“Ugly produce” — that is, recovered fruits and vegetables deemed too imperfect enough for market — could be a key to fighting hunger. Especially now that organizations like Hungry Harvest are taking this intransigent yet solvable problem into their hands.
Did you know that 6 billion pounds of produce goes to waste each year in the U.S. alone? At the same time, about fifteen percent of the population goes hungry each day. Millions of the food insecure are children. Inefficient food systems, income inequality, and “food deserts” where fresh food is unavailable are all part of the problem. But rescuing perfectly edible produce that would otherwise be dumped in landfills can be part of a beautifully logical solution. more→
Sweet-and-sour soba noodles embellished with with asparagus and fresh tomatoes makes a lovely spring or early summer dinner dish. Serve with a simple tofu dish such as Sweet and Savory Sautéd Tofu, and a platter of raw veggies. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky. more→
Have you discovered banana ice cream? If not, it’s high time you did! Vegan frozen banana strawberry ice cream is made entirely with fruit — no dairy, no added sugar. Enjoy like soft serve or in scoops — a guilt-free treat for kids of all ages! For this, you don’t need an ice cream machine; it’s best made in a food processor rather than a blender. Photos top and bottom by Hannah Kaminsky.
This curried potato salad is a luscious combination of potatoes, lentils, and tomatoes — an offbeat change-of-pace from the standard varieties, and gets a nice protein boost from the lentils. It’s hearty enough to serve as a summer main dish with fresh corn on the cob. Add a cold summer soup for a larger meal. Photos by Hannah Kaminksy. more→
Summer is the perfect time to make the luscious Spanish bell pepper sauté, also known as piperade. When peppers of all colors are abundant and relatively inexpensive, this is a great side dish on its own, or it can be used to top pasta or open-faced sandwiches. Switching cuisines, you can also use leftovers to fill vegan fajitas! more→
Heading into the summer months, its useful and fun to have an easy vegan picnic menu at hand. Here are a few savory, sturdy dishes that can be packed into a cooler. To round out the plan, add some seasonal fruits and refreshing beverages. Sure, the food is great and tastes even better when enjoyed in the fresh air, but a great part of the fun of going on picnics is choosing a lovely outdoor venue.
A hike at a nature preserve is sure to whet the appetite. For families with young children, an ideal spot for a casual picnic with little ones is a community park. To get off the beaten path, try local historic sites. A perfect spot adds much to the enjoyment of a picnic; the experience is transformed from merely eating lunch outdoors to a refreshing lift for the spirit and all the senses. more→
Tofu and potato hash browns is a simple, comforting skillet dish that’s just as good for dinner as it is for brunch. Have potatoes cooked ahead of time, and this easy and tasty dish will have your family or guests eating in short order. Leftovers are wonderful for breakfast. Or, if you make this expressly to serve in the morning, you can either microwave or cook the potatoes the night before for a head start. Great accompaniments include orange wedges and fresh whole grain bread. Adapted from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook. more→
This easy vegan mac and cheese is rich and comforting. Using pureed silken tofu as a base makes it super creamy. Boost the nutrition of this comfort food meal by serving with plenty of fresh veggies — this goes well with simply prepared broccoli or kale — and a colorful salad or platter of fresh cut vegetables with dip. For an even healthier sauce, try our Almost-Raw Cheez Sauce, based on baby carrots, raw cashews, nutritional yeast, and other nutrient-dense ingredient more→
This easy baked polenta casserole uses prepared polenta (the kind that comes in a tube) layered with zucchini and spinach. Smothered in marinara sauce and topped with melty vegan cheese, it’s almost so embarrassingly easy to make, but such a crowd-pleaser. Use a really flavorful prepared marinara—roasted tomato, garlic, mushroom, or chunky vegetable. Adapted from Vegan Express by Nava Atlas. more→
Healthy Mediterranean diet recipes are among the most delicious on the planet, filled with fresh produce and whole grains. And a great perk is that many classic dishes are naturally vegan — not veganized — making this group of cuisines perfect for the plant-based diet.
The value of the Mediterranean diet has been borne out by years of research. Numerous studies have shown that the lifestyle and dietary habits of Greeks and Italians, among other regional nationalities, contributes to long life expectancy and low rates of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic disease. The best part is that the ingredients are readily available anywhere, and are especially good way to experience seasonal eating. more→
What is kañiwa? Simply put, this relative of quinoa, is similarly a South American superfood grain making a splash in the North American market. Like quinoa, Kañiwa grows in Peru and Bolivia. It’s an excellent source of protein and amino acids, is exceptionally high in iron, and is gluten-free. Dark reddish-brown in color and about half the size of a tiny quinoa seed, it cooks up quickly to resemble a smaller version of red quinoa. Find out lots more information in Kañiwa: A “New” Ancient Superfood.
One major difference between the two is that kañiwa doesn’t have saponins, the coating that gives quinoa a soapy, slightly bitter flavor if not rinsed properly. A good thing, as I can’t imagine a sieve fine enough for its tiny size.
Quinoa brought to market has already been rinsed of much of its saponins, as otherwise it would be quite unpalatable (this procedure is done with a strong alkaline solution). But it’s always recommended that quinoa be rinsed well again at home to remove any remaining bitterness. Kañiwa is actually easier to process due to the absence of saponins.
It’s recommended to toast the grain on a dry skillet or saucepan first, then cover with water in twice its volume. Like quinoa, the water absorbs in 15 to 20 minutes. Truth be told, both times I used it so far I forgot to toast it, and it was just fine (it has a mild, nutty flavor similar to quinoa’s).
A few simple ways to use kañiwa
- Add 1/2 to 1 cup cooked kañiwa to pancake or waffle batter (depending on the size of the batch)
- Serve it as a sweet breakfast bowl with a maple syrup to taste, chopped nuts, and dried or fresh fruit. Finish with a dusting of cinnamon.
- A savory breakfast bowl is good too, with a little vegan butter and a sprinkling of nondairy cheese shreds. Sweet or savory, a it keeps you full for hours.
- Like many a nutritious grain, kañiwa works well in warm pilafs and room-temperature salads.
- Come fall holiday meals, like its slightly larger cousin, a pilaf makes a nourishing and attractive stuffing for squashes and peppers.
Nutritionally, kañiwa’s profile is remarkably similar to quinoa’s. It’s a good source of complete protein, and is a good source of a wide range of vitamins and minerals. One advantage it has over quinoa is that it’s an even better source of iron.
How to cook kañiwa
Kañiwa and quinoa can be used interchangeably, and are cooked in the same proportion to liquid (2 parts liquid to 1 part kañiwa; it cooks in 15 minutes, like quinoa, or just a bit quicker). To that end, please explore our article, How to Cook Quinoa — and Some Great Ways to Use It. You might also enjoy We Love Quinoa, a volume in our Best of VegKitchen affordable e-book series featuring the 30 most popular quinoa recipes on this site, along with many color photographs.
Kañiwa is available from online retailers, you can ask your natural foods retailer if they can order some for you.
For a recipes, see Kañiwa Confetti Salad (shown at top).
- For lots more features on healthy lifestyle, explore VegKitchen’s Healthy Vegan Kitchen page.
- Here are more of VegKitchen’s Natural Food Guides.
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This quinoa bowl recipe is quick, colorful, and an easy way to get your plant-powered protein in a one-dish meal. And while it looks like there’s a bit of prep involved, that’s not the case at all! The only cutting involved is the bell pepper. If you’re really slothful, well-stocked supermarkets sell cut bell pepper. But really, you can do this.
Grating carrots isn’t much fun, though, so we’ll use pre-grated, which are easy to find. The edamame and cashews add even more heft to quinoa’s already impressive protein profile. The only task you’ve got is to arrange the toppings artfully over cooked quinoa, then pass around the flavorful dressing. more→