Tag Archives: plant-based

Vegan Mac n Cheese – Homemade Vegan Pantry

Miyoko looking over shoulder - croppedMiyoko Schinner, frequent speaker at Vegfest, has produced another great book, “The Homemade Vegan Pantry, the art of making your own staples” (Ten Speed Press, Random House, 2015). Miyoko is a renowned vegan chef, cookbook author, and television cooking show host, and has been promoting delicious, decadent, and healthful plant-based foods for the past thirty years. Her previous cookbook, Artisan Vegan Cheese, has been a top-selling book on Amazon, and has been called “The holy grail of the culinary world.” She is a co-host of Vegan Mashup, a new cooking show on public television, and stars in her own whimsical online show, Miyoko’s Kitchen.

Homemade vegan pantryComplete with full-color photos, The Homemade Vegan Pantry celebrates beautiful, handcrafted foods that don’t take a ton of time, from ice cream and pizza dough, to granola and breakfast sausage. Miyoko Schinner guides readers through the techniques for making French-style buttercreams, roasted tomatoes, and pasta without special equipment. Her easy methods make “slow food” fast, and full of flavor. The Homemade Vegan Pantry raises the bar on plant-based cuisine, not only for vegans and vegetarians, but also for the growing number of Americans looking to eat lighter and healthier, and anyone interested in a handcrafted approach to food.

Well Crafted Macaroni and Cheese Mix Recipe

Unless you were raised by macrobiotic hippies, you’ve had it. I’ve had it. And there’s no shame in saying it— we’ve all had macaroni and cheese out of the box. My kids would plead with me to buy it, and I was thrilled when the vegan stuff came on the market. Maybe you don’t crave it anymore, but it sure is convenient to have some on hand for the kids or the babysitter. But there’s no need to buy it, because you can make the instant cheese sauce mix yourself in just a few minutes! This version is richer than the variation that follows, utilizing glorious cashews.

Well-crafted macaroni and cheese mix1 cup cashews

¾ cup nutritional yeast

¼ cup oat flour

¼ cup tapioca flour

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon organic sugar

2 teaspoons powdered mustard

2 teaspoons sea salt

2 teaspoons onion powder

Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and process until a powder is formed. There should not be any discernible chunks or large granules of cashews, so this may take 3 to 4 minutes of processing. Store this in a jar or portion out into 1⁄3 -cup increments and put in ziplock bags and store in the pantry for a month or two or in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

MAKES 1 2/3 CUPS, OR ENOUGH TO COAT THE EQUIVALENT OF 5 STORE-BOUGHT BOXES INSTANT MACARONI AND CHEESE

HOW TO USE WELL-CRAFTED MACARONI AND CHEESE MIX

Cook 1 cup of dry macaroni according to package instructions and drain. Combine 1⁄3 cup mix with 1 cup water or unsweetened nondairy milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk well and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 minute, then toss with hot cooked macaroni.

These mixes are also a great answer for turning yesterday’s leftovers into a quick casserole. Just combine leftover pasta, potatoes, or grains, some veggies, and any other odd scraps you think might be a good fit and mix it in a casserole dish with some of the cheese mix and water. You can add additional spices and herbs if you wish. Then bake it all up into creamy goodness. You can also use the mix to make quick sauces for veggies or add it to soups for extra cheesy flavor and richness—it’s quite versatile.

Tough Guy Goes Vegan

Robert AtchesonRobert Atcheson considers himself a tough guy. He falls squarely into the stereotype of an all-American tough guy too. He grew up on a farm in Iowa, where he helped his family raise and slaughter hogs and cattle. For a time, he worked in a restaurant that served standard greasy spoon fare: bacon, burgers and fried chicken. At age 19, he left home to spend four years in the Marine Corps, then joined the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department rising to the rank of captain.

So when his teenage daughter told him she was going vegan several years ago, he did what many tough (perhaps too tough) parents would do when faced with the same situation. He told her to either eat the food he cooked for her, or get out of the house!

While he ridiculed her at first, the encounter got him thinking.  It turned out that his daughter’s desire to go vegan was supported by doctors, researchers, dietitians, fitness gurus, everyone except the meat industry itself. Then he remembered his father’s heart attack and his mother’s type II diabetes, and realized that he was headed for the same. At that moment he decided he wanted something better for his daughter, for himself, and for the whole country.

According to Captain Atcheson, “When you eat meat and other animal products, you’re playing a losing game of chicken with your health. It takes courage and discipline to ditch that crap and clean up your plate. So do what I did, and what many of my best officers eventually did, too: trade in that morning doughnut for a smoothie. Swap that chicken sandwich for a black bean burger. Your health — and your family — will thank you.”

We find it very encouraging that the health message of plant-based diets is reaching far and wide. Our thanks go out to not only to the Captain for this message but also to his courageous daughter who stuck by her guns and told him what he needed to hear.

Going Veg in the Workplace

Google food serviceThis time it’s Google that’s changing its cafeteria for the better. For the last year and a half, Google’s food department has been on a mission to cut down on meat. A “plant-centric diet is good for the environment and is good for your health,” said Michiel Bakker, director of the Global Food Program at Google. “So if we can move more people to eat less meat and to enjoy more vegetables, the rest will follow.”

To get there Google is taking a gradual approach. Their first step is to substitute healthy plant foods that are rich in flavor, from ethnic cuisines from around the world such as Indian, Latin American, Thai and Greek.

They are currently educating their chefs about ways to substitute vegetables for meat, without making Google’s pampered employees feel like they’re missing out. “For example, there’s a way to grill cauliflower that gives it some of the same rich flavor found in grilled meats,” Bakker said. Google’s also turning to regional cuisines from places like India, Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Mediterranean that use less meat than traditional Western diets.

While the new program started at its office in California, it’s slowly being implemented in Google’s cafeterias all around the world. Eventually, the company hopes to get its employees interested in food and how it relates to health and the environment.

A plant-based diet is not just good for health and the environment. It’s also good for the bottom line. In a study of workers, GEICO insurance company doctors found that those on a plant-based diet reported a 40-46% decrease in health-related productivity impairments at work. It turns out that veg diets are good for the environment, business and you.

Suzy Amis-Cameron embraces plant-based diet

Suzy Amis-Cameron photoSuzy Amis-Cameron has been embracing a plant-based diet since 2012. Alongside her famous filmmaker husband James Cameron, the pair have become very vocal with their vegan advocacy, touting not only the personal health and beauty benefits, but especially the planet-positive effects.

“My whole focus now, when I have extra bandwidth, is spent bringing more awareness around livestock production and the environment. I feel like it’s my mission,” Amis-Cameron said during an interview. “When you get me started on this stuff, I won’t be quiet.”

Cardiologist: Put us out of business, by going vegan!

Cardiologist Ken WilliamsDr Kim Williams, the president of the American College of Cardiology, recently proclaimed that cardiologists can put themselves out of business if they just tell their patients to go vegan. He asks “Wouldn’t it be a laudable goal of the American College of Cardiology to put ourselves out of business?”

Following the old dictum “physician heal thyself” Dr Williams first went vegan to treat his own cholesterol problem. His cholesterol has been going up and up, and he found that going on a low-fat meat-centered diet was not enough. He had to go vegan and discover first hand the power of plant foods to treat the most common health problem in America, high cholesterol that leads to heart attacks. After only six weeks his cholesterol dropped down, way down, to where he wanted it.

He found that only when the dietary cholesterol was eliminated from his diet, did he reach a healthy cholesterol level in his blood. He was able to eliminate the cholesterol from his diet by avoiding dairy and animal products. Instead of eating chicken and fish, he started eating vegetable-based meat substitutes, like veggie burgers and sausages made from soy and other plant proteins, plus nuts. He also switched to almond milk from cow’s milk.

He said his enthusiasm for plant-based diets was also based on the medical literature. He cited observational studies of tens of thousands of people, that found that people following vegetarian diets lived longer than meat eaters and had lower rates of death from heart disease, diabetes and other diseases. And he pointed to research carried out by Dr. Dean Ornish, the pioneering cardiologist, who found that patients, who were put on a program that included a vegetarian diet, reversed the coronary plaque build up in their arteries and had fewer heart attacks.

Wanting to apply his research and own experience, he says that he “has made a habit of telling patients who are obese and plagued by metabolic problems like Type 2 diabetes to try eating… less meat. I recommend a plant-based diet because I know it’s going to lower their blood pressure, improve their insulin sensitivity and decrease their cholesterol and so I recommend it in all those conditions.”  And, he even likes to discuss some of his favorite vegan foods with his patients as well. He says that one of his favorites is “an Italian sausage that is hard to distinguish from real meat until you check your blood pressure. I encourage patients to go to the grocery store and sample different plant-based versions of many of the basic foods they eat. For me, some of the items, such as chicken and egg substitutes, were actually better-tasting.”

According to Dr. Dean Ornish, “We tend to think of advances in medicine as a new drug, laser, or surgical device, something high-tech and expensive. Yet, the simple choices we make in what we eat and how we live have a powerful influence on our health and well-being.” The most influential trend in medicine today, growing exponentially, is the emerging field of what is known as “lifestyle medicine” – lifestyle as treatment, not just prevention.

Besides Williams and Ornish, other leading cardiologists have been putting patients on a vegan diet, advocating what amounts to vegetarian nutritional medicine as well. For instance, the Editor in Chief of the American Journal of Cardiology, Dr. William C. Roberts, also proclaimed the vegan diet as best for heart health.

But, don’t feel too bad about putting your doctor out of business. There will still be a few diseases for him to handle. It’s just that now he’s going to have plenty of time in his schedule for recreation! For more information on how a plant-based diet leads the way to a healthy heart see our postings on Spring Clean Your Heart, and Interview with a Cardiologist.

Please note that any changes to diet should only be made in consultation with a medical doctor.

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