The Portola Valley Forum (our version of Nextdoor) recently had a fascinating thread about food. My neighbor wants to eat less meat and was looking for ideas. The discussion quickly became a who’s who of veggie burgers… and then more veggie burgers. Umm…but a balanced diet isn’t based on burgers, no matter what they’re made of. Or is it? We eat a lot of burgers. The US Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans eat 2.4 burgers a day! (50 billion burgers a year).
How is that possible? Why the burger fetish? Probably lacking inspiration – eaters don’t know what else to eat. And it all comes together so well, you know, between those two (heavily processed, white fluffy) pieces of bread – hold the lettuce, but hey, at least there’s a tomato…. and ketchup.
get this. I heard an interview with Patrick Brown, CEO of Impossible Foods. His studies show that younger generations don’t care if their burger is animal, they just want the taste and texture they love.
Time to explore more avenues around the kitchen. Cooking is all about tips and the more you know, the faster, tastier and healthier your food and cooking will be. 39% of Americans want to eat more plants. Let’s figure out how to make this AND eat what kind of burger we want.
A joint initiative by The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health – Department of Nutritionalso encouraged plants. plant-forward it means – and reflects – a cooking and eating style that emphasizes and celebrates foods from plant sources – fruits and vegetables (produce), whole grains, legumes (legumes), nuts and seeds, vegetable oils and herbs and spices reflect evidence-based principles of health and sustainability.”
Consider these stats from their 2019 report:
More than 30 percent of Americans have meat-free days, more than 50 percent of adults drink plant-based milks, and about 83 percent are adding more plant-based foods to their diet. – Reported by Baum and Whiteman/quoted in USA Today
According to reports, 70% of the world’s population is either reducing or eliminating meat altogether. – Forbes cites a GlobalData report
Since 2018, the term “plant-based” has grown by 328% on US menus. – Datassential menu trends,
Every four pounds of beef you eat contributes as much to global warming as a flight from New York to London. – The New Yorker
Switching to a plant-rich diet would save $1 trillion in annual health care costs and lost productivity. – Project drawdown
A plant-rich diet is ranked fourth among 80 solutions to reversing global warming. – Project drawdown
“Nutritionists and medical experts now know that plant-based protein – in a varied, balanced, whole food diet – is more than sufficient to promote human health and longevity. “Less meat, better meat,” as it’s called, or a shift from animal protein to plant-based protein, still leaves room for five or six ounces of red meat a week,” writes the CIA. The idea is to use meat as a condiment rather than a main dish; two or three 2-ounce servings a week surrounded by delicious, caramelized veggies and whole grains. Consider this real versus fake meat suggestion. From time to time you can still get the burger of your choice, just less often, please. Incorporate more vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, fish and poultry and further reduce the negative health and environmental impacts of red meat.
For ideas, videos, and recipes, a good place to brush up on your cooking skills (meat or non-meat) is Plant Forward Kitchens, a creative facility hosted by the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and their Menus of Change initiative.
An important technique that the school emphasizes is the discovery of spices and concoctions from international vegetable dishes or world cuisine as it is known. Plant Forward Kitchens offers inspiration from chefs from around the world including Israel, Baja, Thailand and Korea.
Find ideas, entrees and unique ingredients that work well with your current cooking style. I like to add new seasonings from the Mediterranean sauce series to my tried-and-true recipes, such as: Download the entire sauce recipe book here.
For chefs and food professionals who want to deepen their understanding, the ==I Global Plant-Forward Culinary Summit, == hosted live at The CIA at Copia in Napa, CA, returns for its third year, April 26-28, 2022. Participants will learn about the current science and trends shaping this new style of eating, and have the opportunity to step into the kitchen and cook with some of the best plant-centric chefs in the world, including Christina Arokiasamy (chef, author, The Malaysian Kitchen ; Kent, WA), Kyle Connaughton (chef and co-owner, SingleThread Farm-Restaurant; Healdsburg, CA, and David Tanis (Chef Partner, Lulu; NY Times food columnist; and author; Los Angeles, CA. Find out see here for registration and fees. Videos of the panel discussions will be available to the public a few weeks after the conference.
One of the best things you can do for your health and the health of the planet starts on your plate. On Earth Day this year, pledge to switch your diet to a more eco-friendly diet. Add spice and energy to your life by eating more plants and learning how to cook and season them well. Earth Day is every day but officially April 22, 2022.
Let’s change the world with great tasting food!
Yield: 4 -6 servings
Originating from Morocco, this smoked eggplant and tomato dip is flavored with garlic, cumin, coriander, lemon, paprika and olive oil. You can find the video and other recipes here.
3 scoop eggplants
1/4 cup plus extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, medium, chopped
4 garlic cloves, large, chopped
1 teaspoon. Cumin, roasted, ground
3/4 tsp. paprika
1 teaspoon. Aleppo pepper
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon. Lemon peel
2 tbsp coriander, chopped
Salt, pepper, lemon juice to taste
1. Preheat grill. Place the eggplants on the grill and cook until the flesh is tender and the skin is charred. Turn the eggplant regularly during the cooking process so that it cooks evenly. Once completely soft, transfer to a baking sheet and let rest until cool enough to peel. (You can also roast the aubergines whole, in the oven, 400 degrees for about 50 minutes, depending on the size)
2. Peel and roughly chop the eggplant into ½ inch pieces and drain in a non-reactive colander to remove excess liquid.
3. Heat a saucepan with olive oil. Add onions and sauté over low heat for about 15 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and spices and let cook 1 minute or until aromatic. Add the tomatoes and cook for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes are reduced to a paste-like consistency.
4. Add the eggplants, mix gently and cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until flavors blend.
5. Add the lemon zest and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
6. Leave to cool. Stir in the coriander and a little more extra virgin olive oil. Refrigerate overnight.
7. Serve at room temperature or cold.
Note: Serve as a sauce or dip. Tastes delicious with grilled fish, lamb or poultry. Can also be served as a side salad with a mezze.
Recipe from: The Culinary Institute of America, The Plant Forward Kitchen