Category Archives: Food Products & Recipes

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!

Vegan Ice Cream is all the Rage

It’s been hot lately so naturally many people want ice cream, but many don’t want the dairy that comes with it. If you like dairy-free ice cream, you’re not alone.  

Vegan ice cream is made from various natural plant sources such as almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, and rice milk, and it’s getting more and more popular. Many flavors are available such as caramel, chocolate, coconut, coffee, vanilla, and fruit. In 2019, caramel was the most popular, but the fruit flavors are growing rapidly.

According to one report, the global vegan ice cream industry was estimated at $520.9 million in 2019, and is expected to hit $805.3 million by 2027. Where there used to be only a few makers of vegan ice cream, its growing popularity has seen a number of companies enter the market. They know it’s the ice cream of the future. Meanwhile, us consumers have more and more varieties to choose from. You scream, we scream, we all scream for dairy free ice cream!

Back to School – 9 lunch ideas to eat at home!

Eating habits begin in early childhood. Plant-based meals provide excellent nutrition—they are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that boost kids’ health. Children who are raised on healthful vegan diets have a reduced risk for heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and other conditions. Adolescents raised on a plant-based diet often find they have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight. They also have fewer problems with acne, asthma, and gastrointestinal problems than their friends who eat animal products.

Projections from the CDC show that 1 in 3 children will develop type 2 diabetes during their lifetime. More and more children are gaining excess weight, paving the way for health problems later in life. Twenty-five percent of children ages 5 to 10 years have high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, or other early warning signs of heart disease. In fact, American children often have cholesterol plaque in their arteries before they finish high school. Plant-based meals promote health, because they are free of cholesterol, low in saturated fat, and full of fiber.

If children were going back to school in person, we’d be encouraging schools to provide healthy school lunches based around nutritious plant-based foods as much as possible.  But this year, it looks like most kids will be eating lunch at home, so it’s important to make sure you always have nutritious snacks and lunch ideas ready to go, while cutting back on purchasing junk food items that may be all-too-tempting.

The best foods to have ready for snacking are always going to be fruits and vegetables, with nutritious dips to have along with them.  Here are some ideas:

  1. Serve easy-to-eat vegetables along with hummus, guacamole, pesto, or a black bean dip.
    • Baby carrots
    • Snap peas
    • Prepared celery sticks
    • Cherry tomatoes
    • Red pepper sticks
    • Roasted cauliflower florets
  2. Mock tuna spread is great as a sandwich filler served on rye crackers or toasted whole wheat bread – see recipe.
  3. Roasted or grilled veggie strips such as zucchini, eggplant or red pepper strips are delicious in sandwiches, with hummus, baked tofu, or meat substitute products.
  4. Whole wheat wraps, with hummus, lettuce, grated carrot, and red pepper sticks, can be rolled up and sliced into child sized roll-ups.
  5. Of course, remember that the classic favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are plant-based.  Just choose a whole wheat bread, a brand of peanut butter without lots of additives, and a low sugar jelly or jam.
  6. Crackers can be served with a cheese substitute product.
  7. As the weather moves towards the colder months, prepared soups (such as Imagine Foods brand) or instant soup pots can be the basis of a nutritious lunch.
  8. And of course if you’ve had a healthy meal for dinner the night before, heated up leftovers make a great lunch!
  9. Having fruit prepared and easy to grab, such as grapes, melon slices, strawberries, and plums or other stone fruits, is a good way to encourage these choices to round out a healthy lunch, rather than chocolate or cookies.

With a little planning and intentional shopping, you can keep the fridge well stocked with foods to make easy lunches, and prevent the temptation to rely on snack bars and cookies for meals and snacks.

Rebellyous Foods takes on the Chicken Nugget industry

Christie Lagally, CEO of Rebellyous Foods

Christie Lagally, a Vegetarians of Washington member, started her career as a Boeing engineer, but she also cared passionately about avoiding animal products, so in 2017, she founded a new Seattle-based company, Rebellyous Foods.  This company aims to develop delicious and affordable vegan products for the food-service sector while creating machinery that can be used by other plant-based companies to help scale their production. 

Kristie Middleton, Vice President of Business Development at Rebellyous Foods at Rebellyous Foods, said: “Americans ordered 2.3 billion chicken nugget servings and 1.5 billion servings of chicken strips. The world’s largest foodservice providers have all committed to getting more plant-based options on their menus, but many foodservice operations don’t have the budget, trained staff, or equipment to cook from scratch. They need easy one-to-one replacements for their most popular options like chicken nuggets and strips. That’s where we come in.”

Over the past 3 years, Rebellyous Foods has ramped up production and been selling their nuggets to commercial food outlets such as hospitals and schools since February 2019, with clients such as Cornish College of the Arts and Swedish Medical Center. More recently the San Ramon Valley Unified School District (SRVUSD) in Northern California partnered with Rebellyous Foods to add vegan chicken nuggets to its lunch program, and the company has just raised $6 million in investment for a production operation that can produce their plant-based nuggets in huge quantities.

But with the COVID-19 epidemic, the business of providing nuggets to cafeterias, schools and hospitals has shrunk, so the company decided to expand into providing consumer packaged goods.  They have made a launch into retail in the Seattle area, with a long list of independent Seattle grocery stores now listed as places where you can purchase family packs of Rebellyous nuggets. If you’re a chicken nugget fan living in Seattle, why not give these new nuggets a try !

Watch a short video about Rebellyous Foods.

Perfect Peanut Recipes

PeanutsAlso called groundnut, goober, or monkey nut, the peanut is the seed of a small leguminous plant, so it is strictly a legume and not a nut. Peanuts are rich in protein and monounsaturated fats, and provide reasonable amounts of dietary fiber. They also contain potassium, calcium, magnesium, and many other valuable nutrients.

While most common as a snack food in this country, they are used as major cooking ingredient in many Asian and African dishes, either whole or as a tasty peanut sauce.

Always try to find dry roasted, unsalted peanuts, either whole or as peanut butter, as many popular sources of peanuts are very high in salt and added fats.

The recipe below is from our own cookbook – The Veg-Feasting Cookbook.

Untitled-1Nigerian Groundnut Stew with Tempeh

In Africa, as well as other places, the peanut is known as the groundnut and is a popular ingredient in many appetizing dishes, like this high-protein casserole.

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons corn oil
  • 1 pound tempeh, poached (see chef’s tip) and cut into 1-inch dice
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup peanut butter, or more as needed
  • 1 cup vegetable broth, or more as needed
  • 1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup white or brown rice

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tempeh and sauté until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a casserole dish. In the same skillet, cook the onion, bell peppers and garlic until the onion is transparent, about 5 minutes. Add this to the casserole.

Place the peanut butter in a saucepan and add the broth slowly, stirring to make a thick creamy sauce. Place the saucepan over medium heat, add the tomato, salt and pepper, and simmer gently for 2 minutes; pour over the tempeh and vegetables in the casserole. If the sauce is too thin, add more peanut butter; if it’s too thick, add more stock. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. While the casserole is in the oven, cook the rice according to package directions. Spoon the tempeh casserole over the rice and serve.

Chef’s Tip

Poaching commercially prepared tempeh before using it in a recipe improves its flavor and digestibility. Slice or cube tempeh according to individual recipe, or leave in slabs, depending on use. Place the tempeh in a saucepan, add enough water to cover it and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the tempeh from the water and proceed with the recipe.

Tofu and Jicama Summer Rolls with Sweet and Sour Garlic Sauce

Summer rolls are a Southeast Asian favorite because they’re so refreshing and versatile. Throughout Southeast Asia, from China, Vietnam, Thailand to Malaysia, fresh noodle rolls are different in each country. My version uses jicama and fried garlic for maximum impact in both texture and flavor, and I pair the rolls with a seductively spicy dipping sauce. My summer rolls reflect the influence of my hometown in Thailand, and are prepared without the cooked rice vermicelli found in other versions; however, feel free to add them if you like. Sweet chili sauce is sold at natural food stores and Asian markets…Pranee Halvorsen

Serves 10

Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
  • ½ cup chopped garlic (about 2 heads)
  • 1 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ¼ cup ground peanuts
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves plus
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, add the garlic, and fry until light golden brown. Whisk the chili sauce, vinegar, water, peanuts and ¼ cup chopped cilantro in a small bowl to blend. Add 3 tablespoons of the garlic along with some of the cooking oil, then add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Filling

  • 1 cup jicama, shredded
  • 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, julienned (sliced very thin)
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 8 ounces extra-firm tofu, shredded
  • 20 (6-inch diameter) rice paper spring roll wrappers

To make the rolls, place the remaining garlic and oil in a small bowl. Have the jicama, bell pepper, carrot, tofu and 1 cup cilantro leaves ready in separate bowls. Select a saucepan with a diameter slightly larger than the spring roll wrappers, add water to a depth of 1 inch, bring it to a boil, and then keep it simmering over medium-low heat. One at a time, place each spring roll wrapper in the water for 5 seconds then remove and set it on a plate.

Place some of the jicama, bell pepper, carrot, tofu and cilantro on the lower third of the spring roll, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle a little of the garlic over the vegetables. Bring the bottom edge of the spring roll up and over the filling, then tuck in the sides and continue rolling until completely wrapped.

Repeat with the remaining rolls. Cut the rolls in half and serve with the sauce.

Mori-Nu Tofu – a different kind of tofu

MjpegTOFU_Organic1Mori-Nu Tofu has been a favorite product at Vegfest for many years.  We caught up with the marketing manager to learn more about the product.

How is Mori-Nu Tofu different from other kinds of tofu?

The main difference between Mori-Nu ™Silken Tofu and other types of tofu is the style/type, texture, and the fact that it is shelf stable. Mori-Nu’s Tofu is velvety smooth, creamy, custard-like, and consistent in composition. The other types of tofu are often referred to as Momen Tofu or regular tofu.  They are more porous, firm, and rough in texture.

Mori-Nu Tofu is shelf stable (1 year from production) and packaged in a Tetra Pak box. The box is hermetically sealed, and the tofu is formed inside. This allows continuous protection from light, air, bacteria, and micro-organisms that cause spoilage.  There are no preservatives in Mori-Nu tofu.  It is Non-GMO Verified, certified Gluten-Free (by GFCO/GIG), KSA Kosher Parve certified, and is available in six varieties.

Is Silken tofu popular in Japan?

Silken tofu is most popular in Japan, but it is also popular in other countries especially in the US, India, Asia Pac and Canada. Tofu is popular in Asian style cooking.

While Mori-Nu™ is not sold in Japan, our parent company, Morinaga Milk Industry, Co., Ltd., sells tofu in limited quantities in Japan.  Although quite popular, Morinaga tofu sales are regulated to ensure that smaller tofu shops continue to remain in business in our home country of Japan.

Can it be used in other cuisines?

Mori-Nu Silken Tofu can be used in other types of foods and cuisines as the main component or as a substitute ingredient.  Several cuisines use tofu as part of the main dish or as an ingredient:

  • Mexican (tacos, chilaquiles, and flan)
  • Italian (meat-less meatballs, Carbonaro sauce, pizza, and cheesecake)
  • Mediterranean (hummus and tzatziki sauce)
  • Indian (curry, chutney, and paneer)
  • American (pancakes/waffles, smoothies, and ice cream)
  • Chinese (stir fry with veggies, egg rolls, and soup)

 

Can you use it to make a smoothie?

Mori-Nu Silken Tofu is versatile and can be used in several applications.  It blends well for a smoothie.  It can be used in sauces, dips, desserts, and so much more.  It is a substitute for meat protein and can be an alternative ingredient instead of using butter, cream, milk, sour cream, cheese, and other dairy foods.

 

Can you freeze it?

Mori-Nu Silken Tofu does not have to be refrigerated as it is shelf stable until it’s opened.  Freezing tofu changes its texture when thawed, giving it a “meat-like” texture suitable for a variety of hearty recipes.  To enjoy the best quality tofu, use immediately after opening for the best flavor, taste, and texture.  If not open, the shelf life is 1-year from the production date.

 

How long has Morinaga Nutritional Foods, Inc. been making it?

Morinaga Nutritional Foods, Inc. was established in 1985. We started making shelf stable tofu in 1997 in the U.S.  It has been 20 years and we continue to share our passion in providing the freshest tofu made from the highest quality soybeans.

Here’s a tasty recipe to enjoy:

Tofu Rice Stir Fry Recipe

Ingredients:

1/3 cup light soy sauce

1/3 cup rice vinegar

3 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 package Mori-Nu Silken Extra Firm Tofu, drained and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 cup carrots, chopped

1/2 cup celery, sliced

1/2 cup scallions, sliced

1/4 cup fresh ginger, sliced

1 cup cooked rice

Preparation:

Combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and tofu cubes.  Marinate in refrigerator for a minimum of an hour. Heat all the marinade ingredients in a wok. Add carrots, celery, scallions and ginger. Stir fry until all vegetables are just crisp-tender. Add cooked rice. Stir fry to heat through. Serve hot.

 

Ziva Mediterranean Foods – an interview with the owners

Ziva owners

ZIVA Mediterranean Foods has a mission to provide high-quality, authentic, healthy Mediterranean foods using local ingredients (whenever possible) to be sold through retail venues and to wholesale customers.

Tomer Shneor and Jody Haynes, a husband and wife team, launched the company in 2015. ZIVA is Tomer’s mother’s name, and is an inspiration for the company’s goal toward authentically Mediterranean, healthy, handmade food products.

We caught up with Tomer and Jody to ask them a few questions about their business: Read more

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