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Debut of the Opinionate Chef (aka Empress of Garlic, Doyenne of Beanery)

I am new to this list and have been reading it with some interest for some
time...I have been a vegetarian for 20+yrs, have lost count and have been
cooking low fat and then fat free for sometime.  I am single, no kids, cook
only for myself and friends.  And If someone could please send me the info
about the McDougall Diet, I would be grateful

I am often intrigued by requests for specifically low-fat or fat-free
receipes in the different venues...lists, magazines, over tea...Over the
years I have adapted any receipe I wanted to cook into a low fat version.
Some of my common adaptaions and substitutions are below:

milk:  skim milk, powdered non fat milk, nonfat soymilk or nonfat rice milk

cream:  nonfat evaporated milk

sour cream: plain yoghurt  (I don't like the non fat sour creams as they
all have a sweet taste)

creams soups are often called for in a receipe:  white sauce made with a
thicker than usual blend of powdered milk (to imitate the roux) and
whatever vegetable, lightly steamed or microwaved, just till barely tender.

oils: eliminate when possible, but sometimes it must be used.  I don't like
to purchase those expensive cooking sprays.  I ususally keep a very clean
rag in a closed jar in the refigerator, I put a tiny amount of oil in my
pan and spread it with the rag.  Keeping the rag as well as the oil in the
frig keeps bopth from going rancid.  An alternative is to put your oil in a
spray bottle (I use an plant sprayer bottles purchased for just this use
and sterilized before I used it.  This suggestion caused some controversy
on the list where I first published it and the consenus of opinion ws that
it wouls be better to use a very clean Chloraseptic bottle, label removed.
Since I never buy Chloraseptic, I would never have a bottle and my love of
the ridiculous would lead me to leave the  label on in order to tease my
guests with a strange new taste sensations (a la Letitia in the Vicar of

Sauteing:  I never saute the onions and the mushrooms or anything else
first.  I know that sauteeing onions releases their volatile oils, but as
my soups and stews and casseroles get rave reviews, I don;t think anyone
notices any onion volatile oils.  If I were to prepare a meal for Julia
Child, perhaps she would notice, but my friends tend to be less elegant
cooks and diners

Pesto: IMO, there is really no substitute for the real thing...So I use
considerably less than the receipe calls for, I find a little does go a
long way...and I use a pasta that has lots of surfaces for the pesto to
cling to.

"convenience foods":  never use them...there is an excellent little
cookbook called HOMEMADE MIXES by Nina and Michael Shandler, Publisher =
Rawson-Wade, ISBN 0-89256-150-5.  My copy was published in 1981 which has
receipes for all sorts of "convenience foods" that are far healthier than
the ones we are offered in the market... IMO, so-called conveience foods
are neither convenient nor ar they foods, and far too expensive for an
unhealthy combo of fattening ingredients and chemicals wich do goodness
knows what to us over the long term.  Perhaps I should mention that it is
also my opinion that as these various preservatives etc have only been in
use for about 3 generations, that is not long enough to determine their
effects long term.

"fatfree alternative": There are a lot of these about, fat free sour cream,
fat free salad dressings, fat free soups,fat free mayo, fat free cream
cheese, etc...I have noticed something about these. In this country we
appear to have 2 dominate taste sensations: a taste for fat and a taste for
sweet.  As I have read the ingredients for the fat free things, inevitably
sugar, corn syrup, glucose, fructose, or some other sugar is second or
third ingredient.  The food industry has substituted a sweet taste for a
fat taste.

Being a person with no sweet tooth whatsoever, I really intensely dislike
these alternatives.  Plus I have always understood that sugars do not
satisfy hungers...so I wonder if this is why after almost 2 decades of fat
freee this or that, Americans are more overweight than ever...I guess we
all know the fallacy of eating a candy bar for energy...sure it gives a
boost, then a quick let down and then a craving for something to eat.  So I
wonder if all these fat free substitutes are in fact harming us....

I am no food chemical expert, but as I put 2 and 2 together with what I
have learned over the years of good nutrition... I find I ask ??.  So I
tend to use the real thing, but a lot less of it or the substitutions

Incidentally, when I serve baked potatoes and put out the condiments to go
with it, I put out a dish of plain youghurt.  People who think they are
eating sour cream never seem to notice that they are not eating it.  And of
course, the lactose intolerant don;t eat sour cream anyway.  I do tell them
eventually, after they have licked their plates clean.  And they are
astonished as they are quite sure they hate plain yoghurt (which I do serve
fat free as that is really fat free with no sugar).

Anyway, here is an example from HOMEMADE MIXES of the substitute for the
ubiquitous onion soup mix:

1 C  dark miso
1 C dried minced onion (I use the organically grown, no preservative kind,
not the chemically treated ones from the market.)

mix it together however you desire, put it in a jar and refrigate and use
it up in a month (I confess, I have kept it up to 3 months before it
ocurred to me to mix it in smaller quantities)

To make soup, use 1 T of the mix and 1 cup boiling water.

Using it in dips and receipes will take some experimentation.  I find
though that about 1-2T works for most receipes when I substitute this for
the store-bought mix.

The categories are:

Breakfast Mixes
Light Soups and Gravy Mixes
Salad Dressings and Dip Mixes
Hearty Bean Mixes for Stews, Casseroles and Main Dishes
Rice and Other Grain Mixes
Yeast and Quick Bread Mixes
Cake and Cookie Mixes
Pie, Pudding & Frozen Desert Mixes

Another book I have is KEEP IT SIMPLE by Marian Burros, not a vegetatrian
cookbook, and not necessarily low-fat, but the last chapter contains enough
receipes for the store-bought mixes so that a person has no reason to buy
another store mix again,  Her mixes are:

Brownie Mix, Buckwheat Pancake Mix, Bulgur Pilaf Mix, Homemade Cake Mix,
Spice Cake Mix, Cheese Sauce Mix, Basic Cookie Mix, Chili Seasoning Mix,
Choc Chip Cookie Mix, Corn Bread Mix
Fruited Rice Mix, Gingerbread Mix, Italian Seasoning, Pot to Plate Stuffing
(to imitate Stove Top Stufffing), Shake and Bake for Chicken, Pork and
Fish, Creme Fraiche, Colettes, Eternal Cheese Mix, Chili-Style Imitation
Hamburger Helper, Tuna Stroganoff Imitation Tuna Helper, Hot Choclate Sauce
Mix, Instant Breakfast, BBQ Sauce

my copy was published by Simon and Schuster Pocketbooks, ISBN0-671-50736-2

Here is the Chjili-Sesoning Mix which can be used in any receipe that
requires you to purchase a packet of chili-seasonng, or taco seasining:

10 T minced dried onion (or 1/2 C plus 2T)
5 t dried oregano leaf
3 3/4 t minced dried garlic (well that;s what it says...since I find the
idea of measuring 3/4 of a t abusrd nd because I **like** garlic, I use 4 t)
3 T plus 2 t ground cumin (I have used cumins seed when I didn't have any
ground cumin)

Mix ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight container in a cool,
dry, place.  I use the freezer..  Keeps 8-10 months after which it begins
to loose it's strength. I find that if frozen it does keep longer.

Gloriamarie     gma@xxxxxxxx
In La Mesa, CA, 1 town east of San Diego where it rained this June 13th!!
Unheard of!!  Thank you, God, thank you thank you...babbling from excitement