Category Archives: Food Products & 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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Ten Top Reasons To Skip The Turkey On Thanksgiving

We’d like to take this opportunity to invite you to join the growing number of people who’ll skip the turkey this Thanksgiving. There are lots of good reasons to find better and healthier ways to celebrate one of our favorite holidays. Turkey has the same disadvantages as other kinds of meat. To help you along, here are our top ten reasons to skip the bird this year. Remember that what we say about turkey is true of other holiday favorites such as ham as well. Read more

Big News from McDonald’s: the McPlant Burger and Chicken

This is important. McDonald’s has almost 14,000 restaurants in the United States (and 39,000 world wide) and is finally rolling out vegan options to all its stores.

McDonald’s is developing what it calls a plant-based platform called the McPlant that will debut in markets around the world early next year. McDonald’s confirms creation of McPlant plant-based burger and the Crispy Chicken Sandwich, which will debut in 2021. McDonald’s has finally joined the plant-based burger battle and Chicken Sandwich War.

The plant-based chicken sandwich announcements were part of the company’s new growth strategy called “Accelerating the Arches.” The strategy includes a commitment to the core menu. In the future, McPlant could extend across a line of plant-based products. Interestingly, instead of buying existing products and incorporating them into their menu, McPlant is crafted exclusively for McDonald’s and by McDonald’s. They’re going it alone.

Compared to some other fast food chains in the U.S., McDonald’s has been something of a laggard. Burger King has worked with Impossible Foods to launch the Impossible Whopper, and Beyond Meat has partnered with KFC on a plant-based nugget. These two leading alternative protein makers have done a fairly good job of carving up the fast food market to date — but the McDonald’s entry with its exclusive formulation must come as a blow to these companies (and the other startups that were hoping for a bite of the McDonald’s food empire).

The veg movement is making progress. Some of us thought we would never see the fast food restaurants serve vegan meals in our lifetimes, but it seems that all the major chains are now embracing the concept, making it much easier to find vegan options on the road and hopefully encouraging many more people to give it a try.

Jackfruit – A great meat alternative

Jackfruit growing on treeResearchers say jackfruit, a large ungainly fruit grown across south and southeast Asia, could be a replacement for wheat, corn and other staple crops under threat from climate change. Jackfruit is the largest known tree borne fruit. Even a small jackfruit weighs in at 10-15 lbs, and farmers have recorded specimens of more than 100 lbs. A single tree can often supply over two tons of jackfruit per year.

Jackfruit can fill the gap on a number of counts, said Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank, which works on sustainable agriculture. “It is easy to grow. It survives pests and diseases and high temperatures. It is drought resistant,” she said. “It achieves what farmers need in food production when facing a lot of challenges under climate change.” It’s also thought of as playing a role in alleviating global hunger. Originally from India, today jackfruit is grown across many parts of south and southeast Asia as well as Brazil.

Upton's Jackfruit

Featured at Vegfest! We were proud to feature Upton’s debut of their line of jackfruit-based meat analogues – one of the most popular foods we ever had at the festival.

At markets around the world, vendors slice open the big yellow orbs, cut out the fleshy bulbs of the inner part of the fruit, and sell them by the pound. Ripe, the fruit tastes like a cross between a mango and a pineapple. But young more neutral-tasting jackfruit can also be shredded, seasoned, cooked, and served up as an alternative to meat.

Young jackfruit has a great “chew.” The flavor is neutral, so it will adapt to any herbs or spices you choose to add. The pods are usually about 2-3 inches around and are very nice to add to stews. It can be chopped, shredded, or sliced, and formed into cutlets, steaks, burgers, and balls, or used as a meat crumble.

While like most fruit, it is low in protein, Jackfruit is great for the calorie conscious. For instance a serving of Upton’s Barb-B-Que Jackfruit has only 45 calories per serving and 4 grams of fill me up fiber. You can also buy young jackfruit in cans and add it to your own favorite recipes to get a great meaty texture. BBQ Jackfruit Taco Recipe

Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Italy

San Giuliano has been a regular participant at Vegfest. We were curious to know more about the company and the olive oil they produce, so we asked Jean Mollmann, their local representative, to fill us in:

First of all, what exactly is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or EVOO, is the raw juice of olives. There are a few grades of olive oil. “Extra virgin” is the highest grade and best olive oil, packing anti-inflammatory antioxidants and remarkable flavors. To be considered extra virgin, the olives must be washed in cold water and cold-pressed within 24 hours of harvest without using heat or chemicals (and contain less than .08% acidity). Second and additional pressings of olives lack antioxidants, flavor, and have undergone either a chemical or heat process.

San Giuliano’s EVOO is produced from 100% Italian olives, sustainably grown, cold-pressed, and bottled by San Giuliano in Alghero, Sardinia, Italy. It’s “Non-GMO Project” verified and certified organic under the European Organic Standards.

How did San Giuliano get started?

What began as a trade of milling olives in the late 1800s, in the town of Alghero on the northwestern coast of blue-zone Sardinia, Italy, is today a four-generation strong, sustainable agricultural farm and master producer of world-class extra virgin olive oil. Branded as San Giuliano in 1975, namesake for the lands where the olive groves reside, the Manca family attributes San Giuliano’s ongoing acclaim to their extensive experience, technical skills, and the values they place on their people, land, and tradition.  

Tell us something about the company today. How does it operate?
The lands of San Giuliano in the Mediterranean present a geologic composition and climate that is ideal for cultivating olives. Because San Giuliano is vertically integrated, we grow, harvest, press, store, and bottle under our complete supervision, ensuring meticulous oversight of the product lifecycle.

San Giuliano EVOO is rich in polyphenol (antioxidant) properties because it contains a high percentage of early harvest olives, is cold-pressed within hours of harvest, stored in climate-controlled stainless steel tanks, and bottled on-demand in custom bottles designed to preserve its nutrients and all its delicious flavors and nuances.

Why is San Giuliana so popular? What’s their secret?
Behind the brand of San Giuliano is the Manca family and a team who, through over a century of farming olives and producing extra virgin, have perfected the timing of harvests and the masterful blending of cultivars, and operate some of the most advanced mill technology in Italy. San Giuliano’s passion for producing excellence from olives represents generations of dedication to one of nature’s most amazing fruits. The secret to San Giuliano’s success, in particular, as summarized by President Pasquale Manca as, “We wake early, work hard, and we operate as a team.”

What’s next? Can you give us a hint of things to come?

With an eye to your great, great, grandchildren and beyond, San Giuliano invests in the future of olive oil production through regenerative agricultural practices, ongoing planting of olive trees, and by being a carbon neutral operation. The cultivars San Giuliano focuses on are those which are indigenous to Italy. In Spring 2021, San Giuliano will offer its first monocultivar (the juice of one type of olive versus a blend) to the North American market, in response to the growing demand for high quality extra virgin olive oil with distinct regional profiles.

Jason Wilson, James Beard award-winning chef and seed-to-fork restauranteur (Pacific Northwest), took special interest in San Giuliano after discovering their extra virgin olive oils. In 2019, Chef Jason visited the family’s lands and facility in Alghero, and has since become a vocal champion of the brand.

San Giuliano enlisted a team based in the Pacific Northwest to further its growth in North America. Their just-launched website www.ExcellenceFromOlives.com retails some of their award-winning olive oils. Recipes, resources and more coming soon. You can drop the Team a note at livewell@excellencefromolives.com. Salute!

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