Snack Tubs

A quick post to share something that really helps me (and DH) stay on plan - snack tubs. I learned this trick from the McDougall Discussion Board. Once or twice a week, I fill 3-cup Gladware containers with a variety of fruits and veggies, all cut up and ready to eat. The usuals are grapes, baby carrots, and grape tomatoes, but I sometimes include strawberries, celery, or any fruit or veggie that's not too messy.


Now, when I get hungry, I just pop one open and munch. The key is that it's easier to eat this than to get a bad, but oh-so-tempting snack.

St. Patrick's Day No-corned-beef and Cabbage

Lower Lake, Killarney, Ireland St. Patrick's Day vintage postcard
courtesy of

It's great to be Irish any day, but especially on St. Patrick's Day. I couldn't escape by Irish heritage if I tried (not that I would!), what with the Phalens and Manions in my family tree. Plus, I married an Irish-American and sport a decidedly Irish surname. I've even given Irish names to my children. My home reflects my heritage in it's occasional shamrock (year-round), Belleek vases, and celtic crosses, and I'd like to think that my guests experience Irish hospitality when they visit. Of course, through my mother and grandmother who taught me to cook, I learned traditional Irish and Irish-American recipes. I come by my love of potatoes honestly!

So, on St. Patrick's Day, I start with a bowl of Flavahan's Irish Porridge Oats. And since I no longer eat meat, dinner will be No-corned-beef and Cabbage, a potato and cabbage dish cooked in something akin to a "corning" broth. This is something that I enjoy all-year-round, except in the heat of the summer. I hope you enjoy it as well.

No-Corned-beef and Cabbage
1 head cabbage, cut into 6 or 8 wedges
2 lbs all-purpose or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
4 cups vegetable broth
2 TBS brown sugar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
couple of black peppercorns and whole allspice

Place broth and seasonings in a dutch oven and bring to boil while preparing the cabbage. Add cabbage, bring to boil, and cook 15 minutes while preparing potatoes. Add potatoes and cook 25 to 30 minutes, until a fork goes easily into them. Serve potatoes and cabbage with cooking liquid to moisten.

This is peasant food, and is not the prettiest to look at when it's cooked, so I'll share a picture of the potatoes and cabbage cooking.

No-corned-beef and cabbage

Bombay Aloo (curried potatoes) & Veggie Sushi

The other day I was cleaning out my basement pantry, and discovered several cans of potatoes. Since it was lunch time, I brought one upstairs and threw this simple but satisfying dish together. I liked it so much that I made it the next two days for lunch. As with anything to do with curry, I only use a small amount, so adjust the amount to your taste.


Bombay Aloo

1 can whole potatoes, rinsed and drained and cut into 1 inch chunks
3 TBS tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup frozen peas
1 TBS raisins
1 tsp curry powder (or to taste)
sprinkle of onion powder

Place all ingredients in small saucepan and stir to combine. Cover and cook 5 min. Uncover and cook until the sauce reaches desired consistency (1 minute longer, usually).

Thanks to Jenn at Pass the Potatoes, another McDougalling mom, I had the courage to try making my own veggie sushi. I usually time my trips to the grocery store to pick up some brown rice/cucumber/carrot/avocado uramaki (inside out rolls) for lunch. It's a nice little treat, but it's pretty spendy for what it is. Mine tasted great, but I'll need some practice and a sharper knife to make beautiful sushi. Check out Jenn's blog for the recipe and step by step instructions (plus more great recipes and beautiful pictures). This is a quick picture I took before bringing them to a multi-generational party. They were a big hit with the high school and college girls.


Super Quick Chili


Tonight I made a super-easy, quick chili, using a packaged veggie chili mix from Simply Organic. I followed the directions on the package - a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, 2 cans of beans, rinsed and drained (I used black and red beans), and the seasoning packet. I also added a can of corn, drained, and a 1/2 tsp of sugar. Simmer for 15 minutes, and dinner was ready. Yeah!

Fat Free Balsamic Dressing

The idea of "thick water" (water thickened with cornstarch) as an oil substitute has been around for a while, but I've always had an issue with such a bland-tasting liquid standing in for more flavorful oils like olive oil. I've tried to add flavor to the thick water by using vegetable broth and soy sauce, but my favorite way to add delicate flavor without adding sodium is to use Earl Grey tea. It's flowery, citrusy flavor complements the vinegar's tartness nicely. I use it in this recipe, which I got from the McDougall discussion boards several years ago; I don't know who originally posted it, so unfortunately, I can't give credit where it's due. If anyone knows the source of this recipe, please let me know so I can give proper credit (and thanks!).


Fat Free Balsamic Dressing
1 cup Earl Grey tea, cooled
1 TBS cornstarch
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed or 1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt (optional)
1 TBS brown or raw sugar (optional)
1 TBS dijon mustard (optional - I did not use it this time)

Whisk cornstarch and tea together in small sauce pan. Heat until bubbly and thickened. Let cool. Combine remaining ingredients in a jar; shake or stir until dissolved. Add tea/cornstarch mixture, and shake or stir until combined.

This is also excellent with white balsamic vinegar in place of the red wine vinegar; just omit the sugar.

Curried Red Lentil Soup

Winter is still hanging on in upstate NY, leaving plenty of time to try new soup recipes. Last night, I tried this Curried Red Lentil Soup, making use of the new Sweet Curry powder that I got from Penzeys.


Curried Red Lentil Soup

1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp ginger paste (or grated fresh ginger)
1/2 tsp nigella seeds (kalonji), optional
3 tsp curry powder*
1 cup red lentils
6 cups water
2 cups shredded carrots
pinch ground cloves*
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion in water until translucent. Add garlic, ginger,nigella seeds, and curry powder; saute 1 minute longer. Add red lentils and water; lower heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking on the bottom. Add shredded carrots, cloves and salt and pepper. Cook 25 minutes. Puree (in batches, if necessary) and serve.

*Note: Penzey's Sweet Curry powder is very mild, and contains cloves, or else I would have used 1/8 tsp of ground cloves. This made a mild soup. All curry powders are different, so start with less and add more to your individual taste.

Never heard of nigella seeds/kalonji? Nigella sativa seeds are also referred to as Roman coriander, blackseed, black caraway, black onion seed, kalonji (Hindi), or chernushka (Russian). They are sometimes incorrectly called black cumin and black sesame. Nigella sativa has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. They are traditionally used for a variety of conditions related to respiratory health, stomach and intestinal health, kidney and liver function, circulatory and immune system support, and for general well-being. In Islam, the seeds are regarded as one of the greatest forms of healing medicine available. The Prophet Mohammed once stated that this black seed can heal every disease except death. Recent research suggests that thymoquinone, an extract of nigella sativa seed oil, blocks the growth of pancreatic cancer cells. The seeds have little scent, but impart a subtle peppery, oregano-like flavor to foods.

I figure they can't hurt, and this soup is a delicious way to include them in my diet.


No original recipes to share today, just a shout-out for Bryanna's Delicious Low-Fat Veggienaise. I'm a long-time fan of Hellman's (in my pre-vegan days) and Vegenaise, both of which are no-no's on the McDougall Plan. I've tried Nayonaise, which is probably fine if you like Miracle Whip, but is way too sweet for my taste. Homemade tofu versions were equally lacking. No luck finding a fat-free vegan mayo substitute. So, I was excited when I saw Bryanna's version a few months ago, and I finally got around to making it. I'm not going to post the recipe here, since Bryanna has not only the recipe, but pictures of all the steps - very helpful - right here.

Note: Bryanna's recipe does call for 2 tablespoons of olive oil, which I omitted. My verdict - this has great potential. Mine did not turn out nearly as stiff as Bryanna's, but I attribute that to leaving out the oil. Taste wise, it was very salty, but at least it wasn't sweet! Next time, I will decrease the salt to 1/2 tsp to start. I will also start with lesser amounts of cider vinegar and dry mustard, taste and add more as needed. Still, this is by far the best mayo substitute that I've come across, and I'll continue to tweak the recipe until it's perfect for me. The other beauties of this recipe is that it can be soy-free (I used DariFree for the non-dairy milk), it is inexpensive to make, and, even with the olive oil, it's around 10 calories per tablespoon. Thanks, Bryanna, for your genius in creating this recipe.

Here it is in chick pea salad, with baby romaine lettuce on an Ezekiel sprouted grain tortilla:

In other news, my Penzey's order arrived today; I can't wait to start cooking!