Category Archives: Food Products & Recipes

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
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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

Starbucks launches Greener Stores

We may be seeing a lot more plant-based options from Starbucks in the near future thanks to its new “Greener Stores” concept – Starbucks’ sustainability campaign that aims to open 10,000 environmentally conscious stores by 2025. Starbucks is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and experimenting with sustainable, especially plant-based food and beverage options. Launched in 2017 alongside the World Wildlife Fund, the program intends to focus on promoting ethically sourced menus and prioritizing sustainable practice. That means more plant-based options.

For instance, at the Starbucks Shanghai Greener Store, over half the menu is plant-based. Oatmilk is used as the default option for most beverages. Starbucks has also introduced two new plant-based beverages, available for a limited time only – Salted Caramel Breve and Salted Caramel Flat White. The store offers a scrumptious variety of plant-based food offerings, including the debut of 15 new food items. A range of plant-based bakery, wraps, sandwiches, salads, cakes and pastries are available to satisfy customers’ craving at any time of the day.

The Greener Stores concept falls under Starbucks’ mission to cut its carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and they want to enhance its new planet-positive practices in order to achieve that goal. CEO Kevin Johnson recognizes the rising demand for sustainable and plant-based options in consumers worldwide, and says that the company would strive to meet this changing demand. “If I were to say what is probably the most dominant shift in consumer behavior, [it] is this whole shift to plant-based [products],” Johnson said. “And that is a shift both in beverage and in food.”

This all sounds pretty good. But it would sound even better if its Shanghai store were followed by one in Seattle. Come on Starbucks!

Mexican recipes gone vegan

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, and because Mexican food is delicious but often loaded with cheese, we thought we’d share some creative vegan recipes for Mexican classic dishes.

Vegan Nachos

Serves 2-4

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 14 oz. package vegan ground “beef”
  • 15 oz. can of refried beans
  • 15 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Taco spice blend
  • 1 3/4 cup grated vegan cheese
  • 1 large bag of plain tortilla chips
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Vegan Bolognese in Costco

Vegan Bolognese is now available across fifty Costco stores in California and Hawaii and let’s hope in Washington as well soon. The meal is made with rigatoni, a Bolognese sauce made with vegan “beef”, herbs, and tomatoes, and topped with Violife parmesan “cheese.” The talent behind this culinary creations is a chef with a local connection, Ayinde Howell.

Ayinde’s family has a long history of creating vegan food. His parents started the vegan sandwich shop, Quickie Too, in his home town of Tacoma, which is now run by his mother and eldest sister, Afi. Ayinde himself ran former restaurant, Hillside Quickies Vegan Sandwich Shop, located in Seattle’s University District, before he moved to New York and became a celebrity chef. His sister Makini Howell runs the Plum brand restaurants in Seattle, including Plum Bistro and Plum Cafe on Capitol Hill, Plum Pantry in the Seattle Center, and Plum Burger, a vegan food truck.

Howell has become a transformational vegan chef from coast to coast. He envisions vegan cooking as a cuisine in its own right – not merely a cooking style which uses vegetables and grains to imitate fake meats and dairy. He specializes in vegan soul food, raw cuisine, and new American cooking.

Ayinde says, “Cooking satisfied one part of my need for creativity and it has always been my anchor.” However, recently he has added the performing arts as an outlet to his creativity. Ayinde has advice for the vegan chef in all of us:  “The food has to taste good, have texture, and be healthy.” 

The vegan Bolognese is yet another product in the growing vegan food industry, giving us more and more delicious, healthy, compassionate and sustainable food choices. Thank you, Ayinde, for adding some cool soul to the vegan repertoire.  We can’t wait to see what you’ll cook up next!

Vegan chicken nuggets for school lunch

Thousands of school children in six school districts in Washington and California have a new option on the lunch menu this year, Kickin’ Nuggets.  These vegan chicken nuggets are made by Rebellyous Foods, a Seattle-based startup founded by Vegetarians of Washington member, Christie Lagally.  The aim of her business is to develop affordable plant-based products for the food-service sector, focusing in particular on schools and hospitals, where they can make the biggest impact.

The nuggets are made from textured wheat with corn-based breading.  They qualify for two meat alternate credits under the National School Lunch Program and are nutritionally superior to animal-based nuggets since they’re lower in sodium and saturated fat and contain no cholesterol, hormones or antibiotics.  They also reduce the impact on the planet from raising chickens, while saving the chickens a lot of pain and suffering in the process.

“Schools play a pivotal role in shaping children’s dietary patterns, so we are thrilled to be able to offer Rebellyous Kickin’ Nuggets to help acquaint our diners with delicious plant-based options while teaching the importance of eating a wider variety of foods,” Frank Castro, Director of Child Nutrition Services at Dublin Unified School District, said. 

Let’s hope that many more school districts recognize the benefits to the children, the animals and the plant, of choosing plant-based nuggets, and they adopt the Kickin’ Nuggets more widely.

Hershey’s launches vegan chocolate bars

Hershey’s is testing a vegan chocolate bar made with oat milk. While some dark chocolate bars are naturally vegan, many are not, and of course milk chocolate is very rarely vegan.  Some smaller companies, such as Pascha, have come out with high quality vegan milk chocolate bars, but this is the first time we’re aware of that a major brand has launched a vegan milk chocolate.

The new line of Hershey’s Oat Made bars will come in flavors such as Classic Dark and Extra Creamy Almond & Sea Salt with each oat milk-based bar clearly labeled vegan.  The Oat Made line is part of a real-time marketing test Hershey’s is conducting and the new vegan chocolate bars will be available at very limited retailers, including select Target locations, nationwide starting this month and through June 2022, a Hershey’s spokesperson confirmed.

Hershey’s is working on producing more “Better for you” brands, including plant-based options, through both research and acquisition of new products.  Its vegan chocolate bar is a part of this program. “We are the leader in US confection, and our consumers rely on us to understand their needs for everyday moments, seasons and special occasions, offering high-quality and great tasting candy that’s accessible for everyone,” Kristen Riggs, Chief Growth Officer at Hershey, said. “Expanding our expertise, building new capabilities, and delivering more choices in better-for-you confection is the next big category opportunity for us to lead.”

The new Hershey’s Oat Made chocolate bars are currently available online at Target, if you’d like to give them a try. Pascha chocolate is available at PCC Community Markets, Marlene’s Market, and some other natural food stores.

Nutritious Bok Choy Recipes

Bok Choy is a member of the cabbage family, although it doesn’t look much like the cabbages we’re used to.  Its texture is more like celery at the bottom and a leafy green such as spinach at the top.

Bok Choy is common in Chinese food, but rarely used in other cuisines.  It is extremely nutritious. It has a particularly high level of calcium, with 870mg per 100 calorie serving, and an absorption rate of 53%.  When you compare that to cow’s milk, which has only 188mg per 100 calorie serving, and an absorption rate of 32%, you can see that it makes a good addition to any diet.

To prepare bok choy, you can wash the leaves and stem, then simply steam or stir fry it.  Sprinkly a little soy sauce on if you like.  Alternatively you can chop it up and use it as you would any other vegetable, in soups, stews, curries or pies. Add this to as many of your recipes as possible, for a real nutritional boost!

For lots of great vegetarian recipes, see The Veg-Feasting Cookbook.

Recipes

  • Broccoli and Bok Choy with Baked Tofu
  • Spicy Thai Soup
  • Zippy Yams and Bok Choy
  • Macaroni with Creamy Tofu Sauce
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