Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Eve Raspberry Sparkling Cider Fizz

I recently discovered Viviane Bauquet Farre's recipe for Raspberry Champagne Fizz at her Food & Style blog. With a minor tweak or two, it sounded like it would make a dazzlingly delicious and festive vegan New Year's Eve dessert, and I couldn't wait to try it!

I wanted to prepare one or two ahead of time, not only to try it out before New Year's Eve, but also to be able to share the recipe and photos with you. To quote Viviane, "The result is simply sublime."

For the raspberry coulis:

1 12-oz package frozen raspberries, thawed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons evaporated cane crystals
2 tablespoons Chambord or Cassis liqueur (I used Chambord)

For the fizz:

2 pints Purely Decadent Made with Coconut Milk Vanilla Bean ice cream (Coconut flavor would be fabulous, too!)
1 pint fresh raspberries, as garnish
1 bottle Sparkling Cider (You could also use champagne or sparkling wine, as suggested in the original recipe. This would not only up the alcohol, but it would also make it more fizzy.)

Step 1: To make the coulis, place the raspberries, lemon juice, sugar and liqueur in the bowl of a food processor and process at high speed until very smooth. Pass through a fine sieve and pour into a large squeeze bottle. Refrigerate until ready to use (for up to 3 days).

Step 2: To serve, squeeze a little raspberry coulis into a martini glass. Top with one or two scoops of Purely Decadent, depending on the size of your glasses. Garnish with the fresh raspberries. Top each glass with sparkling cider, wine, or champagne at the table. Watch it fizz, and enjoy!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Mad About Mu Shu

I'm crazy about Mu Shu. I think it's one of the most fun dishes you can order at a Chinese restaurant. Building your own little wrap by filling a wafer-thin pancake with hoisin-soaked shredded napa cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, green onions, and tofu, and topping it with sweet and spicy plum sauce before rolling it all up is an almost meditative experience.

The recipe for Moo Shu Vegetable Wraps in The McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook was every bit as fun to make, tastier, and healthier than any Mu Shu I've eaten at any restaurant. Flour tortillas substituted nicely for the mu shu pancakes. (If someone knows of a vegan mu shu pancake out there, please let me know the brand name!) Freshly minced garlic and ginger added the perfect zest, and cornstarch thickened the homemade hoisin sauce to perfection.

What a spectacular display the veggies made when first added to the pan! To prepare, shred some vegetables, and thinly slice some red bell pepper and mushrooms. (I used baby bellas.) Place about 1/2 cup of water in a large pan, add all the vegetables with a teaspoon or two or minced fresh ginger and garlic. Stir frequently for a few minutes. Add a few tablespoons of soy sauce, some crumbled tofu, and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of cold water to thicken. Stir for another five minutes or so, until sauce is thickened. Warm tortillas, and place a line of the Mu Shu mixture down the center of each. Top with plum sauce, roll up, and enjoy!

Served up on a tortilla, waiting to be topped with plum sauce, wrapped, and devoured!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

An Alfredo Sauce by Any Other Name

... would still taste as creamy, rich, and delicious! That's why I was knocked over by Emily Barth Webber's recipe for Fettucine in Cream Sauce with Summer Vegetables featured in the July 2007 McDougall Newsletter. Yes, I realize it's not summer, but the brightly colored mix of broccoli, red bell peppers, spinach, yellow squash, mushrooms, and tomatoes made me feel like it was summer! Blended raw cashews made the sauce as rich and creamy as any Alfredo, and pad Thai rice noodles made a very nice substitute for fettucine pasta. Here's a money-saving tip: I buy my rice noodles at any one of several Asian markets we have here in town. They're about one quarter the price I'd have to pay for the brands found at supermarkets and natural food stores.

Chef Eric Tucker's Fettucine with Braised Garlic Cream has long been one of my favorite go-to pasta dishes. I love the way my kitchen fills with the fragrance of rosemary as the garlic is roasting in the oven. You'll find the recipe for braised garlic here. It will keep in the fridge for up to a week in a tightly sealed glass jar. Once you have the braised garlic on hand, the sauce is a snap to put together. And it tastes sinfully rich, even though there's only a smidgen of fat from the light soy milk in this recipe.

Instead of using fettucine noodles, I substituted Mrs. Leeper's Gluten-Free Organic Corn Pasta. My local Fred Meyer store is discontinuing them, so they had them on clearance at 50% off. I'm sorry they're not going to be carrying them anymore. But it was such a great deal, I snagged every package they had left.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mini Mexican "Pizzas"

Lately I've been falling in love all over again with autumn squash: Acorn, kabocha, butternut, Australian butter, munchkin, and my favorite, butternut. So when I came across Erin Dame's recipe for Mini Mexican Pizzas in the McDougall newsletter archives, I knew I had to give it a try!

And I wasn't disappointed. These tasty little discs of joy were flavorful, spicy, low fat, and surprisingly filling! I highly recommend you give this very simple dish a try. You may just fall in love with butternut squash for the first time or all over again!

And here's a recipe for Adobo Seasoning, since I could not find a store-bought brand that didn't contain tricalcium phosphate.


1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1 tsp peppercorns
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt

Grind all the ingredients together with a mortar and pestle or in a coffee grinder.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

There's Pad Thai, and Then There's Pad Thai

Every time I've ordered Pad Thai at any Thai restaurant anywhere in the world, it has pretty much tasted the same. Sure, there were slight nuances in flavor, and sometimes on less fortunate occasions, the noodles would be undercooked or stuck together in a big blob. (Apparently there's some trick to not over- or under-cooking the noodles.) But generally speaking, unlike Panang Curry, which seems to vary widely in flavor from place to place, Pad Thai sauce always tastes pretty much the same to me. Not that I don't love it. It's just that when it comes to the overall flavor, ordering Pad Thai has always been predictable. And that's not a bad thing.

But I recently read that there are as many ways to prepare Pad Thai as there are snowflakes. Okay, well maybe not that many ways, but according to Chat Mingkwan, author of the treasured vegan recipe book, Buddha's Table, "Each chef has a signature version of this quintessential Thai dish, differing in ingredients, techniques, and leading flavors." Hmmm ... verrry interesting.

Since we stopped eating out at Thai restaurants when we started the McDougall diet several months ago, Pad Thai is one dish I've been starting to crave. How fortunate that I found Mary McDougall's recipe for Pad Thai hiding within the pages of The McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook.

The flavors in Mary's dish were more subtle than the bang-you-over-the-head zestiness (and the fried tofu) of the restaurant-style dish I am accustomed to. But it had a lovely mix of flavors, and didn't leave me with the heavy feeling I sometimes experienced after eating the often oil-drenched dish served at restaurants.

But I still wanted to try to find a recipe that came a bit closer to reproducing that restaurant-style flavor. So I tried the Stir-Fried Thai Noodles recipe from Buddha's Table. Leaving out the oil and the peanuts, it tasted delicious, but still not like the classic restaurant dish. Which is fine by me. I'll just have to keep experimenting. Both times my noodles cooked perfectly, too. I don't know if it was beginner's luck, or just my ability to follow directions precisely.

I think that next time I prepare this recipe I'll use half the tamarind liquid and sugar. The recipe will look like this:


8 oz. dried chantaboon rice noodles
1/4 cup water
2 Tbs minced garlic
3 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
1/8 cup evaporated cane crystals
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1 Tbs tamarind liquid (available at Asian grocery stores)
2 Tbs distilled white vinegar
1 Tbs paprika or chili powder
3 Tbs minced preserved turnips (available at Asian grocery stores)
1 pkg Smoked Tofu or Baked Thai Spicy Tofu, sliced thin
3 cups mung bean sprouts
1/2 cup sliced green onion
1/2 cup juilienne red bell peppers
1 whole lime cut into quarters for accompaniment

Soak the rice noodles in warm water until soft and pliable, about 30 minutes. Check the water temperature occasionally. If it is no longer warm, refresh the water. (I did this twice.) Drain and set noodles aside.

Heat a wok or large skillet on high heat. Add water and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the soaked and drained noodles and stir until well coated.

Add the sugar, soy sauce, tamarind liquid, vinegar, and paprika or chili powder. Stir-fry the mixutre until thoroughly combined and liquid is absorbed. Stir in the tofu and preserved turnips. Check the noodle texture; it should be cooked and soft. Add some water if the noodles are too dry or too tough. (If they fall apart easily, they are overcooked. But this wasn't an issue for me, I think because I didn't over "cook" them in the warm water.)

Stir in the bean sprouts, red bell pepper, and green onion. Continue stir-frying until heated through and well combined. Adjust the flavor with more soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar to taste. Transfer to individual plates and garnish with crushed peanuts, if desired. Serve with fresh bean sprouts and lime wedges to be squeezed over dish. Serves 4.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Three Greens Ribollita

Brrrr ... Baby, it's cold outside...unseasonably cold! Last night it got down to 11°! But I'm not complaining because it's been sunny and dry, which is also quite uncharacteristic for this time of year.

I can think of no meal more warming and satisfying on a wintry day than a big bowl of ribollita. The word ribollita literally means "reboiled," and it's a hearty, classic soup from Tuscany. Like most Tuscan cuisine, the soup has peasant origins and was originally made by reboiling leftover minestrone from the previous day and pouring it over remnant chunks of bread.

There are many variations of course, but the main ingredients include cannellini beans, and inexpensive vegetables such as carrot, spinach, onion, tomatoes, cavalo nero (black Tuscan kale), and of course, bread. These days the broth is often made from chicken or beef stock, doused in olive oil and sprinkled generously with Parmesan cheese. I was fortunate on my first trip to Italy many years ago to dine at the only vegetarian restaurant in Florence at the time, Il Sedano Allegro. It was there that I tasted my first bowl of ribollita, and fell helplessly in love with it.

One of my favorite vegan chefs and cookbook authors, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau prepared her vegan Three-Greens Ribollita Soup for the McDougall Celebrity Chef Weekend back in June of this year. I followed the recipe precisely, except I noticed the absence of tomatoes in the ingredients list (probably a typo), so I added a 14-oz can of diced tomatoes. The soup was nicely thickened, and tasted phenomenal with hunks of lightly toasted French bread. I can't wait to have it again for lunch today! Of course, I'll be reboiling it.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Kind Diet

"How can he be possessed of kindness, who to increase his own flesh, eats the flesh of creatures?" ~Thiruvalluvar, Tamil Poet c. 2nd century BC

Vegan actress and animal-rights activist Alicia Silverstone's new book, The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet offers a bounty of helpful ideas for choosing and preparing foods that are good for our bodies, the animals, and the planet. Meals are planned around those foods which provide optimum health and vitality, focusing on fresh, organic, plant-based ingredients. It would make an absolutely lovely gift for anyone who is looking for a way to eat more deliciously and healthfully, regardless of where they are on the vegan spectrum.

Photo © Lindsay S. Nixon and Happy Herbivore.

The Kind Diet is broken down into three levels: Flirting, Vegan, and Superhero. In "Flirting," Alica makes simple recommendations for weaning off the standard American diet with ideas like replacing a few meat-based meals with vegan ones and exploring the myriad of transitional vegan foods available. In the "Vegan" section, she presents a road map for how to build a vegan meal plan.

Focusing on ingredients like sea vegetables, mochi, agar-agar, umeboshi plum vinegar, and Gomashio, along with fresh, local, seasonal whole foods, the "Superhero" level is based on a macrobiotic style of cooking, which has long been associated with improved health. Alicia's own vibrantly beautiful, trim, energetic, and glowing appearance makes a powerfully convincing argument for how choosing these foods is indeed, a very kind thing we can do for ourselves. And readers need not be overwhelmed by the aforementioned exotic-sounding ingredients. They are readily available online, and most can be found at your local Asian grocery or natural foods store.

Excitedly, I spent the first night with my copy of The Kind Diet scanning all of the recipes, as I usually do with any new recipe book. The photographs were utterly mouth-watering, and I immediately honed in on the recipe for Nabeyaki Udon. Made with sumptuously thick udon noodles, shiitake and maitake mushrooms, (I could not find the latter, so used twice as many shiitake), gently cooked carrots, broccoli, leek, bok choy, napa cabbage, bean sprouts, and dandelion greens (which I also couldn't find, substituting delightfully fragrant jasmine greens, instead), and smartly seasoned with shoyu, ginger, and lemon juice. I also added one sliced red bell pepper, which made for an even more colorful and delicious dish.

I didn't think I was a big fan of polenta, having always found it rather bland and dry. But Alicia's Polenta Casserole with Seitan looked and sounded too good not to try.

I'm very glad I did, because this dish was one of the best dinners we've had in the last few months, far from being bland or dry. It made a polenta lover out of me. And since Alica suggested that a side of greens would make it absolutely perfect, I went back to one of my favorite go-to recipes, and served it up with Bryant Terry's Citrus Collards with Raisins Redux. It was perfect!

The Kind Diet contains a glorious selection of desserts that will satisfy any sweet tooth. Lemon-Poppyseed Pound Cake, Mixed Berry Cheesecake, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are just a few. I decided to try something that sounded light and fruity, Candied Ginger Pears. Made with brown rice syrup, pear juice, lemon, and ginger, it was a lovely departure from the usual cakes, cookies, ice cream, and pies.

Oh, and if you're wondering if I was able to remain true to the McDougall diet, while enjoying the recipes in this book, the answer is yes! None of the recipes I prepared contained any oil, and only a bit of tahini or whole nuts. Speaking of nuts, Dr. McDougall has an insightful article about them in his most current newsletter, which you can read here.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Hopi Corn and Chili Stew

I lived in New Mexico for five years, and I left a piece of my heart in the sunny Southwest. The time I spent there is brimming with memories of endless skies, meteor showers, pueblo-style architecture, the magical view of the Milky Way from the Adobe and Stars Bed and Breakfast, shopping for Native American art and jewelry on the Santa Fe plaza, hot air balloons sailing over my house, Christmas luminarias, moonrises over the Sandia mountains, coyotes howling outside my bedroom window, roadrunners, jackrabbits, and magpies moving swiftly past my car, chile ristras hanging outside quaintly painted wooden door frames, and the heavenly aromas of Navajo fry bread and New Mexican sopapilla. I don't think one can live in the Southwest and not feel immersed in Native American culture. While living in New Mexico, I traveled to Arizona and Colorado often—from Tucson to Kingman and Crestone to Boulder. For a short time, the Southwest was my stomping grounds, and I was able to enjoy the culinary influences of the Native American people who lived there.

The Hopi Indians have inhabited the dessert highlands of northern Arizona for the last 1,000 years. The name Hopi, is a shortened form of what these people call themselves, Hopi'sinom, or "People Who Live in the Correct Way." The catholic encyclopedia lists the name Hopi as having been derived from "Hopita," meaning "those who are peaceful ones." Hopi is a concept deeply rooted in the culture's religion and spirituality, and its view of morality and ethics. It involves a state of total reverence and respect for all things, to be at peace with these things, and to live in accordance with the instructions of Maasaw, the Creator or Caretaker of Earth.

Starch-based foods like corn, beans, and potatoes have always been an important part of the Hopi diet. Mary McDougall's rich and flavorful Hopi Corn and Chili Stew plays on these staple foods beautifully. It's another deliciously hearty, warming, low-fat vegan dish. I wish I'd come across this recipe while I was still living in New Mexico!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Vegan Feijoada with Brazilian Rice

What can you say about the national dish of Brazil? Well, for starters, it's pronounced fay-jho-ah-da. You can also say it's the antithesis of healthy vegan fare, as it is typically made with a variety of salted pork and beef products. (I'll spare you the details of the specific ingredients.) But at the heart of Brazilian feijoada are black turtle beans, (the word "feijoada" is derived from the Portuguese word for beans, "feijão.") So you do have the basis for a dish that is vegan and delicious.

Now I'm not saying that vegan feijoada tastes a lot like the classic Brazilian dish, but the combination of ingredients like cumin, red pepper flakes, celery, garlic, and onions, accentuated with a hint of orange do give this stew a unique flavor, which will not be confused with any other dish from any other Latin American country.

In Brazil, feijoada is usually served with rice and chopped refried collard greens. I prepared a lovely Brazilian rice for this dish and served it with Bryant Terry's Citrus Collards with Raisins Redux from his wonderful book, Vegan Soul Kitchen. Since his collard dish is flavored with garlic and orange, it made the perfect accompaniment to my vegan feijoada.

I "McDougallized" the following recipe from Mark Bittner (of all people!) And my Brazilian Rice is adapted from a recipe on



Cooking oil spray
1 6-oz. pkg. Lightlife Fakin’ Bacon smoky tempeh strips
2 15-oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 Tbs. cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp grated orange zest
1 orange peeled and sliced for garnish
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 large onion, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
1 1/4 cup orange juice (divided)
parsley, minced (optional)


Spray pan, add tempeh strips, and sauté for 2 minutes on each side. Set aside. Put the beans in a large pot with broth over warm heat. Add cumin, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Zest the orange and add to the beans, then peel and dice the orange, and set aside. Cook the onions, celery, and red pepper in a large skillet over medium heat, until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add to beans. Turn the heat under the skillet to high and add 1 cup of the orange juice. Cook, stirring and scraping to deglaze the pan for about 5 minutes. Add to the beans with the remaining 1/2 cup of orange juice and parsley, if using. Serve with rice and garnish with orange slices. Serves 4.

Brazilian Rice


1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 clove garlic, mashed
1 small onion, diced
1 tomato, chopped
1 tsp salt
2 cups water
1 cup rice long or medium-grain rice


Rinse the rice several times, until the water runs clear. Heat the vegetable broth in a saucepan over medium heat, and add the mashed garlic. Cook garlic for 1 minute. Add the chopped onion and tomato and cook, stirring until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the water and salt and bring to a boil. Add the rice. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave rice covered for 5 minutes more.
Fluff rice with fork and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Today I Am Thankful

"How good it is to be well-fed, healthy,
and kind, all at the same time!" ~Henry Heimlich, MD

In keeping with the McDougall lifestyle, to my husband's chagrin, I did not go the Tofurky route this year. Instead, I started cooking days ahead for what I knew would turn out to be an even more satisfying holiday meal for us both. When all was said and done, Mark agreed! Pictured above is a glimpse of our holiday table. Clockwise from the top are Mary McDougall's Holiday Stuffing and Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Mollie Katzen's Acorn Squash Stuffed with Apple-Almond-Cherry Basmati Pilaf, Ceasar Salad made with Mary McDougall's Creamy Ceasar Salad Dressing, and Susan Voisin's Impromptu Mushroom Gravy. And yes, that's canned jellied cranberry sauce in the upper right-hand corner. Mark likes it, and I wasn't going to argue with him just because I think homemade cranberry sauce is better. I was happy to find an organic brand that didn't have any nasty high-fructose corn syrup in it.

Also from Susan Voisin's Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen, I baked Spiced Pumpkin Bread for dessert, which of course, I topped with Purely Decadent Made with Coconut Milk Vanilla Bean ice cream. A heavenly finish, to a deliciously compassionate Thanksgiving meal.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

So Delicious Holiday Pumpkin Pie

Thanks so much to Pam Hornecker for sharing this delicious recipe! Of course, I served my own slice with a scoop of Purely Decadent Made with Coconut Milk Vanilla Bean ice cream! And since I'm being a good little McDougall girl, I didn't eat the crust.

For the Pie Crust:

1 1/3 cups flour
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil
2-3 Tbs ice water

Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Sprinkle flour mixture with oil, and mix with a fork, should look sort of crumbly. Sprinkle the flour mixture with water, 1 tablespoon at a time until it is moist and comes away from the bowl. Pat together into a ball, and put on a piece of waxed paper that has been set on a dampened counter to keep it in place. Top with another piece of waxed paper and roll out into a circle a little bigger than the pie pan. Transfer to pie pan, and flute top edge of crust with fingers or a fork.

For the Filling:

2 cups pumpkin (15 oz can or ½ of larger can)
1 cup So Delicious Coconut Milk Original Creamer
1 6-oz carton So Delicious Coconut Milk Vanilla Yogurt
¾ cup organic sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice
2 Tbs tapioca (instant granulated)

Mix together pumpkin and creamer until blended, then add in the vanilla yogurt and sugar. Add all spices and blend thoroughly, then stir in tapioca until well blended. Pour into pie crust, and bake at 425° for 15 minutes, then reduce oven to 350°, and bake for another 40-45 minutes. It may still look like it's not quite set in middle, but as it cools it sets up. Let cool before serving, and refrigerate any left over. Makes 8 servings.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sweet Potato, Eggplant , Tomato,
and Spinach Curry

Whether from India, (with its virtual kaleidoscope of flavors from each region), Thailand, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Pakistan, or Maylasia, curries do make the culinary world go round. No other dish can entice the nose or tantalize the tongue quite so much as curry. For this reason, I am always seeking out new curries to taste and share.

It's almost impossible to find delicious curry recipes that are made without oil or ghee, but you can leave out the extra fat and still end up with a dish that cooks up aromatically and tastes fantastic. A perfect example is this dish from A Life(Time) of Cooking, which I tweaked by replacing the oil with water, and adding tomatoes.


1/2 cup water, divided
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 heaping tablespoon cumin seeds
1 large sweet potato or yam, peeled and cut into small cubes (I also used some pumpkin I had on hand)
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 large eggplant, cut into small cubes
1 bunch of spinach, blanched, dried, and chopped
1 Tablespoon Madras Sambar Powder or a good Masala mix / curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder


Heat 1/4 cup water in a heavy-based saucepan on low heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds and allow to pop. Add the garlic and cumin seeds, and stir fry until garlic turns a golden brown color.

Add the sweet potato and tomatoes, and cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the sweet potato is half cooked. Stir occasionally. Mix in the eggplant cubes, spinach, salt, sambar powder, and turmeric. Cook on medium heat until the sweet potato and eggplant are tender. Serve with rice or naan. Makes 4 servings.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Warm Me Up! Thai Noodle Soup

Oregon winter has officially set in. I mean, it's 9:30 in the morning, and the temperature on my outdoor thermometer reads 37°. That's winter in my book.

I have a very cold house. It's great in the summer, as I only need to use the air conditioner three or four times a year when it's close to 100° outside. The downside is that when it's cloudy and cool, my house feels like an ice box. We start using the heat in October, although I would much prefer to drink hot cocoa and wear an extra layer, than live in the dry discomfort of forced-hot air heating. (Oh, how I miss my New Mexico in-floor radiant heat!)

Warming foods are also very comforting when we feel chilled to the bone. And Mary McDougall's recipe for Thai Rice Noodle Soup (you'll want to scroll down to the third recipe on this page,) really hits the spot. Mark and I got to satiate our cravings for coconut-milk flavored Thai food, (Friday nights used to be dinner at Manola's Thai restaurant), but without all the fat. Mary uses almond milk and coconut extract instead of coconut milk, and Sambal Oelek (an Indonesian chili sauce), for a spicy kick. The recipe makes about 6-8 servings, so we have more than enough left over to make hearty lunches for us both today. And that's good, because like I said, winter has arrived here in the Pacific Northwest.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oriental Pasta

Mark and I both enjoy the simplicity of many Asian-inspired dishes. A little ginger, soy sauce, and some gently cooked vegetables over a bed of rice or noodles make for a very satisfying meal.

I love this quick and easy-to-prepare Oriental Pasta recipe from The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook. You can find a similar recipe here on Dr. McDougall's website, where it's called Oriental Pasta Salad. In the dish pictured above, I used pad Thai rice noodles instead of buckwheat soba noodles, added baby corn, sliced red bell pepper and snap peas, and served it piping hot.

While culinary herbs are one of my passions, I've recently become more interested in medicinal herbs. So for something a little different, check out my latest article over at, and discover the power of the neem tree.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
and ... The Winner is ...

My very favorite thing about this time of year (aside from all of the spectacular foliage), is pumpkin pie! And not just pumpkin pie, but also pumpkin pie brownies, pumpkin pie cupcakes, pumpkin pie ice cream (hint to Turtle Mountain), and just about anything else that can be made with pumpkin and the dreamily aromatic combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Inspired by this recipe I recently found at, I decided to try my hand this morning at my own version of a vegan pumpkin pie smoothie. The result was rich, creamy, and delicious, with just a hint of coconut and all the spicy goodness of pumpkin pie. My version is not only dairy- and gluten-free, but soy-free, too.


2 cups So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage (I used Original, but you could use Vanilla, too)
2 tablespoons agave nectar (or sweetener of choice, to taste)
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 ripe banana
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice -or- 1/4 tsp ginger and 1/4 tsp nutmeg and a pinch of cloves
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (use 1/4 tsp, if you are using vanilla coconut milk beverage)


Blend all together, pour, and enjoy! Makes 2 servings.

The winner of three free Turtle Mountain product coupons is ... shakay. Congratulations! Your coupons are in the mail, and I hope you'll soon be enjoying more of your favorite So Delicious and Purely Decadent treats. Many thanks to everyone for your very delicious ice cream flavor ideas. Perhaps we'll see a few them come to fruition!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Creamy Spinach Pasta and
Three New Purely Decadent Flavors!

I'm really loving my McDougall cookbook. Even though there are more than 300 recipes to explore, I tried some recipes that we enjoyed so much, I'm already making them again. One of these is this simple, yet very delicious Creamy Spinach Pasta. (In the link, it's called Spinach Pesto Fettucine–4th recipe from the top.) I made it with Mrs. Leeper's Corn Rotelli for my gluten-intolerant friend, Meryl Ann, when she was visiting me a couple of weeks ago. I think corn pasta is the best-tasting pasta around. And although it's expensive, I discovered that a 12-oz bag will go as far as a 16-oz box of semolina pasta. I know, it still costs a lot more, but I think it's worth it—especially for those who are wheat-intolerant, or if you're like me. I can't eat wheat pasta without feeling terribly weighted down and lethargic, so I avoid eating it.

Look how bright and colorful this dish is! And if you love pesto, this recipe is packed with creamy basil and garlic. But it's also low fat, because it's made without any added oil!

After such a delectable dinner, I wanted to treat myself to an equally tantalizing dessert. I treated myself to a small taste of the three new Purely Decadent Made with Coconut Milk frozen desserts. I had a spoonful of each!

The Chocolate Brownie Almond flavor was light, creamy, and chocolatey, just like the chocolate coconut milk flavor, but with tasty bits of almonds and brownie pieces. Cherry Amaretto had lots of nice big hunks of black cherries in a marzipan-like creamy base. It made me dream of how heavenly a pistachio-cherry coconut milk ice cream would be. Oh, Turtle Mountain, could you please do this one small thing for me?

My favorite flavor of the three is Turtle Trails. I surprised myself with this one, because it's not my favorite soy flavor. But the chocolate-coated pecans and caramel sauce blended beautifully in the coconut milk ice cream. It tasted light, fluffy, and rich, and I think my tongue left my mouth and took a short trip to nirvana.

Mark on the other hand, can stand to gain a few pounds, so he can always treat himself to as much ice cream as his heart desires. He chose Chocolate Brownie Almond for his first round. And as you can see from the photo, it's a chocolate-brownie-lover's dream!

So here's a new contest: Visit the Turtle Mountain website, and check out all of their amazing flavors. Come back here, and leave me a comment telling me what your dream flavor is. One creative person will win 3 VIP coupons good for any of your favorite So Delicious or Purely Decadent products! I can't wait to read your responses! Good luck!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Warming and Delicious
Plaintain and Pinto Stew

The history of the plantain can be traced to Southeast Asia as far back as 500 B.C. Alexander the Great brought plantains to Europe around 327 B.C. They made their way to Madagascar from Malaysia and India during the Trans-Saharan trade boom sometime around the 8th century. Along with yam, banana, and other food crops, plantain became an important factor in the prosperity and rapid expansion of the Bantu Kingdom of central and southern Africa around 1500 A.D. Portuguese sailors discovered both plantain and bananas in their travels to the African continent and populated the Canary lslands with their first plantations. It is believed that a Portuguese Franciscan monk first introduced the plantain to the Caribbean island of Santo Domingo in 1516. It wasn't long before the plantain made its way throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. Today, plantain is popular in many parts of the world, and is a staple in Latin American cuisine.

Plantains are cooked either when they are under-ripe and starchy or overripe and sweet. I don't care very much for the bland, starchy taste of under-ripe plantains, so I rarely eat them unless they are truly ripened, with the skin darkened to a deep yellow color that is covered with many black spots. Unless I get extremely lucky and find overripe plantain at my local Latin market, I may have to wait a week or more after buying plantains to prepare this tasty stew.

How wonderful to revisit one of my favorite cookbooks, Veganomicon and find that I only needed to omit 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to make this a very low-fat dish. I also omitted the cilantro, as I think the flavors of the beans, tomatoes, peppers, and plantain really shine through without it. You can find the recipe here, along with a nutritional analysis.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I've Discovered that I Really Like Gumbo!

What exactly is gumbo, anyway? Several sources note that the word gumbo comes from the African Bantu dialect word, kigombo, for okra. The native recipe for kigombo soup, a watery melange made of fish, okra, and plantains, was first brought to the Americas by African slaves. The recipe was later influenced by a number of cultures including the Spanish and the French, evolving into what is now a thick soup made with an array of ingredients and spices.

When I found this low-fat vegan recipe for Cajun Gumbo, in The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook, it sounded so delicious, I had to try it.

I just love how bubbly, colorful, and flavorful my gumbo looked while it was cooking!

Since I've never eaten authentic gumbo of any kind, I'm not sure how close this dish comes to tasting like the Creole classic recipe. Nevertheless, the blending of spices, vegetables, and beans served with brown rice made a wonderful warming meal on a chilly autumn evening.

As the temperature continues to dip, I think we'll be eating a lot more of this dish over the next few months, because I've discovered that I really like gumbo! Do you?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Black Bean Sloppy Joes

Violins, please...I never had Sloppy Joes as a kid. It just wasn't one of the five dishes in my mother's repertoire. (Poor me.) So it wasn't until after I graduated high school and was living away from home that I discovered this saucy sandwich. It was love at first bite!

Now I realize that I've kind of been living under a rock for the last ten years—that's when The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook was first published. But what a wonderful surprise for me to find within its pages a naturally low-fat vegan recipe that closely mimics the sassy flavors I remember so fondly. It made me fall in love with Sloppy Joes all over again.

(Notice the cute jungle motif plate? I couldn't resist buying it when I found it at one a local thrift shop!)

While I don't usually reprint recipes from other people's cookbooks unless I either have the author's permission or have found the recipe online elsewhere, this recipe is already posted on at least a dozen other websites. So I hope you'll try it (if you haven't already, because unlike me, you don't live under a rock!) It's a very tasty quick-and-easy-to-prepare dish that both kids and adults will have fun eating.


1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, diced
1/3 cup water
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 T yellow mustard
1 teaspoon agave nectar (original recipe called for honey)
1 teaspoon chili powder


Place onion and pepper in a saucepan with water. Cook, stirring frequently until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.

Mash beans with a bean or potato masher (do not use a food processor). Add the beans and remaining ingredients to the saucepan, and cook over low heat until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve on toasted whole wheat buns.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Meeting Food Intolerances Head-On with Orange Pan-Glazed Tempeh

I love having company, and I enjoy cooking for family and friends. After all, I can think of nothing more fulfilling than expressing my love through food. Spending some quality girlfriend time with a dear friend who I never get to see, well, that was just priceless. I can't remember the last time I had so much fun! Here Meryl Ann and I are having a blast at the Opening Fiesta Reception for the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) exhibit, at the Maude Kerns Art Center in Eugene.

Before Meryl Ann came to visit, I knew that she was wheat intolerant, and it was easy to accommodate for that. But I didn't know that she was also allergic to or intolerant of bananas, beans, (so much for those black bean brownies), onions, cucumbers, zucchini, jalapeño peppers, certain spices, and a few other things. This made meal preparation a bit more challenging.

One dish that I was able to pull out of my recipe archive is this simple, yet very tasty Orange Pan-Glazed Tempeh. I lightly browned the tempeh in a dry nonstick pan, instead of frying it in the 2 tablespoons of coconut oil I would have used in my pre-McDougall days. I served it over basmati rice, and the result was just as spectacular as the original. Meryl Ann was treated to a sprinkling of shredded coconut on her dish, but Mark and I enjoyed ours au naturel.


1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (3-4 large juicy oranges)
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
3 teaspoons wheat-free tamari
2 1/4 tablespoons mirin
3 teaspoons maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 small garlic clove, crushed
12 ounces of soy tempeh
1/2 lime
a handful of cilantro (optional)


Place the orange juice in a small bowl. Squeeze the grated ginger over the bowl to extract the juices, and discard the pulp. Add the tamari, mirin, maple syrup, ground coriander, and garlic. Mix together, and set aside.

Cut the tempeh into thin bite-sized pieces.

Lightly coat a non-stick pan with cooking spray, add the tempeh, and fry over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, or until golden underneath. (I was able to do this step without coating the pan.) Turn and cook the other side for another 5 minutes, or until golden. Pour the orange juice mixture into the pan, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced to a lovely thick glaze. Turn the tempeh once more during this time and spoon the sauce over it from time to time.

Serve the tempeh drizzled with any remaining sauce, a squeeze of lime, and a handful of cilantro with rice or your grain of choice.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Puerto Rican Feast—Arroz con Gandules,
a New So Delicious Coconut Milk Treat,
and a Cookbook Contest Winner!

When I lived in New York City, my best friend was Puerto Rican. Sadly, our 15-year friendship ended after I moved away, and we drifted apart. But I often think of Shirley, and I like to imagine her having a beautiful life.

One of the perks that comes with having a Puerto Rican best friend is getting introduced to all the best Puerto Rican delicacies. From the spicy cuchifritos we'd buy at Spanish Harlem and Brooklyn Heights storefronts to her mother's delectable Christmas and Easter pasteles, every meal brought wonderfully unfamiliar surprises to my unseasoned gringita palate. One dish I remember quite fondly is Arroz con Gandules (rice with pigeon peas). So when I stumbled upon a vegan version of this dish (it's usually made with ham or sausage), I just had to try it. McDougallizing the recipe was also easy. I just omitted the 2-3 tablespoons of oil that would typically be used. Not only was the end result delicious, but it gave me a brand new appreciation for cilantro, which I had started to take a disliking to. And more important, it brought back sweet memories of a long-lost friendship. I miss you Shirley, wherever you are.

This dish is prepared in three parts. First the sofrito, a chunky sauce made with a variety of vegetables, herbs, and spices. Sofrito recipes vary, but the essential elements include onions, garlic, red or green bell peppers, and culantro.

Next, comes the sazon, a flavorful seasoning used in Latin American cooking. I won't buy a prepared bottled brand of sazon, as many contain MSG, and all it takes are a few simple ingredients and the shake of a hand to prepare your own.

The last step is cooking the rice and peas and mixing it all together.

For the sofrito: (This will make lots more than you need, and you can freeze the extra for the next time you make this dish.)
1 large green pepper
1 onion
1 tomato
1/2 red pepper
1/2-1 head garlic
1 bunch culantro or cilantro*
1/2 bunch flat leaf parlsey

Coarsely chop all the ingredients and then puree in the food processor.

For the sazon, mix together in a small glass jar:
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp hot paprika
pinch sweet paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
salt to taste

For the arroz con gandules:
1 15-oz can pigeon peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 cup long grain white rice
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup tomato sauce
7-8 tbsp sofrito
1-2 tsp sazon or to taste
dash of liquid smoke
dash of balsamic vinegar
handful of fresh culantro or cilantro*, chopped

In a stockpot, saute the onion and green pepper in a couple of tablespoons of broth along with a pinch of sazon. Add the sofrito, more sazon, and stir for another few minutes. Add the rice, beans, water, vegetable broth, and tomato sauce, if using. Bring to a gentle boil then reduce to a simmer and cover. You want the beans and rice to absorb the liquid completely so that you don't end up making soup. Stir gently until rice is tender, about 20-25 minutes. 

Once the rice is done, lower the heat some more and season with more sazon, salt, pepper, the liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce if using, vinegar, and fresh cilantro. Stir, taste, and season until it's just right!

*The authentic recipe is made with culantro (aka long coriander), a popular kitchen herb that is native to the Carribean and tropical regions of the Americas, and is also popular in Asian cuisine. My local Latin grocery was out of culantro the day I planned to prepare this dish. But as evidenced by its pungent aroma, culantro is closely related to cilantro, which made a fine substitute.

I allowed myself a sweet indulgence today: A So Delicious Coconut Milk Fudge Bar! At only 70 calories, I felt I wasn't really straying too far off the McDougall path. I also wasn't expecting anything amazing, but I should have known better. After all, this treat was made by Turtle Mountain. As you can see from my friend Meryl Ann's expression, these new fudge bars are decadently delicious! They are so creamy, rich, and chocolatey, I thought they tasted just like chocolate mousse on a stick.

Run, don't walk, to your nearest natural food store and pick yourself up a box of these babies. You'll be hooked!

Steve Nakon is the lucky winner of a free copy of The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook! Congratulations Steve, and thanks to everyone for taking the time to check out Dr. McDougall's website. Stay tuned to this blog for the next contest...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thai Tofu and Cashews
and McDougall Cookbook Contest!

Either my taste buds are really changing, or the recipes in The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook are just ridiculously delicious. I suspect it's a combination of both, because Mark has also been enjoying what he calls "the best meals of my life!"

Believe it or not, I haven't missed eating my favorite Thai dish, peanut sauce curry at my favorite local Thai restaurant, Manola's. But I have missed the flavors of Thai food, so when I came upon this recipe for Thai Tofu and Cashews, I was more than ready to give it a go. I decided to add a few sliced carrots and red bell peppers to the ingredients. As you can see, this made for a beautifully colorful presentation, delectable beyond words.

I encourage anyone who wants to improve their health, lose weight without feeling deprived, or take their diet to the next level to get their hands on a copy of this wonderful book. And to show just how excited I am about it, I'm going to randomly give away a copy to one of my readers.

To earn an entry to win this amazing book, simply visit Dr. McDougall's website, return here and leave a comment telling me what feature or article on the site you found most interesting. Tweet this blog post (and leave another comment telling me that you did), and you'll receive a second entry! Please note: I must have a way to reach you via email in order for you to be eligible, so please include your email address with your entry, unless it's already accessible from your own blog. The winner will be selected on October 18th. Good luck!

Friday, October 09, 2009

A Couple of Very Special Desserts

Who doesn't love a bundt cake? This recipe for Chocolate-Orange Cake from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen was an instant hit at our house.

While mine wasn't nearly as pretty as Susan V's, it tasted divine, all the same. The denseness of this chewy cake complimented the sweet icing deliciously. Once again we felt like we were sneaking in a bit of forbidden indulgence. But without even a hint of oil or Earth Balance, this cake managed to be surprisingly moist. Of course I just had to substitute my favorite So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt for the soy yogurt called for in the recipe. The very, very subtle hint of coconut it added to the cake sent it completely over the top for me.

When I found out that one of my dearest friends was going to be driving all the way up from LA to visit, I had to bake her something special. I thought those Wonderful Chocolate Black Bean Brownies would be a nice, healthy, sweet way to show some love. But since my friend, Meryl Ann, is gluten intolerant, I substituted all-purpose gluten-free flour for the wheat flour, and the results were spectacular! Since Meryl Ann is not on the McDougall program, I treated her to some Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Cookie Dough ice cream, too. Had I been thinking ahead at the time, I would have also taken a photo of her face lighting up like a Christmas tree when she took the first bite. But here's a photo of her dessert, just after that first bite. And well, click on the pic, and zoom in for a closeup. You can pretty much imagine what her face looked like, can't you?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Bountiful Autumn Stew

It's only the beginning of October, but already it feels like winter has set in. Two weeks ago the sun was shining like it would never stop, and the temperatures were hovering in the high 90s. Last week it started raining again, and now when I wake each morning, the thermometer reads somewhere just above or below 40°. I miss summer!

When I saw this recipe for Bountiful Autumn Stew in the most recent edition of the online McDougall Newsletter, it sounded like the perfect dish to warm my body and my heat-seeking soul. With yams, cannellini beans, kale, fresh tomato, zucchini, rice (I chose white basmati rice, instead of brown), and just the right amount of spice, the meal was hearty, filling, and very tasty. We'll be enjoying this satisfying dish again and again over the next few months, for sure.

Click here to subscribe to the highly informative, free monthly McDougall Newsletter, which includes advice on health and healing along with delicious, easy-to-prepare recipes.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sensational Black Bean, Corn, and Rice Burritos

All of the meals I've been enjoying on my McDougall adventure have been delicious. But this is the first entree that has gone way beyond just good. Sure, I added a couple of my own tweaks, like Trader Joe's Spicy, Smoky Peach Salsa and a few slices of avocado, to make it more to my liking. But even without these additions, I think it still would have been great.

I made these with Ezekiel Sprouted Tortillas, because I like that they don't have any oil and are made with sprouted whole grains. But I think that next time I'll splurge and use flour tortillas that are thinner, softer, and more pliable, looking for ones with the least amount of oil. (Please tell me if you know where to find fat-free flour tortillas!)


1 jar of Trader Joe's Spicy Smoky Peach Salsa (or salsa of your choice)
1 jalapeño pepper, diced fine
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can sweet corn, drained
1 14.5 oz-can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder (or 1 tsp milder chili powder)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 cups cooked brown rice (to save time, I used one package of Trader Joe's Frozen Organic Brown Rice)
12 tortillas
1 small avocado, sliced
1/2 cup chopped green onions (optional)


Place some of the juice from the tomatoes in a large saucepan with the diced jalapeño. Stir and sauté for a few minutes, until softened. Add beans, corn, tomatoes, garlic, chili, and cumin. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes. Stir in the rice, and heat through.

Wrap the tortillas in a kitchen towel and heat for 1 minute in the microwave or heat each tortilla individually for about 15 seconds on each side in a dry non-stick frying pan over low heat. Spread a line of the bean and rice mixture down the center of each tortilla, layer with 2 tablespoons of salsa, avocado slices, and a few green onions. Roll up and repeat with remaining tortillas.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Red, White, and Green Sandwiches

Sometimes I feel like having breakfast for dinner. That's when scrambled tempeh or tofu or a vegan omelette seems just right. And sometimes I feel like having lunch for dinner. On those occasions, The Great American Untuna Salad has often been my go-to choice. So when I came across the recipe for Spinach Buns in my new McDougall cookbook, that sounded like a nice, simple, lunch-like dinner I might be able to add in to the rotation.

But I didn't have any whole wheat buns, and including some lovely roasted red bell peppers sounded like that might be good, too. So what I came up with is a sort of sandwich homage to Italy on toasted Squirrely bread, which held up quite nicely to the somewhat wet ingredients. After all, what could be more Italian than roasted red bell peppers, spinach, and garbanzo beans? And the fact that the colors sort of happen to match those in the Italian flag, couldn't be a mere coincidence, could it?


1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 10-oz bag washed baby spinach
1 jar roasted red bell peppers, packed in water and drained
8 slices Squirrely Bread, or any hearty whole wheat bread


Place the first four ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Place the vinegar in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add the spinach and stir for another minute. Season with pepper and cook for another few minutes.

Toast the bread and generously spread some of the garbanzo mixture on 1 slice. Layer the spinach and red pepper on top, and cover with another slice of bread. Makes 4 sandwiches.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What's Fun to Say and Delicious to Eat? Jambalaya, of Course!

You can find several "McDougall" Jambalaya recipes online like this one, but the recipe for Tofu Jambalaya in The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook is made with orzo (cute little rice-shaped pasta) instead of rice, and hickory-smoked tofu. Mark thought the tofu tasted like sausage, (I thought it tasted like smoked tofu), and we both enjoyed the orzo, which seemed like a delightful indulgence. I think that the next time I make this dish, I'll add some more Creole-type seasonings like cayenne, paprika, and oregano, and use the original Tabasco hot sauce, instead of the milder (read: wimpier) green pepper Tabasco sauce I used this time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It Just Keeps Getting Better and Better:
Spicy White Bean Pitas

My copy of The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook arrived yesterday, and with more than 300 delicious-sounding recipes, I'm sure I'm going to be kept busy in the kitchen for quite some time.

I dove right in with Spicy White Bean Pitas. I tried to serve them as described, but the bean mixture soaked right through the pita bread, and what I wound up with instead was like a giant open-faced sandwich.

No problem, though. The bread became soft and cut easily with a fork, and I quite enjoyed eating it this way, as it made it seem like there was a lot more food on my plate!

As tasty as they are colorful, I was once again surprised at how much I can enjoy beans, if prepared and presented creatively. I used chipotle chili pepper and one finely diced jalapeño in place of the peppers called for in the original recipe. Anyway, here's my version. Please let me know if you like it.


1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, diced fine
1/3 cup vegetable broth
2 15-oz cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
6-8 pita breads
1 bunch chopped green onions
1 cup alfalfa or clover sprouts


Cook the onion and jalapeño in broth or water for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until onions are translucent. Add the beans, tomatoes, corn, tomato paste, and chili powder. Cook uncovered over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cut a pita pockets in half, stuff each with filling, and place on top of each other on a plate, allowing the juices to soak through the bread. Top with chopped green onion and sprouts.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Another Outstanding Dinner:
Samosa Wraps and Black Bean Brownies!

I adore Indian food. If I had to choose between my two best food vacations, it would be a tough call between Italy and India. I did so much walking up and down hills in Italy, I could eat pasta and bread to my heart's content, drink several glasses of red wine each night, and still lose weight!

In India, I absolutely loved having Indian food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I had to be diligent about making sure my food was always prepared without cheese, butter, or ghee. They still don't have a handle on the concept of "no dairy" in India, but I hear that's slowly changing.

I have always enjoyed preparing Indian food at home. The lovely aroma of those exotic spices cooking in oil—cardamom, coriander, and cumin fill my home and add to the anticipation of a delicious meal to come. But is it possible to prepare tasty Indian food without using oil? Well, these tasty Samosa Wraps from The FatFree Vegan Kitchen proved to me that you absolutely can!

This take on the popular Indian snack food, which is typically quite greasy, had all the flavor without all the fat. I stuffed the filling into whole wheat pita pockets, but I think next time I'll go the extra step and make my own chappati bread to give it a more authentic taste.

I just happened to have some tamarind chutney on hand (one of my favorite condiments), which added a lovely, rich flavor without any added fat.

For dessert I baked a tray of Chef Emily Webber's Wonderful Fat-Free Vegan Chocolate Black Bean Brownies. Hold on there—black bean brownies? Are you kidding me?

These brownies were sweet and moist and virtually fat-free, because they were made without any oil. A couple of tablespoons of ground flaxseed made them not only moist, but about as healthy as a brownie can ever hope to be! You can also substitute all-purpose gluten-free flour for the whole wheat flour, and the results will be as delicious. I know, because I made some gluten-free brownies for my gluten-intolerant friend, Meryl Ann.

And what's that yummy-looking topping you ask? It's iced vanilla cashew creme, and it is scrumptious! (The recipe for it is included on the brownie recipe page.) It got all melty and gooey, because the brownies were still warm! I figured that Mark and I are being so good that we both deserved a little treat. And besides, if the recipe was good enough to be featured during Dr. McDougall's June Celebrity Chef Weekend, then it was good enough for me!