Saturday, November 24, 2018

Tom Yum

“Tom Yum”, page 153, is a type of hot and sour Thai soup. The base is a lemongrass flavored broth, further enhanced with the bold flavors of onion, ginger, Nothin’ FishyNam Pla (vegan fish sauce from this book, see my previous post) and chili paste. After a short simmer, the broth is strained and the solids discarded. To this very flavorful brew you add tofu, green onions, fresh tomatoes, straw mushrooms, baby peas, cilantro, and lime juice. Depending on how spicy you like your soups, and to me, this soup begs for a good spice up, you can add additional chili paste to the final mix. I added another tablespoon, and possibly it could have handled more. I loved this soup, it was elementally satisfying, healthy, and according to the recipe notes, a surefire cure for a cold. I also appreciate that this recipe is oil free as written, and no changes were necessary to keep it McDougall compliant.

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • No changes necessary! J (If you do use broth instead of water as part of the soup base, just make sure it is oil free.)

Friday, November 23, 2018

Nothin’ Fishy Nam Pla

Much to my delight, my husband is in charge of stir-frying in our house. About once a week he’ll pull out the wok, chop veggies like crazy, whip up some sauce or another, do his magic with the pile of assorted ingredients he’s amassed, and voilĂ , a delectable stir fry emerges, usually served over freshly cooked brown rice. In traditional Thai and Vietnamese cooking, fish sauce known as nam pla or nuoc mam is a popular ingredient. But never fear! Robin Robertson has provided us with “Nothin’ Fishy Nam Pla”, page 560, a vegan version of fish sauce. So easy to mix up, with ingredients you might already have handy. The base is lime juice and soy sauce, spiked with garlic, brown sugar, and kelp powder. So easy, and the sauce adds such a nice dimension to traditional stir fries gone vegan. There is no oil in this sauce, so no changes were necessary to keep this McDougall compliant.

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • No changes necessary! J

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Roasted Rosemary Yellow Squash & Chayote

Roasting vegetables without oil can be challenging, most particularly if it is one of the drier vegetables, like carrots, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts. You can cover a pan full of veggies, add a little broth, cover and bake, and get excellent results, but that really isn’t roasting, which requires direct heat, i.e., no cover on the roasting pan. However, the moister vegetables, such as the two used in “Roasted Rosemary Yellow Squash and Chayote”, page 384, are able to roast without added oil, because they baste in their own juices.

I loved the color contrasts in this dish. The pale yellows and greens of the two squash varieties and the deeper green of the rosemary was set off nicely by the addition of bright red cherry tomatoes (added during the last 15 minutes of roasting). 

Besides the rosemary, the vegetables are simply seasoned with garlic and salt and pepper to taste. You might want to start with a small amount of broth to coat the veggies so they don’t stick to the roasting pan before they start to cook, but not too much, if you want them to stay somewhat firm. I used a ceramic casserole dish which has pretty good non-stick qualities, but still ended up adding a little broth along the way. Check midway into the roasting time to determine if you need to do this or not. Another option is to line the bottom of the roasting pan with parchment paper.

I find roasting (or baking) vegetables brings out the best flavors, and this delicious dish was no exception. The house was filled with the lovely aromas of garlic and rosemary as the veggies cooked, a wonderful prelude to actually eating them. Pretty to look at, healthy, delicious, and easy to make, my kind of recipe!

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:

  • Instead of coating the vegetables in oil, use a very small amount of broth, and/or line the bottom of the roasting pan with parchment paper. 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Penne Baked With Eggplant-Tomato Sauce

If you have a family divided over eggplant (love it or hate it), I’m guessing the “Penne Baked with Eggplant-Tomato Sauce”, page 221, would satisfy both sides. The eggplant, especially if you peel it first, will melt right into the tomato sauce, adding a rich creamy texture, and if someone didn’t know there was eggplant in the mix, they probably wouldn’t guess it. The sauce itself is pretty simple, consisting of crushed tomatoes, eggplant, and onion, then seasoned with red wine, parsley, and marjoram. Cooked penne is mixed into the sauce, spooned into a casserole, topped with vegan Parmesan and breadcrumbs, then baked in the oven. It makes a lot for two people, and I even cut back on the amount of penne called for, from 12 ounces, to 8. But, the leftovers warm up very nice, and provide great ready-made meals throughout the week.

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • Omit the oil when sautĂ©ing the veggies. Instead, use a nonstick skillet and a little water, broth, or sherry to prevent sticking.
  • Use whole grain penne pasta instead of the white flour variety.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Tarragon-Chive Vinaigrette

Finding healthy salad dressings that also taste good used to be challenging. I discovered that the reason I liked salads so much was due to the flavorful but often unhealthy, high fat, or dairy laden dressings I used. I made it a mission to find ways to make salad dressing at home that would satisfy both my taste buds and my health criteria. As I’ve mentioned in previous salad dressing posts, finding the secret of guar gum powder has allowed me to explore many oil based dressing recipes by simply replacing the oil called for with an equal amount of water, then adding a pinch of guar gum at the end to thicken it up. That’s how I approached the “Tarragon-Chive Vinaigrette”, page 100. The recipe called for ½ cup of olive oil, which I replaced with ½ cup of water. When the dressing ingredients were all mixed together, I added ¼ teaspoon of guar gum and shook vigorously to incorporate, and it thickened up perfectly.

The dressing itself is a flavorful twist on a basic vinaigrette. Tarragon vinegar, plus dried or fresh tarragon, provide a lovely herbal base with a subtle anise flavor, and if you have fresh chives it makes all the difference, adding just a touch of peppery spice. I used it on green salad, but the recipe notes also suggest it would be good drizzled over roasted or steamed asparagus.

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • Instead of using ½ of oil (which adds 108 grams of fat, and 955 calories), use ½ cup of water, and thicken with ¼ - ½ teaspoon of guar gum, as described above.