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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Vegan

PRODUCT: Isabella’s Cookie Company

Jennifer Palmer began baking as a young girl and “always thrived on the happiness brought to others by my cookies.” What a lovely thought!

Turning avocation into career, in 2001 she founded Isabella’s Cookie Company, so that everyone could enjoy her fresh baked, all natural cookie creations.

The company is based in Redondo Beach, California, and the cookies are carried by many local retailers (here’s the store locator).

You can order online and send a gift box of luscious cookies to friends, family, hosts, campers and others deserving of sweet, buttery goodness. Don’t want butter? There are seven vegan varieties. And if you need a themed cookie, there are hand-decorated cookies in every shape imaginable (we love the billy goats). The entire line is certified kosher by KOF-K.

The only problem is what to order. We tried two delicious flavors (Limey and Muffy—see below), but everything sounds soooo good. For starters are the the flavors you’d anticipate (chocolate [including chipotle chocolate], peanut butter, chocolate chip-PB chip and oatmeal with both chocolate-covered and regular raisins).

 

The Muffy: a blueberry-muffin inspired cookie. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

 
But then, the surprises: Isabella’s creates flavor combinations that you won’t find elsewhere. A sampling:

  • Apple Fritter, an oatmeal cookie with apples, white chocolate chips and a hint of cinnamon, also available in Cran-Apple
  • B-Nana, a cookie version of the banana split, with banana flavor, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and dried strawberries
  • BOB, a chewy oatmeal cookie with butterscotch chips and dried blueberries
  • Chocolate Haze, dark chocolate and crunchy hazelnuts
  • Dark Mocha Monster, a soft brown sugar cookie with dark chocolate chunks and roasted espresso beans
  • Fluffy, a Fluffernutter in a cookie—banana cookie with peanut butter chips and marshmallows
  • Limey, a graham cracker base with white chocolate chips and a lime-vanilla drizzle
  • Maui Wowie, macadamia nuts, pineapple, coconut and white chocolate chunks
  • Muffy, a blueberry muffin-inspired cookie with dried blueberries, milk chocolate-covered blueberries and white chocolate chips.
  • Orange Dream Cream, an orange and vanilla cookie packed with white chocolate chips
  • Paddy, green mint chips added to a classic chocolate chip cookie—one of our favorite recipes
  •  

    Limey: graham crackers, white chocolate
    chips and a vanilla-lime drizzle. Photo
    courtesy Isabella’s.

     

    There’s even a chocolate chip cookie with half the sugar! And a purchase of a bag of Milk + Bookies Chocolate Chip Cookie sends books to children in need.

    Nut Allergies?

    While the bakery does use nuts in some of the cookies, they follow a strict allergen control program: a chemical cleanup upon the completion of using the nuts, and no co-mingling of ingredients.
     
    TOO MANY COOKIES?

    You don’t have to eat them all at once: You can freeze them. Here’s how to store cookies.

    HOW MANY TYPES OF COOKIES HAVE YOU HAD?

    Check out some of the world’s favorite types of cookies in our delicious Cookie Glossary.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Tofu Scramble Recipe Instead Of Scrambled Eggs

    Recently at the breakfast bar at our Whole Foods Market, we had a delicious tofu scramble that was just as satisfying as scrambled eggs—but so much more healthful. So in the name of reduced cholesterol and sustainability of the planet,* we’ve switched. Try it, you’ll like it!

    Tofu is made in different firmnesses that suit different recipes—from silky smooth tofu for puddings and mouse to extra firm tofu that keeps its shape in stir frys. Scrambled tofu works best with a medium firmness.

    As with omelets and scrambled eggs, you can customize scrambled tofu with your favorite flavors and vegetables. Cumin, curry and tumeric are a popular seasoning mix. Consider garlic, onion powder, and pretty much anything from the spice rack. Any fresh herbs work: Basil, cilantro, dill and/or parsley are our favorites.

    You can add as many or as few veggies as you like. Bean sprouts, carrots, mushrooms, onions/green onions, snow peas, spinach, cherry tomatoes or any favorites work. And of course, many people welcome breakfast meats or their vegetarian equivalents.

     

    Scrambled tofu: Yummy! Photo © Bigio | Dreamstime.

     
    The yellow color of the tofu comes from the addition of nutritional yeast and turmeric. The nutritional yeast doesn’t impact the flavor; so if you don’t have any, just enjoy your scramble a bit less yellow.

    RECIPE: TOFU SCRAMBLE

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 1 block (14 ounces) medium firm tofu, drained, pressed and patted dry
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons oil (use some sesame oil for an Asian flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin or curry
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions (scallions)
  •  

    Turn your tofu scramble into a breakfast
    burrito. Photo courtesy OhMyVeggies.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. SLICE the tofu into one inch cubes and crumble lightly with a fork or your fingers.

    2. SAUTÉ onion, pepper and tofu in oil in a skillet for 3-5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onion and pepper soften. Add the remaining ingredients.

    3. REDUCE heat to medium and cook 5-7 more minutes as needed, until tofu is hot. Stir frequently; add more oil as needed.

     

    VARIATIONS

    Add your favorite ingredients to customize your tofu scramble. Some ideas for starters:

  • Breakfast Burrito: Wrap the scramble in a tortilla and serve it with a side of salsa, hot sauce and fat-free plain Greek yogurt or fat-free sour cream. Also see the Mexican tofu scramble, below.
  • Cheese Tofu Scramble: Add your favorite shredded cheese, or some grated Parmesan.
  • Mexican Tofu Scramble: Season with cumin, paprika, turmeric and fresh cilantro. Add bell peppers, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes. Top with salsa and fat-free plain Greek yogurt or fat-free sour cream.
  • Primavera Tofu Scramble: Make a colorful scramble with red bell pepper, sliced cherry or grape tomatoes, broccoli florets, shredded carrots and fresh dill and basil.
     
    *The methane from animal manure—including chickens—is the number one contributor to greenhouse gas and the erosion of the ozone layer.

      

  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Healthy Valentine Gifts

    Choose your snacks from 25 sweet or savory
    mixes. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    Sure, it’s easy to give a box of candy or cupcakes for Valentine’s Day.

    But for anyone who can benefit from better snacking, how about something more healthful—and fun?

    There are fruit gifts, of course, and delicious artisan nuts. There are portion-sized snacks like Peeled Snacks and GoBites.

    GoBites is in the healthful snacking business, delivering portion-controlled snacks that are easily portable and plentiful in variety.

    The nutrient-rich ingredients are 100% natural and USDA Certified Organic: the right ingredients and the right amount of them to please both snacker and nutritionist.

    Note that not all so-called “healthy snacks” are that healthy. Read the labels to see if they are chock full of added sugar and artificial ingredients.

    GoBites, on the other hand, are pure goodness: wholesome nuts, seeds, grains and fruits in creative blends.

     

     

    A DIFFERENT SNACK EVERY TIME

    There are some 27 choices. You can make your choices, or fill out a profile and have them selected for you (do you prefer sweet, savory, both, nuts, no nuts, etc.). A sample of the snacks:

  • Antioxidant Mix
  • Forbidden Rice Mix
  • Heart Health Mix
  • Pineapple Coconut Mix
  • Tropical Gluten Free Granola
  • Umami Crunch
  •  
    You can make a single purchase or sign up for a no commitment subscription program that delivers each week’s worth: 14 packages.

    Check out all the options at GoBites.com.

     

    The snack packages are easily portable. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

      

    Comments

    HALLOWEEN: Gnosis Raw Organic Chocolate

    You’ve heard that chocolate is good for you, but those claims leave out two key points:

  • Many of the flavanoids, the healthy antioxidants in cacao beans, are cooked out of the beans during the roasting process.
  • Chocolate contains lots of refined sugar—milk chocolate and white chocolate have the most sugar, bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao or higher) the least.
  •  
    If you want to try a healthier chocolate, check out Gnosis Chocolate (gnosis is the Greek word for knowledge).

    Gnosis celebrates “the origins of cacao, the well-being of our society, and Earth’s natural majesty.” This specialty line:

  • Is made from raw cacao, which keeps those healthful antioxidants
  • Uses low-glycemic sweeteners, such as agave and coconut palm sugar (more about the glycemic index)
  • Uses ingredients that are ethically sourced and organic wherever possible
  •  

    Healthier chocolate for Halloween. Photo courtesy Gnosis Chocolate.

     

    The bars are available plain or flavored with popular herbs and spices (chili, coconut-almond, hazelnut, mint, sea salt) as well as nutrient-dense superfoods (cashew-fig, cinnamon-goji, pomegranate-açaí).

    Some bars have holistic and ayurvedic ingredients rarely found in chocolate: camomile essential oil, chaste berry, dong quai, evening primrose oil, goldenberry, Inca berry, hemp seed, mulberry, yumberry, schizandra berry, shatvari, Sunwarrior Protein Powder (vegan) and valerian.

    In addition to chocolate bars, Gnossis makes truffles, hot chocolate and trail mix.

    The products are certified kosher, organic and vegan and are free of soy, gluten, and dairy. The bars are wrapped in PCW* recycled, biodegradable packaging printed with vegetable inks.

    Gnosis was founded by Vanessa Barg, a board certified holistic health counselor, who began making chocolate in 2006 as gifts for her clients. In her search for raw, unadulterated cacao, she studied the beans, working on cacao farms and processing beans from the pod. She personally visits the sources and works with growers to assure bean quality and working conditions and to support the growth of organic farming.

    Learn more and shop online at GnosisChocolate.com.

    *Post consumer waste.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Exciting Vegan Sushi Ideas

    Pickle Me: a recipe with six grain rice,
    avocado, carrot, gobo, and pickled daikon.
    Photo courtesy Beyond Sushi.

     

    In our book, to say you were a contestant on the Gordon Ramsay bleepfest TV show, Hell’s Kitchen, is not a status credential. The majority of cheftestants, who can curse expertly but can’t consistently cook a simple piece of fish or beef, engender incredulity that they hold down professional jobs.

    But Guy Vaknin, who was eliminated early on in the show’s recently concluded Season 10, proves that a Ramsay reject can open an inspired specialty eatery and do a terrific job. Who can get excited about Hell’s Kitchen’s pasta or scallop dishes when there’s Vaknin’s innovative sushi to be had?

    No Fish

    Beyond Sushi, the vegan sushi restaurant in New York City created by Vaknin (who was previously a kosher chef/caterer), offers an aesthetic alternative to traditional sushi. Yes, there‘s no fish in this sushi. Sushi simply means vinegared rice: su = vinegar, shi = rice.

    The fare is an inspired approach to sushi that just happens to be low in sodium: No soy sauce is used. Instead, Chef Vaknin uses flavored vegetable purées as sauces for the sushi.

     

    Vegetarians, vegans and omnivores alike will be charmed by these vegetable and fruit beauties. If the idea excites you, visit Beyond Sushi’s Facebook page, check out the photo gallery and roll your own.

    No White Rice

    There’s also no white rice in Vaknin’s sushi. In the name of nutrition, flavor and aesthetics, Chef Vaknin employs black Chinese forbidden rice and a six grain rice made from rye berries (the whole kernel, which is ground to make rye flour for baking), two types of barley, black rice, brown rice and red rice. (Check out the different types of rice in our Rice Glossary, along with an overview of whole grains).

    No Soy Sauce

    Vaknin also cuts down on the sodium inherent in classic sushi, via the soy sauce. Even low sodium soy sauce has more than a meal’s allotment of sodium (Kikkoman’s low sodium soy sauce, for example, has 575 mg sodium per tablespoon, compared with 920 mg for its regular soy sauce).

    Instead, all rolls are served with sauces made from tofu or veggie purée, such as carrot-ginger, jalapeño-wasabi, mango-chili, shiitake-teriyaki, toasted cayenne and white miso.

    Vegetarians, vegans and omnivores alike will be charmed by these vegetable beauties, some with fruit accents. If the idea excites you, visit Beyond Sushi’s Facebook page, check out the photo gallery and roll your own.

    Then, serve your beautiful and healthful creations for lunch, dinner, snacks and cocktail fare. It will have special fans among:

  • Vegetarians, vegans and pregnant women who are tired of the limited vegetarian options in conventional sushi bars: asparagus, avocado, carrot, cucumber and pickled vegetable rolls.
  • Kids who like sushi but not fish.
  • Foodies who want something different and exciting.
  •  

    THE VEGAN SUSHI MENU

    Vaknin scours farmers markets for the inspiration to combine great flavors, colors and textures. On the Beyond Sushi menu you’ll find:

  • CRUNCH N MUNCH: Black rice with alfalfa, baked tofu, English cucumber and kiwi, with white miso sauce.
  • GREEN MACHINE: Six grain rice with English cucumber, basil leaf, marinated veggies and white asparagus,with jalapeño wasabi sauce.
  • LA FIESTA: Black rice with avocado, chayote, cilantro and picked red onion, with mango chili sauce.
  • HARICAT: Black rice with carrot, grilled haricots vert (green beans) and mango, with sweet soy mirin sauce.
  • MIGHTY MUSHROOM: Six grain rice with arugula microgreens, enoki and shiitake muchrooms and tofu, with shiitake teriyaki sauce.
  •  

    Black rice, avocado, cucumber, mango and spicy veggies, topped with toasted cayenne sauce. Photo courtesy Beyond Sushi.

     

  • NUTTY BUDDY: A wrap roll with avocado, baked tofu, buckwheat noodles, carrots, cilantro, crushed peanuts, jalapeño peanut butter and romaine dressed with sesame oil and served with sweet soy mirin sauce.
  • PICKLE ME: Six grain rice with avocado, carrot, gobo, and pickled daikon, served with carrot ginger sauce.
  • SPICY MANG: Black rice, avocado, cucumber, mango and spicy veggies, served with toasted cayenne sauce.
  • SWEET ANGEL: A wrap roll with angel hair whole wheat noodles, alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, baked sweet potato, chili flakes and romaine, served with toasted cayenne sauce.
  • SWEET TREE: Six grain rice with alfalfa sprouts, avocado and sweet potato, served with toasted cayenne sauce.
  •  
    There are also a special Rolls Of The Month. You can enter your idea for the chance to win dinner for two. Some recent winners:

  • Broccolini, beets, mango, sautéed Swiss chard and coriander-tumeric chickpea purée with chia seed encrusted black rice, topped with roasted red pepper sauce and fresh tarragon.
  • Tamarind-red wine vinegar heirloom tomato marmalade with six grain rice, garnished with a dehydrated cherry tomato chip.
  • Roasted cumin cauliflower with six grain rice and coriander chickpea purée, topped with roasted red pepper sauce and cilantro.
  •  
    September’s special roll is black rice with Dijon-crusted roasted celery root and peaches topped with a blend of red cabbage, cilantro and celery and finished with celery root purée and whiskey marinated mustard seeds.

    Are you ready to roll?
     
    HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR SUSHI?

    Check out our Sushi Glossary.

      

    Comments

    COOKING VIDEO: Vegetarian Italian Sausage

     

    Since this week’s Top Pick is the Veggie Patch vegetarian line, our weekly video recipe follows suit.

    These delicious vegetarian sausages are billed as vegetarian in the video, but they’re actually vegan—no animal-based ingredients are used. Even the special flavoring, Bill’s Best Chik’Nish Seasoning, is vegan.

    The meatless sausages are made with a base of gluten flour and garbanzo bean flour, plus all of the traditional Italian sausage seasonings: garlic, onion, chili flakes, fennel seeds, oregano, pepper and paprika.

    You don’t have to stuff sausage casings, either. Because the flours act as bonding agents, the ingredients form a dough that is hand-rolled into sausage shapes, then steamed.

    Make them for yourself, or as a gift for a vegetarian or vegan friend.

       

       

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Chocolate Pudding, Lactose Free & Cholesterol Free

    People who are diagnosed with a food allergy have to give up some favorite foods or turn to less-than-tasty substitutes. But enough Americans are diagnosed with allergies that businesses are rising to the occasion to make good-tasting alternatives.

    Often, allergen-free products are made because a family member develops the condition. In one of the more ironic situations, the Coffins, a Montana farm family that has been dairying for generations, had to remove all dairy products from the diets of mom and the kids.

    After trying the less-than-satisfactory alternatives the family began to create their own substitutes, tasty enough that everyone—including the non-allergic—could enjoy. The WayFare line of puddings, cheese spreads (regular, Mexican and smoked, our favorite) and sour cream was the happy result. Ice cream is currently under development.

    The “secret” ingredient in the line is certified gluten-free, whole grain oatmeal. In the course of using oatmeal to replace the body of milk, the products also became cholesterol free and vegan.

    The line is 100% dairy-free, soy free, cholesterol free, trans-fats free and non-GMO. The products are certified kosher by Star-K.

     

    WayFare lactose-free puddings. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    So how do they taste?

    The butterscotch and chocolate fare well; the vanilla, to us, doesn’t have significant vanilla flavor and works better as a hard sauce or creamy topping.

    There’s a store locator on WayFareFoods.com, and information for retailers who want to amp up their lactose free foods.

    FOOD ALLERGY FACTS

    There’s an economic opportunity in products that address food allergies. Anheuser-Busch makes a gluten-free beer, the Girl Scouts sell three varieties of milk-free (lactose-free) cookies and General Mills reformulated Rice Chex earlier this year to be gluten-free. Kellogg’s makes its Pop-Tarts in nut-free factories. If vodka is your drink of choice, look for products distilled from non-grains, such as grapes and potatoes.

    An estimated 12 million people in the U.S. have food allergies; 2 million more have celiac disease, a potentially deadly form of gluten allergy.

    Medical experts don’t know why the number of people with food allergies is increasing. Theories include reduced contact with germs, exposure to certain environmental pollutants and, in the case of peanut allergies, the way peanuts are processed and at what point they are introduced into a person’s diet. Much research is needed; there is very little of it, even though allergic reaction to food causes about 30,000 emergency room visits and 150 to 200 fatalities each year.

    Statistics from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) reveal that in the U.S.:

  • Some 8% of children have a food allergy: an estimated 5.9 million children, of whom 38.7% have a history of severe reactions. Peanut is the most prevalent allergen, followed by milk and then shellfish.
  • The prevalence of food allergy among children under the age of 18 increased 18% percent from 1997 to 2007 (peanut allergy doubled from 1997-2002).
  • Some 3% to 4% of adults have one or more food allergies. Six and a half million Americans (2.3% of the general population) are allergic to seafood; more than 3 million people are allergic to peanuts, tree nuts or both.
  • Food allergies account for 35% to 50% of all cases of anaphylaxis. Mayo Clinic studies estimate that the number of cases more than doubled, from 21,000 in 1999 to 51,000 in 2008. Fatal food anaphylaxis is most often caused by peanuts (50%-62%) and tree nuts (15%-30%).
  •  
    So read the labels, and look for more good food coming from allergen-free manufacturers.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Add Miso To Your Meals

    Genji Miso Dressing. Photo by Elvira Kalviste
    | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Genji Inc. is a purveyor of sushi to 143 Whole Foods Markets and other food stores across the U.S. They supply the sushi bar and the staff who make the sushi.

    Sushi bar customers loved the ginger miso salad dressing so much that the company bottled it. Consumers can purchase it from the sushi case in two versions: regular Ginger Miso dressing and Spicy Ginger Miso dressing, which is pretty spicy (the heat level is like hot salsa—use it to get the heat-lovers in your family to eat more salad).

    The tasty, vegan dressings are made from white miso, canola oil and rice vinegar, flavored with onion, pickled ginger, soy sauce and lemon juice. The miso adds unique flavor not found in Western salad dressings—along with a pile of health benefits (more about them below). A two-tablespoon serving has 80 calories, 7g total fat, 0 cholesterol, 320 mg sodium, 3 total carbs and 1 g protein.

    The dressings are very thick. Some people love thick dressings, but your two-tablespoon portion size doesn’t go too far in coating a bowl of salad greens because it doesn’t “slide.”

     

    So we diluted the miso dressing 1:1 with salad oil to get more coverage without using half the bottle.

    WHAT IS MISO

    Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning made by fermenting rice, barley and/or soybeans, with salt and koji kin, a natural fungus. The mixture ferments for three months to three years, producing an enzyme-rich food. The longer the fermentation, the higher quality the miso.

    The result is a thick paste used to make sauces and spreads, to pickle vegetables and meats and to mix with dashi, a soup stock, to become miso soup (misoshiru). Westerners can add it to beans, grains, pasta, seafood dishes, spreads and dips, stews and numerous soups beyond misoshiru.

    Here’s an entire book of delicious miso cookery. It also shows you how to make miso paste at home, from scratch.

    The less ambitious among us can buy miso paste in the international section of supermarkets, in Asian markets and in health food stores.

    There are different types of miso paste, based on whether they are made with bean malt, rice malt or wheat malt. Each type of miso paste can be made into either red miso or white miso, and different miso pastes are used in different recipes.

    High in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals, miso is widely used in Japan, both in traditional and modern cooking. Different varieties of miso have been described as salty, sweet, earthy, fruity and savory, based on fermentation process, length of fermentation and added ingredients (rice or other grains can be added in addition to barley).

     

    THE ANCIENT HISTORY OF MISO

    While miso is strongly identified with Japan, the predecessor of today’s miso probably originated in China as a salt-fermented food called chiang. It was originally made with animal proteins—meat or fish.

    Over time, soybeans were substituted for the animal proteins. The first written record of this is from Chimin Yaushu, who created what is perhaps the oldest agricultural encyclopedia in the world (written between 535 and 550 C.E.). He indicates that fermented soybean foods had been prepared for centuries.

    Miso probably arrived in Japan with the introduction of Buddhism, in that same century. To use a modern expression, it was a big hit, and quickly became a staple of the Japanese diet.

    All Japanese miso varieties are made with fermented soybeans, but there are broad district and regional differences based on local tradition and preferences.

     

    If you can’t find unpasteurized miso locally, you can buy it online. The South River line makes different varieties of miso (including barley, chickpea and brown rice misos), all of which are certified organic.

     

    THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF MISO

    Miso is a highly nutritious food. It is a “perfect protein,” containing all eight of the essential amino acids.

  • General health. Miso is low in fat and cholesterol-free. It contains three important antioxidant groups: isoflavones, estrogen-based antioxidants that fight hot flashes; saponins, phytochemicals that may reduce elevated cholesterol levels and may fight against breast, colon, prostate and uterine cancers; and phytosterols, which also may be beneficial in lowering cholesterol levels.
  • Protein. The fermented soybeans create a high-quality protein that is easily digested.
  • Digestion. Miso aids in the digestion of other foods. Unpasteurized miso (there is also shelf-stable, pasteurized miso) contains natural digestive enzymes and lactic acid bacteria (the lactobacillus found in yogurt). Since these live organisms die at temperatures higher than 104°F, unpasteurized miso should never be cooked at high heat. For miso soup, the paste is stirred into the dashi toward the conclusion of cooking.
  • Detoxification. Zybicolin, an active ingredient in miso, has been found to be effective in detoxifying elements that are taken into the body through chemicals in the soil and food system, industrial pollution and radioactivity.
  •  
    According to Japanese mythology, miso is a gift to mankind from the gods, to assure lasting happiness, health and longevity. We can’t make any guarantees, but we think you’ll like it.

      

    Comments

    BOOKS: Good Junk Food & Comfort Food

    A great read and a permanent reference book for everyone who wants to make better food choices and teach kids how to do the same. Get your copy now.

     

    Junk food is a pejorative term attributed to Michael Jacobson, director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. He first used it in 1972 to refer to food that is of minimal nutritional value (little protein, vitamins or minerals) and worse, typically high in fat, sugar and other empty calories. Some of the culprits include candy bars, potato chips and other salty snacks, soda, and many desserts.

    Could he have known that a substantial number of Americans—junk food lovers—would come to see the term as a positive? No doubt, if someone were to establish a chain called The Junk Food Food Court, the lines would be out the door. (Note that if you take this concept and run with it, you owe THE NIBBLE a royalty, which we will put to the service of healthier-eating awareness.)

    In his series of Eat This, Not That books, David Zinczenko has done a great boon to America by pointing out the horrors in our diet: the salty, sugary and fat-laden foods we consume. While we know they are not good for us, we never realized how bad they were until he garnered so much media attention.

     

    Two new books take on the topic of junk food, and both are worth putting on your bookshelf.

    UNJUNK YOUR JUNK FOOD

    The first book is Unjunk Your Junk Food: Healthy Alternatives to Conventional Snacks, by Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer with Lisa Tsakos.

    The premise is that you don’t have to give up junk food to eat healthy; just make smarter choices.

    As such, the book features some 175 favorite brands of junk food, from candy and chocolate, to cookies and ice cream novelties, to chips and dips, to sodas and other beverages. It showcases the “bad food” on the left hand page, with the better alternative on the facing page.

    Equally as important, the book explains why, giving a detailed comparison that is both enlightening and interesting. In addition to the specific food comparisons, there are helpful overviews and glossaries: basic nutrition, bad ingredients to watch out for and things even a ten-year-old can understand and appreciate.

    In fact, we really like this book for both kids and adults. Instead of demanding change, it confers upon the reader a great understanding of the differences between good and bad ingredients, while providing a more-than-satisfactory alternative for each bad food.
     
    Even though we don’t eat much junk food, we were enlightened by:

  • The great tips for reading food labels and recognizing false claims.
  • The explanation of many ingredients—especially the polysyllabic ones that look like the chemicals they are.
  • The nutritious ingredients to look for and dangerous additives to avoid.
  •  

    VEGAN JUNK FOOD

    While Unjunk Your Junk Food truly is about junk food, Vegan Junk Food, by Lane Gold, is misnamed. We’d call it Vegan Comfort Food. Perhaps because there were already a few titles that focus on vegan comfort food, the publisher wanted a point of differentiation. Instead, it’s a point of confusion. This is a vegan cookbook focusing on popular comfort foods.

    While we’re at it, we also don’t like the subtitle, “225 Sinful Snacks That Are Good For The Soul.” Again, there are some snacks (caramel popcorn, cookies) but the majority of the recipes are meal items, not snacks.

    We also don’t find it inviting to call food “sinful” or that other misused word, “decadent.” And we wager that no cleric would agree that sinful undertakings are “good for the soul.”

     

    A terrific book and a great gift for anyone who eats junk food. Get your copy now.

    While we use our editor’s pulpit to point out what others have missed, the good news is that the content of the book is quite appealing: chock-full of vegan recipes for every meal and snack of the day:

  • Muffins, scrambled tofu with biscuits and sausage gravy
  • Cheesesteak, corndog, meatball sub and mac and cheese
  • Asian and Mexican favorites—empanadas, fajitas, tacos, tofu eggplant tikka masala, wontons, etc.
  • Appetizers and dips, from jalapeño poppers to teriyaki kabobs
  • Cakes, candies, cookies and more
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    It’s an inexpensive book ($11.17 on Amazon.com), so we can forgive the limited number of photos. Everyone knows what cheesecake, dip, fried rice and muffins look like.

    We recommend this book for every person/family who enjoys these foods, because eating vegan as often as you can is your contribution to saving the planet.* Not to mention all the cholesterol saved.
     
    *Animal manure is the number-one component of greenhouse gas (which produces climate change, a.k.a. global warming); raising animals depletes and pollutes water tables and a whole bunch more reasons we’ll cover on Earth Day.

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: Tofu Chocolate Mousse Recipe For National Chocolate Mousse Day

    A chocolate mousse alternative that can be
    vegan. Photo courtesy HouseFoods.com.

     

    Allergic to eggs? Lactose intolerant? Vegan? Cholesterol-averse?

    You can still celebrate National Chocolate Mousse Day, April 3rd, by substituting soft tofu.

    While traditional mousse recipes use heavy cream and eggs (high in calories and cholesterol), House Foods America provides a healthier and vegan-optional alternative for you to celebrate National Chocolate Mousse Day.

    House Food’s Soft (Silken) Tofu is a flavorless ingredient that can transform itself into any flavor or texture (find more recipes on the company’s website).

    The recipe delivers a smooth texture that, when blended with semi-sweet chocolate, milk or coconut milk, vanilla, cinnamon and cardamom, creates a luscious dessert that tastes just as indulgent as the traditional version.

     

    This recipe serves 4-6, and takes only 15 minutes to prepare.

    Ingredients

  • 1 package (14 ounces) soft tofu
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup of milk (can substitute coconut milk)
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
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    Preparation

    1. Open the tofu package and strain out the water. Remove tofu and blend in blender until smooth.

    2. With the stove on low or simmer, melt the chocolate chips and milk in a pot, stirring until smooth. Add the tofu mixture and stir until it is blended evenly with the chocolate.

    3. Stir in vanilla, cinnamon and cardamom. Quickly remove from heat, cool in a bowl or individual serving dishes and set in fridge until the mixture becomes mousse-thick.

    You can add your own personal twist to this recipe:

  • Top the pudding with toasted slivered almonds or other nuts, coconut shavings, or cocoa powder.
  • Or, try these 12 mousse garnishes.
  • For a spicy Mexican chocolate mousse, replace the 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom with 1/2 teaspoon of chile powder.
  • Add a half teaspoon of agave nectar for an even sweeter pudding.
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    The Classic Chocolate Mousse Recipe

    Here’s Julia Child’s chocolate mousse recipe, and the history of mousse.

      

    Comments

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