Category Archives: Vegetarian Tips

Save the Rainforest Blueberry Crisp

by Toni Fiore

Rainforests are the earth’s largest sinks of carbon, safely storing the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. In Indonesia, rainforests are razed to create industrial palm oil plantations, releasing massive quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, making the tropical nation the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Rainforests also provide critical habitat to thousands of species including highly endangered Sumatran tigers, Sumatran elephants, rhinos and orangutans. These species are rapidly being driven to extinction. The Indonesian government has announced plans to convert approximately 18 million more hectares of rainforests, an area the size of Missouri, into palm oil plantations by 2020. As consumers we must make every effort to eliminate palm oil from our food, personal care and cleaning products.

For the past year in lieu of gifts for holidays, birthdays and weddings I’ve been making donations to organizations that rescue, rehabilitate and release animals whose forest homes have been exploited and destroyed by invasive palm oil production. There are “sustainable” palm oil alternatives but even those often overlap with non-sustainable sources. I’m trying my best to find products that don’t contain any palm oil. Let me tell you, it isn’t easy. In fact most often it’s downright impossible.
I’ve been working with coconut oil as a palm oil free alternative and I’m loving it! Here are a few reasons why this is such a good choice. Studies have shown that coconut oil can help our bodies mount resistance to both viruses and bacteria that can cause illness. It helps to fight off yeast, fungus and candida. Coconut oil can boost your metabolism, energy and endurance all while improving digestion and helping your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins.

 
Bluberry Crisp 1200

Blueberry Crisp
It’s August in Maine and it’s the height of summer fruit season. Blueberries, plums, peaches and blackberries are everywhere! One of my all time favorite desserts for summer (and winter) is my easy and delicious Fruit Crisp. I’ve always prepared this recipe with vegan margarine and it’s been great. However, after a few modifications I’ve gotten a fantastic result using organic expeller pressed coconut oil. Now my fruit crisp has a lighter texture, better flavor and the best part for me is that it’s PALM OIL FREE!
Ingredients:

6 Cups Blueberries (or any fruit of choice)
1-2 Tbl. all purpose flour
1 tsp lemon juice and grated zest from one half

1 cup Light brown Sugar, packed
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 ¼ cup Flour
1 cup whole (old fashioned) oats
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
10 tablespoons organic refined coconut oil, room

Preheat your oven to 350. Toss the fruit with 2 tablespoons of flour, lemon juice and zest. Spread the fruit evenly into a 12 inch casserole or baking dish. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add the coconut oil and then begin blending with your hands, working the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs that are not uniform in size. The crumb should clump easily into one to two inch pieces. If it feels too dry add additional coconut oil one teaspoon at a time. Alternatively if the crumb feels too oily add additional flour one tablespoon at a time. Spread the crumb evenly over the fruit. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 325 and bake an additional 30 minutes or until the topping is nicely browned and the fruit bubbles on the side.

Serve warm or at room temp with a scoop of dairy free ice cream, whipped topping or just by it’s delicious self!

Note: Unrefined coconut oil has a more distinct coconut flavor, which can be a nice addition to this dessert.

Fabulous Fourth of July Grilling ideas from Toni Fiore

I love when people ask, “Hey what do vegetarians cook on the grill anyway? Veggie burgers, corn, fake hot dogs??” Well, since all we hear about for the entire week leading up the Fourth of July are the recipes, stories and suggestions for grilling hundreds of pounds of burgers, steaks, chicken and ribs (did I say boring?) I guess it’s a pretty fair question! Let me tell you… there’s no limit to the delicious meatless main meals, side dishes, pizzas, salads and desserts you can make outdoors on the grill. Actually, what’s pretty amazing is that there’s virtually nothing you CAN’T prepare outdoors! And these days when you look at grill accessories there are all kind’s of special pans, grill tops and gadgets that are not only very inexpensive but make grilling a pleasure. Some of the most fun we’ve had filming have been our summer grill recipes. Following are my top picks for this holiday weekend or, really, all season long.

My Portobello- Arugula Salad Burger is always a hit. It’s hearty, colorful, packed with better-than-beef flavor and EASY. I top this recipe with the arugula salad, but you can use your favorite slaw or better yet try the cabbage slaw from my next Fabulous Fourth pick, Cathi DiCocoa’s Rasta Pups. These little gems are perfect for kids if you can snag them away from the adults first. For kids just you might just spare the jalapeno in the slaw, which is cool, cause that leaves more for you! Grilled Seitan 3 Ways is also a terrific choice. Made on skewers you can use any spice rub, jerk or barbeque sauce on these tasty meaty bites. If you’re looking for the best fluffy crispy giant french fries ever, grill em!

The Perfect Grilled Potatoes have an absolutely perfect (no more burned outside raw inside potatoes) texture and take all the mystery out of preparing potatoes on the grill.

For a side salad or for those folks eating REALLY light, try my Grilled Panzanella Salad with it’s nice little Mediterranean spin this recipe is a great way to feature garlic, fresh plump tomatoes and basil! Finally…you’ve got to grill fruit! Peaches on the Grill are absolutely succulent, especially topped with a little light non dairy ice cream or whipped topping. No peaches? No problem! You can substitute, pineapple, apples, pears, bananas or whatever fruit YOU like. This week why not try something new and give these recipes a spin! You, your family and friends will love them. So from our Totally Vegetarian table to yours, all of us at Delicious TV wish you a happy, healthy, compassionate and fantastic Fourth of July! Enjoy!

Better Than Feta

I never really ate a lot of cheese, but I did use bits of it in and on a great many of my traditional Italian or Greek recipes. Personally I found working around not adding cheese to my food to be really easy. However, that said, there are some recipes that really depended on either ricotta or feta as a main ingredient. Once I discovered how flexible and economical tofu can be as a cheese substitute I started working on a few recipes that utilize this fantastic food in a variety of delicious and creative ways. This weeks podcast of Herbed Tofu Cheese highlights just what you can do with tofu without sacrificing flavor or texture. Once you get this basic formula down ( it’s soooo easy) you’ll see all the great possibilities! I love this “cheese” instead of feta or ricotta on Flatbread Pizza or as a filling for lasagna or ravioli. Cubed and seasoned  Tofu can also become tart feta and is wonderful when added to salads like Greek Garbanzo Bean Salad. And, as is the case with all my recipes, you can add your own favorite herbs and spices, as much or little as you like. Tonight I used the basic herbed version as a base replacing traditional ricotta in a Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Tart. The best part? Not one person missed the cheese.

Summertime and the grillin’ is easy

veg-grillFor us, summer means less time in the kitchen and more time outside in “the big room” – so of course, the less fuss involved in the preparation of meals, the better we like it.  And what could be less fussy (and more delicious) than a stir fry prepared al fresco on the grill?  Utilizing any of the super fresh, yummy vegetables of summer, you really can stir fry practically anywhere even over a camper hotplate or an open fire.

The following list is just a small sample of our favorite summer fresh vegetables for stir frying: green beans, peppers, onions, eggplant slices, carrots, zucchini, pattypan or yellow squash, chard, sugar snap and snow peas, asparagus, and of course sweet corn. Use your imagination when combining vegetables for a stir fry and never be afraid to experiment.  Summer is the best time of year to enjoy all the flavorful benefits and easy preparation of vegetarian food.  So, go on…stir fry!

Little arms of love

broccoliBroccoli’s name comes from the Italian piccoli bracci meaning “little arms” and just a single serving of this amazing vegetable provides 30 mg of vitamin C, plentiful fiber, and a slew of other anti-oxidant, cancer-fighting nutrients. And it’s not just good for you, it’s good!

Soup, salad, side, or main dish, broccoli is a cool weather crop and best from October through April in the Northern Hemisphere. When buying this ubiquitous vegetable, look for bright green color and tightly packed buds. Since raw broccoli requires good air circulation to stay fresh, store in a perforated plastic bag for up to 3 days – or just eat it right away.

Give this nutrient-rich vegetable some love. And while you’re at it, check out the baby hamster enjoying a first taste of broccoli.

Meatless Beef and Hot Dog Substitutes

I get lots of letters from viewers asking great questions about how to best transition away from meat and into vegetarian meat replacers. This is such a common question that I’ve decided to post viewer queries from time to time, followed by my suggestions. Please feel free to write in and share your ideas and solutions.

“I have to say I love the show! Here in Albuquerque Alan & I watch you on our Apple TV, but I need help w/ my mixed relationship. I’m more vegetarian than my other half. I’ve been wearing him down, but he has a need for chili dogs. I know you’ve said many times on your show that there’s many dishes that can be converted to vegetarian versions.

Keep in mind that he’s going to cover it w/chili sauce and tomato sauce, w/ ground beef (we need to replace this too), cheese & onions. It’s gotten to the point that he makes this because he likes the flavor, but he doesn’t eat enough meat to not get himself sick from this every time he eats it. I was thinking if we could find some kinda veggie hotdog, ground beef replacement then we could totally flip him over to our side. I’m sure you can help. Waiting patiently.” –Alan & Chris

How To Re-Hydrate Dry TVP

I just received a question about rehydrating dry TVP (textured vegetable protein). Many stores carry ready to cook TVP in the form of faux “meats” (whether frozen, refrigerated, or canned), but in some areas, these types of products can be difficult to find. In that case, dry TVP may be your only alternative.

For people in those areas here’s my advice. The general rule of thumb for rehydrating TVP is 1 cup of TVP to ¾-1 cup of boiling water. I always start at the lower measure first, you can always add more water. After pouring the water over it, give the TVP about 10 minutes to rehydrate. Once it has plumped up and is softened, squeeze out the excess water and use.

If you feel the TVP is still too wet, simply spread it out on a baking sheet and pop it in the oven at 300 degrees for 10-15 minutes and the texture will become drier and chewier. If you are going to bake off excess water, make sure to check the TVP at 10 minutes, since all ovens bake differently. If the TVP does become too dry – I prefer it on the drier side – I would still use it, unless it’s totally blackened. Once you add it to your recipe, it will plump back up. If at first you’re not satisfied with the results you get, give it a few tries, you’ll get the knack of it!

Use fine-textured TVP in sauces, or for tacos and chili. Use the larger crumbles to replace beef in stews, stir-fries, soups, and pot pies. Dry TVP can be stored in a cool dry location for up to 6 months. Rehydrated TVP needs to be refrigerated and should be used up within 3-5 days.

Cool Summer Food

Yesterday I met some friends in Portland for breakfast. While we were waiting we started reading the lunch and dinner menu for the day. This particular place is very vegetarian friendly, and there are lots of choices to look over, a nice change from most places where we go.

One of the specials for the day was Barbecued Tempeh, Coleslaw and Cornbread. The whole combination sounded delicious, and perfect for the season. So that afternoon, at the farm stand, I picked up some fresh organic cabbage, sweet onions and scallions and put together one of Didi Emmons’s wonderful slaw recipes, my jerk tempeh and homemade vegan cornbread.

While the restaurant menu was certainly the inspiration and really had us craving these wonderful flavors, I was able to put together the entire menu for all of us at a fraction of the cost, not a lot of time and I even had fun doing it!

When the dog days of summer have you hankering for a light, tasty, stick to your ribs menu, try these recipes together. I promise you won’t be disappointed especially when it’s topped off with an icy Corona and a twist of fresh lime!

What is Elephant Garlic?

A viewer wrote to ask me why I use small garlic cloves when I prepare food rather than the larger, easier to peel, elephant garlic. The reason is that elephant garlic really isn’t garlic at all, but are a bulb that is related to leeks. You know how leeks are milder than onions? Well, that’s the difference in flavor between elephant and regular garlic. Elephant garlic carries a more subtle, sweet flavor and is a poor substitute when you want the robustness of garlic. Elephant garlic bulbs can be quite large and sometimes one clove is bigger than an entire head of regular garlic.

When you’re buying elephant garlic, follow the same guidelines as when you’re shopping for ordinary garlic. Choose heads that are firm with plenty of dry, papery covering. Do keep in mind that elephant garlic is far more perishable than regular garlic so be sure to use it shortly after purchasing to maintain optimum flavor. It also has a higher sugar content so if you’re cooking with it, keep your eye on it because it will brown and burn quickly. Elephant garlic is a wonderful when added raw to salads or to soups and stews, when just a hint of garlic flavor is desired.

What is Macerating?

Macerating vs. Marinating

I just received an email asking what the difference is between marinating and macerating.

Macerating is a procedure used in food preparation where raw, dried, or preserved fruits or vegetables are soaked in a seasoned, usually acidic, liquid before cooking. Macerating is often confused with “marination,” and some use the terms interchangeably. But they do have a different purpose.

Macerating refers to the softening or breaking down of tough fibers in foods using a liquid. This process not only helps to make a particular food more flavorful, it also makes it easier to digest. This is especially helpful with raw onions. Fruit, on the other hand, is usually sprinkled with sugar and a little fresh lemon, then left to sit and release its own juices.

Marinating will do the same thing to some extent, but it is really designed to simply impart additional added flavor before and during the cooking process. So while these two processes share some of the same purposes, there is a difference.