Milk-Free Milks Make Their Move (and Scary Video Follows)

30 01 2012

Bump the Bottle

 

 

 

 

Have you ever bought soy milk, rice milk, or almond milk? How about quinoa milk, lupine milk, or pea milk? Well, if you are buying non-dairy milks in the US, you are part of a growing group. Industry group Packaged Facts estimates that total U.S. retail sales of dairy alternative beverages reached $1.33 billion in 2011.The rise is due to many things, such as food allergies, lactose intolerance, avoiding BGH/BST, and vegan diets. But the one factor that seems to have fueled the bump was the move of the milks into the dairy case.

For many years, the non-dairy alternatives were in aseptic boxes, and in conventional stores, they are stashed in a tiny health food section, next to gluten free cookies and canned carrot juice. (Does anyone drink that canned juice? Ick.)Now that Silk and So Delicious broke the cold case barrier, suddenly more people are opting for non-dairy half gallons. Soymilk is still number one, but barely. Almond milk has suddenly taken a big 79%  jump in sales this year, and that is wonderful. 11% of adults consume soy milk, while 9% enjoy almond. Rice is number three.

Oh, and the lupine, quinoa and pea milks? They are all milks made and sold in other countries, but who knows, we may be seeing them soon enough. Pea protein powders have made an appearance, and I’ve read that lupine (a high protein bean related to the flowers in my front yard) is a great source of inexpensive nourishment in other parts of the world.

I know that in my experience, the last few years have seen great improvements in taste and variety. I’ve also been thrilled that fortification has become almost standard in the non-dairy milk category. It just makes so much sense to add some calcium, B12 and other nutrients that vegans need. It makes it really easy to go dairy and egg free and not have to think about how much B12 you are getting, as long as you put the fortified milks over cereal, into sauces, or in coffee or tea.

For flavor, I go back and forth between Almond and  So Delicious Coconut milk. Coconut is the best tasting, to my palate, because its made from a sweet nut. It’s fortified with B12, so a cup has half your daily requirement, and it has some D, and trace minerals. It is low in protein, so don’t look for it to replace the protein of milk.

Next tastiest is Almond milk. All brands are a little different. Basically, since its made from almonds it contains the same good fats, and its lower in fat and calories than lots of other milks. Look on the label to see if your brand is fortified with B12.

Of course, soy milk has been my go-to for decades, and it’s still the highest in protein. I buy vanilla enriched, which is high in protein and has added B12, calcium and other nutrients to make it comparable to cow’s milk. The vanilla is pretty sweet, which covers up the soy taste, and kids love it.

Hemp milk is very good for you, one cup has all the Omega 3 fats you need for the day. I have used it in baking, but the taste, so far, is a little strong for me to mix into my latte.

Rice milks are popular for people with food allergies, with their neutral taste and benign rice source. I find them a little thin, and they are not particularly nutritious, not a lot of protein.

Oat milk is higher in fiber than rice milk, and has a nice neutral taste. Again, since its made from grain, its not very high in protein.

The sales of non-dairy milks have not gone unnoticed by the Dairy Industry. If you want to see a silly, somewhat desperate attempt to make non-dairy milks look bad, click on the link below. The Got Milk folks think they can convince you that shaking a carton of almond milk a couple of times will traumatize your children.

video





The New Fast Food, for Meatless Mondays and Beyond, with The Veggie Queen

16 01 2012
The New Fast Food pressure cooking cookbook

Come On, Get a Pressure Cooker!

I have to come clean. Like so many people, I am a source of frustration to my friends. One friend in particular, I know. You see, some years ago, I decided to get all into pressure cooking, bought a lovely, safe, easy to use one, and set about cooking up beans and grains. I even created a class about beans and grains, and toted the cooker along, hoping to spread the word about how well it worked. Yep, the pressure cooker was a real solution to the two basic ingredients of a healthy kitchen that people always complain about taking too long to cook.

The classes were fun, but hardly anyone wanted to take them. I taught them a couple of times to small groups of people, and went back to doing it the way my students were familiar with. And I, old dog that I am, fell back into my old ways of cooking grains and beans in a pot. When it came time to write my book, The New Whole Grains Cookbook, I tested all the grains repeatedly in the pressure cooker, so that I could put those numbers in there. And then I hung up my shiny Kuhn Rikon Duromatic, just about forgetting about it.

Fast forward to hanging out with my friend, passionate pressure cooker advocate and vegan dietitian, Jill Nussinow. Jill loves her pressure cooker, and just can’t understand why, after all these years, Americans have not come around to embracing the speedy pot. You see, Jill, also known as the Veggie Queen, isn’t one of those people who compromises on good, healthy food. No, when she found herself raising a son and living a busy life, she didn’t go over to the dark side, and use the time crunch as an excuse to stock up on frozen pizzas and mac and cheese.

Instead, The Veggie Queen made the time-saving pressure cooker a daily-use utensil at her house. In her quest to put meals that she believed in on the table, she created a repertoire of veggie filled, colorful, all whole foods meals. And thanks to her hard work, we can all learn how to make real food fast, with The New Fast Food, The Veggie Queen Pressure Cooks Whole Food Meals in Less Than 30 Minutes.

Buy The Book Here

Thanks to Jill, I dusted off my pressure cooker, and got cooking. I tried some of the basics, simple veggies cooked alone, grains and beans, all came out great.  Indian food is always a hit at my house, so I did a test run with her recipe for Quick Chickpea and Summer Vegetable Curry (pg185) I followed her instructions, and everything cooked perfectly. Where Jill’s ease with the cooker really comes into play is in the multi-step cooking instructions. It’s not complicated, she just has it worked out so that you cook the longest-cooking thing for a while, release the pressure, add another group of ingredients, cook some more, release, and add another group, for a few minutes longer. It’s a neat trick, allowing you to move beyond just cooking beans, to cooking a full one-pot meal based on beans. It all goes quickly, really, and with the new generation of cookers, quick release on a pot is just as easy as pushing a button.

So if you are as serious about eating whole, fresh foods as you are about saving time, it’s time to listen to the Veggie Queen. This book is a valuable addition to your cookbook shelf, with all the info and motivation that you need to explore this neglected technique. Her website, http://www.theveggiequeen.com/, is also a treasure trove of free information about the wonders of pressure cooking, as well as eating more plants.

For my part, I will try to keep my pot in rotation, and sing the praises of the pressure cooker once again!

The Curry, Over Quinoa

Quick Chickpea Curry with Summer Vegetables

Be aware that you need to soak the beans for this. Also- yes, it is really just one cup of water. One of the points Jill makes in the book is how the pot cooks with less water, and concentrated nutrients into the food. She also suggests that you can use whatever veggies you want in this.

10 Minutes High Pressure; Quick Release

3 Minutes High Pressure; Quick Release

1 Minute High Pressure; Quick Release

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 large onion, thickly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon minced ginger root

1-2 tablespoons curry powder, or to taste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 cups chickpeas, pre-soaked

1 cup water

2 medium potatoes, diced

2 large tomatoes, diced

2 cups green beans, in 2 inch lengths

1 cup yellow squash (I used zucchini)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pinch cayenne or chipotle powder

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

METHOD

Heat the canola oil over medium heat in the pressure cooker, and saute the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Then add the garlic, ginger, curry adcumin and saute for another minute, until the mixture is very fragrant. Add the chickpeas and water.

About to add the chickpeas

Cover and bring to high pressure. Cook for 10, then quick release and add the potatoes, stir, and bring back to high pressure for 3 minutes.

Quick Release, just press and the steam escapes

Quick release again, and add the tomatoes, green beans, and squash.

Potatoes. then Zucchini, Beans and Tomatoes

Cover and bring to high pressure for 1 minute. Quick release, add the salt and taste to adjust the seasonings. If the mixture is too liquid, simmer to thicken. Garnish with cilantro, and serve over rice or other grain.

Open Up the Pot Carefully...





The Truth About Weight Gain, and The Nutty Salad

9 01 2012

Start with Lettuce

So, here we are in the January shape-up season, the time of year when a few million people resolve to eat better and possibly lose some weight. Should you go high-protein, low carb, whole grain, fat free, vegan, paleo?

Well, a new study published in the Journal of American Medicine says that what really matters is the calories that you consume. The researchers overfed a group of 45 volunteers in a controlled environment, making sure they all got the same excess of calories.  But, to test a theory, Dr Bray and his researchers tried three diets, low, medium and high protein, with the same excess of calories, and the people all gained weight. The unexpected thing was that  low-protein eaters actually gained less. For some reason, people eating only 5% protein gained less weight. The researchers speculated that there was a metabolic difference for the low protein over-eaters.

Go figure. Of course, the high-protein diets will always be popular, and there will always be a new weight loss book coming down the pike. It’s interesting that we just have to keep learning about calories in, calories out, over and over. All that flesh food that people build their meals around is, at least according to this study, turning to fat just as fast as french fries and white bread-possibly faster.

So, if you want to lose weight, cut calories, and don’t go crazy for protein. One great way is to keep loading on those high-volume, low calorie vegetables. Last week I talked vegetable soup, this week, let’s look at salads. Are you bored with yours? I refuse to eat boring salads, just because they are good for me.

In fact, if you make boring salads, you are just making sure that you will not love, crave, or continue eating them, and that runs counter to everything we should be doing in a healthy kitchen. So I have a little trick to share.

Try adding the nutrition of nuts to your dressing, then sprinkling some on your salad. It adds calories, yes, but they are very nutrient-dense calories, and will make you feel satisfied as you eat your piles of low-cal veggies. Since you are a vegetarian, you can handle a little high fat food in the form of nuts, which you need to get healthy EFA’s, the fats that your brain and heart need to function. This dressing is cut with a little veggie stock, and uses less oil than the conventional vinaigrette, but gets body from the nuts.

I know it runs counter to all the anti-fat diets out there, but nuts are actually associated with weight loss, because they are so satisfying. So pile up the plants, and douse them with this tasty, nutritious dressing, and dig in.

You’ll feel full and enjoy it. I promise.

Super Nutty Dressing for Salads

1/2 cup pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, pine nuts or pistachios, toasted-save half for the salad
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil, parsley, cilantro or other mild leafy herb

1/2 cup vinegar, lemon juice or combination of the two

1/4 cup vegetable stock

pinch of sugar or agave
salt and pepper
1/2 cup nut oil, olive oil or a combination with flax oil added

1. In a processor, grind the nuts, saving half for topping. Add the garlic and parsley or herb and grind to a smooth paste. Scrape the sides of the processor bowl and add vinegar or lemon, stock, sweetener and salt and pepper. Process until well mixed, then with the machine running, whip in the oil.

2. Then, build a big, interesting salad with lettuces, shredded kale and cabbage, tomatoes, slivered onions and zucchini, sprouts, and all the raw veggies you enjoy. Add some cooked veggies too, for wintertime, like blanched green beans, halved and steamed brussels sprouts, steamed broccoli, whatever sounds good. Top with nuts, drizzle with your nutty dressing, and enjoy.

Adding salad to all your meals will help you fill up and feel satisfied. Having a meal that is all salad, well, that is just more of a good thing!





A One-Size Fits All Resolution

2 01 2012

Chop 'em and boil 'em!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2012 is just beginning, and the new year is a good time to start a new habit. Call it a New Years resolution if you want, as long as that doesn’t mean you will forget about it by February. I propose that just about everyone out there could live better and feel better if they eat more vegetables. Simple, and genuinely easy, just more veggies, every day.

Of course, eating more veg is going to take a plan. Take a look at your routine, and ask yourself-where can I add veggies? Even the vegetarians and vegans can spend a day eating cereal for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch, and if you don’t really pile them up at dinner, your all day total is a few slivers on the sandwich and the cup or so tossed in with the pasta you threw together. I know, I’ve done it myself.

9 servings a day is ideal, which is about 8 ½ cups. You may ask, how will I eat all that? Well, one great benefit of eating more veggies is that you are probably going to lose weight. All that fiber and goodness just fills you up, so you eat so much less of other foods that you can’t help it.

So, here are some ideas for adding significant amounts of veggies to your daily life.

Veggies at breakfast. Instead of the sweet foods we tend to eat, try a savory scramble, loaded up with veggies and tofu. Miso soup is a great Japanese tradition at breakfast-just add more veggies. Or, a smoothie that combines fruit with spinach or other greens will camouflage the veggies in a sweet shake.

Click to go to a Green Smoothie Recipe

Smoothies are Easy

Veggies as snacks. Buy bags of things like baby carrots, or whatever snack veg you like. If you need a little dip or dressing to make them appealing, go ahead. If cooked veggies appeal to you more, blanch a bunch by dropping them in boiling water, then drain and chill to take with all week. I like to eat raw mushrooms, sliced zucchini and other veggies while I cook, with a little salt. Keep some handy. If you are hungry between meals, stay full this way.

Veggies at meals. Plan to have salads and or veggie soups at your meals. Buy the bagged salad, some tomatoes and cukes, or whatever you like on salad, and make a simple dressing for the week. Make the veggie soup recipe below, or your favorite vegetable soup. If you start the meal with salad and soup, you will never make it to dessert.

Juice. If you have a juicer, now is the time to drag it out of wherever you have hidden it, and use that January New Leaf energy to get juicing. I admit, my Champion was in the basement, and I have installed it in the kitchen, cluttered as it feels. I worked up to this by buying wonderful green drinks at my Coop when I shop, and grabbing a fresh juice whenever I could find one. I’m finding that this is also a great way to use up kale stems, celery leaves, and other leafy greens.

Slip Them in. Whenever you are cooking, even putting a sandwich together, always add a vegetable, more than you usually would. Maybe you can keep roasted red peppers in the fridge for sandwiches, or bagged spinach to add to just about anything, from pasta to tofu.

Just do it.

For a super simple veggie soup for the week, bring one of those boxes of veggie stock to a boil in a big pot. Add a couple of chopped carrots, an onion, a couple of ribs of celery. Once the veggies are tender, add a 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes. Bring back to a simmer and add a bunch of chopped kale or other greens, or a couple cups of chopped cabbage. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This soup can be reaheated as is, or you can take some out each day and season it differently. Try it curried, with a can of beans, or try it Italian style with lots of fresh herbs and garlic. Puree it for a sauce, or whisk some miso with water and stir it in.

Eat More Veggies, it’s just that simple.

Happy 2012-it’s already starting off a little greener!





Robin Robertson’s Quick-Fix Vegan Cookbook Makes Speedy Easy

19 12 2011

Super Nachos

 

 

 

 

When you get down to it, most people find that the biggest barrier to eating well is time. Planning, shopping, cooking, all take time, and it’s way easier to just grab some fast food. Well, if you are using that as your excuse to not eat balanced, whole foods vegan meals, your excuse is now officially crumbling before your eyes. Robin Robertson, one of the most prolific cookbook authors I know of, has now conquered the time-crunch-and done it deliciously.

You can’t stand in the cookbook aisle and not know Robin Robertson’s name. She is the author of 19 cookbooks so far, and seems to have an amazing ability to just keep cranking out useful, creative books.

In her latest, Quick-Fix Vegan Healthy Homestyle Meals in 30 Minutes or Less (Andrews McMeel $16.99), Robertson cuts to the chase and puts together good food simply. If you were thinking of slapping together a sandwich, you may as well make on of hers, full of vibrant veggies and flavors, instead of the same old pb and j. It doesn’t really take much more time.

The book is filled with global flavors, making the most of the exciting tastes of far-flung places, like Morocco, Vietnam,Mexico and more. Vegan food is an adventure when you search the world for the dishes with great tastes that can do plant-based.

The very first chapter is an introduction to the mind-set of a fast cook, called quick-fix vegan basics. Right away, she says to be flexible- if you don’t have an ingredient, substitute. Arrange your space and tools for easy access, and set up your pantry are just a few of the things she urges you to do to get fast meals on the table. She also gives you a run-down on which whole grains cook fastest, and which ingredient short-cuts are worth trying. It’s a great intro to the fast and furious way of getting real food on the table.

With chapters on Starters and Snacks, Stovetop Suppers, Pasta, Soup, Sandwiches, Salads and Make Ahead Bakes, Robertson displays a skill for cutting out unnecessary steps and ingredients. A quick chop, a fast cook, and you are eating dinner, and it’s vegan. She also has chapters on condiments and desserts, essential add-ons for the hurried cook.

It was a real pleasure making dishes from the book. Like everyone else, I don’t have a ton of time, so quick is always good. Reading and cooking from Robertson’s recipes, I admire the way her mind works. As a fellow recipe developer, I can appreciate a well-crafted recipe. These recipes are simplified, but still interesting, and follow the shortest path from point A to point B. Simple looks easy, but it takes skill to make it that way.

I also appreciate the use of whole foods, like beans, nuts and seeds, and the near absence of mock meats. Just because you are in a hurry, doesn’t mean you have to go in for vegan bologna or burgers every night, in Robertson’s kitchen.

Another useful and practical book, from Robin Robertson. I’m sure there will be more to come.

That Nacho Sauce Was Fast

Super Nachos

Serves 4-6

1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans or one 15 oz can, drained and rinsed)

1 cup tomato salsa (divided)

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder, divided

salt and pepper

1 ripe avocado

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon mellow white miso

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

3/4 cup non-dairy milk

6 cups tortilla chips

GARNISHES: 1/2 cup vegan sour cream, 1/3 cup sliced black olives, 1/4 cup sliced pickled jalapenos, 2 tablespoons scallions

Pereheat the oven to 400F. Grease a -inch baking dish. In a small saucepan, heat the beans with half of the salsa, 1 tsp chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, mashing and stirring, until hot, about 4 minutes. Spread in the dish.

Halve, pit and chop the avocado and reserve.

In a small skillet, mix the nutritional yeast, flour, miso, lemon, mustard, onion powder, cumin, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon chili powder and the non-dairy milk. Whisk until smooth and season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk over medium heat until it boils and thickens.

Spread the chips over the beans, then drizzle the sauce over the chips. Bake until hot, about 5 minutes. Serve topped with remaining salsa and all the garnishes.

I used fresh red fresnos instead of pickled jalapenos, and I didn’t have the vegan sour cream.

Vietnamese Tofu Wraps, mmmmm

Vietnamese Tofu Wraps

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound extra firm tofu, cut in 1/4 inch wide strips

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sriracha sauce, plus more for serving

4 10 -inch flour tortillas

vegan mayo

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced

1 carrot, shredded

1 cup cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons bottled jalapenos

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu and cook until golden brown, turning frequently, 7-10 minutes. Add the hoisin, soy sauce, and 1 tsp sriracha, stirring to coat the tofu. Take off the heat to cool. To assemble the wraps, spread the tortillas with vegan mayo and drizzle with srirach to taste. Arrange 1/ of te tofu in the center, then top with cucumber, carrot, cilantro and jalapenos. Wrap and serve.

Goodies, Ready to Roll





The Latest Numbers on Meatless Eating-Yes, It Is Growing

12 12 2011

Chopped Salad with Thousand Island, Big Vegan Style

For much of my life, I liked believing that there were lots of vegetarians out there. I wanted to believe that our numbers were swelling exponentially, every day. Even when I was the only vegetarian I knew, I held out hope that if I got in a car and drove far enough, I would get to some veggie nirvana. Back then, we didn’t really have any numbers, and anyone you talked to was stuck with their own experiences. If you worked in a Coop or a vegetarian restaurant, you might think half the world were vegetarians. If you lived in a small town in the Midwest, you might not know a single one.

Well, thanks to the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) we have numbers. If you have been feeling like vegans are getting some attention lately, well, their numbers have doubled since 2009. Extrapolating from the results, 7.5 million people call themselves vegans. There are 15 million people who call themselves vegetarians, and still eat dairy and eggs .

In the latest poll, done by Harris Interactive for VRG over the phone, between March 30 and April 3 2011, it becomes clear that even as the numbers for dedicated vegetarians and vegans grow slowly, the numbers for people who eat vegetarian often are growing much more quickly.

These numbers show a real mainstreaming of the idea that you can enjoy meatless meals, even if you love meat. Basically, 17% of Americans don’t eat meat, fish poultry at many meals but less than half, 16% more than half. That adds up to about a third of the American population opting for meatless some of the time.

The number that said that they eat meat at every meal was 48%, which is still a little scary, since that is a lot of animal foods for anyone to consume. I didn’t think anybody was still eating it at every single meal, which shows how much I know.

Other interesting results confirm a few things that you may have suspected. There are more vegetarians out West (think California) than down South (think Texas,) and more women than men are vegetarians, but not by much. A hopeful number is that equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats are veg-heads, possibly the only thing the two parties can share, these days.

So, after all these years in the vegetarian movement, it’s nice to hear that our numbers are growing. Every little bit helps, and we have to give credit to everyone who has done her part to build awareness and make veg look appealing and do-able. From the animal rights activists, to the chefs and authors, to the hot celebrities who endorse a plant-based diet as they look great on the red carpet, everybody has a role to play. Powerful books and films have been getting the word out, and people like Bill Clinton have put a face on the miraculous cure of a good diet. Campaigns like Meatless Mondays have helped put the veggie option in front of millions of people, and many of them are choosing to go that way, at least some of the time.

So, be of good cheer, in this season of giving, since we give the world a present every time we don’t eat meat. Our message is getting out, my friends, and that is something to celebrate.





The Secret Ingredient for Satisfying Vegan Food Is….

4 12 2011

jar of magic

Today I wanted to touch on a secret weapon in the vegan and veg cooking arsenal. And that is smoke. In my book and classes, I often talk about using umami to give meatless foods a sensation of meatiness. Umami is abundant in animal proteins, but it can also be found in mushrooms, fermented soy, eggplant, ripe tomatoes, wine, and a host of plant based foods. Well, one of the most intriguing ways to get umami is through the flavor of smoke. It’s not really a food, but the taste and smell of woodsmoke send signals to your brain that it is enjoying something meaty and satisfying.

So, now that it’s wintertime, and your grill is probably either stored away or covered in snow, how do we get smoke into our plant’ based delights?

Easy, with a few smoky ingredients, you can add instant smoky complexity. In fact, you may want to make a few of these simple tastings just to see what smoke does to food. I started with my smoky ingredients. For smoke with no chile heat, I have some fabulous smoked salt from Spain. There are smoky salts from all over the world, and all are unique, so taste what you buy. Most are artisanal salts, which start with a distinctive, regional salt, then smoke it over a flavorful wood, so you may find applewood, mesquite, cherry, or whatever the creatives had to work with. For pure and intense smoke, I have liquid smoke, which is super concentrated, so just use a drop if you give that a try.

Another tasty source of smoke is the chipotle pepper, available in cans in adobe sauce, dried whole chiles, or ground powder. Of course, they add chile heat as well as smoke. You can also get smoked paprika from Spain. If you are not so into hot stuff, the paprika may be for you, as it is milder and sweeter.

For my tasting, I slowly caramelized some onions in coconut spread and served them on a whole wheat roll with a sprinkle of smoked salt. The simple sweet earthiness of the onions, one of my favorite flavors anyway, was instantly enlivened by the smoke and salt. As soon as I took the picture, I ate it all.

simple goes spectacular

I also boiled some potatoes and beets, and cut up cauliflower and baby carrots, and served them with a simple vegan may with chipotle powder stirred in. Addictive. This is an old trick of mine, adding chipotle to creamy dressings is always a hit, whether its a mayo, a sour cream style dip, or a creamy white sauce.

Chipotle Dip to the Rescue

I boiled some lacinato kale until just tender, then stirred some canned chipotle and adobo with olive oil and tossed it with the kale. It was amazing.I knew there was a reason they always cooked kale with a hunk of smoky pork-the smokiness brings out the sweetness of the greens, and adds depth.

Smoky Spicy Kale

For more sweet and smoke, I cubed a sweet potato and roasted it with whole garlic cloves and olive oil, covered, for about half an hour, then served it sprinkled with smoked salt. This could be a great bruschetta topping, tossed with pasta, or just served like this. I loved it.

Sweet Potatoes and Smoked Salt

Any simple salad will come alive with smoked salt, just sprinkle the crunchy grains on just before serving. Any pot of beans will seem heartier with a few chipotles-or you can keep going until it’s chili.

So give smoke a try, and see if it gives you a more satisfying dish. I think you will love it, and its so EASY.





Recycling the Leftovers, With a Little Spice

27 11 2011

Spike That Relish with Chipotle!

So the big feast is over. Did you knock yourself out, baking for weeks, up before dawn to start cooking? I’ve done that. Or did you sail effortlessly into a family gathering, where all you had to do was bring your wonderful self?  I hope you had a blast, either way. Whether you shared your meals with omnivores or ate with fellow veg-heads, you probably have the universal end result. Leftovers.

So, like millions of other people, you are facing that declining curve of interest in foods that in many cases, you only eat once a year. Stuffing? Mmmm, can’t wait, love it like crazy, but eating it for four days in a row, well, it gets old. I have the added experience of making Thanksgiving dishes for a couple of weeks beforehand for my blog, and preparing them for private clients who love having all the sides ready to re-heat when the big day comes. By the time I get to Thanksgiving, I’m ready to add some spice and interest to the usual flavors.

So, what am I doing about my left-overs? Well, I was lucky and didn’t have many. The one that I really need to repurpose is my cranberry orange relish. You know the one, a pound of cranberries, an orange, zested and pulp removed, and a cup of sugar. You grind that in a blender or food processor and it is a fresh, tart, traditional side.

It’s also something you only need a spoonful or two of on the side of the plate. So what will I do with the remainder?

I decided to go Mexican.

Putting it together

I took my cranberry relish and stirred in some salt and chipotle powder until it was spicy and smoky. I sautéed a couple of onions and a couple of cloves of garlic in some olive oil, then into the sauté pan I tossed a package of chicken style seitan and seasoned that with ground cumin and salt. I shredded some romaine that I bought for Holiday salad, and got out some leftover cashew cheese. Of course, you could use another dairy or non-dairy cheese, whatever is handy.

Voila, a whole wheat tortilla brings the whole thing together into a hearty burrito.

Thankful for another meal, I will dive in and relish the heck out of my relish.

Chewy, Creamy, Tangy, Hot.





Thanksgiving is Almost Here, Bring a Big Salad!

20 11 2011

The Pepitas and Pomegranates Make it Pop!

The big day is almost here. If you have already been testing and planning, you’ve been sampling some festive fare. If you put the whole thing off for the last minute, well, you still have time. We’ve shared (virtually) some Roasted Sweet Potato Fries with Peanut Sauce, Wild Rice, Apple and Walnut Stuffing, and maple-Dijon Glazed Brussels Sprouts.

Today, it’s time to talk Turkey.

Homemade Mock Turkey Roast with Stuffing

For those of you who miss the turkey on holidays, or just want a home-style vegan meal anytime, this is a good way to mock up a bird. It’s really not much trouble, now that we can use gluten flour to make mock turkey with no kneading required—and lots of tasty, chewy goodness. Serve it with Basic Mushroom Gravy and all the traditional trimmings.

It’s great fun to share your vegan food with family and friends, so go for it. The salad will certainly win some converts. Enjoy!

Mock Turkey

2          tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

½         cup/60 g minced onion

2          cloves garlic, minced

2          cups/255 g gluten flour

1          cup/115 g chickpea flour

½         cup nutritional yeast

1          tsp salt

6          oz/170 g reduced-fat or regular firm tofu, drained and pressed

1          cup/240 ml vegetable stock

¼         cup/60 ml tamari

½         tsp ground sage

Stuffing

1          cup/55 g cubed bread

1          tsp extra-virgin olive oil

½         cup/60 g chopped onion

¼         cup/60 ml vegetable stock

½         tsp ground sage

½         tsp dried thyme

½         tsp salt

2          tbsp walnuts, chopped

The Mock Turkey in a Wide Loaf Shape

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F/180° C/gas 4. Oil a 3- to 4-cup/720 to 960-ml metal bowl or a small loaf pan. Put a teapot of water on to simmer for the bain marie later.

2. To make the mock turkey: In a small sauté/frying pan, heat the oil, then sauté the onion and garlic until soft and sweet, 5 to 10 minutes. Mix together the flours, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl. In a blender or food processor, puree the tofu until very smooth. Add the stock, tamari, and sageto the tofu and blend. Add the onions and all the oil from the pan and puree. Stir the contents of the blender into the flour mixture until smooth. Scoop about two thirds of the dough into the oiled bowl.

3. To make the stuffing: Put the bread cubes in a medium bowl. Heat the oil in a small sauté/frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the onions until soft and clear. Add the bread, stock, sage, thyme, and salt and stir until the bread is soft. Stir in the nuts.

4. Press the stuffing into a ball (or if you are using a loaf pan, into an oblong) and press it into the center of the mock turkey dough, then cover it with the remaining dough. Flatten the top, brush it with oil, and cover with foil. Put the bowl in a baking dish and pour in boiling water to make a bain marie. Carefully transfer it to the oven and bake for 2 hours. When the “turkey” is quite firm, take it out of the water bath, then put the bowl on a rack to cool. Run a paring knife around the edge to loosen it, then invert it onto a cutting board or platter. Slice the “turkey” and serve it with gravy and trimmings.

Big Salad with Caramelized Pumpkinseeds, Pears and Pomegranate

From The New Vegetarian (Chronicle Books)

Serves 6
This is a great wintertime salad, with the pomegranates that only appear around the holidays and pears and pumpkinseeds. Vegans can just leave out the cheese and enjoy the crunchy spiced seeds instead. To take seeds out of the pomegranate, cut through the skin from stem to tip, dividing the fruit in quarters. Hold it over a bowl and pull apart the sections, then tear apart the pieces, gently freeing the seeds.

Score the skin in quarters, then break open

1 cup pumpkinseeds, raw
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large romaine lettuce, washed and dried
2 small shallot, thinly sliced
2 large bosc pears, sliced
1 large garlic clove, peeled
2 tablespoons fresh mint, optional
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice concentrate
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon agave or organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup toasted pumpkinseed oil
1 small pomegranate, arils (seeds) removed

the pith around the arils floats in water....

1. Make the pumpkinseed topping up to a week ahead. Heat the oil for a minute in a medium non-stick skillet. Add the pumpkinseeds and toss in the pan over high heat, until the seeds are popping and browning, about 3 minutes. Take off the heat and add the brown sugar and toss constantly until seeds are coated with melted sugar (careful-it will burn easily). Quickly mix in the spices and salt, then spread on a plate to cool. Cool completely and store in an air tight container until ready to use.
2. Make dressing in processor by mincing garlic and mint. Add pomegranate concentrate, lemon, honey and salt and pulse to mix. Gradually drizzle in oil with machine running.
3. Wash and dry romaine, then slice across the leaf in 1/2 inch wide strips. Arrange on plates or in bowl. Top with shallots, pears and cheese. Drizzle over the dressing and top with the pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds. Serve right away.





Thanksgiving is Coming, Veggie Stuffing to The Rescue

14 11 2011

Wild Rice, Apple and Walnut Stuffing

If you are sharing the holidays with loved ones, chances are that you will be smiling across a table with a big roast turkey in the middle of it. That is part of living in the world we live in, for most of us. It’s really best to focus on the warm feeling of spending time with family and friends, and leave the discussions about food politics to another time.

Not to wimp out, but I’ve never seen much good come from explaining veganism to people with a mouthful of turkey. It’s just impolite.

No, save the explanations of your diet style for those who ask, preferably for another day.

Today, if you have some vegan love to spread, it’s going to have to be through delicious food. The best way to sway hearts and minds at Thanksgiving is to make such mouth-watering meatless sides that people start to see what a great life you are living. There you are, with your tasty wild rice stuffing and roasted brussels sprouts, and you look so healthy and happy. Those roasted sweet potato fries are terrific, and gee, it never occurred to me that they could be good in something with no bacon, cream or butter.

In the catering business, we sometimes refer to “heavy apps.” These are not for your I-phone, but refer to appetizers that are substantial enough to carry people through a party where no other food is served. Vegans can use this concept to add weight to sides, appetizers, or salads that they can share with everyone. Then, if you arrive at a bacon festival, in a pinch you can construct a good meal from them. Making a side or app heavier is just about adding some protein and heft, with things like nuts, beans, seeds, avocadoes, olives, and even whole grains instead of white, to make things satisfying. You can build a salad platter or a dip try to bring along that has lots of plant based proteins, just by adding extras. Just about any veggie or salad is yummy with a sprinkling of nuts.

Then, to rock the buffet table, make my stuffing and brussels sprouts recipes. They are delicious, and they will be devoured, I promise.

The Roasty Golden Bits Are The Best

Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Shallots

From Big Vegan, Over 350 Recipes, No Meat No Dairy All Delicious (Chronicle Books)

If you don’t like boiled Brussels sprouts, you must try this version. All the sweetness and tenderness is concentrated and amplified by maple and Dijon. This is a great holiday side dish.

Serves 6

1          lb/455 g fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

2          small shallots, quartered

1          tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1          tbsp maple syrup

1          tsp Dijon mustard

Salt

Black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F/200° C/gas 6. In a heavy roasting pan/tray or baking pan, toss together the Brussels sprouts, shallots, oil, syrup, and mustard.

2. Roast, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Stir, and roast until the sprouts are tender, about 15-20 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

Pouring in Stock

Wild Rice and Walnut Stuffing with Apples

My favorite thing about Thanksgiving when I was growing up was always the sage-laced stuffing. This hearty rendition has chewy wild rice and whole wheat bread, and apples and nuts for even more sensations as you chew. Don’t wait for the holidays to make this dish; it’s a great way to use up stale bread and can be made with bulgur, buckwheat, or any of the rices.

Makes 6 cups, about 6 servings
1 cup water

1/4 cup wild rice
4 cups cubed whole wheat bread (about 5 slices)
2 tablespoons Earth Balance or oil
1/2 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

1. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil and cook the wild rice in it. Put the bread cubes in a large bowl and let them dry out for an hour or so, if you have time.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°F In a large Dutch oven or pasta pot, heat the butter or oil and sauté the onion, celery, and carrot over medium heat until all are tender. Add the apples, stock, pepper, herbs, and salt and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cooked wild rice. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the bread cubes.
3. Scrape the stuffing into a 2-quart casserole or baking dish and top with the chopped walnuts, pressing the mixture down with the back of a spoon. You can cover and refrigerate the stuffing for up to 4 days at this point. Bake, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

http://www.meatlessmonday.com/widgets/hm_widget_as4.swf(Meatless Mondays Recipes, in case you need more!)








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