O Olive Oil

20141107_131716Jane and I have always enjoyed dipping good bread in olive oil and balsamic. A few years ago we were introduced to Dukkah: a mix of ground roast nuts and spices, originating in Egypt, and used as a dip. You add a bit of olive oil and balsamic to your plate and then a small spoonful of dukkah (you can find our recipe below) and dip away. We've adopted this as a regular nosh for ourselves.

So when we were contacted by O Olive Oil and asked if we'd like to sample their products, we said, "absolutely."

We received a very nice package containing two olive oils and four vinegars. The first olive oil we tasted was the O Meyer Lemon Olive Oil which has a really nice light and summery taste. We also sampled the O California Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This is a basic olive oil that has a nice fruity note to it as well. Both are very good, and the Meyer Lemon Olive Oil works nicely in a salad dressing.

The vinegars we sampled included: O Fig Balsamic Vinegar, O California White Balsamic Vinegar, O California Port Balsamic Vinegar, and the O California Balsamic Vinegar. Yum. The plain balsamic tasted very good, the white balsamic was light and had less of a bite than the other vinegars, and both were very good. But the Port and Fig balsamic vinegars stood out as delicious. We're hoarding the remainder of those bottles for ourselves, and will be buying more when we finish our samples.

We sampled six of their many products. Jane has already earmarked a few of the other varieties she'd like as her holiday gift, and I'm all for that since I'll get to share in the bounty. O Olive Oil has a number of gift sets available if you're looking for a gift idea.



2/3 Cup ground almonds (or hazelnuts)

1/2 Cup toasted sesame seeds

2 Tbs ground coriander

2 Tbs cumin

1 Tbs ground pepper

3/4 Tbs salt

Mix all ingredients together. Stays fresh for a few months. Dukkah recipes vary widely, and there are many of them on the internet. You can modify the recipe with any spice mix you enjoy.


You can buy O Olive Oil directly from the manufacturer or on Amazon

Non Vegan Beer

Verre_de_GuinnessMANY years ago, I wrote that many beers are not vegan because of a very old process, called isinglass where fish innards are used to process beer. Just surfing the net, I stumbled upon an article from last year in Smithsonian discussing this. So just as a reminder:


Guinness sells about 10 million pints a day across 100 countries. On St. Patrick’s Day, that number hops to 13 million. When Arthur Guinness set up shop in Dublin back in 1759, he never would’ve guessed that his stout would become the unofficial beer of the Irish and the go-to beverage to shout to the bartender come March 17 (besides Jameson). Even Obama honored his Irish lineage with a highly-publicized Guinness at a pub in Ireland last year. But the classic brew isn’t for everyone. For the hardline vegetarians and vegans out celebrating this St. Paddy’s Day: there could be traces of fish bladder in your Guinness.

Isinglass, a gelatine-like substance made from the air-bladders or sounds of fish like the sturgeon is added to cask beers like Guinness to help any remaining yeast and solid particles settle out of the final product. As the finings pass through the beer, they attract themselves to particles in the fermented beer that create an unwanted “haziness” in the final product and form into a jelly-like mass that settles to the bottom of the cask. While beer left untouched will clear on its own, isinglass speeds up the process and doesn’t affect the final flavor of the beer once removed.

The word isinglass most likely comes from the corruption of the Dutch word huisenblas which translates directly to “sturgeon’s bladder,” but its history goes back a little further. Its archaic, Latin root, ichthyocolla, comes from the Greek words ikhthus (fish) and kolla (glue)—defining the mucous-like substance as “fish glue.”

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica Volume IX, originally published in Edinburgh in 1797, the method of using isinglass as a clarification agent was long a secret in the hands of the Russians who were known for their exceptionally strong isinglass-made glue. The entry, which draws heavily from Humphrey Jackson’s 63rd volume of the Philosophical Transactionscites the principal research of Pomet on the process of making isinglass:

“As to the manner of making the isinglass, the sinewy parts of the fish are boiled in water till all of them be dissolved that will disolve; then the gluey liqur is strained and set to cool. Being cold, the fat is carefully taken off, and the liquor itself boiled to a just consistency, then cut to pieces and made into a twist, bent in form of a crescent, as commonly fold: then hung upon a firing and carefully dried.”

Pomet’s experiments with the sounds of fish and its chemical properties lead him to discover the fish membrane’s ability to clarify beer. Adding an ounce and a half of “good isinglass” to a gallon of stale beer to steep for a few days, he found that the bad beer “was converted into good fining, of a remarkably thick consistence.” When he tried this with the same quantity of glue, the experiment yielded only “mucilaginous liquor, resembling diluted gum water which instead of clarifying beer, increased both its tenacity and turbidness.”

Combining the insinglass with malt liquor, he found that a “vast number of curdly masses became presently formed”, became attracted to the “feculencies of beer,” and, with the “well known laws of gravitation,” the unwanted particles combined with the isinglass and fell to the bottom of the barrel.

The process is simple: Remove the membranous parts of fresh-caught fish, scrape off the mucosity with a knife, roll, twist and dry in open air.  The thicker the sounds are, the better the isinglass. The air-bladders of fresh water fish are preferred because they are more flexible and delicate. Swim bladders from sturgeon—especially that from the Beluga sturgeon which yielded the greatest quantity of sounds—were used to make isinglass until the 1795 invention of a cheap cod substitute by William Murdoch.  Summer is the best time to collect, as frost interferes with the fish’s gelatinous principles. After the drying process, “good” isinglass, once held up to a light, exhibits prismatic colors.

Guinness first used isinglass in its Dublin brewery in the mid to late 19th century. A young fermentation scholar by the name of Forbes Watson, the son of an Edinburgh solicitor, was a pioneer in the experimentation and examination of the mineral constituents of Guinness beer. Within six weeks of being hired at the brewery, Watson discovered a way to recover beer at the bottom of the vat saving Guinness 6,000 pounds a year. Very early in his career, he toyed with pasteurization and introduced new methods of breaking down isinglass finings that would increase the lifetime of the stout. In 1909, Watson was killed in an accident with a machine he had helped create at age 37. After he died, little scientific ground was broken for the company until the 1930s.

With the presence of modern gelatin, isinglass is rarely used today with the exception of British “real ale” cask beers. Generally, British beers still use isinglass, gelatin, glycerin or casein. According to a recent statement made by Guinness:

“All Guinness brands are free from animal matter and from contact with animal matter. However, isinglass, which is a by-product of the fishing industry, is used as a fining agent for settling out suspended matter in the vat. The isinglass is retained in the floor of the vat but it is possible that minute quantities might be carried over into the beer.”

For many strict vegetarians and vegans even “minute quantities” of an animal product is enough to abstain from eating a particular food. Much like the honey debate (Does it hurt the bee? Or does it not count as an animal product? What about silkworms and cochineal bugs?) flexitarians and militant vegans may disagree on how to classify the potential traces of isinglass in beer.

For those who are on the anti-isinglass side of the spectrum, carrageenan, a type of red algae, also called Irish Moss, (an appropriate title for St. Paddy’s Day) also works as a fining agent in beer, but doesn’t yield the same results as isinglass. The k-carrageenan interacts with the proteins that create cloudy beer and form the molecular equivalent of marbles in syrup at the bottom of the batch. Vegan brands like Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon use carrageenan while others like Odell Brewing Co. use centrifugation for clarification.

Strict vegetarians and vegans often choose German or Belgium brews which abide by “purity laws” (first enacted in 1516) which require that breweries use only ingredients of water, grain (barley or wheat), hops and yeast. The ruling was officially lifted in 1987 by the European Court, but the tradition of the law remains.

So, before you step out on the town in your green get-up and order an Irish stout this St. Patrick’s Day, remember: Pescetarians, rejoice—Guinness is still “good for you“. Vegans, stick to whiskey.

Source: http://www.smithsonianmag.com


Thanksgiving has always been a special day in our house. Once we became vegan, our menu was mostly the same, simply veganized and minus the turkey. Over the years we've tried a wide variety of turkey substitutes, but our absolute favorite is the Gardein Holiday Roast.

gardein holiday roast

It is supposed to serve 8, but even though we cut it into 8 slices, we wind up eating two of them at one serving, so for us, it serves 4. The package even comes with two pouches of some pretty good gravy, eliminating the need to make your own.

Last year we found it at our local grocery store, where we can also find a wide variety of other Gardein products. This year, they didn't carry it, even though they've expanded their Gardein variety, but the store manager did offer to special order it for us. We were able to buy it at Sprouts, and it appears to be carried at many Target's here in southern California. Unfortunately it has also gone up in price (along with almost everything we are buying this year) from $11.99 to $13.99. We thinks it's a tad pricey, but we love it regardless. It is our Thanksgiving table centerpiece.

Kiss Me Organics Matcha Green Tea Powder

A few years ago I developed an intolerance to the caffeine in iced tea. I would become jittery and edgy after lunch. Finally, it occurred to me that I could no longer tolerate the iced tea I always drank. So I switched to green tea iced tea, when it was available and water or lemonade elsewhere.

There are many claims that Matcha has health benefits. Since we're not medical professionals, we don't feel qualified to rate the claims, but we feel it is certainly a better alternative than soda, and probably better than juices.

So when we were asked if we'd like to review Kiss Me Organics Matcha, Jane and I agreed. This is a culinary grade green tea powder.20141123_155958

A few months ago, we had been given a small package of matcha from a friend who'd returned from Japan. We made iced tea from that, but since we primarily drink water at home we hadn't yet purchased any additional matcha ourselves, even though we love green tea iced tea.

When the Kiss Me Matcha arrived, we made ourselves some iced tea straight away. Upon opening the package we noticed an intense green tea smell. The package we'd been given from Japan was did not give off as strong a scent. The Kiss Me Matcha also had a more velvety texture, whereas the Japanese product was drier and had a more powdery texture. Not comparing the two products side by side is probably not the most fair test, but we both felt the Kiss Me product had a better taste and texture.

Yesterday Jane tried a recipe for Green Tee Cookies. Yum! They're not overly sweet and have a really nice flavor and they'll be a staple in our house. I also threw a tablespoon of the Matcha into my morning smoothie. Honestly, I couldn't tell it was there. Since the matcha is supposed to be very good for you I'm happy to add it to my smoothies.


In the meantime it's been warm here, so Jane tried a quick recipe for Green Tea Ice Cream with just two ingredients... frozen bananas and matcha green tea powder. While it tasted good, the consistency was not ice cream like, so she's not likely to make that recipe again. Tomorrow Jane is going to try Green Tea Ice Cream, with a coconut milk base. We're looking forward to it.

So where do we stand on Kiss Me Organics Matcha Green Tea Powder? In general, matcha is more pricey than regular green tea, and at $25 for 4 ounces, Kiss Me certainly isn't inexpensive, but isn't the most expensive matcha out there by far. We really liked this product and will be using it again. But Jane and I both agree that we will use it in recipes that feature the taste rather than as a regular addition to smoothies or the like where the taste gets lost. And of course, we'll be making plenty of matcha green tea iced tea.

If you're looking to purchase this product, you can find it on Amazon.com

Vegetarian Thanksgiving: A Squash Main Course

When Maria Marlowe, a New York resident, switched to a vegan diet eight years ago for health reasons, she tried to persuade her family to do the same.

“When someone converts to vegan eating they preach a lot, and I preached,” she said. “I was like the food police. I made people feel uncomfortable. It wasn’t effective.”

But this year, Ms. Marlowe’s family will celebrate its first all-vegan Thanksgiving. How did she persuade her meat-loving family to go vegan?

“I decided to show — not tell — how good vegan food actually tastes,” she said. “I lightened up a bit.”

This spring, Ms. Marlowe visited her sister in Miami and prepared most meals, offering her sister vegan breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes based on foods purchased at the local farmers market. She also took her sister to vegan restaurants. When Ms. Marlowe left, her sister decided to keep eating a plant-based diet and has since lost 70 pounds. Impressed by the results, their father switched to vegan eating and lost 20 pounds.

At the Marlowe family Thanksgiving this year, no turkey will be served, and vegan dishes will be the main course, including this stuffed acorn squash recipe Ms. Marlowe calls “Three Sisters Squash.” (The sisters in the recipe are the Native American staples beans, corn and squash.)

“It has a little bit of everything,” she says. “It’s filling and satisfying, and the garlic melts into the crust of the squash, and it’s so amazing. It will be the star of our first official, completely vegan, Thanksgiving table.”

Three Sisters Squash: The sisters in this recipe are the native American staples beans, corn and squash, which together offer a delicious main course for vegan diners.

More reader-submitted recipes from Well’s Vegetarian Thanksgiving 2014:

Panzanella of Plenty: A reworking of a traditional Italian summer bread salad, adding fall produce so that it resembles a traditional American Thanksgiving stuffing.

Brussels Sprouts Sliders: A creative and fun way to enjoy a great fall and winter vegetable: crunchy “buns” of roasted brussels sprouts with a tasty middle of caramelized onions and tempeh that makes for “dreamy bites of pure umami goodness."

Black Rice, Beet and Kale Salad With Cider Flax Dressing: This delicious salad resulted from an effort to create a hearty vegetarian dish while at the same time offering a delicious gluten-free option.

Really Big Beets: A show-stopping main course for the vegans at your dinner table — and one that even meat-eaters will want to eat.

source: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/19/vegetarian-thanksgiving-a-squash-main-course/?_r=0

Free Vegan Cookbook: A Vegan Survival Guide for the Holidays


There are many, MANY vegan cookbooks available. Here's a free vegan cookbook from Ed Begley and James Stone.

Within the electronic pages of A Vegan Survival Guide for the Holidays, you’ll find the following:

  • Festive and seasonal cocktail recipes.
  • Exclusive content from Holidazed.
  • Yummy starters, like my Roasted Beet Hummus.
  • A plethora of side dishes, such as my Bourbon Glazed Carrots.
  • Decadent desserts.
  • Infographics for easier cooking.
  • A charming foreword by my friend Ed Begley, Jr.

As a vegetarian of 25 years, I know just how challenging holiday meals can be. Actually, any community meal, really. Which is why we are here.

It’s one of the reasons I started the Cooking Stoned. I wanted to showcase that vegetarian cuisine could be interesting, gourmet, and mouthwatering. The same goes for veganism. But more often than not, vegan food blogs are so “political” that what makes good food good is actually overlooked. Be honest, we’ve all seen them. It’s granola-y, boring, and sad. Really sad. They make the DMV look like the happiest place on earth.

But we know vegan cuisine is anything but. At its core, it celebrates earth’s bounty and a harmony with nature, which is a beautiful thing. So there’s no excuse for those extra helpings of sadness.

Here's a link to download the book for free.

When you make a choice to eat a certain diet, or even to just adopt some guidelines about the foods you choose to eat, it can be a great decision for you, in terms of your health or your budget. But for your friends and relations, it can seem like a royal pain for them to make sure they're serving foods you can eat, and holiday gatherings and events that center around eating can take on a whole new twist.

I've been vegan for about 16 years now, and I've never regretted it once (OK, just that one time), because I've experienced some great health benefits since making that choice. It's not too terribly difficult to transition over to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, but it's not exactly easy either, especially if your idea of being a vegetarian means eating only carrot sticks or cheese pizza or PB&J sandwiches every day. After all, you don't want to show up to a holiday meal with your family and only eat the salad and appetizers, and you don't want to bring a dish that looks more like it belongs in the compost pile than the dinner table.

Thanks to a couple of veg-friendly guys, Ed Begley, Jr. (vegan for 22 years) and Jerry James Stone (vegetarian for 25 years), you don't have to be "that guy" at Thanksgiving, because they've put together a collection of 15 fabulous vegan recipes that aim to help you make gourmet vegan food that looks as good as it tastes, and they're giving it away for free.

The recipes in the Vegan Survival Guide for the Holidays run the gamut from appetizers to cocktails to side dishes to desserts, and includes cooking tips and more.

"After 22 years of being a vegan under my ‘canvas’ belt, I’m ready to share some of my survival skills with you. These recipes will help you navigate all those holiday tables covered with hams and turkeys." - Ed Begley, Jr.

Some of the recipes included in this e-cookbook are Roasted Brussels Sprouts Mac n Cheese, No-Bake Pumpkin Crème Brulee, Bourbon Braised Carrots, and Roasted Apple and Squash Soup, which can probably help turn a boring vegan Thanksgiving into a gourmet feast where nobody even remembers that everything is completely vegan.

"I wanted to create mouth-watering food that everyone would love. It’s food that celebrates the season with classic dishes. From appetizers, soups and salads to sides, desserts and event cocktails, I’ve got you covered." - Jerry James Stone

To get your copy of this free vegan e-cookbook, head over to Cooking Stoned.

source: treehugger.com

Native Foods Expansion


Downstairs in the kitchen of the new Native Foods Cafe, Jackie Perez preps the meat and sauerkraut for a Reuben sandwich. It's 11:45 a.m., 30 minutes before the two-hour lunch rush will start, bringing in hundreds of hungry businessmen and women from around Dupont Circle.

Perez, the restaurant's national kitchen trainer, is surrounded by a dozen other employees who are topping cheeseburgers with bacon, tossing salads and plating sweet potato fries.

"It's amazing, you have to try it," Perez says of the Reuben, a best seller on the cafe's menu. The Native Foods version of the classic American bar sandwich is missing a key ingredient, though: in place of corned beef, slices of rye bread are piled with spiced seitan, a wheat-based protein made by combining gluten flour, spices and stock or water and then simmering the mixture to remove as much starch as possible. Native Foods goes one step further by adding beet juice to the mixture so the seitan, sliced deli-style, takes on the red coloring of the meat it mimics.

Everything on Native Foods Cafe's menu is vegan. The fast-casual chain is expanding across the country, capitalizing on Americans' growing enthusiasm to make more conscious choices about their food and converting meat lovers to what's been known as a hippie food movement by vegan-izing American classics such as the bacon cheeseburger and mac and cheese. The Washington store is the chain's 22nd and the first on the East Coast; it will soon be followed by another location in D.C.'s Penn Quarter.

Co-owner Andrea McGinty proudly points out that most people who stop in for a bite to eat aren't vegan, rather people looking for "a better way to eat." She prefers referring to the cafe's fare as plant-based, finding that it's less of a turn-off when explaining the concept to newbies.

"Native Foods serves fun comfort food that happens to be vegan," says McGinty, who is based in Chicago. McGinty and her business partner, Daniel Dolan, bought Native Foods from the company's founder in 2009. At the time there were just three restaurants, including the one in Palm Springs, Calif., where McGinty first discovered the cafe while on vacation 14 years ago.

"There was still a stigma on this word vegan," she says. "I thought, this could be so much fun to do. Every time I introduced it to anybody, they loved the food."

She took on the restaurant with hopes of expanding and a conviction that vegan food could become mainstream. Her timing may have put the business in prime position to succeed. She took the business outside California with a store in Chicago that opened in 2011; McGinty wants to have 200 stores in the next two years. Meanwhile, Americans are adopting all manner of specialty diets, nixing gluten, going vegetarian on weeknights, seeking alternative forms of protein besides meat, and trying unfamiliar vegetables like kale and grains such as farro.

A 2011 report by The Hartman Group found that 6% of Millennials identify as vegetarians, compared to 5% of Gen X and Boomers combined, and 12% say they often opt for vegetarian meals, vs. 10% of Gen X and 5% of Boomers who say the same.

Caroline Smith, 25, and Elizabeth Barnes, 22, are at Native Foods Cafe for the first time for lunch, but Smith says the two have been checking out the menu online for the past week. She is a vegetarian, while Barnes says she is "95% vegetarian."

They're both excited that Native Foods has such a large selection of veggie-heavy meals. The menu includes starters, salads, "earth bowls" usually made with a base of quinoa or brown rice, wraps and sandwiches, and desserts.

"Some places it's cucumbers on white bread with cheese or something and that's it," Barnes says of the vegetarian options she finds at other restaurants.

Native Foods serves dishes with vegan proteins including tofu, seitan and tempeh, which is made with soybeans and millet. The seitan and tempeh are made from scratch daily in Native Foods' kitchens. The cafe displays signs explaining each protein so customers understand what goes into the dishes.

There may be a learning curve, and new vocabulary, to veganism, but that hasn't affected the flow of customers into the restaurant. Since opening Sept. 30, Native Foods in D.C. has been averaging 600 customers a day, 50% more people than the average Native Foods nationally.

"I think people are attracted to this concept because the food tastes good," McGinty says, adding that at Native Foods people can still eat their favorite foods without the usual guilt or gluttony associated with fast food. "We want to change the way America eats, one restaurant at a time."


source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/10/13/native-foods-cafe-vegan-restaurant/16975663/

image courtesy: cnbc.com

Let Them Eat Vegan Wedding Cake

10373520_726109577451441_886351446670461233_nHer family wasn’t vegetarian – let alone vegan – but they never used butter, milk or eggs in their baking. “That’s just the way they baked,” said Kristi Touchette, 40.

She’s not sure why, but recalls a relative mentioning a connection to the Depression, when eggs and milk were in short supply so cake recipes were devised without them. Handed down through the generations, these recipes may show up in your family cookbook today, as they do in mine, with names such as Depression Cake, War Cake and Wacky Cake.

Touchette didn’t give much thought to the matter when she was growing up, but her family’s approach came in handy when she became a vegan and again six years ago when she decided to lean on her sculpture degree from the Maine College of Art to produce high-end, 100 percent vegan custom cakes.

And so Ahimsa (which means nonviolence in Sanskrit) Custom Cakes was born.

Today, Touchette has become the go-to baker for Maine vegans in need of wedding cakes or special occasion treats. At this time of year, she is in the thick of the fall wedding season.

But here’s the interesting thing: most of her customers aren’t vegan. “I have maybe 1 or 2 percent vegan customers,” said Touchette, who bakes from the certified kitchen in her Auburn home.

It may be that the bride and groom are trying to accommodate guests who are vegan or have allergies to, say eggs. Or the draw may be simply that her cakes – in unusual and appealing flavors like French Toast (vanilla bean cake with cinnamon-maple frosting) and Blueberry Pancake (vanilla bean cake baked with Maine blueberries with cinnamon-maple frosting) – are beautiful and delicious.

That’s what Kim and Allen Cornwall of Scarborough found. Before getting married last June, Kim discovered Touchette’s website, liked what she saw and booked a cake tasting, though neither she nor her now husband are vegan.

While Kim admits to “loving sweets,” Allen says he is “more of an ice cream and pie guy.” But the samples Touchette served during their tasting made him reconsider. He really liked the frosting; she liked that Touchette uses “real ingredients,” like vanilla beans and Maine wild blueberries. “Kim and I both looked at each other,” Allen said, “and we knew this was the one. This was the cake.”


Avoiding eggs, butter and milk isn’t all it takes to produce a vegan cake. Touchette covers her cakes with edible vegan fondant, which is made with agar from seaweed rather than gelatin from animal bones. To make edible sugar flowers and other decorations, she reaches for unbleached, organic evaporated cane juice that isn’t ground using charred animal bones (a common processing technique for white sugar and one that is not considered vegan). Touchette also uses many organic ingredients.

Touchette designs traditional cakes and unexpected ones, according to her customers’ desires. Among the latter is a wedding cake shaped like a tree and one made to look like a stack of books. (In her free time, Touchette continues to sculpt, using steel, wood, fabric and other non-edible ingredients.)

The cakes start at $4 per serving, with the biggest, most complicated ones costing more than $1,000, comparable to similar, non-vegan custom wedding cakes.

10378251_741685719227160_6252886902412787384_nThese cakes take time and care, of course, and Touchette doesn’t like to overbook. She says the most wedding cakes she’ll bake in a season is 35. Because of this, brides and grooms do well to call her at least six months in advance. This year, some of those calls may come from friends of Kim Cornwall, who has passed Touchette’s name on “because she’s great.”

Another testimony of sorts took place at the Cornwalls’ wedding reception. The couple didn’t tell guests the cake was vegan, because, as Allen observed, people may have a “preconceived notion that a vegan cake may not taste good.”

“We’d specifically planned on having cake leftovers,” Kim said, noting that for the reception for 110, they ordered a four-layer cake (each layer a different flavor and served separately) for 130 people. “But there was no cake left,” Kim said, still astonished all these months later. “A lot of people went back for seconds.”

And thirds. And fourths.

“We only got a little bite when we cut the cake,” Allen said.

This may be why Kim added, “I can’t wait for something else to come up so we can have her do another cake.”

Avery Yale Kamila is a freelance food writer who lives in Portland. She can be contacted at:


Twitter: AveryYaleKamila


source: http://www.pressherald.com/2014/10/08/vegetarian-kitchen-sculptors-vegan-cakes-in-demand-for-weddings/

all images, courtesy of: https://www.facebook.com/ahimsacustomcakes

The Secret of These New Veggie Burgers: Plant Blood


Patrick Brown, a 60-year-old Stanford University professor turned first-time entrepreneur, says he has found the secret to replicating the taste of red meat: plant “blood.”

On a recent afternoon in his company’s expansive laboratory, Mr. Brown poured a deep-red liquid into a plastic cup. The thin concoction looks like blood, has the same distinct metallic taste, and is derived from the molecule found in hemoglobin that makes blood red and steak taste like steak.

But this bioengineered blood comes from plants and is the crown jewel of Mr. Brown’s three-year-old company, Impossible Foods, which has so far created a hamburger that looks, feels, tastes and cooks almost like the real thing.

“Livestock is an antiquated technology,” said Mr. Brown, a biochemistry scientist known for his genetic research.

Impossible Foods is part of a wave of well-funded startups seeking to replicate meats, eggs, cheese and other animal-based foods with plant matter. Their aim is not only to upend the trillion-dollar animal farming industry but to also create a more sustainable source of food amid mounting environmental pressures.

Several of these companies, including Impossible Foods, have attracted the financing of Microsoft Corp. Beyond Meat, of El Segundo, Calif., sells soy “chicken” strips and beef crumbles made with pea protein and plans to add a burger to its menu. San Francisco-based Hampton Creek Inc., which is in the process of raising $50 million, people familiar with the matter have said, specializes in mayonnaise, eggs and cookie products made from similar ingredients. And New York company Modern Meadow Inc. collected $10 million this summer to make meat, and leather, from stem cells.

Impossible Foods, which revealed its company publicly for the first time to The Wall Street Journal, is one of the top-funded with about $75 million in venture capital from Khosla Ventures, Google Ventures, Mr. Li’s Horizons Ventures and Mr. Gates.

A large bulk of that money has gone into Mr. Brown’s manufacturing facility in Redwood City, Calif., a sort-of Willy Wonka lab for fake meat where white-coated lab technicians dump large vats of fresh spinach leaves and other plant matter into a giant blender that breaks down the greens into plant proteins.

Elsewhere, machines rapidly cook raw ground meat and send blasts of smells to scientists, who carefully log the characteristics and strength of each smell. And all across the lab, several tests are happening concurrently, some dedicated to improving the flavor, texture and smells, and others designed to improve the cost efficiency of its processes.

Mr. Brown is more mad scientist than cliché Silicon Valley entrepreneur.

With a thick head of gray hair and a hefty academic resume, which includes a medical degree and two decades as a Stanford University professor, he doesn’t fit the stereotype of the precocious, 20-something founder.

Mr. Brown says he stumbled on the idea for Impossible Foods about three years ago, when he realized while on sabbatical that his background in science could have an impact on the massive animal agriculture industry, which has been criticized for its large carbon footprint.

“The system that we use today to produce meat and cheese is completely unsustainable,” he said. “It has terribly destructive environmental consequences.”

Meat and dairy industry groups have said they are committed to improving sustainability and have taken measures already that reduce their use of resources and their environmental impact, such as developing techniques to reuse waste and biogas.

But to change an industry, he couldn’t just create a better version of meat alternatives found in grocery stores today. Instead, he wanted to understand the fundamental, molecular reasons why meat tastes like meat, and create a product that is on par or better.

“We want the hard-core beef lovers, the guy who’s basically saying, ‘You know, I’m literally on the opposite pole from a vegetarian, in no conceivable universe would I accept any substitute for meat,’” he said.

Tricking carnivores isn’t easy.

Impossible Foods first had to deconstruct the hundreds of basic flavors and smells of cooked ground meat including compounds that alone taste like sulfur and saw dust.

One of the most important findings was the role that heme plays in meat flavor. That molecule unlocks flavors when it is exposed to sugars and amino acids, giving cooked meat its distinct taste.

The company also had to figure out how to solve texture by identifying the right compounds from plants to recreate animal tissue. So far, it has functional versions of fat, connective tissue and muscle made from plant compounds.

The result is a dark red patty that looks and feels like raw ground beef and transforms as it cooks. During a demonstration with the Journal, the patty gradually browned and caramelized on the grill, releasing oil from fats and producing the smell of cooked meat. In the mouth, the patty pulls apart the way burger meat does. The taste isn’t perfect, though—arguably several rungs below a gourmet burger, and more akin to a turkey patty.

Yet there are still many hurdles separating Impossible Foods’ burger and the wide-scale disruption of the animal farming industry.

This small patty, which is currently made in small batches, costs about $20 to produce. Although the burger doesn’t require grazing cows, it still involves harvesting five plant species in large quantities. Mr. Brown says he aims to create cheaper manufacturing processes and the cost of raw materials will fall as scale increases. Impossible Foods, which has already started testing the burger in undercover food trucks, is expected to begin selling to stores as early as the end of next year. By then, Mr. Brown hopes to be on pace to produce 1,000 tons a year.

But even as the taste and cost of the burger improves, Impossible has a giant marketing challenge ahead to woo meat lovers. Even vegetarians, wary of overly processed food, may be suspicious of all the ingredients even if Mr. Brown says they are all natural.

“I don’t get the fake meat movement,” said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University, who is skeptical that such foods will win mainstream adoption or are better for people. “One of my food rules is ‘never eat anything artificial.’”

—Jason Dean contributed to this article.

Write to Evelyn M. Rusli at evelyn.rusli@wsj.com


source: http://online.wsj.com/articles/the-secret-of-these-new-veggie-burgers-plant-blood-1412725267

5 Awesome Reasons We Could Have a Vegan America by 2050

785px-Bill_ClintonAfter undergoing quadruple bypass surgery in 2004 and a later stent surgery, Bill Clinton adopted a vegan diet in 2010. Since then, he’s lost 20 pounds, and is now an advocate for vegan and meatless diets.

“I like the vegetables, the fruits, the beans, the stuff I eat now,” Clinton told a CNN reporter. “All my blood tests are good, and my vital signs are good, and I feel good, and I also have, believe it or not, more energy.”

Clinton is not alone. If the growing number of vegans continues to rise at the same pace, we could have a meat- and dairy-free country by 2050. Here’s the proof:

1.  The Rise of Fast-Casual Chains. Casual-dining chains like Red Lobster and Olive Garden were all the rage in the 1990s but have faced decreasing traffic in nine out of the past 13 years. Instead, so-called fast-casual dining is red-hot. Chipotle, Panera and Five Guys offer cheaper, quicker, but also higher-quality, dining experiences. Fast-casual is the fastest-growing segment in the restaurant industry, with an 11 percent increase in sales in 2013. These chains are not all vegan, but they generally offer fresh, nutritious food, with vegan options — a very different proposal from the dreary over-cooked meat and fish options available at Olive Garden and Red Lobster.

2. Changes in the Fast-Food Industry. Chains like Burger King, Wendy’s, Subway, Dunkin’ Donuts and many more have pledged to phase out products derived from the industry’s most horrific practices. Moe’s Southwest Grill offers tofu, Chipotle offers “Sofritas” (delcious tofu braised in a variety of tasty spices), and Tropical Smoothie Café offers Beyond Meat as a substitute to any chicken wrap, sandwich or salad. The vegan chain Loving Hut has 43 restaurants in 15 states. Native Foods Café plans to open 200 new locations. And yes, McDonald’s is not doing so well.

3. Consumers Are Becoming Aware of the Horrific Effects of Eating Meat. Meat impacts the environment so severely because livestock require so much more land, food, water and energy than plants to raise and transport. Producing a four-ounce (quarter pound) hamburger, for example, requires seven pounds of grain and forage, 53 gallons of drinking water and water for irrigating feed crops, and 75 square feet of land for grazing and growing feed crops.

4. Meat consumption Is Down. In 2012, Americans consumed 12.2 percent less meat than in 2007. Half of us are aware of Meatless Mondays, and nearly as many of us are eating at least one vegetarian meal a week. If you search on Google for “vegan caterer” you will get 16,200 results. And the most vegan-friendly cities aren’t always where you might expect them: there’s Portland, Ore., Los Angeles and New York, but the list also includes Chicago, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. A Google News search for “vegan 2013? provides 24,200 results, while a “vegan 2003? search provides only 1,650 results.

5. The Famous Are Going Vegan. It’s not just Bill Clinton. Long-time vegetarian Natalie Portman went vegan in 2009 after reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals. As she wrote in a blog on Huffington Post: “The human cost of factory farming — both the compromised welfare of slaughterhouse workers and, even more, the environmental effects of the mass production of animals — is staggering.” Similar to Natalie Portman, comedian and talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres switched to a vegan diet in 2008 after reading several books on animal rights and diets. “I do it because I love animals,” DeGeneres told Katie Couric. “And I saw the reality and I just couldn’t ignore it anymore.” Degeneres’ wife, Portia de Rossi, agrees; their 2008 wedding featured a vegan menu. Other big names who are vegan include Al Gore, Mike Tyson, Alicia Silverstone, Joaquin Phoenix and Usher.

As it turns out, we may not have a choice. While celebrities like Clinton have been advocating a vegan diet, leading scientists have issued stern warnings about global food supplies, saying that the world’s population may have to switch almost completely to a vegan diet over the next 40 years to avoid catastrophic shortages.

A vegan America by 2050? Hooray!

What do you think? Could the U.S. be vegan by 2050?

source: http://www.care2.com/causes/5-awesome-reasons-we-could-have-a-vegan-america-by-2050.html#ixzz3DiNB2UmG