February 2005

Vol. 4, No. 2

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SWEET POTATO BEGINNINGS

We serve these for breakfast during the Maximum Weight Loss Program.  The potatoes are easy to prepare ahead and refrigerate until needed to combine with the remaining ingredients.

Preparation Time:  5 minutes (cooked yams needed)
Servings:  2

2 baked yams or sweet potatoes
2 bananas, peeled and sliced
1 apple, cored and chopped
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Peel and chop the baked yams or sweet potatoes.  Combine with the bananas and apples.  Mix in the cinnamon.  Heat briefly in a microwave oven.  Serve warm.

HINTS:  Yams and sweet potatoes may be used interchangeably in this (and most other) recipes.  These root vegetables are sold most of the year in your markets.  Sweet potatoes usually are less moist with a pale orange skin and flesh, and the root vegetables sold as yams have a reddish skin and deep orange colored flesh.  These are usually very moist.  This recipe may also be served cold or at room temperature.

SQUASHY BLACK BEANS

These were a favorite during the Maximum Weight Loss Program.

Preparation Time:  15 minutes
Cooking Time:  20 minutes
Servings:  4

2 cups winter squash, peeled and chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups water or vegetable broth
2  15 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Place the squash in a pan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until tender but not mushy.  Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, place the onion, carrot and celery in a large pot with 1 cup of the water or broth.  Cook over medium heat about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the rest of the liquid and the remaining ingredients, mixing well.  Stir in the reserved squash.  Cook over low heat until heated through, about 5 minutes.  Serve hot over rice or potatoes.

TEX-MEX POTATOES

Preparation Time:  20 minutes
Cooking Time:  40 minutes
Servings:  6

6 large red potatoes
2  15 ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh salsa
1  4 ounce can diced green chilies
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 tomato, chopped
¼ cup corn kernels
2 green onions, chopped
Taco-tofu topping (optional-see Hints)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Scrub the potatoes and cut lengthwise into wedges.  Place on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, about 40 minutes

Meanwhile, combine the beans, salsa, chilies, onion, garlic, 2 tablespoons of the cilantro, the chili powder and cumin in a saucepan.  Cook over low heat about 15 minutes. 

Combine the tomato, corn kernels and the remaining cilantro.  Set aside.

To assemble:  Place the baked potato wedges on a serving platter.  Spoon the warm bean mixture over the potatoes and top with the fresh tomato mixture.  Garnish with several tablespoons of Taco-tofu topping, if desired.

HINTS:  Frozen corn kernels may be used in this recipe.  Thaw under cold running water and drain well before using.  To make a delicious Taco-tofu topping, process 1 package of lite silken tofu in a food processor until very smooth.  Transfer to a bowl and combine with one package of taco seasoning mix.  (Bearitos makes a wonderful taco seasoning mix.)  Chill for several hours for the best flavor.  This also makes an excellent dip for cooked, chilled potato chunks or raw vegetables.

STUFFED MUSHROOMS

We have served these during every live-in program and weekend and they are always one of the most requested recipes.  They are very easy to make and make an excellent appetizer for a party.

Preparation Time:  30 minutes
Cooking Time:  20 minutes
Servings:  variable

40 medium to large mushrooms
1  10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1  12.3 ounce package lite silken tofu
1  package onion soup mix  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Clean the mushrooms and remove the stems.  Set aside.  Squeeze the thawed spinach very dry and place in a large bowl.  Place the tofu in a food processor and process until smooth.  Add to the spinach, then add the onion soup mix and stir well to combine.  Fill the mushroom caps with the spinach tofu mixture and place filled-side up on a baking sheet.  Cover with parchment paper, then cover with aluminum foil.  Bake for about 20 minutes, depending on the size of the mushrooms.  Serve warm.

HINTS:  Place the mixture in a pastry funnel tube and pipe the spinach-tofu mixture into the mushrooms to save time and also add a lovely appearance.  Mushrooms should be fork tender when done, but not mushy.  One onion soup mix that is available in most natural food stores is made by Simply Organics.  It also makes a delicious dip for potatoes and raw vegetables when combined with a package of lite silken tofu. Place the tofu in a food processor or blender and process until very smooth.  Transfer the tofu to a bowl and stir in the onion soup mix.  Chill for several hours for the best flavor.  

SWEET & SPICY GARBANZO STEW

I have been making this stew for 20 years.  It has always been one of John’s favorites and it was so popular that it was one of our original McDougall Frozen Foods when we lived in Hawaii.  I have deliberately kept the spices on the milder side, so if you would like to make it more spicy to suit your tastes, just add a bit more of the red pepper flakes.

Preparation Time:  15  minutes
Cooking Time:  1 hour
Servings:  8

1 onion, chopped
2 yams, peeled and chunked
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 leek, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced
2 cups vegetable broth
3  15 ounce cans garbanzo beans, undrained
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon pure prepared horseradish
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups broccoli pieces

Place the onion, yams, carrot, celery, and leek in are large pot with 1 cup of the vegetable broth.  Cook, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes.  Add the remaining broth and the garbanzo beans and their juice and cook for another 30 minutes.  Add all the seasonings and the broccoli and cook for an additional 15 minutes, until broccoli is tender.  Serve over brown rice or another whole grain.

POLENTA TORTE

During the McDougall Advanced Study Weekend in January 2005 our guest chef, Alex Bury, made a delicious polenta torte during a fabulous cooking demonstration.  Alex was the pervious owner and chef of Sparks, a unique vegan restaurant in Guerneville, CA.  I have changed a few of the measurements and directions to make it easier for you to make in your kitchen.  I made this myself at home with wonderful results.  I encourage you to try this special dish and share it with your family or friends.

Preparation Time:  30 minutes
Cooking Time:  30 minutes
Chilling Time:  2 hours
Heating Time:  variable
Servings:  12

Tofu Ricotta:
1  12.3 ounce package lite silken tofu
1 pound fresh water-packed firm lite tofu
2 teaspoons minced garlic
¼ cup nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup soymilk

Combine all of the above ingredients in a food processor and process until fairly smooth.  Set aside.

Polenta:
8 cups water
2 cups uncooked polenta
1-2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons parsley flakes
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1  6 ounce can tomato paste
1  10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot.   Slowly stir in the polenta and garlic.  Whisk until fairly smooth.  Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until quite thick, about 25-30 minutes for coarse polenta.  Stir in the salt, pepper, nutritional yeast and herbs.  Separate the polenta into two batches.  Stir the tomato paste into one batch and set aside.  Stir the spinach into the other batch and set aside.

Put the tomato polenta in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish and smooth out evenly.  Place the tofu ricotta on top of the tomato polenta and smooth out evenly.  Then top with the spinach polenta and again smooth out evenly.  Cover with parchment paper and foil and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to firm.

Topping:

1  15 ounce can tomato sauce, heated

When ready to eat, slice into serving sized pieces and place on individual plates.  Warm each serving in a microwave or the oven and drizzle some of the hot tomato sauce over each serving.

Hints: Alex says that the most important part is to first chill the torte as a complete uncut casserole.  Once it is firm, it may be sliced while cold and the individual pieces heated, or it may be baked whole (like lasagna) and then sliced. This is a beautiful layered dish that retains its shape best when it is sliced while chilled.  I have baked the whole torte in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour and served it hot, however, the layers did not hold up as well during that baking process, although the torte was still delicious.

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