Category Archives: Food Products & Recipes

Abbot’s Butcher – an interview with the founder

We are keeping track of many different new vegan products on the market, and especially those offered by small new startup companies. Abbot’s Butcher is one such company. We caught up with Kerry, founder and CEO of the company, to find out more about their company and products.

Kerry Song, founder of Abbot’s Butcher

How did your company get started?

Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, and part of my path back to health meant making some real changes in my diet.

A lot of us think that being plant-based means you’re automatically making healthy choices. But so many of the plant-based foods on the market, especially the meat alternatives, are filled with synthetic chemicals, additives, artificial colors, flavors, gums and preservatives — highly processed ingredients that we just shouldn’t be eating.

So I set out to create a line of plant-based meats that not only have the depth of flavor and hearty mouthfeel we all crave, but that are made from ingredients we can trust. Ingredients that truly nourish and energize our bodies. 

That’s why, at Abbot’s Butcher, we craft our plant-based meats from pea protein, vegetables, herbs, spices, nutrient-dense oils, vinegars – just real food that we can feel good about and good after eating.

Tell us about the different products you have?

We have three different products –our “everyday essentials” that fit seamlessly into our most-loved, most familiar dishes. 

Spanish Smoked “Chorizo”: Crafted with garlic, chipotle peppers and a Spanish smoked paprika, this crave-worthy plant-based “Chorizo” is zesty and bright with a subtle smoky heat. It cooks up nicely, and it’s incredibly versatile – great for breakfast dishes like scrambles and burritos, or savory dinners like empanadas and enchiladas. With the rich, invigorating depth it brings to the plate, it’s the perfect way to spice things up. 

Slow Roasted Chick’n: This delectable plant-based Chick’n pairs a mild flavor with a robust, meaty tenderness. It browns nicely in a pan and stays tender when roasted. You can marinate it, add your favorite spices and seasonings, or simply cook up and savor as is. With this deliciously versatile Chick’n, you’ll be able to whip up delicious plant-based versions of all your most loved dishes.

Savory Ground “Beef”: Crafted with onion, thyme and porcini mushroom, this Savory Ground “Beef” has the earthy, umami flavor you crave. Bring back classics like Sloppy Joes and Shepherd’s Pie. Or enjoy all your favorites like Spaghetti Bolognese and stuffed peppers. With this rich and hearty Ground “Beef ”, you’ll find countless ways to elevate your most-loved recipes. 

Can you tell us about the ingredients you use?

All of our plant-based proteins are made from a combination of pea protein, vegetables, herbs, spices, extra-virgin olive oil and vinegars. We never use any soy, canola, natural or artificial flavors, gums or synthetic chemicals. Just real food you can feel good about and after eating.

What are the different ways Abbot’s Butcher can be used?

Our products are incredibly versatile – and can be simply swapped into your favorite recipes.

The “Chorizo” has a really nice richness and a subtle heat to it. It’s perfect in breakfast and brunch dishes like scrambles, burritos, hashes and omelets. It’s great in baked potatoes, hearty soups and chilis, and pastas with roasted veggies. Of course, the “Chorizo” is a natural fit into dishes like tamales, tacos, enchiladas and nachos. And if you’re looking for an extra boost of flavor and protein on-the-go, you can cook it up then chill it down to use throughout the week in salads and in bowls. 

The Ground “Beef” is extremely hearty, and has a nice umami depth of flavor. It’s perfect for recreating plant-based versions of classics like a Spaghetti Bolognese, Shepherd’s Pie, Sloppy Joe and Crispy Tacos. You can add new flavor components and make a Mediterranean Bowl, or a Thai “Beef” Salad, for example. You can also cook it up and savor throughout the week in salads, bowls, flatbreads, wraps and meal prep. 

The Chick’n is our most versatile protein. It takes on flavor exceptionally well, so can be used in all types of cuisines. You can crisp it up and enjoy in a BBQ Chick’n Pizza or Buffalo Chick’n Flatbread. You can add some sesame and ginger and enjoy in lettuce cups or a Asian Chick’n Salad. It’s great in tacos, enchiladas, tamales and nachos. You can recreate plant-based versions of classics like chick’n & rice casserole, enchiladas, lettuce cups or pot pie. Or simply crisp it up with a little sea salt and cracked black pepper and use throughout the week – on salads, flatbreads, in bowls or meal prep!

It sounds like a great product. Where can I find it?

In the Pacific Northwest, our products are available at all Metropolitan Markets and Huckleberries. We are excited to grow throughout this region, and are eager to learn more about grocers the plant-based community loves!

Outside of that – we’re with all Sprout’s Farmers Markets, and Whole Foods across California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii. We’re in the South and Southwest, and we’re also on the east coast. 

If you prefer to order online, you can find our products through the Hungryroot – an incredible curated grocery platform that ships nationally!

Can you give us a glimpse of products that may be on the horizon?

We are going to be launching our fourth plant-based protein in 2022. It’s something we’ve been working on for quite some time and we’re excited to see it come to fruition. It’s another everyday essential – and something both meat eaters and vegans alike will love!

We also have a number of other products we’re working on. But whatever path we go down, and whatever products we create, we will always be committed to being 100% plant-based and clean-label. 

What are your future goals for the company?

As a team – it’s about growing thoughtfully! We’re building a brand that’s synonymous with quality, and that means doing the little things right. That ethos guides every decision we make – as a team and as a company. 

As a company and brand – our mission is to get quality plant-based meats into every household! We want to help grow the space, to expand the market, and to work together with other like-minded companies to create a kinder, more compassionate world. 

Interview with Better Bean founder

Hannah and Keith Kullberg

Better Bean is a product we love.  We asked them some questions to learn more about their products and how they got started.

How did your company get started?

Better Bean was born and raised in Oregon, starting with founder Keith Kullberg’s original recipe as a young college student at Oregon State University. Seeking a way to enjoy refried beans made with only plant-based ingredients, Keith developed a recipe that quickly became a favorite within his family years later. The only issue – it took nearly an entire day to prepare his beans from scratch!

Noticing that freshly prepared beans were not made available in stores, Keith and his daughters launched Better Bean in local stores and Portland farmers markets in 2010. Now sold nationwide, Better Bean strives to bring easy, tasty, healthy beans to all.

Tell us about the different products you have?

Better Bean offers a variety of freshly prepared, tasty bean products sold in the refrigerated section. Products range from various 15 oz beans, such as the Skillet Refried Red Beans, to 2.5 oz single-serve bean dips for snacking.

What makes your beans different?

We take care in every step of sourcing and making our beans. Starting with sourcing from NW regional farms that practice sustainable farming. These nutrient-rich beans are soaked to ensure their nutrients are available. We slow cook & infuse the beans with flavor from organic & regional vegetables. Finally, we add apple cider vinegar that further makes the beans easier to digest.

Can you tell us about the ingredients you use?

We source our ingredients from organic or sustainable farms as they grow better flavor. Our recipes are naturally delicious and nutrient-rich, not relying on sodium, fat, sugar (or worse, chemical additives) for flavor.

How about certifications?

All of Better Bean products are certified Non-GMO and Gluten-Free certified. In addition to these certifications, the product and facility are Soy-Free, Nut-Free, and Vegan. We know consumers value high-quality, organic products – that’s why Better Bean has recently added  2.5 oz single-serve bean dips that are both Certified Organic.

How can people use Better Bean products in their everyday life?

Beans are a delicious source of plant-based protein and can be a part of any meal! Whether you enjoy them as an appetizer with tortilla chips, as the star of your main course in a burrito bowl or tacos, or as a side dish that pulls the meal together – beans have a way of being extremely versatile.

Does Better Bean have any new news?

We are excited to announce Better Bean Uncanny Refried Black Beans are now carried by Imperfect FoodsBetter Bean from Wilsonville, Oregon, makes fresh, kettle-cooked, ready-to-eat beans sold in deli tubs. They are a long-time supporter of the Seattle VegFest.


Better Bean’s Uncanny Refried Black Beans & Dip

Better Bean’s Uncanny Refried Black Beans & Dip

Better Bean is happy to join a fantastic plant-based foods lineup from Imperfect Foods! Add a mixture of plant-based goodies to complement your produce order! Use code ‘BETTERBEAN’ for 30% off your first box from Imperfect Foods!

Veggie Burger Recipes

While many people enjoy a veggie patty bought frozen from the grocery store, it is not hard to make your own, and well worth the effort. Making your own veggie burgers can give you a lot of scope for experimenting with different flavors.

If you are planning on cooking it on the grill, you will want to ensure that your veggie burger holds together well. Potato starch (powder or flour) is a great ingredient to help bind the patty together, without using eggs. Cooking your burgers in a skillet or on a baking tray in the oven can allow you more leeway in its texture, which may be safer the first time you make them!

There are many veggie burger recipes available online, but here are two of my favorites:

Black Bean Burgers

Makes 6 moderate burgers, or 4 large ones

Ingredients:
• 2 slices of whole-wheat toast (or 1 cup breadcrumbs)
• 1 small onion – chopped
• 1 cup cooked brown rice
• 2 cups black beans
• 1 tablespoon chili powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 2 tablespoons ketchup
• ¼ cup potato powder (or more)


Preheat the oven to 350 F, or warm up the grill.

Put all the remaining ingredients except the potato powder into a Food Processor. Pulse and mix until
well combined. Transfer the mixture into a large bowl, and sprinkle in the potato powder, kneading it
into the mixture until you have a soft dough. Add as much powder as needed so that it holds together
well.

Split the mixture into 6 balls, rolled in your hand, then flatten them to the thickness desired. If cooking
in an oven, place them on a baking tray, sprayed with oil to prevent sticking. Bake for about 12 minutes,
then turn over and bake for 10 more minutes. Cooking times on the grill will depend on the heat of the
grill. Spray the grill with oil first to prevent sticking. Turn over the patties when lightly browned, to
brown on both sides.

Serve alone, with salads, or as a traditional burger in a bun with all the fixings.

Chickpea Burgers

Makes 6 burger patties

  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed, or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
  • ½ cup cooked bulgur or brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup potato flour, or enough to make a stiff dough
  • Vegetable oil spray

Place the sesame seeds in a heavy skillet.  Cook and stir over medium heat for 2-3 mins, until the seeds become fragrant and begin to pop. Grind them in a small spice grinder and transfer to a mixing bowl.  Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Place the beans in a food processor and pulse until chopped, or coarsely mash the beans with a potato masher, leaving some chunks.

Add the chopped beans to the vegetable mixture along with the cooked bulgur or rice, soy sauce, curry powder, cumin, salt, coriander and cayenne.  Mix thoroughly.

Stir in just enough of the potato flour to form a stiff dough.  Knead for 30 seconds and form into 6 patties. Lightly mist a nonstick skillet with vegetable oil spray. Cook the patties in the skillet over medium heat for about 2 mins, until the bottoms are lightly browned. Turn the patties over, and cook for 2 mins longer, until lightly browned. Serve hot.

Celebrate National Veggie Burger Day!

Impossible Burger

When it comes to combining flavor and plant power, National Veggie Burger Day every year on June 5th proclaims it can be done!

Packed with flavor, protein, and nutrients, veggie burgers show up at backyard barbecues, tailgate parties, and on the menus of even high-class restaurants. Grill them, fry them or bake them. Layer all your favorite toppings like onion, tomato, Romaine lettuce, ketchup, and mustard between a crusty roll or bun and take a big juicy bite. That’s one way to celebrate this flavorful day.

Don’t hesitate to add your favorite side dishes, too. For example, grilled cauliflower or broccoli, a zucchini noodle salad, or roasted vegetable salad with quinoa. Other options include grilled corn on the cob and sweet potatoes. Round out the meal with a crisp, cool beverage to complement your veggie burger.

National Veggie Burger Day was first established by Amy’s, an all-vegetarian food company, in 2007. But the veggie burger, a foundational food for many vegetarians and vegans, has an interesting history. According to the National Veggie Burger folks, recipes on how to make burgers without meat appear in print first appeared in 1969. In 1982, restaurateur Gregory Sams invented a veggie burger, which was introduced in London. Then in 1984, frozen versions of the VegeBurger began to appear in grocery stores. In 1992, the first branded veggie burger, the Gardenburger was launched in the frozen section of grocery story, and soon after the Boca Burger was born.

Here in 2021, veggie burgers of every kind are widely available, with taste and consistencies varying from “as much like meat as possible” to whole plant-food patties. Today’s veggie burgers offer a great variety of interesting ingredients, ranging from kelp to quinoa to mushroom to black beans.  Some think that the veggie burger, and the variety of options available, is one of the things that has helped to propel the vegetarian movement to where it is now, and the popularity of the newest meat-like veggie burgers is certainly encouraging many a meat-eater to give it a try, creating new converts all the time.

Try making some veggie burgers of your own, with this month’s recipes.

Tyson Foods launches vegan burger

Here’s something we thought we would never see. Tyson foods, the largest meat company in America with $42.2 billion in sales, just came out with a vegan burger as well as vegan Bratwurst and Italian sausages, to add to their other products. Tyson’s line of vegan meat alternatives is called Raised & Rooted. This comes almost on the heels of Maple Leaf, the largest meat company in Canada, acquiring the vegan meat company, Field Roast, which is based right here in Seattle.

We’ve been watching this trend for some time now. Mainstream meat companies and companies with large lines of meat products getting into vegan meat alternatives. If anyone wonders where the future lies for vegan food they can just ask the meat companies. Who would have ever thought that big meat would give birth to vegan food products?

Raised & Rooted, which first launched in 2019, also plans to launch additional new products later this summer. The company has witnessed impressive growth during its first year and has since expanded outside of the US into Europe.

We are also very grateful for the many companies, both big and small, that have started plant-based, stayed plant-based, and have had very impressive growth. They too should have a bright future ahead of them.

Cultured controversy

With the spread of factory farming — today the source of 95 percent of meat, eggs, and dairy items — the fate of farm animals went from regrettable to abhorrent, from merely sad to morally untenable.

Veggie burgers were the first step on the road to creating a non-cruel alternative, but some are trying to go even further with cultured meat. As this innovation reshapes the market, is there any further claim of necessity for industrial animal farming, an enterprise that long ago slipped the boundaries of reasonable and conscientious practice? In addition to the cruelty involved in factory farming, the environmental and public-health impact is equally reckless. For meat companies — already challenged by popular, plant-based alternatives — culturing technology will mark a radical redirection, and there is no industry more in need of one.

Cultured meat is meat without killing. Cultured meat is produced in bioreactors and then combined with plant-based ingredients. The cells used to start the process came from a cell bank, and did not require the slaughter of a chicken because cells can be taken from biopsies of live animals. The nutrients supplied to the growing cells were all from plants. From Singapore comes news of the world’s first commercial sale of cell-cultured meat by Eat Just, an American startup.

Cultured meat is controversial. The companies developing lab-grown meat believe this is the product most likely to wean committed meat-eaters off traditionally produced animal sources. Perhaps, or perhaps not. Once full production goes into effect, there will be substantial environmental benefits, in terms of reduced methane production, reduced water pollution, and reduced animal feed requirements. It does prevent the overcrowding, cruelty and the slaughter of animals. However, it would seem to have less health benefit than the existing, and much improved in recent years, veggie burgers and chicken. For instance, while it contains fewer if any accumulated toxins, it still contains saturated fat and cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease and other health concerns. Some religious authorities are still debating the question of whether in vitro meat is Kosher or Halal (e.g., compliant with Jewish or Islamic dietary laws).

Some vegetarians will be turned off by the likeness to meat. If you’re already a vegetarian or vegan, we suggest that you stick to your current preferred protein sources, whether they are veggie burgers or other meat substitutes, beans, or tofu. But if you’re having a hard time giving up eating meat, cultured meat is likely to be a better choice than animal raised meat.

We will be keeping track of this new and controversial technology.

Cooking with Oats

The first meal most people think of when they hear the word “oats” is Oatmeal for breakfast, and with good reason.  A substantial, warming breakfast, loaded with fruit to add sweetness and extra nutrition, is a very healthy start to the day on a cold winter’s morning.

The nutritional benefit comes in particular from the soluble fiber which has been shown to help lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, reduce the risk of some cancers and increase the resistance to infections, among other things.  Oats also have substantial mineral content, being particularly high in manganese and selenium.

Oats are roasted after being harvested and cleaned, which helps give them their distinctive flavor. They are then hulled, but this doesn’t remove all the bran and germ, so they keep much of their nutritional value. They are processed by steaming and rolling (rolled oats), slicing thinly (steel-cut oats), partially cooking (instant oats), or grinding (oat flour) to give them the consistency and cooking time required.  Watch out for the additional sugar and salt often added to instant oats which makes for a quicker, but less nutritious breakfast.

In addition to breakfast cereals, oats are often used in cookies and cobblers, and oat flour can be used to make cookies, pies and muffins.  Since the natural fats in oats can go rancid, it is best to buy oats in smaller quantities and store them in the refrigerator if you’re not using them regularly.

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PepsiCo moves toward plant-based foods

The trend of mainstream companies producing vegan products continues. PepsiCo, the third largest food company in the world, say they’ve formed a joint venture with Beyond Meat to create, produce and market snacks and drinks with plant-based ingredients.

The partnership gives Beyond, a relative newcomer to the food world, a chance to leverage Pepsi’s production and marketing expertise for new products. For its part, Pepsi can deepen its investment in plant-based categories, which are growing increasingly popular, while working with one of the top creators of meat substitutes. Pepsi says, “Plant-based proteins represent an exciting growth opportunity for us, a new frontier in our efforts to build a more sustainable food system and be a positive force for people and the planet, while meeting consumer demand for an expanded portfolio of more nutritious products.”

The trend of plant based products being produced by mainstream companies was undreamed of by many just a few decades ago. This is another sign of the success of the veg movement.

Unilever moves toward plant-based foods

Another corporate giant, Unilever, has read the writing on the wall and is entering the plant based food industry. Unilever is a huge company, owning many well-known food products such as Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Lipton’s Tea and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise. So it’s a big deal when they announced that their sales target for plant-based foods would be around $1.2 billion by the year 2027.  This ambitious target is part of the company’s Future Foods initiative which commits the food giant ‘to make healthier and sustainable food affordable for everyone.’  It has also pledged to continue lowering calorie, salt and sugar content in its products.

In an online statement, Unilever wrote, “Animal agriculture is known to be the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions after fossil fuels. [It is also] a cause of deforestation, water and air pollution, and biodiversity loss….Reducing our meat consumption is essential… We know that a diverse, plant-based diet is better for our health and the health of the planet. But if we want people to make the switch, we need plant-based options to be more accessible, affordable, and appetizing.” Unilever added that its sales target will result in a ‘wider range of vegan and vegetarian’ options.

The president of Unilever’s food and refreshment business said that the initiative will help the ‘world figure out how we can eat more plant-based…that way we may not lose the planet.’  She noted that in most developed countries, plant-based foods are currently only 5% of meat or dairy. Some predictions say that this could go to 50%.  Of course we hope that it goes much higher than that!

Meghan Markle invests in Oat milk latte company

Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex who is married to Prince Harry, has followed a mostly plant-based diet for several years.  She recently announced that she will invest an undisclosed amount in a vegan start up Clevr Blends, which is selling instant SuperLattes made with oat milk.  Clevr is a woman-led company focused on offering specialized wellness products that contribute to a healthier planet and a more just society.  They offer a number of different flavors of instant lattes, where you just add water. In addition to oat milk powder, they use coconut milk powder, monk fruit (a natural, no-calorie sweetener) and various spices. They use only organic or non-gmo ingredients and are working diligently on improving the sustainability of their packaging.

Markle said “This investment is in support of a passionate female entrepreneur who prioritizes building community alongside her business.  I’m proud to invest in Hannah’s [the owner’s] commitment to sourcing ethical ingredients and creating a product that I personally love and [that] has a holistic approach to wellness. I believe in her and I believe in her company.”

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