Engine 2 Diet Oil-Free Dressing

Engine 2 Diet Oil-Free Dressing

I know the name doesn’t really say much about this salad dressing, but you’ll have to trust me on this one, it is amazing! I’ve adapted this from the Engine 2 Diet’s “E2 Basics Dressing” (an even more anemic title than mine), and I make sure we always have a good supply on hand. I really don’t spend much time making this – it takes about 5 minutes to throw together and makes enough to last a week or so.

I’ve been trying to limit the amount of oil in my diet lately and the discovery of this dressing has made it surprisingly easy and delicious. I eat a huge salad of mixed greens every day and adding this dressing turns a simple salad into a nutritional powerhouse. I really like using Bragg’s Liquid Aminos as opposed to tamari or soy sauce. The flavor is great, there is no added sodium or preservatives, and it contains 16 essential and non-essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein!

Forget the name, go ahead and give this super easy dressing a try and let me know how much you love it!

6 Tbsp nutritional yeast
3 Tbsp tamari or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
6 Tbsp lemon or lime juice
3 Tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar
3 tsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp flaxseed meal
1/4 cup cold water

Combine all ingredients in blender and mix well. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.

Servings: 8
Per serving: 63 calories (12 from fat), 1.3g total fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 180mg sodium, 9.7g total carbohydrate (2.8g dietary fiber, 5.8g sugar), 4.4g protein, 0% vitamin A, 9% vitamin C, 2% calcium, 10% Iron

  • Good Points: Low in saturated fat, no cholesterol, high in dietary fiber, iron, manganese, niacin, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and zinc

Dandelion Greens Are Everywhere


Nutritonal Highlights: Dandelion greens are a nutritional powerhouse. The plant has been used since antiquity as a diuretic, a liver tonic, to treat skin conditions and a whole host of other health problems.

They are packed with vitamins and minerals. One cup of cooked dandelion greens has more calcium than a cup of cottage cheese but only 34 calories. It provides 12% of the fiber, 19% of the iron and 28% of the Vitamin C that (averaging for adults and children) the USDA suggests that we get in our diets each day. Dandelion provides more vitamin A than an equal amount of kale, collard greens or summer squash, giving you 85% of the daily recommended intake.
The one cup serving also contains 2.1 grams of protein, many minerals including potassium, magnesium and phosphorous as well as vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, B-6 and folate.”

What is Vital Wheat Gluten?

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon | 42 Comments

There seems to be some confusion about vital wheat gluten. Both my Dad and my sister Courtney were confused about it this week.

Gluten is the protein found in wheat. Its what gives bread its shape and pizza dough its elasticity.

Vital wheat gluten is just the protein in a powdered form. It is made by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starches dissolve, leaving just the gluten behind.

Although vital wheat gluten looks like a flour, it’s not a “flour” like whole-wheat is a flour, rather it’s powdered gluten.

Vital wheat gluten is the main ingredient in seitan (SAY-tan). To make seitan, you generally mix the powdered gluten (vital wheat gluten) with spices and then add water to make a dough.

When the gluten dough is steamed, baked, boiled, or otherwise cooked, it becomes chewy with a very meat-like texture, and is referred to as seitan.

Although seitan is made from vital wheat gluten, they are not one and the same. For example, if a recipe calls for vital wheat gluten, you cannot use seitan. Similarly, if a recipe calls for seitan, you cannot use vital wheat gluten in its place, but you can use the flour to make seitan for the recipe.

The best analogy I have is vital wheat gluten and seitan are like cornmeal and corn. You can’t use cornmeal instead of corn in a recipe, and you can’t use corn instead of cornmeal in a recipe, but you could mill the corn to make cornmeal to use in the recipe. Get it?

Vital wheat gluten also works as a binding agent, such as helping hold things like mushroom burgers together.

You can find vital wheat gluten in the baking section of health food stores or online. There are two main brands in the United States: Bobs Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills.

If you are celiac, or have a wheat or gluten sensitivity/allergy, you cannot use vital wheat gluten. However, there is a  GF substitute for vital wheat gluten and it can also make GF seitan.

You can find OrgraN gluten substitute on Amazon or at health food stores with a generous GF section.

One last note: vital wheat gluten is not the same as “gluten flour.” Gluten flour has more gluten in comparison to regular whole-wheat flour, but it does not contain enough gluten to make seitan. If you try to make seitan using gluten flour, you’ll get a mushy dumpling, not chewy, meaty seitan.

Chick’n Style Seitan Cutlets [Vegan]

If you need a delicious replacement for chicken in your recipes, then look no further than these vegan cutlets. The baking times may vary a bit depending upon how crispy you want your final product, but regardless of the outside, I love the substantial texture of these cutlets and they have a subtle salty flavor that is reminiscent of the real thing. Most of the cook time involved with this recipe is hands-off.







  • 1 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 2 tbsp chick’n seasoning
  • 1 tbsp garlic salt
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 3/4 cup veggie broth
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce or Bragg’s amino’s


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together and set aside.
  3. In a measuring cup, mix together the broth and soy sauce. Add the wet to the dry and mix until moistened.
  4. Knead the dough for 3 minutes or so until the gluten strands start to form. Separate the dough into 6 pieces and shape each of them into an oblong cutlet.
  5. Place each cutlet onto a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Turn them over and bake another 20 minutes, or until the cutlets are golden brown on each side.
  6. Let cool and serve!


Problems with going vegan.

My husband and I have been quasi-vegetarians for the past four years. We don’t eat chicken or red meat (including pork) but we do consume eggs, dairy and fish. We’ve had many conversations about the possibility of going full vegan but there was always something prohibiting us from taking the 100-percent animal-free plunge. Then my husband Andy (a marathon runner) read a book about a vegan ultra-marathoner and his mind was set. For Andy, it was now vegan — or bust.

His inspiration and gradual transformation to the sole plant world has inspired me to do some serious soul searching on the reasons why many of my chicken — and beef-free patients have not been able to achieve their vegan dreams. What holds each and every one of us back differs but throughout my years as a dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic, I do see some common themes (and excuses) on why going vegan is, according to my patients, “simply not worth the effort,” “crazy,” “impossible” or “something I don’t have the willpower to do.”

Fact is, people do it every day, and guess what, the ones that do, they may live longer and have less disease than the ones who don’t. New evidence shows that a vegan diet may even help in decreasing neuropathy pain in diabetics.

If you do vegan the right way there may be no good reason not to do it. Here are five things that may be holding you back — and practical tips to overcome them.

1. Cheese:

Perhaps the number one reason why my patients don’t go vegan is because they don’t think they can give up cheese. Cheese does taste great after all, and it’s included in some serious favorite foods (pizza, sandwiches, burritos, nachos), but giving up cheese is actually easier than you think — it all boils down to what I call “taste bud training.”

Our brains work against us when it comes to food and addictions, making us crave certain foods (often high in sugar and fat) over others (like broccoli and Brussels sprouts). In order to get around this, you need to start weaning off the foods that make you stray from any resemblance of veganism. My most successful patients have started by avoidance of cheese purchases at the grocery store on the theory that if it’s not in the house, it won’t be a temptation.

After several weeks of simply avoiding cheese in the home, they found it easier to avoid it outside of the home as well (such as on a sandwich or a pizza). After a few months, many of my patients didn’t even think about it anymore. They had, in fact, trained their taste buds to simply not prefer it. Everyone has one food that they swear they could never give up but the truth is, you can change any habit.

The key is to take it slow, to replace one habit for another (when you crave cheese, have a spoonful of natural almond butter instead for example) , and be repetitive in your behavior (such as, don’t eat cheese at home, and then stop eating cheese at restaurants as well). Each day will be easier than the last until one day, you have made no effort at all, it just happens — you don’t want it. There is also research that shows that actually making a plan (in this case, to be vegan) and subsequently carrying out that plan can lead to success as well. Be courageous enough to train your taste buds and know that you are not the only person in the world to eliminate something you once loved.

2. Society:

Let’s face it — the meat houses of the world far outnumber the vegan restaurants. Even restaurants that do make an effort to provide vegan entrees differ in their variety. Restaurants can range from having full vegan menus to having a “veggie” plate option (that’s literally what they are — a plate of vegetables, with nothing on them). Here’s how to get around this. First, seek out restaurants most likely to offer vegetarian dishes. Indian restaurants will offer the most variety while Japanese, Chinese and Thai will offer great solutions as well. Then it’s just a matter of substitutions.

For example, you can substitute any meat dish for tofu, tempeh or beans, or you can eliminate the main protein source all together and choose dishes that focus on whole grains and vegetables. Worried that your sauce may not be animal-free friendly? Make your own and bring it with you or ask for simple sauces that are void of dairy cream. Many of the chefs who I have worked in the Midwest with tell me they love the challenge of a vegan request from a customer. That means, don’t be afraid to at least ask if you don’t see.

Finally, you can find fabulous resource lists that provide vegan-friendly restaurants and even fast-food eatery options as well. If you’re concerned about a dinner party or planned event where you have less control over food options, you can always bring your own dish (think hummus and brown rice crackers, a beautiful platter of vegetables or a bean salad) as a gift for the host (that really is a meal for you of course).

3. Your friends and family:

Perhaps the biggest social hurdle to becoming vegan is the reaction you may elicit from your friends and family. A vegan lifestyle may seem downright “weird” to those around you who would never consider it in their own diet, making you “weird” as well. Don’t let this stand in your way. If your mom reminds you every chance she gets that “animals were put on this earth for us to eat them” or your friend tells you that “you’re missing out on key nutrients” remember that these comments probably have more to do with their misunderstanding of the diet that a genuine care for your health. Choosing to go vegan can sometimes go well beyond the nutritional benefits.

Many of my patients have gone vegan to reduce environmental impact or simply because they love animals. Determine your motivation for going vegan and, if you’re comfortable, shares these personal goals with your family. You may be surprised how much you actually impact their diet over time. Finally, get comfortable with the fact that people will joke about your diet, talk about your diet in excess, criticize your diet and ask you questions about your diet. Remember that what you choose to eat is your business, and you don’t owe anyone an explanation.

4.Your love of cookies, ice cream and chocolate:

Let’s start with a fact — cookies, ice cream and chocolate (with less than 70-percent cocoa content) are generally not good for you, vegan or non-vegan, due to their massive amount of sugar. That means no matter what your diet looks like, these things should be consumed infrequently. If you do plan to dabble in dessert though, there are several vegan options for individuals to choose from. Several new ice cream varieties made from either coconut or almonds dominate the vegan frozen aisle treats, and they’re good!

For chocolate substitutions, look for products made with carob, a plant (specifically a legume) that comes from a tree and lacks the dairy component that is added to cocoa during processing. It tastes similar to chocolate and works well in most recipes calling for chocolate. You can also try chocolate chips made with non-dairy cocoa butter and chocolate liquor as another chocolate alternative. If you really want to improve your health, remember the best desserts have never had an ounce of animal product in them — they’re called fruit and they come in a variety of different flavors.

5. Your fear of soy:

The final reason most of my patients avoid going full vegan is because they have a dire fear of soy and assume that if you’re vegan, you must eat lots and lots of soy. There are two myths to dispel here: first, that soy is “bad” for you and second, that going vegan will turn you into an edamame pod. Let’s start with the first.

Soy, as it’s consumed in the Japanese culture in its whole form is actually very good for you. Soy consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, lowering blood pressure, and protection from recurrence of certain cancers.

Second, vegan diets don’t have to be chock full of soy. In fact, vegans can get protein from a variety of other plant-based foods including nuts, nut butters and seeds, beans and lentils, and whole grains such as quinoa, in addition to soy sources such as tofu, tempeh or edamame. Even endurance athletes have thrived on vegan diets.

If you’ve made the choice (or goal) of going completely meat-free, don’t allow your surroundings and your own fears to stop you. Hopefully, these tips can be one step towards helping you achieve the changes in your diet that are important to you.