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The Food Party!

By Laura Stec

E-mail Laura Stec

About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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2 -Burger a Day Alternative

Uploaded: Mar 17, 2022

The Portola Valley Forum (our version of Nextdoor) recently engaged in a fascinating thread about eating. My neighbor wants to eat less meat and was looking for ideas. The discussion quickly devolved into a who’s who about veggie burgers….and then more veggie burgers. Umm… but a well-rounded diet isn’t based on burgers, no matter what they’re made of. Or is it? We do eat a lot of burger. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans eat 2.4 burgers per day! (50-ish billion burgers per year).

How is that possible? Why the burger fetish? Lack of inspiration probably - eaters don’t know what else to eat. And it’s all fits so well together you know, between those two (highly processed, white fluff) bread pieces - hold the lettuce, but hey, at least there’s a tomato…. and ketchup.

Get this. I heard an interview with Patrick Brown, the CEO of Impossible Foods. His studies show the younger generations don’t even care if their burger is animal, they just want the taste and texture they love.

Time to explore more ways around the kitchen. Cooking is all about tips, and the more you know, the faster, more delicious, more healthful your food and cooking will be. 39% of Americans want to eat more plants. Let’s figure out how to do that AND eat whatever burger we want.

Menus of Change, a joint initiative of The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health— Department of Nutrition, has been promoting plants too. Plant-forward it’s called - a style of cooking and eating that emphasizes and celebrates, but is not limited to, foods from plant sources—fruits and vegetables (produce), whole grains, legumes (pulses), nuts and seeds, plant oils, and herbs and spices—and reflects evidence-based principles of health and sustainability.”

Consider these statistics from their 2020 report Plant-Forward by the Numbers, a pre-pandemic snapshot of the plant-based/plant-forward eating trend:

More than 30 percent of Americans have meat-free days, more than 50 percent of adults drink nondairy milk and about 83 percent are adding more plant-based foods to their diets. - Baum and Whiteman report/ quoted in USA Today

70% of the world population reportedly is either reducing meat consumption or leaving meat off the table altogether. - Forbes quoting a GlobalData report

There’s been a 328% percent growth in the term ‘plant-based’ on U.S. menus since 2018. - Datassential Menu Trends,

Every four pounds of beef you eat contributes as much to global warming as flying from New York to London. - The New Yorker

Shifting to plant-rich diets would save $1 trillion in annual healthcare costs and lost productivity. - Project Drawdown

Among 80 solutions for reversing global warming, plant-rich diets is ranked #4. - Project Drawdown

“Nutrition scientists and medical experts now know that plant protein—in a diverse, well-balanced, whole foods diet—is more than sufficient to advance human health and longevity. “Less meat, better meat,” as it is referred to, or a shift away from animal protein towards plant-forward protein, still leaves room for five or six ounces of red meat per week,” writes the CIA. The idea is to use meat as a condiment rather than the main dish; two or three two-ounce portions per week, surrounded with yummy, caramelized vegetables and whole grains. Consider that suggestion for real or fake meat. You can still have your burger of choice every now and again, just please less often. Incorporate more veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, fish and poultry, and further reduce the negative health and environmental impacts of red meat.

For ideas on how, videos and recipes, a good place to brush up on your plant-cooking skills (meat or no meat) is at Plant Forward Kitchen, a creative project hosted by the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and their Menus of Change initiative.

One important technique the school emphasizes is discovering seasonings and preparations from international plant-based dishes, or world cuisine as it is known. Plant Forward Kitchens offers inspiration from chefs the world over including Israel, Baja, Thailand, and Korea.

Find ideas, main dishes and unique ingredients that incorporate well into your current cooking style. I like adding new condiments from the Mediterranean Sauce series, such as Moroccan Zaalouk, to my tried-and-true recipes (it’s a perfect topper for a house staple - Lemon Pepper BBQ Tofu). Download the entire sauce recipe book here.

For chefs and food professionals looking to deepen your understanding, the ==I Global Plant-Forward Culinary Summit, ==hosted live at The CIA at Copia in Napa, CA, returns for its fourth year, April 26 – 28th, 2022. Attendees learn the current science and trends shaping this new style of eating, and have an opportunity to get into the kitchen and cook alongside some of the top plant-forward 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 about registration and fees here. The general sessions of the conference will be livestreamed and available here. Videos of panel sessions will be available for public viewing a few weeks after the conference.

One of the best things you can do for your health, and the health of the planet begins on your dinner plate. Take an Earth Day pledge this year to adjust your diet toward more environmentally in -groove. Add spice and energy to your life by eating more plants and learning how cook and season them well. Earth Day is every day, but officially April 22nd, 2022.

Let’s change the world with great tasting food!

Yield: 4 -6 Portions

Originating from Morocco, this smoky roasted eggplant and tomato dip is seasoned with garlic, cumin, cilantro, lemon, paprika and olive oil. Find the video, and more recipes here.

3 globe eggplant
1/4 cup plus extra Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, medium, minced
4 garlic cloves, large, minced
1 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted, ground
3/4 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. Aleppo pepper
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, diced
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 T cilantro, chopped
Salt, pepper, lemon juice to taste

1. Preheat a grill. Place the eggplants on the grill and cook until the flesh is soft and the peel is charred. Turn the eggplant periodically during the cooking process so it cooks evenly. Once it is soft all over, place on a baking sheet and let rest until cool enough to peel. (you can also roast the eggplant whole, in the oven, 400 degrees about 50 minutes depending on size)

2. Peel the eggplant and roughly chop in ½” pieces and let drain in a non-reactive strainer to remove any excess liquid.

3. Heat a saucepan with olive oil. Add the onions and sweat over low heat until translucent, approximately 15 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and let cook for 1 minute or until aromatic. Add the tomatoes and let cook for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes have reduced to a paste like consistency.

4. Add the eggplant, gently mix and cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until the flavors meld.

5. Add the lemon zest, and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

6. Let cool. Stir in the cilantro and a little more extra-virgin olive oil. Refrigerate overnight.

7. Serve at room temperature or cold.

Note: Serve as a sauce or dip. Would be delicious with grilled fish, lamb or poultry. Can also be served as a side salad for a mezze.

Recipe from: The Culinary Institute of America, The Plant Forward Kitchen

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Peter Cross, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Mar 17, 2022 at 9:11 am

Peter Cross is a registered user.

Working with tofu, Portobello mushrooms, and/or eggplant are our 'go to' meat substitutes.

We do not eat processed crap like Boca Burgers or Morningstar offerings from the grocer's freezer section.

Not all plant-based meat substitutes are created equal, especially the commercial ones.

Posted by Wesley Townsend, a resident of another community,
on Mar 17, 2022 at 1:11 pm

Wesley Townsend is a registered user.

From the standpoint of ecology, people should consider consuming insect-based 'meat' as a viable alternative to beef, pork, chicken, and seaford.

Or consider consuming the readily disposable innards of certain animals (e.g. African Americans eating chitlins).

Posted by Alan, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Mar 18, 2022 at 3:11 pm

Alan is a registered user.

@Laura - The headline of the article you cited is misleading. What the USDA estimated was that the amount of meat Americans eat is the equivalent of 2.4 burgers. That meat doesn't have to be burgers; it doesn't have to be beef; it's just some form of meat. Granted - the other article made it *sound* like we eat 2.4 burgers per day - but that's not actually what was found.

Posted by Alan, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Mar 18, 2022 at 3:17 pm

Alan is a registered user.

Here's what happened - it's the journalistic equivalent of the game of "telephone". The article you cited literally said 2.4 burgers per day - which cited this article Web Link which said the *equivalent* of 2.4 burgers per day, calculated from USDA statistics: "Annual red-meat and poultry consumption in America will reach 222 pounds per person for the first time in 2018, according to food-availability estimates by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The numbers measure how food supplies move from production to retail for domestic consumption. At 222 pounds per person, overall meat consumption comes out to the equivalent of more than 800 quarter-pound burgers per person when measured by weight, or about 2.4 burgers per day." What "food availability" means remains another question: how much of that was actually consumed - or merely available?

Posted by Laura Stec, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Mar 18, 2022 at 3:39 pm

Laura Stec is a registered user.

Thank you lol - I feel better already!

Posted by Etienne Malbec, a resident of another community,
on Mar 19, 2022 at 8:02 am

Etienne Malbec is a registered user.

"Annual red-meat and poultry consumption in America will reach 222 pounds per person for the first time in 2018, according to food-availability estimates by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)."

I am assuming this figure does not include meat that is procured by hunting or fishing but rather purchased meat.

1/3 of our family's red meat comes from my hunting in-season elk and deer while most of our fish is derived from my fishing for wild salmon and steelhead.

I also hunt wild ducks, quail, and pheasant when in season.

As an avid rod & gun type, I am not held hostage to grocery stores except for an occasional rib-eye steak and I don't particularly care for chicken or turkey.

The key to reducing the USDA numbers is to shoot or catch your own meat.

Posted by James Erhardt, a resident of another community,
on Mar 20, 2022 at 10:03 am

James Erhardt is a registered user.

"...consider consuming the readily disposable innards of certain animals (e.g. African Americans eating chitlins)."

Let's not even go there as chitterlings will never be fully accepted by any dining crowd because of their horrid, fecal-like taste and aroma.

Most of my African American colleagues despise chitterlings and several recall going to their grandmother's house and dreading the prospect of 'chitlins' being served again.

"The key to reducing the USDA numbers is to shoot or catch your own meat."

In both rural and suburban San Benito County, escaped feral pigs have become a major nuisance by tearing up lawns and de-rooting shrubbery. As a result, residents with a hunting license are allowed to shoot and kill them with no limits.

Unfortunately the meat is very tough and gamey.

Feral pigs are fun to shoot at because they are ubiquitous like houseflies and an ongoing nuisance to the local ecology.

Posted by Misha Abramowitz, a resident of another community,
on Mar 20, 2022 at 11:02 am

Misha Abramowitz is a registered user.

Pigs are disgusting and filthy animals worthy of total irradication.

As an Orthodox Jew, eating any form of pigmeat is verboten and a blatant defilement of the human body.

If I were rifle proficient, joining those who shoot wild or feral pigs would be a noble reaffirmation of my faith.

Eating chitlins is even more disgusting but to each his/her own.

Posted by Phyliss Johnston, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 8:55 am

Phyliss Johnston is a registered user.

Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives tried chitlins at a Colorado soul food restaurant but did not air the segment because he could not compliment or recommend them to his viewers.

Unlike other ethnic and regional foods that American diners have grown accustomed to, chitlins are a dish that only black people eat.

Posted by Daphne Taylor, a resident of Midtown,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 9:24 am

Daphne Taylor is a registered user.

Another sustainable protein source are garden snails.

We have a very shady backyard and I gather them to serve in pasta dishes.

Saute the snails in some garlic and butter with a dash of white wine and then add them to your favorite marinara sauce.

My family loves this simple dinner!

This is a very prolific organic source of protein providing you do not use any snailbait in your backyard.

Posted by Pete Blass, a resident of another community,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 11:26 am

Pete Blass is a registered user.

Chitlins and garden snails *ugh*

Can't we do any better than this in terms of eco-sustainable foods?

Or is this approach another 'woke approach' to fusion culinary offerings?

Just let the African Americans enjoy their pork innards and the French salivate over garden pests

Posted by Alan, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 1:44 pm

Alan is a registered user.

Chitlins aren't the only organ meat; there are several others - stomach tripe - that are a bit more palatable. The main point is to more completely use the animal. (I'd have a hard time with chitlins, brain, and kidney)

Posted by Paul Ranier, a resident of another community,
on Mar 21, 2022 at 3:38 pm

Paul Ranier is a registered user.

> Chitlins aren't the only organ meat;

Yep. Might as well add liver, another distasteful source of protein (but rich in iron).

Posted by Paul Gerrity, a resident of another community,
on Mar 22, 2022 at 11:34 am

Paul Gerrity is a registered user.

Very few African Americans actively dine on chitlins nowadays because they are no longer hindered by the constraints of slavery.

Pork is not that expensive a meat and is offered in many forms (bacon, ham, pork shoulder/butt, ribs etc ).

The only ones who consume chitlins are those who actually enjoy them...very few.

Posted by Beatrice Lloyd, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Mar 23, 2022 at 8:43 am

Beatrice Lloyd is a registered user.

Good gracious. Why would black people even consider eating hog innards when there were other plant-based sources of protein readily available to them?

Many Mexicans subside on a regular diet of rice and beans which form the natural protein commonly associated with meat.

Didn't the early African-Americans have access and the ability to grow garden beans along with rice?

And if cultivating rice was a distant reality, there was certainly enough corn which is another Mexican food staple.

Posted by Adrian LaPierre, a resident of another community,
on Mar 23, 2022 at 11:29 am

Adrian LaPierre is a registered user.

>Didn't the early African-Americans have access and the ability to grow garden beans along with rice?

They grew okra, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, corn, watermelon and other produce but at the time there was no Food Network or certified nutritionists to inform them of other viable options.

Though soy beans were also cultivated (as animal feed), its use as a meat substitute was unknown at the time as there were very few (if any) Chinese immigrants to instruct the African slaves how to make tofu.

So they opted for whatever food options their plantation masters provided them with.

BTW...there is a distinct difference between soul food and slave food.

Many white people enjoy soul food (e.g. smoked ribs/chicken/pork and sweet potato pie) but most would stay clear of true slave food.

Posted by Barry Williams, a resident of St. Francis Acres,
on Mar 23, 2022 at 11:48 am

Barry Williams is a registered user.

Another option...why not just catch some catfish instead of eating hog intestines?

There are countless streams in the south and all it takes is a cut tree branch, some line + a hook, and almost anything for bait.

Crawfish would be another easy option.

Posted by Penny Wilcox, a resident of another community,
on Mar 23, 2022 at 1:05 pm

Penny Wilcox is a registered user.

Chitlins (according to some Afro-American gourmands) is an acquired taste that few others have acquired.

If so inclined, one might as well make full use of a pig. The Chinese do.

Posted by Rufus Young, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Mar 23, 2022 at 2:36 pm

Rufus Young is a registered user.

As a self-sufficient and proud African American male, there are countless other ethnic menu offerings to indulge and chitlins ain't one of them.

My grandma use to prepare chitlins for holiday dinners and I was one of the few kids at school who actually dreaded both Thanksgiving and Christmas family dinners because while others got to eat turkey, we were stuck eating chitlins and collard greens.

Just imagine if the Native Americans had served chitlins to the Pilgrims for the first Thanksgiving instead of wild turkey and fish.

The Pilgrims probably would have sailed back to England and the course of American history would have been different.

She has since passed on and slow-cooked chitlins have never touched my lips since.

Posted by Bob Carlin, a resident of another community,
on Mar 24, 2022 at 11:20 am

Bob Carlin is a registered user.

"...there is a distinct difference between soul food and slave food."

Who cares what the slaves ate back in the day? It is no longer relevant as most of the African Americans I've encountered seem to prefer fast food.

The CDC has warned consumers that there is an inherent danger in consuming hog innards due to their intestinal bacteria...the same stuff that periodically gets into irrigation ditches and forces recalls of fresh grown produce.

No one has to eat chitlins unless they really like them.

Posted by Bobbi Lange, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Mar 24, 2022 at 2:14 pm

Bobbi Lange is a registered user.

Chitlins sound horrid but some cultures also consume mice as a protein source.
Web Link
Thank goodness we have Ditmer's, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Safeway (in a pinch).

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