Category Archives: Food Products & Recipes

The future of plant-based bacon

Can plant-based bacon taste like the real thing? Americans love their bacon, and it’s going to take a lot to get them to switch to plant-based versions. Vegan bacon brands have been around for years, and many of them are delicious.  They’re made from a variety of products, such as soy, mushrooms, and wheat-gluten, with flavorings such as soy sauce, rice vinegar, herbs and liquid smoke to give that authentic smoky flavor.  Many brands are readily available in grocery stores, giving us lots of choices, but none taste exactly like animal-based bacon.

A French company, La Vie, seems to have cracked the problem.  French farmers are so worried about La Vie’s plant-based bacon that the French Pork Lobby have accused La Vie of unfair competition.  The Pork Lobby claims that La Vie’s plant-based lardons are so similar to conventional pork alternatives that they must have copied the original flavor.  La Vie is flattered by the comparison and thanked the pork lobby for the “nicest compliment”.  Taking out a full back page advert in Le Parisien, a French daily newspaper, the bacon innovator directly addresses consumers first. “The pork lobby is attacking us because our veggie lardons are indistinguishable from pork lardons.” 

The French government, supporting its animal farmers, has been attempting to regulate the plant-based meat industry by implementing a labelling ban on using terms such as “sausage”, “steak” and “bacon” on packaging for plant-based products. However, last week the French high court paused the ban to assess its legality and proposed timescale, offering companies like La Vie a potential reprieve. Meanwhile, they’re making the most of the controversy to advertise their products.

Some states in the US have also attempted to limit the use of animal-based terminology on the packaging of plant-based products, as the products become more and more similar to the animal-based products they are replicating.  We wrote earlier about how Miyoko’s Creamery was sued by the state of California to stop them using terms such as dairy and butter on their packaging. Fortunately, the US District Court for the Northern District of California have now ruled in favor of Miyoko’s constitutional right to free speech.

MyBacon by MyForest Foods

While La Vie’s bacon is not yet available in the US, we await further bacon products with interest.  Vermont entrepreneur, Eben Bayer, is currently working on a vegan bacon product made from mycelium, the fast-growing root system of mushrooms.  Launched as MyBacon, under the MyForest Foods label, this product is grown into meaty slabs which are brined and sliced just like pork belly. In addition to mycelium, MyBacon is made with beet juice for color, and contains coconut oil to give it the fatty consistency that gives an authentic bacon texture. Bayer chose bacon as his first product in this line, because in taste tests against existing bacon, people loved the new plant-based bacon.

Of course, you can always make your own bacon substitutes, using tempeh (see Cooking with Amanda Lentils and Beans Class 8) or even carrot strips.  They taste delicious, even if they don’t quite taste like their meat counterparts.

Local News – Kati Vegan Thai opens in Totem Lake

Tofu Satay from Kati Vegan Thai

Kati Vegan Thai has long been a favorite vegan restaurant in South Lake Union area of Seattle. With a clean, modern decor, and core values that focus on fresh, local, organic ingredients wherever possible, with no artificial flavors, the restaurant attracts those who want an upscale sustainable vegan meal without outrageous prices.

They recently opened a new restaurant in the Totem Lake area of Kirkland, just near the cinema, with the same decor and values, giving those that love vegan food a wonderful new dining option. We’re excited to give it a try!

The latest product – 3-D printed plant-based salmon

Printing 3D salmon

Revo Foods has created a 3D-printed salmon made from plants that is expected to reach the US market in 2023. The company, an Austrian plant-based food tech startup, currently sells packets of smoked “salmon” made from pea protein, algae extract and plant oils to mimic the taste and texture of real fish without the environmental impact. This new creation enables them to offer salmon fillets that can be cooked and served just like the fish version.

The new product is made with pea protein but is also also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, to ensure it’s nutritionally comparable with regular salmon, but without any cholesterol or toxins. The newly developed 3D printing production process will help improve the texture, so consumers are able to cook the whole-cut, plant-based salmon in various ways without compromising texture or flavor. The company’s website said this new process produces up to 86% less emissions than conventional salmon and uses 95% less freshwater. Of course, it also saves a lot of salmon lives.

Revo Foods Products

The company’s goal is to produce vegan seafood to lessen human impact on the oceans and avoid consumption of seafood containing toxins and heavy metals, such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). They are expanding their product line to include salmon and tuna spreads and salmon and tuna sashimi in the future.  We look forward to giving all their products a try.

Biggest beef co. launches plant-based bacon

Progress! The largest beef company in the world, JBS Foods, is launching plant-based bacon through its Colorado-based Planterra Foods brand. Even the meat industry realizes that plant-based foods are the future. The vegan bacon selection will roll out under the company’s Ozo brand. Soon, American customers will have access to juicy, crispy plant-based bacon with the True Bite Plant-Based Bacon, featuring Cracked Black Pepper, Spicy Jalapeno, and Applewood Smoke flavors.

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Protein from air and leaves!

Just when you thought you’ve heard it all, there’s a company making meat substitutes from the air! Talk about low cost ingredients! Elements of the air are whisked together with biological cultures until they produce protein within a matter of hours. According to Air Protein, the company pioneering this new technology, “ We believe climate change and food scarcity can be reduced by reimagining food creation. Our groundbreaking process is carbon negative, massively scalable, and can happen virtually anywhere.”

Air fermentation begins with the same building blocks that all plant life needs and renewable energy. The protein that the cultures produce is harvested and purified, then dried to remove water. The result is a super-clean, protein-packed flour—nutritious, versatile, and ready to be turned into any meat substitute. Finally, in a process much like the way you might turn flour into pasta, they apply culinary techniques to Air Protein flour to create textures and flavors that give air meat the same taste and texture as traditional chicken, beef, pork, and seafood.

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Celebrating Ukrainian Vegan Food

We wanted to show our support for those suffering in Ukraine right now, by celebrating their traditional food, with a vegan slant to it. One dish which is common across central Europe and especially in Ukraine, and can easily be made vegan is Cabbage Rolls, known in Ukraine as Holubtsi. Cabbage is a common staple food, being readily available in that part of the world. It is also very nutritious, with high levels of fiber, folate and vitamin C, along with several minerals including calcium. While the traditional dish uses ground beef, this recipe replaces the beef with lentils, which are packed with protein and fiber, and avoid the saturated fat and cholesterol in beef.

Another common Ukrainian food is a traditional sausage. While there are many excellent brands of vegan sausages available in the store, we’ve found a recipe for you to make your own vegan sausages!

Brown Rice and Lentil Cabbage Rolls

Baked cabbage rolls

Recipe adapted from recipe by Kathryn Pfeffer-Scanlan

Ingredients:
  • 1 large green cabbage, whole
  • 1 cup cooked green lentils (1/2 cup dried lentils)
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (3/4 cup dried rice)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, low-sodium (tamari if gluten-free)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (Split between filling and tomato sauce)
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

Bring a large stock pot of water to boil. Cut out the core of the cabbage with a sharp knife. Place cabbage in pot and boil until leaves are tender and easily peel off (about 5-7 minutes). Turn off heat and carefully remove the cabbage and place on a cutting board. Pull the leaves apart (keeping them whole) and place on a paper towel lined surface.

While cabbage is boiling, heat a skillet on medium high heat with a little water, and sauté onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, dried herbs, and spices to the pan. Heat an additional minute or until fragrant. Remove from heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Stir in the cooked lentils and rice, and the dried fruit to the onion mixture. Stir in one tablespoon of tomato paste and soy sauce. Set aside.

To make the rolls, place one to two tablespoons of the mixture onto end of a cabbage leaf, tuck in the sides and gently roll, like a burrito.

In the same pan that made the onion mixture, add the can of tomatoes, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes. Heat on a medium heat. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer, about 10 minutes.

You can serve the cabbage rolls directly, with some sauce poured over, or, for a more authentic flavor, cover the base of a baking dish with some sauce, place the cabbage rolls on the sauce, cover with more sauce, and then cover the dish with foil. Bake for up to 2 hours at 350 degrees.

Homemade Vegan Sausages

Recipe created by Elinor Kugler

Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup of cooked chickpeas
  • 2/3 cup of diced onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of tamari concentrate
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup of cold water
  • 1 Teaspoon of dried chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of vital wheat gluten
Preparation
  1. Bring 1/2 a pot of water to a boil, then lower the heat while we prepare our vegan sausages.
  2. Heat a saucepan on medium heat. Finely dice the onion, crush the garlic cloves then add them to the pan along with the olive oil. When the onion starts to sweat add the cooked chickpeas and give it all a good stir.
  3. Next, add the sea salt, black pepper, dry oregano, dried chili flakes, smoked paprika, and nutritional yeast, and stir well. Finally, add the tamari and take the pan off the heat.
  4. Transfer into a food processor and roughly blend with the cold water (see notes).
  5. Add the vital wheat gluten, mix until combined then knead for a minute.
  6. Next, divide your mixture into 6 balls and cut 6 baking paper squares, then place one ball on the baking paper square and shape it into a sausage.
  7. Next, roll your sausage and twist the ends like you would with a toffee wrapper, making sure the ends are tightly closed.
  8. Tightly arrange them inside a small pot and place a heat proof, glass bowl on top. This is done so they won’t move and fall apart when they cook.
  9. Fill the pot a 3/4 way full of the boiling water then lower the heat and let them simmer for 45-50 minutes.
  10. When ready, take them out of the water and carefully unwrap them. Heat a pan on medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and sear the sausages on all sides until they’re nicely colored. This will also help remove any excess water that the sausages might have soaked up while cooking.
  11. Serve your homemade vegan sausages in a bun, on their own, with a salad, sliced in a pasta sauce, or in a super duper whoppa sandwich! The choices are endless!

Vegan chocolate market growing

Pascha chocolate bars

The vegan chocolate market is experiencing very strong growth. In the last two years, leading chocolate brands including Hershey’s and Cadbury’s have launched vegan chocolate bars, as consumers continue to seek out dairy-free options for health, environmental, and reasons of compassion. According to a new report, it’s a sign of things to come as the vegan chocolate market should reach $1 billion in sales globally by 2027.

The vegan chocolate and vegan “milk” chocolate market was built by small companies such as Zazubean, Pascha and Theo just to mention a few. It’s notable that a selection of sugar-free vegan chocolates are now available, with herbal sweeteners such as stevia. After seeing their success, larger companies are entering the market. Cadbury’s has made the announcement that it was launching a vegan chocolate and Hershey’s announced the launch of its oat milk chocolate bars last year.

“Millennials and the working population are highly adopting the vegan culture, which is estimated to surge the demand for [vegan chocolate]” reads the report. Data continue to show that consumers are not only seeking out sustainable and healthier options, but they’re willing to pay a premium for products that are responsibly sourced and sustainable. Consumers are also shifting away from dairy for health reasons. An estimated 65 percent of people suffer from lactose intolerance. In some Asian demographics it can be as high as 100 percent, according to a 2017 study. The report predicts America will drive the bulk of the sales, even as countries like the U.K. have been leading the shift to plant-based food overall. According to the report, “The growing vegan population is anticipated to surge the market growth,” reads the report.

New vegan menu options

Many restaurants are recognizing that they need to have tasty vegan options to appeal to those who are already vegan or vegetarian. They are also hoping to entice meat-eaters to give these options a try. The latest restaurant chains to add vegan meat substitutes include Donatos Pizza and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Donatos Pizza is introducing Vegan Pepperoni at nearly 170 locations nationwide, including right here in the northwest. The family owned pizza brand announced the new plant-based pepperoni launch this month in partnership with the plant-based meat brand, Field Roast. It all came about from a desire for the Donatos team to find a way to help their customers achieve their New Year’s resolutions. A lot of people aspire to eat more veggies, so Donatos Pizza decided to roll out plant-based pepperoni as an easy substitute for animal-based pepperoni.

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Warming Soup Recipes

This is the time of year when it’s often cold and dreary outside, and there’s nothing better than a delicious bowl of soup to warm you up.  Did you know that making a pot of soup from scratch is actually very simple to do, and it’s oh, so healthy?  Try some of our recipes below and get cooking!

Pumpkin-SoupPumpkin Soup

Makes about 8 1-cup servings.

This sweet and creamy soup has just a hint of spiciness. It can also be made with puréed winter squash, yams, or sweet potatoes in place of the pumpkin. Read more

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