When I first moved to LA in 2009, a friend of mine told me to keep my eye out for a new “fake meat” called Beyond Meat that was soon to make a debut at Whole Foods. I searched and found it in the prepared foods section. Whole Foods created a tasty curried “chicken” salad with currants and almonds. I was hooked and started to buy all their products once they were available and created my own dishes: everything from chicken tacos to gyros to burgers to meatless lasagna and more. So when my husband, a climate scientist, told me that Beyond Meat had contacted him to give a talk on climate and his research, I asked him to tell them how much I love them and share my blog. Apparently they were inspired and invited me to create a meal to taste for them. Me! Cooking a meal I created for the people at Beyond Meat! My creative juices flowed and I wanted to fill a white space. They have many delectable recipes on their site, but no Indian dishes. After eating Indian food focused on potato, rice, bread, and yogurt with veggies scattered as an after thought, I was determined to make a North Indian dish my way – full of veggies, vegan, grain-free and flavor-forward using the Beyond Meat chicken strips. In the honor of Beyond Meat, I created a vegan chicken tikka masala with a grain-free cauliflower rice pulao. Bold, layers of flavor, tender meat. I am so glad I inserted myself into this climate talk – I was able to craft an amazing recipe steeped in my love and knowledge of the company products and meet the intelligent, engaged and passionate people behind these animal and planet friendly foods.
On January first, I was asked by a friend to join a month long vegan challenge. I have been fascinated by his journey of healthy eating, that began with eating meat but clean food and eventually led him to veganism based on his love of animals. I have been vegetarian for nearly 20 years but have thought a lot about factory farming and the horrible conditions animals must endure for us to eat butter, cheese, eggs, etc. I try to buy from small farms with humane practices at farmers market, but many times buy from the grocery store, and even the most humane farms when moving to grocery store sized production levels are not as good as we’d like to believe. So I agreed to his challenge. If you have been reading this blog, you know that create plant based recipes that are vegan, but every so often I used ghee or eggs. I love a challenge – especially one that requires me to come up with a whole food plant based ingredient that replaces an animal product. Last year, as part of my food as protest movement and blog, I created a cauliflower steak (vegan), nut gremolata (vegan) but it was served over a cauliflower puree that was made with heavy cream and butter and lentils made with ghee. So I recreated my own dish to make it vegan. You may have had a cauliflower steak but this one is twice cooked to add a deeper and richer level of flavor. The lentils were the protein in the dish. The pistachio gremolata adds acid and color. The cauliflower puree is the creamy mashed potato of the dish without the starch. Filling. Nutritious. Taaaaasty.
In 2011, my last year at Burning Man, we camped with new friends that built a pizza oven on the playa. It was a hot hot year and despite the heat, I could not wait until I could play with the blow torch, fire up the oven and make pizza after pizza. A pizza goddess was born in from the ashes and dust that year and I was determined to continue to flame the fire in the default world. With a wood burning stove in the back and a pizza stone for indoor use, I took my pizza skills to the next level working on dough moisture and consistency. I came up with a wonderful whole grain but gluten-full crust. We decided that this year, on burn night, we would reignite that flame and host a burning oven for our friends who, like us, were not at the actual Burn. I decided it was time to play with flours, starches and binders again to come up with a gluten-free crust as part of our array of offerings. Here is a yeasted gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, gum-free dough sweetened for a very tasty crust.
It’s finally winter in southern California…if you can call a high in the low 60’s winter (The east coaster in me thinks it is summer year round here and can’t tell one year to the next). But it’s all relative and given that it is no longer 90 degrees F outside, I can wear my boots, sweaters and scarves and actually feel like eating the potatoes that make an appearance in my CSA box every so often. In a healthy way – layered with veggies and lentils, garnished with either goat cheese or smoked shiitake “bacon” for an extra boost of flavor.
I was driving home and passed Bulan – a vegan thai joint that I love but rarely have a chance to frequent. My first thought was that I should call my hubby and ask him if I should get some take out for tonight. My second thought was, I am on a whole food challenge – what could I eat that would really be worth it? My favorite dishes are made of wheat gluten, soy and other ingredients I can’t eat. Even if I ordered a coconut curry, I am not sure I would enjoy it without the starches I am used to eating.
Which brought my mind to Chinese take out. Hmmmm, noodles. I could not get them out of my mind.
Do you know what time it is? It’s time for recipe creation. I refuse to deprive myself of the food I want, leaving that craving lingering in me until I give in and eat something that does not make me feel good. (what you resist persists)
How can I make what I want to eat and make it healthy?