Ingredient Impostors - Mourn or Celebrate?


[et_pb_section admin_label="section"] [et_pb_row admin_label="row"] [et_pb_column type="4_4"] [et_pb_text admin_label="Text"] Ever since the time I bought Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) crumbles as a meat substitute, on a vegetarian friend’s recommendation, I’ve been leery of food products masquerading as actual foods.

Better just to eat vegetables than fake meat! Even tofu climbed higher on my list than TVP.

So you could say I was leery of food impostors. No high-fructose corn syrup, no non-dairy creamer, no margarine, no soy cheese in our house. Recently, however, in reading about the vegan diet I posted on earlier, I gave almond milk a try. With guilt, of course, because almonds require so much water to cultivate, and I spoke to a Washington beekeeper who had stopped trucking his bees to California to pollinate the almonds because it was too stressful on them. I would have stuck with regular milk, except the vegan book suggested too much dairy might be linked to acne. I've got three teenagers at home; this caught my attention.

What was on sale at QFC

Almond milk in smoothies might prove to be the "thin end of the wedge," as 20th century British books like to say. Meaning, the first impostor ingredient that opens the door for many more. I haven't tried it straight or in cereal or my tea yet, but it's worked great in smoothies and baked goods. Moreover, I switched my kids from the sweetened varieties to the unsweetened, and no one noticed. I might give rice milk a go next time, though it's not like you can grow rice without a ton of water, either.

But maybe the thin end of the wedge had already been inserted. Because a couple years ago I had a to-die-for cashew "cheesecake" at sometime BFM purveyor Jujubeet, and I was a believer. I even went so far as to attempt to make them at home. (They were fine, but not as good as Jujubeet's. If you're curious about the recipe, here's the site.)

The (anti-)sugar book I posted on last week had me rethinking sugar substitutes because author Gary Taubes talked about the smear campaign Big Sugar launched against artificial sweeteners. But, as is the case with TVP, would it not be better just to eat less real sugar, rather than to replace sugar with chemical artificial sweeteners? That seems the easiest solution, although the food industry is excited about a new, "all-natural low glycemic index sugar" developed by a Nobel prize winner. This sugar molecule is "hollowed out" without losing its sweetness, thus possibly enabling manufacturers to reduce sugar by leaps and bounds without resorting to artificial sweeteners. Interesting.

Basic building blocks of the food industry [pic: Food Dive]One impostor I'm curious about is Bee Free Honee, basically an apple jelly gone awry that can be used interchangeably with honey in recipes. I still have real honey in the house and certainly want to support our BFM beekeepers, but I've definitely cut back on cooking with honey because of its price! Maybe I could save the real honey for tea and topping cornbread, but make granola with a honey substitute. At $8 for a 12-oz jar, however, it's not like the bee-free variety is exactly a bargain. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, there's always real food to be eaten. We had these "Launcher Quesadillas" from the vegan cookbook, so named because they reportedly "launched" doubters into the lifestyle. Not everyone in my family was launched, and they were a pain to try to flip, but they were certainly tasty. Sweet potatoes, black beans, bell pepper. I added the sour cream and thought they could have used some cheese, but whatever.

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Having Your Cake and Eating It Too

I'm guessing you already heard that there's no Saturday Market this week. It's the Bellevue Arts Museum Artsfair, not to be confused with the Bellevue Festival of the Arts in a neighboring parking lot, whose motto at least is honest: "31 Years of the Best of the Rest Fest."

Rather than compete with the Fair or contribute to Downtown Gridlock 2015, our Market will graciously stick to Thursday, and marketgoers will only have to dodge cone set-up around Bellevue Square.

If you've been discovering new backroad routes around construction bottlenecks, or sitting in the daily parking lot that is 405 south, you'll be ready for a cool, frosty beverage by the time you reach the farmers market. I have a couple suggestions:

We have a brewer! Geaux Brewing of Bellevue has set up a storefront. (And that's pronounced "go," not "gee-ox," for those of you who took Spanish in high school, instead of French.) Last week the brewers had two varieties on offer, Lafitte and Treme.

Treme, by process of elimination

Their website describes Lafitte thus:

Brewed with a perfect balance of pale, rye, and wheat malts and a dash of noble hops. Lafitte is then fermented with American Wheat yeast—this beer is as unique as it is interesting. Slightly sweet at first with a dry, spicy finish. Truly a lawnmower beer. 

As for Treme...

A full-bodied, yet balanced IPA, Tremé dances around in your mouth with a sweet, malty backbone against a floral, citrus, and melon hop character. With six different hop additions in the boil and three more dry hop additions, this is one to please even the most discerning IPA lover. 

But supposing you're not the beer-drinking type.

You might have noticed the addition of Jujubeet to our Market. I actually worked at this juice bar and eatery next to Top Pot Donuts for a few months, and I've made with my own hands (when I was there) all the foods on offer, as well as some of the beverages. Which is why I can tell you with complete honesty that they're delicious AND wholesome. You know how it goes with Market foods--they're all delicious, for sure, but you couldn't exactly call them good for you. Organic pastries are still pastries, after all.

Look for this awning and smiling face

So if you're hoping to have your cake and eat it too, try a juice beverage and a salad at Jujubeet. From my time there, I can tell you the Kale Almond Salad is a perennial, sell-out favorite. We were making it constantly.

Kale Almond, front and center!

Jujubeet reports that marketgoers tend to buy the beet drink and carrot drink, but I'm all about the green ones. Even my teenage son would drink the green ones--that's how tasty they are.

Once you've had green, you'll never go back

It's worth stopping by the store to try more flavors, too, especially since my very favoritest greens aren't on offer at the Market. I loved "Herbalicious" and "Green Beauty," but I never turned down any of the others when there was a little leftover after bottling.

And once you've had your scrumptious and healthy fortification, you can convince yourself to try the "Energy Balls" (i.e., chocolate-y nuggets of rich, irresistible goodness). When I wasn't making another batch of Kale Almond Salad, I was making these suckers.

All the ingredients are listed right on the label, and they'd be perfect as a snack during a swim meet or lacrosse tournament or triathlon, or whatever all you more athletic types are doing.

So reward yourself for your awesome traffic navigation with the best of food and maybe an artwork that makes your heart sing.

Blink, and You Might Miss These

We were at the Mariners game last night, being alternately grieved, thrilled, annoyed, and then thrilled again by the 7-6, extra-inning triumph over the Detroit Tigers. There was mediocre pitching. There was a bag of kettle corn and a serving of garlic fries. There was a grand slam. There were Tigers fans getting on my nerves.

Thanks for the pic, MLB.com

I bring all this up for no reason, except that the Mariners don't win all that often, and we ought to savor it.

Just as we ought to savor the summer fruit season as it goes whizzing by! The strawberries are already done and the cherries soon to follow.

Get 'em while they last!

 Tell me you've tasted these offerings as well...?

FYI, a "nectarcot" is an awesome sweet-tart fruit that reminded me of a pluot. All our fruits are coming at us at an accelerated pace because of the heat wave, so we have to stay alert! My hub even spotted ripening blackberries among the monstrous weeds that threaten to overtake the Greater Puget Sound if you relax your vigilance for even a few months. Blackberries. In July.

But while we're snatching up fruit as the season flies by, don't miss other tasty things making appearances.

Did you notice the smoked tuna on offer at Fishing Vessel St. Jude's? So. Yummy.

Under a glass dome, like the treasure it is

And how about the appearance of Jujubeet, with their cold-pressed juices and wholesome snacks? More on them later because I used to work at their Bellevue store, but for now, one of their publicity shots:

I've had this exact drink at Jujubeet

And, this Saturday (7/11) and next Thursday (7/16), don't miss the reappearance of Peasant Food Manifesto, food truck of awesomeness.

Where I had this so-luscious mac and cheese with kimchi:

If any of you out there are Mariners fans, you know the valuable life lessons fandom teaches, which easily apply to eating seasonally:

  1. You can't have whatever goodness you want, whenever you want it.
  2. When the good times come, milk them for all they're worth.
A friend who accompanied us to the game happened to be up getting food and refilling water bottles when the Mariners loaded the bases and Austin Jackson hit his first career grand slam. He heard the pandemonium but got no closer to the festivities than staring up at the monitor by the concession stand. 
Sadly, that will be me, with this week's Markets. I'll be eating pool concessions at the kids' swim meets while you all have a ball. Think of me, when you're enjoying summer's walk-off victories.