It's the new year and time to focus on healthier eating! One way to lighten up your meals without sacrificing good taste is to omit some of the fat from recipes. Cooking low-fat may seem daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it you'll find that incorporating flavorful and delicious lower-in-fat recipes into your weekly menu plan is easy and delicious!
Whenever possible, I like to use vegetable broth or even water in place of oil in many recipes. This helps to lower or eliminate fat while adding lots of flavor. That is the key to great plant-based cooking - layers and layers of flavor!
Below are a just few of my favorite “go-to” solutions and two of my jazzylicious recipes for making delicious, low-fat dishes in your own home kitchen.
1) In sautéed veggie dishes, replace all of the oil used in the recipe with low-fat, vegetable broth or water. Use three tablespoons of either broth or water to replace one tablespoon of oil. Unlike oil, broth or water will evaporate quickly during cooking, so keep an eye out and add more liquid, about two tablespoons or up to 1/4 cup, at a time as needed, if your pan becomes dry.
2) In sweet baked goods recipes like muffins or cakes, use fresh apple puree to replace all of the oil and some of the sugar. Simply peel and core apples, and then puree them in a blender until they have the consistency of a smooth applesauce. Start by adding the apple puree in the same ratio you would add oil to the recipe. When using the apple puree, you may have to add more liquid to your recipe. If the batter seems too dry after adding the apple puree, add more nondairy milk, one tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is achieved. In addition, cut down on the sugar in the recipe by 25 percent.
In general, substituting flavor for oil in your recipes will make your plant-based creations lower in fat and high on great taste. Happy, healthy cooking!
Cauliflower Steaks with Sweet Pepper Sauce
Makes 4 to 6 servings
2 small heads of cauliflower
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 yellow or sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon reduced-sodium tamari
1/4 cup filtered or spring water, divided, plus more as needed
2 cups cremini or white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 sweet red peppers, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
2 cups jarred, low-fat or non-fat marinara sauce
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Trim one to two inches off two opposite sides of the cauliflower heads and set aside for use another time. Steam the trimmed cauliflower heads for 12 to 18 minutes or until they are just crisp-tender. Cool for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the onions, Italian seasoning, tamari, and 2 tablespoons water in a large skillet. Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, adding more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed to prevent sticking.
Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the peppers and 2 tablespoons water, and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and stir in 1 cup of the marinara. Cover and simmer for 8 minutes.
Spread 1 cup marinara sauce evenly in the bottom of a rimmed casserole that is large enough to accommodate the cauliflower steaks. Cut each cauliflower head down the center into two or three 3/4-inch to 1-inch thick slices, as if slicing a loaf of bread. Set the cauliflower slices in the prepared casserole. Top each cauliflower slice with one-quarter of the onion and pepper sauce. Cover and bake 25 to 35 minutes or until the cauliflower steaks are tender, but still firm.
Uncover the casserole for the last 10 minutes of cooking time. Cool for 5 minutes. Serve with extra sauce on the side.
Apple Muffins with Pumpkin Seeds
Makes 6 Muffins
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup raisins
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 ½ cups fresh apple purée (see note)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/3 cup maple syrup
½ cup non-dairy milk, plus more as needed
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a six-cup standard muffin tin or line with paper baking cups.
Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and stir with a dry whisk to combine.
Add the raisins and pumpkin seeds and stir to coat. Stir in the apple purée. Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, maple syrup, and nondairy milk, and mix just until incorporated.
The mixture will be quite thick, but if it seems overly dry, stir in a bit more nondairy milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is moist. Don’t overmix or the muffins will be tough.
Mound the mixture into the prepared muffin cups. Put the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Put the pan on a wire rack and loosen the sides of each muffin with a knife. Let cool for about 15 minutes. Carefully remove the muffins. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: To make apple purée, peel and core two (or three) very large apples, four medium apples or five small apples. Rough chop the apples. Put the apple pieces into a blender and process just until pureed. Be careful not to liquefy!
Episode #208 - Recipe © LAURA THEODORE 2011