Whole-Wheat Berry Muffins, Fat-Free

Everyone needs something sweet every now and then. And what better way to satisfy that craving than with a delicious whole-wheat muffin filled with the nourishing goodness of fresh berries and free of added fats?

I flavored my Berry Muffins with a puree of fresh strawberries and a handful of plump, juicy blueberries that burst in your mouth as you bite into the muffin, taking this sweet treat to a whole new level of sublime indulgence. My sweetener is turbinado sugar, a healthier, less processed sugar that I use in most of my sweet recipes, but you could just as well use maple syrup which would add even more flavor to an already delicious, not-too-sweet muffin.

In our home, these muffins made perfect pre-breakfast treats. Each has just around 112 calories and lots of protein, dietary fiber, and potassium. There is just 0.5 grams of fat in each muffin and it comes from heart-healthy flaxmeal which also adds some moisture to the muffin and great, nutty flavor.

I hope you are enjoying the fat-free recipes I’ve been posting. Although I have always been a healthy eater and conscious about adding as little fat as I can to any recipe I make, I must say I’ve been really enjoying coming up with ideas to cut out added fat altogether from my cooking. I’ve been whipping up dals, hummus, pasta sauces and baked goods without added fat and I am not missing much, flavor-wise. And I know that I am getting healthier. This doesn’t mean you’ll only see fat-free recipes here at Holy Cow! from now on, but you will definitely see more of them than you have before.

Here, then, is the recipe for my whole wheat, no-fat-added, very berry muffin. Enjoy!

Whole-Wheat Berry Muffin


2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (sub, if needed, with 1 cup regular whole-wheat and 1 cup all-purpose)

1 1/2 cups strawberries

1 cup blueberries

1/2 cup non-dairy milk, like almond or soy

1/2 cup turbinado sugar (use maple syrup instead for great flavor. This is not a very sweet muffin so you might want to use more sugar if your strawberries are very tart)

2 tbsp flaxmeal

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

Mix the whole-wheat pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a bowl.

Puree the strawberries in a blender along with the nondairy milk. Place in a bowl. (You can sub half the strawberry puree with an equal amount of applesauce for some added sweetness and moistness).

Add the flaxmeal and vanilla extract and mix well.

Make a well in the flour and pour in the wet ingredients. Using just a few strokes of your ladle or whisk, mix until everything’s just moistened. Don’t overbeat– a few lumps are just fine. Just make sure you don’t have any visible dry flour. If the batter is too dry, add a little more nondairy milk and mix it in.

Add the blueberries and mix in.

Pour the batter in a muffin tin lined with paper liners. If you don’t have paper liners spray with oil, although I do recommend the paper liners so you can get your muffins out more easily.

Sprinkle some sugar over the top of each muffin. This is not a very sweet muffin, so I like the little added crunch and sweetness on top.

Bake the muffins in a preheated 400-degree oven for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the muffins on a rack for about 10 minutes, then slide the muffins out of the tin and continue cooling on the rack.

Nutrition estimate per muffin: Calories 112, Total Fat  0.5 grams, Potassium 103.5 mg, Dietary Fiber 2.4 grams, Sugar 3.2 grams, Protein 2.5 grams

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Whole-Wheat Sourdough Baguettes

My dead oven sprang to life last week and I couldn’t wait for the weekend so I could put it to work again. I had the perfect job for it too: baking up a Whole-Wheat Sourdough Baguette. Or two.

Baguettes can be tremendously healthy eats, especially when made my way. These crusty hunks of French goodness contain no fat, are largely whole-grain, and the sourdough brings down their glycemic index, which makes them perfect for the diet-conscious, diabetics, and just about anyone who likes to eat consciously while eating well.

My sourdough starter, which has been going for a few months now, has matured beautifully and it adds tremendous flavor to anything I add it to. It was just amazing in these baguettes because it contributed a discernible yet mellow tang.

This recipe makes two loaves: one for eating, the other for sharing. Or for eating more, if you’d rather. This is a great bread for sandwiches or for dunking into soups. Or for just slathering some vegan butter over.

Here’s the recipe. Enjoy, all!

Whole-Wheat Sourdough Baguettes

(Makes two 12-inch baguettes)


1 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water

2 cups sourdough starter (recipe here)

3 cups white whole-wheat flour or regular whole-wheat flour

1/4 cup vital wheat gluten (if you decide to skip this replace 1 cup of the whole-wheat flour with bread flour)

Up to 1 cup bread flour

1 tsp salt

Mix the yeast and the warm water and let stand for 5-10 minutes or until the yeast is all bubbly and happy.

Add the sourdough starter, mix it well with the yeast, then add the whole-wheat flour and the vital wheat gluten.

In a stand mixer set to low speed or by hand, mix everything. Then slowly, a little at a time, add the bread flour until you have a dough that’s not sticky. I needed just about 3/4th of a cup. You might need less or more.

Continue kneading by hand or in the stand mixer for 10 minutes. You should have a very beautiful, resilient, elastic dough.

Form the dough into a smooth ball. Spray oil to coat a large bowl, place the dough, top side down, in it, and turn over once so the top is coated in oil.

Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place for about two hours or until it has doubled in size.

Once it has doubled, punch down the dough to get all the gases out. Then divide into two, shape into balls, and let them rest on the countertop, covered, another 10 minutes.

Follow the shaping techniques in this step-by-step recipe post to form two baguettes.

Place the baguettes on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal, at least three inches apart. Dust them with some flour, cover loosely with a kitchen towel, and let them rise in a warm place for another hour.

Start preheating your oven to 425 degrees about half an hour before baking your bread. Place a pan in the bottom rack of the oven.

When you are ready to put the loaves into the oven, take a sharp knife or blade and score each loaf three times. The cuts should be diagonal and should be parallel to each other.

Just before you put the loaves in the oven, pour a cup of water in the pan you placed in the bottom rack. Then place the baking sheet in the oven and bake 30-35 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Remove the loaves to a baking rack to cool.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Tomato Dal With Phulkas: Fat-Free Cooking

Sauteing in water instead of oil might sound strange and even a little yuck to someone who loves delicious food. In fact, right now I can imagine some of you shaking your heads going, oh, come on! But trust me when I say that it makes almost no difference to the flavor of many Indian foods, like curries and dals. And it can be your waistline’s best friend.

Most Indian recipes start out with a “tadka” or “phodani” of oil, where you heat some oil then add spices like mustard, cumin, chillies, and asafoetida. The oil extracts the flavor of the spices, helping it mingle with the foods.

Most of my Indian recipes start this way too, except — having always been health conscious– I usually cut down the oil to just about a teaspoon or, at most, a tablespoon, which then gets split into several servings. But recently a great deal of research has emerged that shows cutting added fats from your diet altogether (yes, even that teaspoon) can be extremely beneficial to health. Bill Clinton, the first name in veganism today, says he’s done it, and his cardiovascular health has never been better. He’s also lost a lot of weight.

Now I know that some fat is essential in your diet, but many foods already contain fats– even those you wouldn’t imagine would. For instance, there are small amounts of fats in lentils, beans, grains, and most veggies and fruits, and fairly large amounts in nuts and some veggies like avocados and olives. Soymilk has fats, and so does tofu. So cutting out added fats — even the good ones like olive oil which contain the same amount of calories as the unhealthy fats– is not going to leave you missing an essential nutrient.

Still, I was one of the skeptics until I actually got started with fat-free Indian cooking, mostly after hearing about it from my good friend, Dr. Nandita Shah of the nonprofit Sharan, who travels around India with her Peas vs. Pills workshops. Nandita starts many of her recipes by sauteing in water or stock. So I decided to give it a go, and over the months I’ve made –on and off– several Indian recipes without any added fat that I’ve absolutely loved.

There are some things to keep in mind when you take oil out of the equation while making Indian food, and the chief among these is that you do not– absolutely do not– add raw whole or powdered spices to water. Spices already contain some oil, so if you even toast them on a dry skillet before you powder them, or before you add the water, you won’t go wrong. Garlic and ginger, on the other hand, will do fine when sauteed in water or on a dry skillet. You can even sputter your mustard seeds and cumin seeds in a dry skillet.

As the new year bears down on us, I am trying to find ways to make my diet even healthier than it already is because with each passing year the pounds get harder to shake off. Today, I want to share with you my recipe for a very simple but utterly flavorful dal made with absolutely no fat, but so delicious that no one would know. I like mixing this with some cooked cracked wheat (a delicious, low-glycemic alternative to rice), or just slurping it up like a soup.

This time, I served it up with some Phulkas. Phulkas are fat-free versions of that popular Indian bread, the chapati. Phulkas are rolled slightly thicker, cooked partly on a hot griddle, and finished off directly on the gas burner where they puff up into a ball. Think skinny pitas, but softer.

I didn’t have a chance to photograph my phulkas puffing up on the burner because my photographer, Desi, was not available when I made them and I couldn’t do both jobs– roasting the phulkas and photographing– at once, but I promise to get him to take some pictures over the next couple of days and post them here so you’ll know how they should look. I will also be posting more fat-free and very low-fat recipes over the next few weeks, so if you’re interested in learning more about healthy ways to cook Indian– and other– food, keep an eye out.

Now tell me, what is your new year’s resolution?

Fat-Free Tomato Dal

(Makes six servings)


1 cup tuvar dal (pigeon peas), boiled until really tender and mushy, preferably in a pressure cooker

2 large tomatoes, finely diced

1 large onion, finely diced

1 tbsp grated ginger

1 cup coriander leaves, chopped

1 tbsp sambar powder (since sambar powder is usually pre-roasted, you don’t need to roast this first)

1/4 tsp turmeric

Heat a skillet and add the turmeric to it. Roast it for just about 30 seconds, stirring, and then add 1/4 cup of water or vegetable stock.

When the water simmers, add the onion, ginger, and half the coriander leaves. Add a pinch of salt.

Saute the onions until they begin to turn translucent and get soft. Now add the tomatoes and the sambar powder and stir them well to mix. Cook, stirring, until the tomato’s completely broken down. Add a tiny bit of water if necessary to help it along.

Add the cooked dal and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and let it cook about 10 minutes. Add water if the dal is too thick.

Turn off the heat and garnish with the remaining coriander leaves.

Nutrition estimate per serving: Calories 82.1, Total fat 0.4 grams, Dietary fiber 3 grams, Protein 4.3 grams, Sugar 0.1 grams

Phulkas (Puffy, Fat-Free Chapatis)

(Makes 6 servings of 3 phulkas each)


2 cups whole-wheat chapati flour or regular whole-wheat flour

1/2 tsp salt (use powdered salt, not granular)

Water for kneading

Add the salt to the flour and mix well. Add water, a little at your time, and knead the dough to a firm but pliable consistency. You don’t want a sticky dough because it will be hard to handle and the phulkas won’t puff up.

Divide the dough into 18  portions, and roll each into a circle, about 4 inches in diameter. You don’t want to roll your phulkas too thin because they won’t puff up if you do, and you want to roll them as evenly as you possibly can– which means they should not be thin in some places and thick in others.

Heat a cast-iron or nonstick griddle on the stove, and keep another burner free to finish the phulkas. If you have an electric stove, you can buy a steel grill (it looks like a small cooling rack) at some Indian grocery stores that you can place on top of the stove grill so your phulkas won’t come in direct contact with the coils and burn.

Once the griddle is very hot, place one phulka on it and when bubbles start to appear, flip it over and let it go for about 15 seconds.

Light the other burner and using a pair of tongs (preferably something that won’t pierce through the phulka) place the phulka directly on the flames. It should start to puff up immediately.

As soon as it puffs up, turn it over and let the other side cook for 15 seconds. Be quick and watchful because you don’t want your phulka to turn to cinder. That said, this is all very easy once you’ve gotten the hang of it.

Store the prepared phulkas while you make the rest by stacking and wrapping them in a kitchen towel. Don’t put them in a closed box because they’ll sweat.

Eat them fresh and hot. They are really soft fresh but will harden as they stand. To refresh them, zap them in the microwave for a few seconds, but they do taste best just off the stove.

Nutrition estimate per serving of three phulkas: Calories 217.4,  Total fat 1.2 grams, Potassium 204.2 mg, Dietary fiber 7.9 grams, Sugar 0.1 grams

I haven’t posted pictures of my little ones for a while, so I’ll leave you with some very cute shots of Opie, Pie and Lucy enjoying their Christmas treats.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Corn Fritters, Fat-Free

corn fritters

I first waltzed into Edith Wharton’s deliciously tragic world during a lonely week in New York City. It was over a decade ago and I was traveling with Desi who was at a conference all day most days, leaving me with nothing but time on my hands. When I tired of looking around (yes, there’s a limit to tourism even in the world’s most famous city), I stopped at a bookstore for a good read. I picked up The House of Mirth because the book flap told me it was about a tragic young protagonist navigating New York City’s unforgiving, unbending ruling class of the late 19th century.

It was a memorable tryst because Wharton’s the kind of writer whose sense of human drama transcends time and space and it was not difficult to empathize with the protagonist, Lily Bart, even though my life was nowhere near as infused with romantic adventure and drama as hers.

The next time I met Wharton’s imagination was not long after, in a movie based on her Pulitzer-winning novel, The Age of Innocence.

This time I was not just reading about a world dominated by the opulent lifestyles of a privileged few from long ago. Martin Scorsese’s magnificent movie version, which I chanced upon during the mindless act of channel-surfing, literally transported me into a time when the women were always perfect but incredibly complex, and the men were arrogant and aloof until love made slaves of them.

Ever since, each time the movie’s on– much to Desi’s annoyance because he likes to dismiss even classic romances as “chick flicks” — I refuse to switch channels. There’s just something about all that quivering, unfulfilled passion and all those beautiful people living their beautiful, imaginary lives that thrills me to the core.

But as much as I love the movie, and as much as I love Wharton’s evocative writing, I only actually took up the book this week. It held no surprises for me, but I simply could not tear away from it until the last page was turned. I did take a break, however, and here’s why that happened. Just as I had gotten all wrapped up in all the intrigue and nail-biting romance, I was interrupted by a craving and a longing all my own after reading the following paragraph:

After a velvety oyster soup came shad and cucumbers, then a young broiled turkey with corn fritters, followed by a canvas-back with currant jelly and a celery mayonnaise. Mr. Letterblair, who lunched on a sandwich and tea, dined deliberately and deeply, and insisted on his guest’s doing the same.

Corn fritters. Yum.

corn fritters

Well, here was a little piece of romance in Countess Olenska and Archer Newland’s life that I could actually share. So off I went to my kitchen to cook up a version that is perhaps nothing like what people ate in the late 19th century because do you honestly think they worried about making food fat-free then? No wonder they were so content. Well, almost.

My healthy corn fritters are delightful and delicious, and to make them even more so I infused them with a lot of herby goodness. My dormant vegetable garden is already springing back to life as the weather warms up, and I picked handfuls of chives and garlic greens to add flavor to my fritters without eclipsing the sweetness of the corn. I also threw in some oniony leek greens, although scallions would do just as well here.

These fritters are very crispy if eaten rightaway, when they are piping hot, but because they are pan-fried with fat-free cooking spray– not deep-fried in oil the way corn fritters usually are– they do lose their crispness at room temperature. But you can bring them back to crunchy life by popping them into a hot oven for five minutes.

So here they are, my rooted-in-reality and fat-free, good-for-you corn fritters. Because this is the age of no mysteries and we all know what  fat can do to our thankfully corset-free waistlines.

Enjoy, all!

corn fritters

Corn Fritters, Fat-Free
Recipe type: Snack
  • 2 cups frozen sweet corn, thawed
  • ¼ cup finely chopped leek greens (can substitute shallots or spring onions)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped chives
  • ¼ cup finely chopped garlic greens (use 2 tsp of minced garlic if you don't have these)
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup stone-ground corn meal
  • ½ cup water (be prepared to add more or less)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  1. Heat a cast-iron or non-stick skillet and spray evenly with a fat-free vegetable oil spray. Alternately, brush the surface lightly with a thin coating of oil.
  2. Mix all the ingredients, adding the water slowly, until you have a batter that's fluid but firm enough that you can scoop it up with your fingertips and drop into a skillet.
  3. Drop enough fritters into the pan so you have fritters that are thin, almost pancakey, because you want them to cook through. Cook on medium heat until the bottom turns a rich golden-brown.
  4. Flip over and cook the other side until golden.
  5. Serve hot with a chutney or ketchup.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Vegan Bean and Oats Burgers

Bean and Oats Burgers, Vegan and Gluten-Free

The New York Times’ food section last week ran a story on the rising popularity (and quality) of veggie burgers in local restaurants and the half-page picture of a sesame seed bun cradling a patty, tomatoes, and lots of lettuce really got my juices flowing. But the article didn’t offer any recipes, and I really can’t afford to jet to New York to taste one of these magical burgers. So I took the regular person’s way out of a craving: I made my own.

I’ve tried my hand at making vegan burgers before from various recipes and I’ve tried making my own, but I’ve never been completely successful in coming up with one that holds well together AND tastes great. This time I was lucky. I improvised very slightly on a recipe I found here: it sounded terribly healthy with oats and two kinds of beans and carrots, among other goodies, and I had all the ingredients I needed on hand, except the black beans. But I had plenty of other kinds of beans, including red, which I ended up using in combination with the pinto beans.

The burger was absolutely delicious and the best part is that it was really easy to make. It was sturdy enough to go into a bun and hold its own, and it stayed together beautifully on the griddle– the place where many patties usually fall apart. The only thing missing, I thought, was the chewiness that would help satisfy a meat-eater’s texture-cravings, but the next time I might try adding a tiny bit of TVP or even a chewy grain like bulgur to make up for that.

I know my recent posts have been rather short, and that’s because I’ve been juggling too many things. But I like chatting with you more than you perhaps like listening to me, and for my own sake I hope to return to my usual self sometime in the not too distant future.

Meanwhile, enjoy this.

Bean and Oats Burgers, Meatless Recipe

Bean and Oats Burgers
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
These delicious and hearty Bean and Oats Burgers are perfect for the grill
Recipe type: Burger
Serves: 8
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2 tbsp tamari (can use soy sauce instead, but tamari is usually low sodium)
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1½ cups quick-cooking oats (I had regular rolled oats which I ran in the food processor for a minute)
  • ½ cup dry pinto beans
  • ½ cup dry red or black beans
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • Cooking spray
  1. Soak for a few hours and then cook the pinto and red beans until tender.
  2. Heat a skillet and saute the onion and garlic with a tiny bit of salt for a few minutes until translucent but not brown.
  3. Add the carrot, chili powder, and cumin and cook a couple minutes or until carrot is tender. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  4. Mash the beans in a large bowl. Add the carrot mixture, mustard, ketchup, tamari and oats.
  5. Mix well and then shape the mixture into eight patties.
  6. Heat a nonstick or cast-iron skillet and coat with cooking spray.
  7. Cook patties over medium heat for four to five minutes on each side, or until golden brown. I like mine a little charred for extra flavor.

Bean and Oats Burgers
(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.