Fat-Free Dolmas

Fat-Free Dolma Recipe

(See the not quite fat free variation at the end of this post too!


I know that the name, "Fat Free Dolmas", must seem like an oxymoron. If you happen to love eating things dripping in olive oil, then my adaptation of this traditional Mediteranean finger food probably won't be very satisfying for you. But I have always found the excessive fat in dolmas a turn off. So I was thrilled to discover that I could make these myself and have them be almost entirely fat-free. As I type this, it is August and the only leafy green growing in abundance in my garden is swiss chard. I've been looking at it, wishing that I had some really wonderful recipe to use all those chard leaves in -- and now I do. That's the other major change I've made to this recipe -- I use chard leaves instead of grape leaves. They are (for me anyway) free and abundant, and the taste ( in this recipe) is not noticably different. Plus, they aren't nearly as stringy as some grape leaves are! There is one more major change -- I've left out using any nuts -- again to cut the fat, and I have replaced them instead with capers. Now I should mention, that every time in the past I have tried capers, I thought they were awful. The smell always reminded me of those formaldehyded speciman jars from biology lab. But recently I found a brand of capers (at Costco in fact and only 6 dollars for about a quart sized jar)

"Paesana," capers, which other then being extremely salty, are a wonderful addition to this recipe and do not smell like formaldehyde! ---->

You can leave them out entirely if you are avoiding sodium, but they really do add a lot to how good these taste. The 3 TBS that I have in this recipe adds a total of about 800 mg of sodium -- and then that is divided over about 50 dolmas -- so that only adds about 16 mg of sodium to each dolma -- for most people that's not excessive. Of course the half a cube of boulion adds another 500 mg -- so the total sodium in each dolma is going to be about 25 mg -- depending upon its size. (They will vary depending upon the size of the chard leaf used.) So here it is:


2 medium or larger onions
1/2 cup water
1/2 cube of Rapunzel Vegan Vegetable Bouillon with sea salt and herbs
about 60 swiss chard leaves
4 cups cooked long grain brown rice
1/3 cup finely chopped mint leaves (measure AFTER chopping)
2/3 cup finely chopped fresh chives (measure AFTER chopping)
2 TBS fresh lime juice split in half
3 TBS capers (make sure they are GOOD tasting ones!!)
1/2 tsp of olive oil

  1. Finely dice the onions and put them, the half cup of water and the half a bouillon cube into a large cast iron skillet. Turn it on high and allow to saute (uncovered) until all the water is absorbed and the onions are just starting to stick. Stir them frequently while cooking, then turn off and let sit when cooked.
  2. While the onions are cooking, wash the chard leaves and carefully steam them until they wilt. Set aside.
  3. Now add the cooked rice, mint, chives, and capers to the cast iron skillet of onions and mix well. Then add ONE tablespoon of the lime juice (lemon would work too -- lime is just what I had on hand.)

  4. Now set out one chard leaf on your work space, with the vein side up and the stem to your left or right. Place about a heaping teaspoon (or more depending upon the size of the leaf) of the rice mixture on the leaf -- BELOW the vein like this:

    Then fold the two sides in like this:

    and then roll it up tightly (away from you) and finally it looks like this

5. Take double broiler/steamer pan set................

and smear the inside of the upper part (that has steamer holes ) with the half teaspoon of olive oil. Gently place the rolled up dolmas tightly into this pan. (seam side down to keep from unrolling) When you have a layer filled, place a few chard leaves on top (to separate layers) and create a second layer of dolmas (and a third if necessary). Place about 2 inches of water in the pan that sits below the pot with dolmas. Stack the pans up, Drizzle the last TBS of lime juice over the top layer of dolmas, put the lid on and bring to a boil. Allow to steam for an hour. Allow to cool before serving.

After posting all that you just read -- I made another batch of dolmas -- but this time decided to worry less about making something "traditional" and instead just follow my instincts and put what I felt inspired to in the rice. The results were FANTASTIC, although there are a few nuts in this variation, so it is not really fat free -- but still pretty low fat. Basically here is what I did differently:

  1. I left out the mint, chives and lime juice and instead used about two cups of loosely packed fresh basil, plus about a tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme leaves, and a teaspoon of lemon pepper seasoning.
  2. To the onions I added 2 small slender eggplants diced finely and 4 large cloves of garlic.
  3. I may have used a few less of the capers then my recipe above called for...
  4. After adding the rice to the vegetables, I added about 1/3 cup of a 50/50 mixture of ground raw almonds and nutritional yeast flakes. (put 1/2 cup almonds and a 1/2 cup of yeast in blender and pulverize until a homogenous powder (store extra in the fridge and use like parmesan). Also -- do not confuse nutritonal yeast with either brewer's yeast or baking yeast -- it is very different!)

Otherwise I followed the instructions above exactly the same. I made over 60 dolmas -- and in about fifteen minutes time, a group of five people had devoured the plate. We LOVE this new recipe more then twice as much as the original one posted above. If fat is not an issue, I encourage you to just skip my first variation and try this second one right away! It is so much better!!

About 60% of Americans have the genes that predispose them to becoming gluten sensitive.

Recent research (By Dr. Kenneth Fine) suggests that about half of these people have detectable immunological reactions to gluten, and the majority will NEVER meet the classic definition of celiac disease -- even though gluten IS triggering an autoimmune reaction in their body which may affect many organs or tissues other then the small intestine.

Recipe for these GFCF Penguins is in my book!

Are You Educated on Genetic Engineering?

Biotechnology is the new frontier. Yet, few people in our country right now, have any idea, just how dramatically Genetic Engineering is poised to change our lives. Proponents believe biotech holds the possibility of doing some great things, and I believe it might have some great applications, but there is also evidence that this technology if misapplied or allowed out of the lab/hospital setting, could have significant and even disasterous consequences for our health, and well being. The problem is, there is so much money to be made right now in biotech, and so little required in terms of safety testing, and no requirement for product labeling, that human hubris and capitalism being what they are, I think we are headed for some difficult lessons -- before appropriate safeguards are put in place. I believe at the very least, people should have the option of taking the risk of exposure or avoiding this risk if they so choose. (But that is currently NOT the case.) Please watch the video below (it is less then 20 minutes long) of how one mother (who just happened to be a wall street food analyst) woke up to this issue. Then go explore this site: Seeds of Deception to learn the facts so that you can protect yourself and your family.

Should you avoid Genetically Engineered Foods?

Check this out -- Vitamin D

Many of us probably have suboptimal levels of vitamin D, which can be a contributing factor to the development of many of the related conditions and symptoms more common in those who are gluten sensitive. Watch this video -- It's worth the investment of thirty minutes of your time. I should mention however, that while some authorities consider D3 superior to D2, there is good data that if D2 is taken in reasonable amounts (like 1000-2000 iu daily -- not the huge megadoses that some doctors recommend taking on a weekly basis) that D2 is very effective. (And for someone like me who prefers to minimize any possible exposure to prions which may contaminate animal derrived substances -- of which D3 is one -- this is very good news.)

Dietition Jack Norris has great info on Vitamin D here. Be sure also to read Vitamin D Researcher/MD Michael Hollick's book, The UV Advantage.

Recurrent Abdominal Pain (R.A.P.)

Pre Celiac Disease?

As soon as my daughter could talk she began to report to me that her tummy almost always hurt. Although it didn't become really bad until she was about 8 years old -- this I believe was due to long term exclusive breastfeeding. Throughout her early years, I raised the issue of her chronic abdominal pain with our family doctor on many occaisions, and he would assure me that nothing was wrong, that RAP was very common in children and usually due to emotional issues. When it increased in severity we went to see another doctor -- he thought she might have ulcers -- but that test came back negative and the other tests he ran showed that she was in good health. He thought she was fine too. Eventually I learned about gluten from a friend and well you can read the rest of this story by clicking on the links to articles at the top of this page. However the main point I wish to make here is this: In looking back, it is clear to me now that my daughter -- probably from birth was reacting to gluten. Her fussiness, her greenish stools, her starting to nurse and then pulling off and crying, and then years of tummy aches -- all suggest that gluten was causing her issues from the very beginning. On many occaisions I suspected that wheat might be affecting her -- but its withdrawal never entirely resolved her issues. Now of course I know that gluten is not just in wheat, but also barley, spelt, rye, oats and lots of things made from these. RAP is very common and most the time, it's cause is never found. I would urge anyone who's child is suffering, to explore the possibility that gluten might be the cause of their distress.

Why is Gluten so Problematic?

August of 2009 Scientific American published this very in-depth article on Celiac Disease:


With this quote in it:

"Gluten, however, has a peculiar structure: it is unusually rich in the amino acids glutamine and proline. This property renders part of the molecule impervious to our protein-chopping machinery, leaving small protein fragments, or peptides, intact."

However one thing the article left unanswered. I want to know what is the scientific basis for so many doctors believing that antigliadin antibodies are non-specific and are not (by themselves) indicitive of a problem? The article said that anti-gliadin antibodies are NOT considered specific to celiac disease because they are often found in people who do not have celiac disease. But given that it has only been about 65 years that the medical profession has even made the connection between celiac disease and gluten, and only SIX years since the medical profession realized the incidence was at least TEN TIMES more common then they previously thought....why are they still assuming that anti-gliadin antibodies are nonspecific?

Could it be that all those people who do have antigliadin antibodies in their systems, but don't show damage to the villi are still having a dangerous reaction to gluten? Should the definition of celiac disease be altered...or else dropped altogether and simply be part of a condition called gluten sensitivity which may or may not create visible damage to the villi of the small intestine?

Taxonomic Relationship Amongst Grains

Taxonomic Relationship Amongst Grains
Only the Hordeae tribe make their own gluten -- but oats can absorb gluten if they are grown or stored near gluten containing grains.