I love pumpkin and sweet potato pie. For Thanksgiving this year, I made this vegan pecan sweet potato pie modifying a recipe from Dr. Andrew Weil's squash pie recipe.
For my pie, instead of squash, I used 3 cans of Farmers Markets Foods brand organic sweet potato I got at Whole Foods.
I omitted the brandy to make the pie alcohol-free.
I used arrowroot because I like it better as a thickener and it's GMO-free. With cornstarch, unless you get organic, it's most likely going to be made from GMOs because corn is one of the top GMO crops in the world.
Instead of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, I used 2-3/4 teaspoons of Pumpkin Pie spice because it's sold in one jar and easier.
I bought a pre-made organic vegan pie crust by Wholly Wholesome because Whole Foods had it on sale for $3.50 for two pie shells - a bargain and less work. On a side note, Wholly Wholesome also makes whole wheat and spelt pie shells, and a gluten-free pie shell. Over at Oh She Glows, there is a wonderful post on three ways to make vegan pumpkin pie including a nice vegan, gluten-free crust recipe.
Back to my pecan sweet potato pie, after pouring the filling into the pie shell, place all the pecans on top. I tented the pie crust edges with aluminum foil to help prevent burning. Make sure to bake the pie in the middle rack and not too close to the top heat source of your oven so the pecans won't burn.
At the 35 minute mark of baking, check on your pie to make sure the pecans aren't blackening. Mine started to darken a little so I laid a piece of foil on top of the pie. I didn't seal the foil, I just let it rest on the pie.
It's important to make this pie a day ahead of time before eating because the time overnight in the fridge is crucial to the filling firming up.
For the dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, soy-free whipped cream, here's our recipe.
Doesn't my brunch sandwich look tasty? It's Sonoma Chick'n Salad topped with micro greens sitting on smashed avocado, roasted tomato with rosemary, sea salt and red onions, and a flourless 7-Sprouted Grain english muffin slathered with soy-free buttery spread.
And btw, the chick'n is made from plants. In fact, the entire sandwich is made from plants including the creamy looking mayonaise in the chicken salad.
There has been much buzz about Beyond Meat's new plant-based Veggie Chicken Strips, but what caught my attention was the fact that two of the investors backing Beyond Meat are techies: Obvious Corporation, the guys who created Twitter, and venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers.
I find it oddly exciting when my two worlds, healthy eating and tech, collide. So, of course, I had to run out and try the stuff. Note: Beyond Meat did not contact me nor am I being paid to write this. I bought the products myself because I was dying of curiousity.
Currently (and this can change daily), Beyond Meat's Veggie Chicken Strips are available in Roots Market in Maryland, at Source restaurant in San Francisco, and Northern California Whole Foods stores in the prepared food section. More availability will happen over the coming months. At Whole Foods, I found the BY veggie chicken used in three different chicken salads: Vegan Curry Chick'n Salad, Vegan Sonoma Chick'n Salad, and Vegan Tarragon Chick'n Salad. These three recipes are Whole Foods signature chicken salads so it makes sense that WF would make vegan versions using Beyond Meat's veggie chicken.
Of the three salads, I liked the Vegan Curry Chick'n the best because I like the flavoring and use of almonds, dried currants, and mango chutney. I put the chick'n salad on top of a bed of arugula and micro greens. For summer flair, I sprinkled on diced cherries, and to make the salad look even more dairy-free amazing, I used crumbled Daiya Jack Wedge cheese which looks like feta crumbles. Looks pretty huh?!
Let's start with texture.
In this Fast Company Co.EXIST article Biz Stone of Obvious Corp stated that, "For people who are actually repulsed by meat, they’re not going to like this. It’s just too real-tasting. But for anyone who craves the flavor and feel of meat, this might be the first legitimate substitute."
I stopped eating chicken two years ago because one day I woke up and my body decided it was just repulsed by chicken. I can eat any other animal meat except chicken. I literally start to feel nauseous if chicken gets within two inches of my mouth. I know it's weird but I honor my body's needs. I only mention this because after reading what Biz said, I was curious how my body would react to this "real-tasting" plant-based chicken. Happy to say that there was no nausea, and the stomach had no issues.
First, I had to play with the BY veggie chicken and was surprised how it shreds almost exactly like real chicken. The designer in me was like, "How did they mimic the shredding?" I've tried all kinds of plant-based meat and have never seen anything this close to real chicken shredding.
In fact, here are pieces of the BY veggie chicken next to real chicken pieces. At a quick glance, it's hard to tell which is which. The biggest piece of shredded chicken at the top of the pic off to the left next to the onions is real chicken. The shredded piece sitting directly to the right of the real chicken piece below the pecan is the BY veggie chicken. It's pretty darn close looking.
Now, let's get to the taste.
On its own, Brown’s “chicken” — produced to mimic boneless, skinless breast — looks like a decent imitation, and the way it shreds is amazing. It doesn’t taste much like chicken, but since most white meat chicken doesn’t taste like much anyway, that’s hardly a problem; both are about texture, chew and the ingredients you put on them or combine with them. When you take Brown’s product, cut it up and combine it with, say, chopped tomato and lettuce and mayonnaise with some seasoning in it, and wrap it in a burrito, you won’t know the difference between that and chicken. I didn’t, at least, and this is the kind of thing I do for a living."
In general, I value Mark Bittman's opinion and we both whole-heartedly agree about the shredding but in the case of people not knowing the difference between the BY veggie chicken and real chicken when it's combined with other fixings, I'm going to respectfully disagree.
Beyond Meat has definitely risen the bar but it's not at a level yet to fool meat eaters or create a "just as good" as chicken experience. I say this as someone who has to eat food alternatives on a daily basis because of food allergies, sensitivities, and a desire to maintain an optimal level of healthiness. I love animals and the planet, and am consicous of supporting more kind foods, but my food choices are driven more by health reasons. I eat mostly plants, but sometimes my body screams for meat, so I listen which is why 80/20 plant-based eating works for me.
I get that companies like Beyond Meat and other plant-based meat producers are not trying to fool consumers but are attempting to create a new category of animal-free protein foods. However, the real test for mass adoption beyond vegan, vegetarian, and special diets will still come down to whether meat eaters will embrace the taste and texture experience of these plant-based meats, and plunk down their money for it, on a regular basis.
You saw my two beautiful creations I made with the Whole Foods BY veggie chicken salads which were loaded with flavorings and paired with vibrant delicious foods like these roasted tomatoes with rosemary and red onion. At first bite, I could tell right away these chicken salads were not made with real chicken. There were two tells.
First tell, there is still that rubbery-ness that mock meats have. In the BY veggie chicken, the rubbery-ness is minimal compared to other mock meats I've tried but it's still there. When I lived in Phoenix, I've eaten The Secret BBQ Chicken Sandwich at Green New Amercian Vegetarian reastaurant which PETA named the #1 Top Faux-Chicken Sandwich in the U.S. Now, I don't know what plant-based chicken Green uses but that sandwich could fool meat eaters. It's really good! I would be curious to see how Green's sandwich would taste using the new BY veggie chicken.
The second tell, the BY veggie chicken has this slight unique after taste. It's very subtle but it's a giveaway that this is not real chicken or that maybe something is wrong with your food. I can't even describe this after taste because I've never experienced it before, but it's consistently there in the various Whole Foods salads. My guess is that it's the combination of soy and pea protein the BY veggie chicken is made from. The after taste was the part of this BY veggie chicken experience I did not care for.
Beyond Meat is coming out next with a beef crumble that uses pea protein and is soy-free. Now, I'm excited to try that meat and will be asking, "Where's the beef?" I'm a fan of pea protein, and thrilled to see that Beyond Meat is making foods that people who are allergic or sensitive to soy can eat.
Overall, what Beyond Meat has done with their new Veggie Chicken Strips is impressive. They need to work on the after-taste and rubbery-ness but they have taken plant-based meat to a new level much like what Daiya did with cheese.
When Daiya first came out, I thought their cheeses were gross. But Daiya has gotten better over the years, and I LOVE their new wedge line. Remember my awesome Grilled Cheese sandiwch with Daiya Havarti, Roasted Tomato, Garlic, and Basil on Pumpkin Sage Boulot. So, I have high hopes that Beyond Meat will get better as the product matures, and more customer feedback comes in.
I'm also thrilled that the Beyond Meat veggie chicken is gluten-free and GMO-free! Companies like Beyond Meat, Daiya, and So Delicious are making so much innovative headway in creating animal-free and allergen-free foods so that people like me and millions others can enjoy a variety of foods like everyone else.
Currently, at it's launch in Whole Foods, the biggest road block to consumers gobbling up Beyond Meat is the cost. The Whole Foods BY veggie chicken salads are $13.99/lb. Yes, yikes!
You know Whole Foods is a love of my life and I have no issue paying premium but even for me, that's hurting the wallet and deserving of being called whole paycheck. Beyond Meat veggie chicken is worth a try but it's not a weekly staple at $13.99/lb in a pre-made salad. I would expect that as Beyond Meat ramps production, the cost will eventually come down, and they will start offering packaged chicken strips so we consumers will be free to make whatever we want with it.
Have you tried Beyond Meat's new Veggie Chicken? What did you think, and what dish did you eat it in?
Butternut squash ravioli has got to be one of my most favorite pastas. I found these beautiful vegan ravioli made by The Pasta Shop in Oakland, CA. The filling consists of butternut squash, yams, chestnuts, breadcrumbs, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, and mace. Sounds almost like pie filling doesn't it?
Instead of putting a sauce all over ravioli, sometimes I like to just pan-fry the ravioli. For these butternut squash ravioli, I boiled the pasta al dente, and then pan-fried them with 2 tbsp of Soy-free Earth Balance until the edges were a golden brown.
I put the ravioli aside in a bowl, and then sauteed the onion, garlic, and thyme along with a little sea salt and some chopped up Chanterelle wild mushrooms in a tbsp of olive oil until the onion was soft and sweaty. I put the pan-fried ravioli into the saute mixture, and tossed everything together until well mixed, then placed on a serving plate.
What a simple, heavenly dinner!
For the month of February in our Year of Food 2012 on Instagram project, there were actually three top images of the month.
Tied for first with 43 Likes: Raspberry white chocolate strawberries at Whole Foods Scottsdale.
Tied for first with 43 Likes: The best vegan banana nut bread in Phoenix made by Oppie Sweets sold at the Phoenix Public Market Open-Air Market on Saturdays and Wednesdays.
Coming in second place with 41 Likes: Bunches of multi-colored organic carrots with tops I found at a Saturday farmer's market.
Seems that desserts win out again!
Note: All photos taken with an iPhone 4
Super Bowl Sunday is one of the biggest nosh days of the year. In fact, according to a Wall Street Journal post about game day food, baby carrot sales spike 25% on Super Bowl Sunday, 71 million pounds of guacamole is expected to be consumed, and 4.4 million pizzas will be ordered.
For those who have food allergies like myself, Super Bowl noshing can be just as exciting. You don't have to go without and feel deprived. In fact, I say some of our foods are the same or better than traditional versions. Oh yes, I went there!
Here is a list of 10 healthy and allergy-friendly Super Bowl snack foods including beer. I focus mainly on gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, and in some cases corn-free if I know for sure. Corn is in almost everything and some people are highly reactive to nut cross-contamination so I recommend double checking the ingredients to any of these foods. Here's a useful list of food additives that contain corn.
Portobello mini-pizzas. Use a portobello mushroom as the pizza crust instead of traditional crust to make gluten-free and lower-calorie pizza. The size of the portobello mushroom also gives you a nice single portion-controlled amount. Here's a recipe from MyRecipes.com to make Turkey Pepperoni Portobello pizzas. Try using pesto sauce instead of tomato sauce. To make your pizzas vegan top with grilled veggies and use Daiya cheese or no cheese at all. I'm allergic to cow and goat cheese, but I can eat sheep cheese, so I'll shave some pecorino or manchego on my toppings.
Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings. Hello! How about that for an American-Asian fusion twist to a bar food classic. Sriracha sauce is gluten-free, vegan, and soy-free. Some Sriracha sauce brands use Xanthan Gum so avoid if you're allergic to corn or the gums. If you're feeling ambitious, here's a recipe to make Sriracha sauce from scratch.The Food Network has a baked Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings recipe that is gluten-free. You can make the wings dairy-free by using Earth Balance Soy-free Buttery Spread instead of regular butter. You can also cut out the soy sauce to make the wings soy-free.
Edamame and Sweet Pepperdew Hummus Dip. Every time I make this dip, vegans think I've used cheese in it. This recipe is 100% vegan, gluten-free, and corn-free. It's not soy-free because of the edamame, but you can take out the edamame. What gives this hummus dip a cheese like taste is the sweet pepperdews, and adding ground up edamame gives the hummus a soft cheese-like texture. This hummus is also great to use as a sandwich spread instead of mayo. Here is my easy-to-make recipe for this awesome hummus dip.
Guacamole. Here's how I make guacamole. My secret to making creamy guac is to get avocados that are so ripe they are on the edge of over-ripe.The avocado should be mushy to the squeeze but not so much that you can smash it in your hand. Per one avocado, mix in diced red onion, cilantro, diced heirloom or vine-on tomato, cilantro, squeeze of lime and lemon, and a couple pinches of sea salt and garlic powder. Add some diced jalapeno is you want heat. Guacamole is raw, vegan, soy-free, corn-free, and gluten-free.
Some chips I like to nosh on include:
Pop Chips which all flavors are gluten-free. Some flavors are also soy-free and vegan. Check bags. In the guacamole photo are the Natural flavor Pop Chips which are also corn-free.
Beanfields Bean & Rice Chips look like tortilla chips and are gluten-free, soy-free, vegan, corn-free and all ingredients are non-GMO.
Food Should Taste Good makes an array of corn, and potato based chips which are all gluten-free and made from non-GMO ingredients. The Jalapeno Tortilla is my favorite chip as seen in the photo with the New Planet gluten-free beer. Most of the FSTG chips are vegan minus the ones that are cheese flavored and soy-free. The Multi-grain chips do use soy. Check the bags.
Beer! And speaking of beer, here is a list of vegan beers, and here's a list of gluten-free beers. My personal favorite gluten-free beer is Estrella Damm from Spain which can usually be found at Whole Foods.
Mango salsa is my favorite fruity version of this low carb and low fat food. Salsa is also gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free, and vegan. Here's a fast way to make mango salsa. Get a regular jar or better yet a tub of fresh made mild or medium salsa. Get mango chunks from the frozen food section of the grocery store. Thaw mango, dice into smaller chunks, and mix in with the fresh salsa.
Sweet creamy chili dip. Yes, I said creamy and we are not going to use any dairy. This dip is really simple to make. Buy or cook a pint or quart of your favorite chili. I just buy a pint of pre-cooked beef, bison, or turkey chili in the Whole Foods meat or soup department. Put the pint of chili into a bowl and mix in a 1/2 container of 170g size So Delicious Greek-style coconut milk based Vanilla yogurt and add a 1/2 tbsp of honey.
Traditional chili dips use sour cream. In my version, we use dairy-free Greek-style yogurt which has a thickness similar to sour cream. If you can eat dairy, just use regular honey flavor Greek yogurt. The sweet in the Greek yogurt is a nice complement to the salt in the chili. This sweet creamy chili dip is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and soy-free. The So Delicious yogurt looks to be corn-free as well. Double check the ingredients.
See, noshing during the Super Bowl looks a whole lot more fun now doesn't it? What other allergy-friendly snacks will you be eating?
I have never tried to do anything for a year long before, so I decided that since I really love taking food shots on my iPhone I am going to take at least one photo everyday this year and post it on Instagram. I'm tagging each photo with each day number (#day7) and the hashtag #yif12.
If you're on Instagram, you can follow me at: stephaniequilao.
If you're not on Instagram, here are options for you to follow along:
It's going to be a foodtastic year!
I was at a Whole Foods in Chandler, and I was walking past their Japanese food station when I saw these grilled veggies skewers. I got excited and actually put my nose up close to smell them only to realize that the skewers and rice were all fake replicas of the dish.
I'm telling you, some of those companies that make these plastic display foods, are getting better and better. Heck, I couldn't even tell until I got up close, lol!