Individual No-Fat Barbecued Pizza

I’ve spent a lot of time lately cooking outside on the grill while I wait for my new oven to arrive.  Fortunately, I benefit from my college-age son’s vast experience at this.  He has taught me that if you are really doing it right, barbecue  can be the centerpiece activity for your family or your guests  Don’t just cook outside, party outside! Take your time. Don’t try to do 5 other things. You wait until the coals are really ready. You gather your people in comfortable chairs by the grill so they can enjoy the smells and watch the lusciousness emerge. Everybody loves to help, even if it is just to offer advice!

To really pull people into the scene, I love to do individual pizzas, where everyone assembles their own from an assortment of ingredients. For an easy crust, I use Basson Pita Bread.  It stands up to the coals well without charring, and crisps up perfectly after 20 minutes on a low grill.  You can use any sauce you like, but I like a raw sauce where the flavors are bright and stand up to the smokey grilled flavor of the crust. I also enjoy using a good no-oil barbecue sauce.  Spoon your finished sauce onto the pitas, lay out your array of ingredients and let your eaters make their masterpieces.  Grill for about 20 minutes on low heat, covered, checking often to be sure your coals are not too hot for the bread. Use the indirect method of grilling if possible, discussed here at BBQ University. With this pita bread and the correct low heat, you will not need to oil the grill, making this an Esselstyn diet success.

Quick no-cook tomato sauce:

1 can chopped tomatoes, drained
1 – 2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 TBSP agave or maple syrup
1 tsp salt
dash ground chipotle or black pepper to taste

Process all ingredients in food processor or blender until smooth.

Set out your pizza toppings. For the most part, be sure you have pre-cooked the toppings, since they will not be on the grill long enough to cook. I’ve found a couple successful exceptions: finely chopped garlic, thinly slice red onion, and of course, fresh sliced tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes.  Some of my favorite combinations are here:

BBQ sauce with Smoked Tomato Field Roast, pan-grilled onions, broth-sautéed sliced sweet potato/yam, sunflower seeds and fresh chopped basil

Tomato sauce with fresh sliced tomato, broth-sautéed sliced fennel root, chopped garlic, steamed snow peas, fresh chopped parsley and toasted walnuts

Sun-dried tomato (water packed or re-hydrated dried), chopped artichoke hearts and toasted walnuts w/fresh chopped herbs (basil, mint, parsley)

Tomato sauce with sautéed wild mushrooms and fresh herbs

Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps

If you are a no-fat vegan, and you are anything like me, you are eating constantly. I eat three meals a day, but often I snack in between.  I love a good dip or salsa, and that requires a good sturdy chip or cracker.  These crisps are really just a flattened pretzel, but unlike most of their standard cousins, contain no oil. If you know of a brand of pretzel that contains no oil, please let me know and I will feature it in this blog! Pretzel crisps come in several flavors, but only the Original and Everything types have no  fat listed in their ingredients.  I buy mine at Fred Meyer or Target here in Seattle.

Basson Pita Bread

I’ve been looking for a fresh local pita that contains no oil in the recipe.  Basson is a local bakery in Lynnwood and I buy their delicious product at Costco. It is perfect as a dipper for hummus or pico de gallo, and for any other use where you need a firm bread.

It works beautifully on the grill over very low coals as the foundation for individual pizza.  Try spreading each pita with a fresh or uncooked tomato sauce and sprinkle with broth-sauteed fennel root and red onion, chopped garlic, cherry tomatoes and chopped parsley.  Slow grill with a nice lump wood charcoal until crisp and infused with smokey summer flavor!

No-Fat Vegan Ras el Hanout Couscous

No-Fat Vegan Ras el Hanout Couscous

Good news: my long-suffering oven has finally gone to meet it’s maker. Bad news: it is Sunday night and although I have a luscious long list of recipes to test bake, my oven is kaput.  I’m going to Plan B, which is to use the Ras el Hanout spice I was gifted recently to build an exotic batch of stove-top Moroccan couscous. The spice is widely available in the U.S., but it differs greatly in composition from brand to brand.  Mine has warm, fruity scent, almost like the spiced winter holiday pudding I love so much. Wherever you find yours, be sure to sniff to make sure it tempts you, and acquire only small amounts, freshly ground.

This recipe is savory, with sweet dried fruit, but pulls its bright flavor from fresh lemon juice and orange zest. It is finished with crisp toasted walnuts, scallions and chopped cilantro, for a fresh-out-of-the garden texture.  Oh my!

No-fat Vegan Ras el Hanout Couscous 

2 C dried dates and apricots, chopped
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
1 C dry couscous
2 C water or vegetable broth
1 TBSP Ras el Hanout spice
1 14 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 C coarsely chopped green onion
1/2 C cilantro, chopped
1/2 C walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
Zest and juice of 1/2 orange

Instructions

1. Put chopped fruits in a small bowl and marinate in lemon juice for 1 or 2 hours.

2. In a saucepan, bring the couscous, water or vegetable broth, Ras el Hanout spice, garbanzo beans and chopped onion up to a boil.  Cover and simmer on low until the liquid is absorbed, or 20 to 30 minutes. Remove lid and cool for 10 minutes.

3. Mix together the fruit with its marinade, couscous, & green onion.

4. Place the Ras el Hanout couscous in a favorite serving bowl and finish by squeezing the juice of 1/2 orange over all. Garnish with walnuts, cilantro and orange zest.

JJ Flats Everything Crackers

I keep looking for convenience foods that are vegan and also completely free of oils. For the category of crackers and snacks, there are shockingly few products available when I get the munchies.  I love JJ Flats Everything crackers because they are a good all around dipper with enough body to hold a chunky salsa, but also just the right amount of flavor to enhance a dip or eat plain.  FYI, depending on where you look on the internet, there are different ingredient lists published for this product.  I go by the actual packaging, which indicates no oil used in production. I get mine locally at Fred Meyer.

Individual Almond Tart Crust

Individual Honey Almond Tart Crust

I’ve been looking for a way to make fat free crusts for tarts and pies. One idea is to make a cookie that can be molded into individual tart crusts while it is still hot. I’ve adapted this vegan fortune cookie recipe from Vegan Treats & Eats blog. This recipe works perfectly well without any oil, so give it a try and fill it with some luscious mousse for a sweet and healthy end to your next dinner party.

Individual  Almond Tart Crust

3 tsp. EnerG Egg Replacer + 1/4 C warm water, whisked together
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
8 tsp. water
1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 C granulated sugar

Instructions

1. Cut out 12 5-inch squares of baking parchment paper.  You will be able to do 24 crusts, since you will use each paper twice by flipping it over to the unused side for a second crust. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg replacer, extracts, and water together well. In a separate bowl, stir together the dry ingredients until well mixed and then combine with the wet ingredients, stirring until you have a smooth, runny batter.

3. Set a parchment square on a large cookie sheet. Pour 2 to 3 TBSP of batter onto the square, making sure that the cookie is not larger than the paper.  You are aiming for about a 4-inch diameter cookie. Repeat until your cookie sheet is has six cookies.

4. Bake until the outer 1/2-inch of each cookie turns a bit brown, or 11 to 12 minutes.

5. Remove one cookie at a time from the oven and working very quickly, peel the paper from each cookie and mold the cookie into a cup over an inverted 2″ diameter form (the bottom of a jelly jar, or a metal measuring cup).

6. Hold the cookie around the form for 30 seconds or until it begins to harden in shape.

7. Repeat the process, doing 6 tart shells at a time.  Hold at room temperature on a cookie sheet until just before serving, then fill with any delicious vegan no-fat mousse. The unfilled shells will begin to soften after 8 hours, so just pop them back in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes to re-crisp!

These tart shells are delicious, but so are these variations:

Chocolate tart shell:
Add 4 to 6 TBSP unsweetened cocoa to the batter (good with chocolate flavored mousse

Faux “Coconut” tart shell:
Add 1/2 tsp. coconut extract to batter, and sprinkle 1 tsp. whole oats in the center of each cookie before baking (good with chocolate mousse or honey-vanilla mousse with fresh berries).

Sunlight Cafe

You are looking for a  relaxing, light-filled setting to have a delicious meal. You want a server who immediately understands your dietary lifestyle and offers suggestions from the menu with an expression of “no worries” and a smile that says “you belong here”.  The Sunlight Cafe is my home-away-from-home for food in north Seattle.

The existence of this food oasis is probably not news to anyone in living in Seattle, since they’ve served the vegan/vegetarian community here for many years.  Maybe this will just be a happy reminder if you haven’t been there in a while.  For those of us who are looking for no-fat vegan eats, these guys are already there with us.  They actually have items on the regular menu that fit beautifully.  Try the Brown Rice Salad and make your own honey-balsamic dressing at the table or ask them to mix it in the kitchen.  The Steamed Vegetables with Tofu is also good, and the nice garlic-ginger sauce is fat-free.

The Sunlight is open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. everyday.  Love it!