instead use a non stick soup pot and/or water, broth, or sherry as a sauté liquid.