September 2010
Vol. 9 Issue 9

Featured Recipes

Creamy Golden Gravy

This gravy is made with brown rice flour instead of wheat flour. The great thing about using rice flour instead of wheat flour for thickening is that it doesn’t form lumps like wheat flour often does. This does not have to be stirred constantly to prevent lumps. I have walked away and forgotten to stir this gravy and it still comes out smooth and lump free because of the rice flour.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Servings: makes 2 cups

2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons tahini
¼ cup brown rice flour
freshly ground black pepper

Place all the ingredients, except the pepper, in a small saucepan. Stir well to mix. Cook over medium–low heat, stirring occasionally until smooth and thick. Season with freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve at once.

Hints: This may be made ahead and refrigerated. It will thicken slightly more when refrigerated. To reheat, place in a saucepan, add a small amount of water, whisk to combine and then heat slowly, stirring occasionally, until hot.

Tofu Mayonnaise

I am frequently asked about mayonnaise substitutes, since many of those found in most markets are mostly made of fat. This one is lower in fat because of the tofu, easy to make and store in the refrigerator, and it tastes good too!

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Resting Time: 1 hour or longer
Servings: makes 1 ½ cups

1 12.3 ounce package silken tofu
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.

Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Creamy Black Bean Soup

Here is another recipe that I get requests for all the time. It is so quick to put together, yet it tastes like you’ve been cooking it all day. The spiciness of the soup can easily be adjusted by the type of salsa that you choose to blend with the beans; mild, medium or hot.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2-4

3 15 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 ¾ cups vegetable broth
1 cup fresh salsa
¼ teaspoon ground oregano
¼ teaspoon chili powder (or more to taste)
1/8 teaspoon smoked chipotle chili powder (optional)
several dashes hot sauce (optional)

Reserve 1 cup of the beans in a separate bowl, place the remaining beans, the vegetable broth and the salsa in a blender jar. Process until fairly smooth, then pour into a saucepan. Mash the reserved beans slightly with a fork or bean/potato masher. Add to the saucepan with the remaining ingredients. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes to blend flavors. Adjust seasoning to taste before serving.

Hints: This is great to make ahead of time and then heat just before serving. Make a double batch so you can enjoy a quick bowl of soup when you are hungry.

Chocolate Decadence Pudding

By Heather McDougall

This is one of the favorite desserts during the McDougall Programs and I always get asked for the recipe. Most people think it is made with tofu and are very surprised to discover that it is made with soymilk and cocoa powder.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Wonderslim)
¾ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups soymilk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

With a whisk, combine cocoa, sugar, cornstarch, and soymilk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Mix well. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 4 hours. Spoon into individual bowls and serve cold.

Hint: This may also be placed in individual sized serving dishes, covered and refrigerated until serving. Be sure to bring this to a boil slowly, while stirring constantly, for a smooth and creamy result.

Baja White Bean Stew

This is a quick and easy bean dish that is so delicious at this time of the year with fresh produce available everywhere. I have been making this often lately with fresh tomatoes and lacinato kale from our garden.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 30-35 minutes
Servings: 6

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
3 cans white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 4 ounce can chopped green chilies
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 cups fresh chopped, kale, chard or spinach
hot sauce to taste (optional)

Place 1/2 cup of the broth in a large pot. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until onion is soft. Add remaining broth, corn, beans, tomatoes, chilies, and seasonings. Mix well. Bring to a boil, cover partially and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add greens and cook for an additional 10 minutes (only 3 minutes for spinach). Season with hot sauce to taste.

Serve over baked or roasted potatoes, whole grains, or rolled up in a tortilla. This is also wonderful served in a bowl with some fresh bread on the side.

Hints: When fresh corn is in season, slice the kernels off 1 or 2 ears to use in this recipe. To use frozen corn, thaw first under cold running water (place in a strainer and hold under the water for about a minute). Bottled minced garlic may be used, you'll need about 1 1/2 teaspoons. Smoked paprika is available in most natural food stores. It adds a delicious flavor to this dish. If you cannot find it, leave it out or use regular paprika instead. Any leafy green is delicious in this recipe. Adjust the cooking times according to the greens used.

African Yam Stew

This is a rich and creamy stew because of the peanut butter used. Each serving only contains a small amount of this richer ingredient, and serving it over whole grains cuts the fat content down even more because the serving size will be smaller. To make this a bit less rich, use only 1/8 cup of the peanut butter and add a few splashes of hot sauce to the stew, if desired. I like this with some sriracha hot sauce over the top.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6-8

1/3 cup water
1 onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
5 cups peeled and chunked Garnet yams
2 14.5 ounce cans chopped tomatoes
2 14.5 ounce cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 ½ cups vegetable broth
¼ cup natural peanut butter
2 cups chopped fresh chard or kale
¼ cup chopped cilantro

Place the water, onion, jalapenos, ginger and garlic in a large pot. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add cumin, cinnamon, red pepper and coriander. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Add yams, tomatoes, garbanzo beans, vegetable broth and peanut butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stir in chard or kale and cook for about 10 more minutes until yams and greens are tender. Stir in cilantro and let rest for 2 minutes. Serve over rice or other whole grains.


Stephanie Roston, RD was the chef for the cooking demonstration at the Advanced Study Weekend. She prepared Savory South Indian Breakfast Foods and also taught some very helpful cooking techniques for cooking grains and beans as well as how to use your knife. The recipes and cooking techniques are included here along with her bio. I hope you enjoy them as much as all the folks at the weekend did!

Stephanie Roston, RD is both a chef and nutritionist. After completing her B.S. in Food Science and Human Nutrition, she spent over five years as a Medical Nutrition Therapist in a variety of healthcare settings. Having witnessed the long-term effects of poor food choices, she changed the focus of her career to culinary education and provides her students with the knowledge and inspiration to create tasty healthy cuisine. She received her professional chef’s training at the National Gourmet Institute for Food and Health in New York City. Over the past few years, Stephanie has been a chef at Millennium Restaurant. A key player on Executive Chef Eric Tucker’s team, she helps prepare the dishes that have made Millennium San Francisco’s best and most recognizable vegan restaurant. As a Food for Life cooking instructor for The Cancer Project, Stephanie teaches classes emphasizing plant-based nutrition for cancer prevention and survival. She also serves as a spokesperson for The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine and provides individual and group nutrition education for hospitals, fitness centers, and corporations.

Sambhar with Carrot and Zucchini
Recipe by Stephanie Roston, R.D.

Yields 2 ½ quarts or 10 cups

½ cup water (in place of oil)
1 medium yellow onion, small dice (about 2 cups)
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 Tbs. minced ginger
2 Tbs. curry powder (containing coriander, cumin, fenugreek, turmeric, chili, etc.)
1 tsp. brown mustard seed
½ tsp. whole cumin seed
¼ tsp. caraway seed
1 cinnamon stick
¼ tsp. ground mace
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
3-4 Roma tomatoes, chopped (about 3 cups)
1 cup toovar dal (can substitute red lentils, yellow split peas, or chana dal)
8 cups water
2-3 carrots, medium dice
2-3 small zucchini, medium dice
1 Tbs. tamarind concentrate (another option: ¼ block of tamarind pulp which has been soaked in hot water and strained)
1/8 tsp. asafoetida
1-2 tsp. sugar if needed to balance bitterness of spice
Squeeze of lime juice to taste if needed

Heat a medium to large heavy bottomed pot on high. When pot is preheated, add 1 Tbs. water, onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté adding small amounts of water as needed. When onions start to soften and become lightly caramelized, add spices from curry powder through black pepper. Stir continuously for 3-5 minutes allowing spices to toast to maximize flavor. Next, add tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes. Add dal and water then cover pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the dal is tender (time will vary depending on the type of dal used). Next, add the carrots and continue to simmer for 10 minutes or until carrots are almost tender. Add zucchini and season with tamarind and asafoetida. Cook until the zucchini is done which takes only 5-10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed by adding a squeeze of lime juice, a little sugar, or more tamarind. Enjoy sambhar on its own or serve with uppma, idli, uttapam, dosa, or rice.

To store leftovers, cool to room temperature then cover and refrigerate. Sambhar will keep refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.

Rava Uppma
Recipe by Stephanie Roston, R.D.

Yields about 4 cups

1 ½ cups *rava (sooji)
½ cup water (instead of oil)
½ medium onion, small dice
2 tsp. minced garlic
½ green chili, sliced (can use serrano, jalapeño, Thai, or Indian)
½ tsp. brown mustard seed
½ tsp. whole cumin seed
6 curry leaves, sliced thin (optional)
1-2 Roma tomatoes, chopped (1 cup)
½ cup frozen peas
2 ¼ cups water
Juice of ½ a lime or more to taste
Black pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped cilantro

Heat a medium sauté pan on medium high and add rava. Stir continuously for about 3 minutes or until the grain smells nutty and toasted. Remove rava from the pan and set aside. Return pan to the stove and add 1 Tbs. water along with onion, garlic, and chili. Sauté until onions soften and then add mustard seed, cumin seed, and curry leaf. Cook until spices are toasted and onions and garlic are completely cooked. Next, add tomatoes and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add frozen peas, water, and bring to a boil. Slowly add toasted rava while whisking continuously to avoid clumping (this process should take about 2 minutes). Cover and turn off the heat. Allow rava to steam for about 5 minutes. Remove cover and fluff with a spoon or fork. Season with lime juice, pepper, and cilantro. Serve uppma on its own or as a side.

To store leftovers, cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

*Look for a coarse rava at an Indian market. Rava or Sooji is ground semolina wheat. It is similar to cream of wheat but not as fine. An easy substitute for rava is couscous, which is easy to find at most grocery stores.

Dairy Free Chai Tea
Recipe by Stephanie Roston, R.D.

Yields about 4 cups

2 cinnamon sticks
6 cloves
4 black peppercorns
1 tsp. whole coriander seed
4 green cardamom pods, smashed
2 star anise (can substitute 1 tsp. fennel seed)
2 bay leaves
5 cups low fat milk alternative (such as soymilk, almond milk, hazelnut milk)
1” piece ginger, sliced
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
4 tsp. strong loose leaf black tea (such as Darjeeling)
4 tsp. sugar (optional) (can use brown sugar, agave nectar, maple syrup, etc)

Heat a small saucepan on medium heat and add cinnamon sticks through bay leaves. Toast spices until fragrant, being careful not to burn (should take about 2 minutes). Add milk alternative, ginger, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for about 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to infuse. Next, add the tea and turn off the heat. Cover and steep for an additional 3-5 minutes, or longer, depending on desired strength. Strain and add sugar if using. Serve hot or allow chai to cool slightly and pour over ice.

Allow leftover tea to cool to room temperature and place in refrigerator for up to 2 days.


Cooking Techniques

Here are a few cooking methods which will allow you to cook healthy low fat meals that maximize nutrition.

Steam-fry- Refers to using water or vegetable stock in place of oil or other fat when sautéing. Start by heating a small amount of water or stock in the cooking vessel and then add ingredients to be sautéed. Small amounts of additional liquid may need to be added throughout cooking. The trick is to wait until food starts to stick to the pan before you add liquid. It is important not to add too much liquid at one time because this will create too much steam which will compromise flavors and textures.

Sauté- Refers to cooking food quickly over direct heat. This usually involves a small amount of oil or other fat but can easily be done using the steam-fry method.

Caramelize- Means to cook food until the natural sugars start to brown which enhances flavor. Use the steam-fry method instead of oil.

Steam- Food is cooked by steam rather than direct contact with liquid. Steaming can be achieved by using a steaming basket that is placed over boiling water. Or, since vegetables already contain water, steam can be created by simply placing a lid over your cooking vessel.

Stir-fry- When bite sized pieces of foods are cooked in a wok. This method is quick due to the high heat of the wok and the small pieces.

Dry Toasting- This is when ingredients are placed over heat without any liquid. Toasting can bring out the flavor of dried spices and grains.

Boiling- When ingredients are cooked in hot bubbling liquid. Par-boiling refers to partially cooking vegetables which will be fully cooked at a later time.

Blanching- This term refers to plunging vegetables or fruits into boiling liquid for a few seconds or minutes followed by shocking (placing in ice water). Blanching brings out the color in vegetables, allows peels to slip off easily, and preserves texture.

Poaching- Cooking in liquid (water, stock, juice) that is just shy of boiling. Tiny bubbles should be visible.

Simmer- Means cooking at a gentle rather than a rolling boil.

Braising- When food is covered partially with liquid and left to cook slowly. Often the food is seared in the pan prior to adding liquid. The cooking liquid is often reduced and served as part of the dish.

Stewing- Similar to braising only more liquid is added. The liquid is usually thickened and served as part of the dish.

Grilling- When food is cooked over an open flame. Food should be kept 4 to 6 inches away from the heat source.

Broiling- When food is cooked below a direct heat. Keep food at least 4 to 6 inches away from the source of heat. Leave the oven door slightly open when using the broiler to prevent the temperature from rising too high.

Roasting and Baking- Both refer to dry heat cooking in the oven. Roasting is done at a higher temperature than baking. The goal of roasting is to brown or caramelize food to enhance flavor.

Reducing- Evaporating liquid for the purpose of concentrating flavors and or thickening.

Using Your Knife

Setting up your cutting board- If your cutting board does not have a nonslip side, place a moist towel under it to prevent slipping. Always keep your cutting board clear of items that you are not using.

Holding your knife- Grip the knife around the bolster which is the area where the blade and handle meet (sometimes knives will have a band of steel). The bolster is the balance point of the knife and finger guard. Your thumb and index finger should be on opposite sides of the blade and only your last three fingers should rest on the handle. By holding the knife this way, the knife becomes an extension of your hand.

Guiding Hand- Your hand that does not hold the knife is your guiding hand. It stabilizes the food as you are cutting. Make sure that your fingers are curled inward and your thumb tucked underneath. Your knuckles should touch the side of the blade. Go slowly, as this takes practice.

Tips for cutting fruits and vegetables-

Stabilize what you are cutting by always having a flat side facing down on the cutting board. It can be dangerous to cut a rolling item. Simply slice off a thin side of the fruit or vegetable to create a flat surface before you start cutting. Or, cut the fruit or vegetable in half.

Stop cutting when the piece of food becomes so small that you can no longer stabilize it. You might be able to finish the cutting by rotating the food. Or, it might be best to compost the scraps or save them for stock. It is not worth risking an injury for the root end of an onion.

Recipes may use unfamiliar terms when it comes to slicing and dicing. Here is a quick guide:

-A dice refers to a square cut:

*Brunoise 1/16”, *Small dice is ¼”, *Medium dice is ½”, * Large dice is ¾”

- Chopping is similar to dicing only without precision of shape and size.

- A rough or coarse chop refers to larger, imprecise pieces. Usually used when the vegetable or fruit is going to be pureed.

-Julienne refers to a cut that is 1/8” by 3” with squared edges. Batons are cut the same way but into larger pieces.

-Matchstick is an Asian cut similar to the julienne only with tapered edges.

-Sauté slice refers to thin slices of an onion made by cutting in the direction of root to tip.

-Salad slice refers to thinly slicing an onion in the opposite direction of root to tip.

-Chiffanade refers to tightly rolling greens or herbs and then thinly slicing crosswise.

-Mincing is when something is finely chopped.

- Rounds, coins, or medallions refers to cutting parallel slices into long rounded vegetables like zucchini, carrots, or cucumbers.

Diagonal slices are when vegetables are sliced on an angle. Often seen in Asian dishes.

Onion- Carefully remove both ends of the onion with your knife, making sure not to entirely cut off the root end. Remove the peel. Slice the onion in half from root to tip. Place the flat side of one half down on the cutting board with the root end facing nine o’clock. With your guiding hand, secure the onion with your palm and lift your fingers upward. Take your knife and slice horizontal slices starting towards the bottom of the onion and working upward. Make sure your slices come close to the root end but do not go through the root. You will usually make two or four slices depending on the size of the onion and desired dice. Next, turn the onion so the root end is at twelve o’clock. Make vertical cuts starting from the right side. Once again, cut close to the root but not through it. Remember to curl your fingers inward and tuck your thumb. Last, turn the root end back to nine o’clock and make vertical slices from the right side towards the root end. Squares of onion should fall to the cutting board with each slice.

Sharpening- A dull knife is a very dangerous tool. A sharp knife requires less pressure and easily moves through food which makes it safer. If you are not comfortable sharpening your own knife, locate a sharpening service near your home and take your knives a couple times a year or as needed. Between sharpening, you can use a steel to hone your knife. A steel rod will help keep the edge on your knife and prolong the time between sharpening. Because the angle of a knife’s edge will vary, ask your sharpening service for specific instructions on honing your knife.

Tips for Preparing Beans and Lentils

Sort and rinse beans or lentils prior to soaking or cooking to remove any stones or dirt.

Soak beans to increase their digestibility and decrease cooking time. Soak in plenty of cold water preferably overnight or 8 hours. This will help reduce gas causing carbohydrates and will neutralize phytic acid which will allow certain minerals to be more efficiently absorbed. The soaking water should be discarded and replenished with fresh cold water for cooking. Alternatively, you can use the “quick soak” method. Start with plenty of cold water and bring beans to a boil for a couple of minutes. Then, turn off the heat and allow the beans to soak for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Drain the water from the beans and replenish with fresh water or unsalted vegetable stock for cooking.

Do not add salt or acid (tomato products, lemon juice, vinegar) to beans while cooking as they will not cook to tenderness and the skin will remain tough. Wait until beans are almost fully cooked before adding salt or acidic ingredients.

Cook in plenty of water or unsalted stock. The beans should be covered by several inches.

Be patient when cooking beans. Once beans have come to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook slowly. This will yield a tender bean with a smooth texture. Continuously boiling beans may cause them to crack and have a mealy texture.

Cooking times of beans will vary depending on the bean type and how old it is. For example, black-eyed peas may cook in as little as 30 minutes whereas chickpeas can take well over an hour. A bean is done when it is tender. Undercooked beans can be difficult to digest.

Increase digestibility by adding a strip of kombu (a type of seaweed) to your bean cooking liquid. Kombu also adds essential minerals. Other spices and herbs that are known for aiding in digestion include fennel, cumin, caraway, turmeric, and epazote.

Lentils do not need soaking and require shorter cooking times. Lentils will often cook in as little as 15-20 minutes. As with beans, do not add salt or acid during cooking.

The fastest cooking legume is dal (also spelled daal, dhal, dahl), which is a term used to describe beans or lentils that have their outer hull removed and are often split. A common example is red lentils. Unlike other beans and lentils, dal requires less cooking time and can tolerate salt and acid during cooking.

Tips for Preparing Grains

Grains such as rice or quinoa require a precise amount of cooking liquid. Following the package directions can be helpful but do not be afraid to adjust the amount of cooking liquid if you do not like the outcome.

Common liquid to grain ratios are as follows:

--1.25:1 for most white rice, couscous, bulgur wheat

--1.5:1 for brown rice, red rice, black rice, sushi rice, and quinoa

--1.75:1 for millet

--3:1 for barley

--4:1 for polenta

Some grains can be boiled like pasta and then drained once they are done. This method works well for wild rice, spelt, wheat berries, barley, and other hard grains.

Most grains should be washed and allowed to dry before cooking. This is especially important for quinoa which contains a bitter soapy substance called saponin.

Dry toast grains to enhance flavor. This is done by placing the grains in the cooking vessel prior to adding the liquid. Use medium to high heat and stir constantly for a few minutes or until you smell a nutty aroma.

For fluffy chewy grains, make sure the cooking liquid is boiling before adding to the hot, toasted grain. If a sticky grain is desired, such as with sushi rice, add cold cooking liquid.

Add salt, if using, during cooking.

Some whole grains, like steel cut oats or wheat berries, can require long cooking times. This makes preparing these healthy foods an inconvenience, especially at breakfast. To reduce cooking time, grains can be soaked overnight. Unlike beans, the soaking liquid does not need to be discarded. Recommend measuring the soaking liquid to equal the amount needed for cooking and then cooking the grain in the soaking liquid. Alternatively, a pressure cooker can be used to cut cooking time or a slow cooker with a timer can used to cook grains overnight.


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