Posts Tagged ‘McDougall’
Trying New Things

The Santa Monica Farmers Market is lousy with “broccoli sprouts” right now. It seems like every third booth has a huge cardboard box of these things. I had never tried them before, but they looked pretty healthy so I decided to go for it. A little internet research revealed that all of these people are liars. What they are selling is something called sprouting broccoli. It’s rich in vitamin C and harvested January-April. It is pretty similar to chinese broccoli, in the sense that the stems are pretty long. I picked some up for a dish, and I was pretty satisfied. The stems were a little tough towards the end, and next time I would probably trim off the bottom 2 inches from each piece. Otherwise, they were perfect with some spinach and basil gnocchi that’s been hanging out in my freezer for a few months. This is an oil-free recipe. Ever since my juice fast, I’ve been on a real healthy eating kick, so I should have some good recipes for you guys in the coming weeks and months. Check out this one after the jump.

Lasagna, the Oil-Free Way

OK, I will admit that I talk a big game when it comes to McDougalling. In October, I made it a full two weeks on the McDougall plan (with some minor deviations), but that was all it lasted. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a great lifestyle, but even I had a very difficult time keeping up with all the at-home cooking required. Also, many of the recipes that we tried left us feeling a little underwhelmed. I think it’s great to be aware of and limit your intake of oils (or any processed food for that matter), but I’ve hung up my McDougall hat once-again. I do know, however, that some of my readers are curious about the plan and would appreciate some tested recipes. So, here is one for a vegan tofu ricotta. It was a little too cheesy for my tastes, and I would reduce the nutritional yeast if I went back and did it again. I would also probably substitute fresh basil for the dried basil, because it might have livened up the flavors a little bit. I used this “ricotta” in a vegetable lasagna, where I layered brown rice lasagna noodles with spinach, zucchini, these cheese, and tomato sauce.  It was pretty good, but it’s telling when something like this lasts in our refrigerator for more than a week.

C’est Le Pumpkin

Bonjour and welcome to a French-themed edition of Mis-Adventures. My boyfriend and I are both hard at work with our Rosetta Stone, and by hard at work I mean that some days when we’re not too busy, we work in a lesson. He is better about it than I am, but I also took French in college, so it’s mostly been review for me. The other day, I decided to help him with his studies by creating some flash cards. They included handy sayings such as “I am a vegetarian”,  “I do not eat dairy products”, and most importantly “Where is the House of Chanel?”.  To help get us in the spirit (and also to satisfy my insatiable appetite for pumpkin), we came up with a way to make pumpkin french toast. This is based off a recipe that uses bananas in place of eggs, but we substituted pumpkin for the banana and reintroduced egg replacer powder to bind it all together. Since this was a part of my Mcdougal week, we broiled the french toast instead of frying it up in a pan. It was not only brilliant, but it was also delicious.

Pasta Primavera: An Iteration

I’m not going to be coy about it. I was born and raised in New Jersey, and I blame my upbringing for my love of pasta. In a past life, I enjoyed all sorts of oily and creamy sauces for my pasta, but lately I have been opting to toss it with fresh vegetables instead. Since this is a McDougall-friendly recipe, I also added a bit of vegetable broth to the mix. The recipe for this is so simple that I won’t even post it after the jump. Take a cup of vegetables (I used asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, and sun-dried tomatoes) and sautee them in half a cup of vegetable broth until tender. Then, toss in one serving of your favorite pasta. You can garnish with a little fresh ground black pepper or perhaps some nutritional yeast. I used this really cute pasta that I found at Jordan Middle Eastern market in Westwood.

Granola Bars

Only 2 days through my now-infamous McDougall week, I caved. My stomach was demanding a mid-afternoon snack, and I got caught at work without access to suitable food. The next thing I knew my legs had carried me to the vending machine. I don’t remember buying it, but somehow 85 cents ended up in the machine and a granola bar ended up in my hand. It was like magic, I swear. I was probably possessed.
I didn’t actually feel bad about caving, but it was not something I wanted to repeat. Thus, it became critical to find an oil-free granola bar. I know that a l’arabar would have been acceptable, but they charge a buck sixty for those things, and they are pretty much mashed up dates. They are delicious and good in a pinch, but they are not what I would consider a granola bar.
A granola bar should have, well,  granola in it. However, granola is chock full of fat, so I had to go to the source: the oat. Oats are just as good as granola; they just haven’t been toasted with a lot of oil and sugar. In a way, it’s granola in it’s natural habitat. I perused the McDougall forums and found a recipe that looked promising, except it was missing a very key ingredient: carob chips. I understand that I probably screwed up the entire “no-oil” guideline by the addition of these sweet little darlings, but they made my granola bars something like ten thousand times as delicious. Plus, even with a couple of carob chips, these were much better for me than anything that ever came out of a vending machine.

DIY Granola Bars
I found the original recipe here: but added quite a bit to it. 

  • 2 cups of quick cooking oats
  • 2 bananas which have been frozen and then thawed
  • 1/2 c. cherries, pitted and cut into fourths
  • 2 TBSP carob chips
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Mash the banana well and whisk in the spices and vanilla.
Add the oats and mix. You will have almost a dough, but not quite.
Stir in the cherries and carob chips.
Spread the mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for half an hour.
Cut into bars. They will be deliciously chewy.

Breakfast Bran Muffins

One of the many diet books that I have consulted over the years was the Fat Smash Diet. Yes, that’s right, it’s written by Dr. Ian from VH1′s Celebrity Fit Club. He actually has a degree from Harvard, so I felt comfortable listening to his advice. Unfortunately, that diet was hard to maintain and I came upon it before I really discovered willpower. However, the one thing that always stuck with me was how much Dr. Ian loathed muffins. He would have taken every muffin from every coffee shop and bakery in America, rounded them up, and marched them to their deaths. Why?
Because muffins are totally bad for you. Starbuck’s Apple Bran muffin has 470 calories. It’s a bran muffin! It’s supposed to be healthy, or so one would think. Wash that sucker down with a frappuccino, and your breakfast has 800 calories in it. To give you some perspective, my caloric intake is somewhere around 1800 a day to maintain my weight. So, I could have that “healthy” muffin and some sugary syrupy goodness, but what would I do about the rest of my day?
Now, I wouldn’t actually ever eat a Starbuck’s bran muffin, because it has little baby animals in it, and I do not eat little baby animals. That whole rant was just a hypothetical exercise. Anyway, since regular muffins are so unhealthy, and since I decided to try out the McDougall plan for a week, here is a decent recipe for oil-free bran muffins. They’re very dense and chewy, and it is my experience that one is more than enough for a filling breakfast.
Disclaimer: It’s not the most delicious muffin ever, but If you are looking for non-fat recipes, than this is the way to go.

Oat Bran Muffins

  • 2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 c. oat bran
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 c. apple juice

Sift together the dry ingredients and add raisins and cinnamon. Add the wet ingredients and stir until the two are just mixed together.
Spoon the batter into muffin cups and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Serves 12 at 171 calories each.

Oil-Free French Toast

Wow, or as the French would say, Oo-la-la. I am a girl who loves sweet foods for breakfast. However, when I think of French Toast I can’t help but feel a little guilty thinking about all of the fat involved in cooking. Veganism took care of eliminating the cholesterol, Dr. McDougall took care of eliminating the fat. I, however, will take credit for my brilliant elimination of processed syrup by replacing it with a date compote.
Last month, I made my first-ever trip to Farmer’s Choice, a brand new produce store on Pico in Santa Monica. It is in the same shopping center as the Trader Joe’s and it is absolutely amazing. The produce looks, feels, and tastes as fresh as a farmer’s market, but it’s also incredibly cheap. On my second visit, I managed to buy 90% of the weekly produce for 2 people, and it only ran me $17. From talking to the checkout girl, I learned that they get most of their produce shipped in daily and use local sources whenever possible.
I ran in there to pick up some raspberries, but ended up taking a “quick look” around. My quick look turned into an excuse to fill my basket with fresh fruits and vegetables, including some of the sweetest, softest dates I’ve had in a long time. I previously have sworn by the date lady at the Virginia Avenue Park farmer’s market. However, I am switching my allegiance over to Farmer’s Choice.
Oil-Free French Toast with Date-Raisin Compote
For the Toast

  • 4 slices whole-grain bread
  • 1/4 c. raw cashews
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 TBSP maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • dash of cinnamon


  • 6 dates
  • 2 TBSP raisins
  • 1/4 c. sugar free apple juice
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425. 
  2. Blend the cashews with the water and then mix in the remaining ingredients. 
  3. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. 
  4. Dip both sides of the bread in the cashew mixture and lay it on the parchment paper. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees. Flip the toast and cook on the other side for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. While the toast is cooking, remove the pits from 6 dates. Cut each date into roughly 4 bite-size chunks. 
  6. In a small saucepan, combine dates, raisins, apple juice, cinnamon, and vanilla over medium-high heat. Stir to combine and let the mixture come to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and let it thicken while the french toast finishes baking.

french toast serves 2 at 330 calories each, compote serves 2 at 110 calories each

Tex-Mex Breakfast!

OK, so I probably talked a lot of shit about tex-mex breakfast when I found the recipe on the McDougall website. I probably continued to poke fun at it as I reworked the recipe. I continued to be a smart-ass even as we sat down and ate tex-mex breakfast. However, I was eating my words once I realized 1: it’s delicious and 2: it’s really, really good for you.
I made this breakfast a few weeks ago and substituted tofu for the brown rice recommended by the officiall McDougall recipe. Some members of my household can’t really get behind the entire “rice for breakfast” idea.
On the day I took the picture, I may have undermined the entire “oil-free” concept by adding some crumbled vegan sausage. The reason behind the addition was pretty straightforward. I had the vegan sausage patties on hand from before I went on my McDougall bender, and didn’t want to let it go to waste. I’m big on not letting things go to waste.

Tex-Mex Tofu Scramble

serves 2 at around 400 each

1 c. frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
6 oz. firm tofu
1 tsp. garlic powder
pinch of tumeric
2 vegan breakfast sausage patties
1/4 c. chopped green onions
1/3 c. frozen corn
1 tomato, chopped
pepper to taste
2 whole wheat tortillas

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pre-heat the oven to 425. Lay the potatoes in a single layer and bake until golden brown.
2. Meanwhile, crumble your tofu by hand and mix with the tumeric and garlic powder. Prep all of your vegetables.
3. In a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, crumble the sausage patties and add the green onions. Cook for a minute and then add the frozen corn.
4. When the corn begins to thaw, add the crumbled tofu mixture and chopped tomato. Stir and cook for 3-5 minutes. If it starts to stick to the pan, or dry out, add a few tablespoons of water.
5. When you add the tofu to the skillet, toss the tortillas in the oven next to the potatoes.
6. When the tortillas are warm, place them on a plate and spoon out the tofu mixture on top. You can wrap these up like burritos if you are so inclined, but I was not. Serve with the potatoes and possibly some sort of fruit. I used a tangerine.

Oil-free Chocolate Pie

Going into the Great McDougall experiment, I knew that I had to be prepared with some serious dessert. Despite trying to give it up many times, I have come to the very simple conclusion that dessert is what makes dinner worth eating. It’s something to look forward to at the end of a long day (that and an over-sized glass of red wine). Luckily, I found a great recipe on the McDougall forums and tweaked it to better suit my tastes and aversion to sugar.
 As you can see in the picture, I artfully arranged sliced kiwi and cherries on top of the pie. If I were Oprah, cherries would be on my list of favorite things. The pigment in cherries may reduce swelling and inflammation, plus they look really cute on rockabilly dresses and accessories. In all seriousness, I don’t think I had ever eaten a non-maraschino cherry until a few weeks ago. I don’t know how I went 25 years without them. I also don’t know what I’m going to do when all of these fruits and vegetables stop being new to me. Maybe I’ll have to start shopping the produce aisles of ethnic grocery stores?

Chocolate Tofu Pie
Can I just say that this recipe was delicious? It totally satisfied my chocolate cravings, but it’s oil-free! As a result, a slice of this pie comes in at only 160 calories. 

  • 2 12 oz packages of silken tofu (preferably lite)
  • 3/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 2 TBSP. sugar
    1/4 c. honey
  • 1 TBSP. vanilla


  • 1 1/2 c high fiber cereal, crushed
  • 3/4 c. apple juice

This is a great and easy recipe. Start by running the cereal through a food processor. Or, you can put it in a ziplock bag and roll a rolling pin over it. Mix this with 3/4 c. apple juice and press into the bottom and sides of an 8 inch cake pan.
Bake the crush at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Let it cool a bit and then start in on your filling.
Blend the tofu in a food processor (we didn’t use one which is why my pie looks grainy). Mix in honey, sugar, and cocoa powder and beat together until it’s as smooth as possible.
Pour the chocolate tofu mixture into the pie crust and garnish with fruit. Refrigerate for 4 hours.

Doctor, Doctor

I am currently on my third day of the McDougall program. It’s a 12-day program focusing on starches, with fruits and vegetables playing important supporting roles. There are no meat or dairy products on the McDougall plan, so it’s very similar to veganism. However, the McDougall plan challenges us to make one major change in our lives: eliminating all oil.

Why do we hate on oil? Well for starters oil is fat. Pure fat. Your body loves to store fat. Personally, my body prefers my abdominal region, but maybe your body favors the derrier or thighs. Maybe you just have a fat face. We are all different in this regard. According to Dr. McDougall, fat deprives cells of oxygen and produces free radicals. Basically fat is causing damage to your body.

You may not buy into this, so let me spell it out very rationally. There are 120 calories in a tablespoon of oil. For 120 calories you could instead be eating:  17 cups of spinach, a small baked potato, over a cup of cornflakes, or 21 extra large strawberries. Out of these things, what is going to keep you full longer? What is going to be nutritionally dense enough to get your body the nutrition it needs? What is going to keep you from over-eating?

I’m 3 days into the plan, and I have been amazed at how full I have felt. I feel like I’ve been gorging myself on whole wheat pasta, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and fruit. The amazing thing is that I am losing weight again, and I have been on a pretty solid plateau for over a month. I’m still 9 pounds away from my ultimate goal, and I’m planning on McDougalling my way there.

The McDougall website has a lot of recipes on it, which I appreciate. My only gripe is that most of the recipes in the meal plan are pretty awful. It’s not that you can’t have delicious oil-free food, because you can. The cooking techniques, spices, and ingredient measures have been pretty off. Luckily, I’ve been able to catch most of them before or during cooking. Others I have had to suffer through. Check back often to see some of the things I’ve managed to come up with.

Oil-Free Risotto

  • 4 c. vegetable broth
  • 1 c. (dry) Arborio rice
  • ½ an onion, finely diced
  • 2 c. broccoli and cauliflower florets
  • 1 green onion, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • ½ a cup mushrooms
  • 2/3 c. frozen corn
  • 1 c. frozen spinach
  • 1 TBSP. Tamari
  • Ground Pepper
  • Garlic Salt
  1. Pour rice into a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and toast the rice. Usually you would use oil here, so it’s not 100% the same, but it’s close.
  2. Add 1 cup of vegetable broth and stir until all of it is absorbed. Continue to add the broth about a cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting it absorb each time.
  3. In a large skillet, cook onion and ¼ c. vegetable broth over high heat until the onions turn translucent. Add the mushrooms, zucchini, and frozen spinach. Stir and cook a few more minutes. Add the frozen corn and broccoli/cauliflower mix and cook for about 5 minutes.
  4.  When the rice is done absorbing, stir in the tamari and add the vegetables. Season with ground pepper and garlic salt to your liking.
  5. This makes a delicious risotto that is even good heated up the next day.