Hungry for Higher Education

Life has undergone some drastic changes for most of us in the past year. Facing pressure on all sides from rising expenses and a plummeting employment rate, the job market feels especially volatile, especially if you’re the sort of person who wants to do what they’re genuinely passionate about. The good news is that jobs in the food industry are more important than ever, and with so many people changing careers now, this is a great time to invest in further education.

Is that even possible to get a degree as an avowed vegan, you may ask? Plant-based diets are far from a passing trend, and mainstream institutions are finally waking up to the signs, revamping decades-old programs to accommodate. Brand new schools are cropping up at the same time to offer a fresh perspective on the field, too. Whereas in the past, you might have been forced to sacrificed ethics until graduation day, there are now 100% vegan culinary institutions and programs that uphold those high standards.

Compiled and provided by Culinaryschools.org, the list of options continues to grow:

Living Light Culinary Institute

Living Light is an internationally known raw organic vegan chef cooking school. Located in Fort Bragg, California, it was founded in 1997 by master chef Cherie Soria who is considered the mother of gourmet raw food cuisine. Living Light offers workshops and comprehensive chef and instructor training designed for both the serious chef and the ordinary individual interested in healthier meal choices. Their certifications include Gourmet Chef, Associate Chef. and Raw Culinary Arts Professional. Workshops in knife skills, recipes and nutrition facilitate the training. Internet classes are available using videos and online instruction.

Vegan Culinary Academy

Located in beautiful Napa Valley, California, Vegan Culinary Academy was founded in 2007 by Certified Executive Chef Sharon Christensen. Though they do not offer a certification program, all chef instructors are credentialed and certified in the state of California. Their classes are customized and personalized to include plant-based diet instruction, food sculpting, and food business management. They guide students through intensives and traineeship programs.

The School of Natural Cookery

The School of Natural Cookery has a unique curriculum where students learn to cook without using recipes. Their non-traditional professional culinary program caters to the intuitiveness of the individual chef/artist. Joanne Saltzman, who founded “The Language of Cooking” bases the school’s cuisine on original foods to include grains, beans and vegetables. The School of Natural Cookery first opened its professional curriculum in 1991 and it has flourished since. Located in Boulder, Colorado, this school offers both a diploma and certificate program as well as teacher training.

Vegetarian Society Cookery School

Part of the Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom, Vegetarian Society Cookery School is a prestigious venue for vegetarian and whole food cooking education. Founded in 1982 by Sarah Brown & formerly known as the Cordon Vert School, its diploma is well-received around the world. The highly regarded and intensive diploma program is only open to professional chefs but their courses are available to anyone who wants to excel in whole food cuisine. The school is headquartered in Cheshire, England in an old Victorian mansion. Chefs can find a helpful eLearning section online to learn the basics of vegetarian cooking and catering and to assess their own knowledge of the art.

Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts

Located in Manhattan, New York, the Natural Gourmet Institute enjoys first class facilities. Founded by Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D. in 1977, the school emphasizes the relationship of food to its effects on health. Their hands-on approach to the natural diet and cooking techniques provides the student with an overall knowledge of both theoretical and practical information. The Chef’s Training Program includes an intensive internship often leading to employment offers.

The Natural Epicurean

The Natural Epicurean bases its philosophy on macrobiotics, which they describe as a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle choice. The academy was founded in 1994 by Elizabeth Ann Foster and is located in Austin, Texas. They offer an intense 800 hour training course and include cooking for healing, cutting techniques and home remedies. Natural whole foods cooking is combined with eclectic course offerings. Internships are available.

Natural Kitchen Cooking School

The Natural Kitchen believes in making the world a happier and healthier place one kitchen at a time. Based in New Jersey, the school was founded in 2005 by Christine Waltermyer who continues to have a large television presence as a natural and raw foods chef. The Natural Chef Training Program offers hands-on innovative cooking techniques. They often have guest chefs and include food history, food politics and personal healing in the curriculum.

Are you thinking about going back to school? Whether you’re vegan for ethical, environmental, or health reasons, you have a wealth of options to make your dreams of a culinary career come true!

 

This post was made possible as a collaboration with Culinaryschools.org. My opinions can not be bought and all content is original. This page may contain affiliate links; thank you for supporting my blog!

Power Play

Anything meat can do, plants can do better.

This is the rallying cry behind Plant-Powered Protein, the latest and greatest release from the prolific, esteemed cookbook author, Nava Atlas. Today’s innovative alternative proteins prove that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor, texture, or nutrition to enjoy a fully plant-based diet. It seems as though there’s a new option appearing on the market every day; the paradox of choice can be paralyzing, whether you’ve been vegan since the era of TVP, or are just testing the waters now.

Not all proteins are created equal. Where does one start with such a diverse palate of new ingredients? Aside from picking out the best brands, what can you actually make with these mystery meats once you get them into the kitchen? Never fear, Nava is here. In Plant-Powered Protein, she’ll guide you through familiar family favorites, from nostalgic classics to bold global fare, with dishes that are kinder to the earth and animals, not to mention much better for you.

It’s both with personal bias and my honest opinion that I share this book as a top recommendation, since I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ms. Atlas regularly for over a decade now, including this fresh trove of recipes. I couldn’t be more proud to have my photos lend the visual voice to such a compelling collection. Just imagine: Having created all of the meals pictured within, finding not a single failure, and experiencing the instant gratification of such easy instruction first hand. More than a mere armchair reviewer, my endorsement comes from a truly genuine place.

Wrapped up in these glossy pages, complete with recipes for making your own alternatives and suggestions for incorporating them into simple, everyday meals, you’ll get over 125 recipes that would thrill even the consummate carnivore. Bridging the divide between the conventional comfort food and a whole food plant-based approach, there’s something in here for everyone.

How can one possibly pick a handful of favorites from over a hundred tried-and-true winners? Truth be told, I can only go by my favorite photos at this point, since the flavors are all on point, instructions are easy to understand, and standard preparations couldn’t be quicker. All you need to do is figure out what you’re in the mood for. Breakfast for dinner? It’s hard to beat those biscuits with sausage gravy, or a spicy chorizo scramble. In need of a warming stew on a cold day? Set a pot of New England clamless chowder on the stove to simmer, and ease into a big bowlful of comfort.

You’ve also got plenty of lighter options like spinach salad with apples and bacon, or a clean, crisp deconstructed sushi salad that’s also great for a grab-and-go lunch. Flavors span the globe with inspirations that range from Korean, Mongolian, Thai, Mexican, and more. For the adventurous eater, you’ve got a ticket to any delicious destination in these pages.

For special occasions, look no further than the carne asada fries, an indulgent entree that you can totally justify as a balanced meal. You’ve got your starch, plenty of vegetables, healthy fats from avocado, and of course plenty of protein. What more can you ask for? The same can be said of the classic meaty pizza, dotted with spicy meatless pepperoni that puts the conventional rendition to greasy shame. It’s natural to make comparisons, but these recipes are simply unrivaled in flavor AND nutrition.

All that said, don’t just take my word for it. Get into the kitchen and taste these creations for yourself. Everyone should be so fortunate as to enjoy such a comprehensive, compelling guide through the world of meatless options. To that end, I’m thrilled to GIVE AWAY THREE COPIES of Plant-Powered Protein. Yes, three lucky winners will be able to cook up a storm, enjoying Nava Atlas’ delicious wisdom as I have for so many years now.

To enter, leave me a comment below about your favorite meatless entree. Do you use a homemade protein, or do you have a favorite store-bought brand? There are no wrong answers as long as you keep cooking! Don’t forget to come back and fill out the entry form to log your submission, and unlock a number of additional methods to rack up extra entries.

Let’s make 2021 the year that “Where do you get your protein?” becomes a question only suitable for omnivores. Plant-powered is the way to be!

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Blue Christmas

I’ll have a blue Christmas without you
I’ll be so blue just thinking about you
Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree
Won’t be the same dear, if you’re not here with me

And when that blue corn starts popping
That’s when those blue memories start dropping
You’ll be doin’ all right, with your Christmas of white
But I’ll have a blue, blue blue blue Christmas

That is how the song goes, right? Elvis always said it best, but he didn’t quite get in all the right words. He was a notable foodie in his day, and I know he must have been thinking about his next meal, even if the lyrics didn’t quite match.

There aren’t that many naturally blue foods out there, so I feel fairly confident that the King of Rock and Roll was talking about blue corn. Tamales, the quintessential corn-based staple of Christmas, must have been on his mind. At least, that’s the first thing I was thinking of after listening to the oldies. Crooning on for all eternity every holiday season, it just hits a bit different this year. Physically distant from friends and family this is a particularly blue celebration for many.

Embrace the blues with me and go in for seconds, too. Tender masa made with brilliant blue cornmeal, further enhanced with the intense indigo pigment from butterfly pea tea. Seasoned blue potatoes are the only suitable filling for a such brilliantly saturated dish of course. I’d be tempted to pair it with blueberry salsa, if only they were winter fruits.

It’s okay to feel the blues, and in this case, eat your feelings. Making blue tamales can provide a positive emotional outlet along with a healthy, comforting meal. Now that’s something worth celebrating.

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Enticing Spicing

Supplements are vital for filling the gaps, ensuring a well-balanced diet, but it’s a simple fact that nutrients are best absorbed through food. “Food as medicine” is far from a fringe movement, though that doesn’t mean it should taste medicinal. If we can have cake made of cauliflower and noodles made of zucchini, why can’t we turn everyday meals into more flavorful, more powerfully nutritious dishes? Enspice is on a mission to end childhood malnutrition by putting essential vitamins and minerals back where they belong: In food.

We’re talking about naturally sourced, plant-based seasonings and spices enhanced with a boost of potent superfoods, not synthetic supplements. Things like maitake mushrooms, kelp, chlorella, kale, sunflower seeds, and more are what bolster the profile of these spicy sprinkles. One teaspoon of any of the six bold, piquant blends contains 50% of the FDA daily values.

Unlike more fragile, volatile ingredients, these spices are designed to withstand the heat of cooking or baking, so you’ll get the full benefit of those nutrients no matter how you put them to use.

Their statement about eradicating malnutrition is more than just hot air, too. The Enspice Children’s Foundation was created first to feed malnourished children around the world. Each purchase donates one meal for a child in need. You’re feeding yourself and your family well, AND making an impact on those less fortunate at the same time- As if a nourishing, flavorful home cooked meal wasn’t enough to feel good about.

Open up your spice rack to make room for the full fleet. Use them just as you would to season any of your favorite recipes. If you’re not sure where to start, aside from the obvious here are some of my favorite uses so far:

Cinnamon:

  • Snickerdoodle Cookies
  • Overnight Oatmeal
  • Cinnamon Sugar Toast

Black Pepper:

Taco Seasoning:

  • Pozole
  • Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas
  • Tex-Mex Rice

Chipotle BBQ:

Cape Cod:

  • Corn on the Cob
  • Potato Salad
  • Jackfruit Crab Cakes

Seasoned Salt:

Variety is the spice of life, but spices themselves can enhance the quality of your life, too. Shake things up, and shake it on everything! What’s your favorite way to get spicy these days?

Right now, you can get 10% off Enspice seasonings & spices with the code MOMSMEET. This offer expires 12/30/20.

This review was made possible as a collaboration with Moms Meet and Enspice. My opinions can not be bought and all content is original. This page may contain affiliate links; thank you for supporting my blog!

Potatoes for President

Like many strangely compelling trends, it all started as a silly hashtag.

#Potatoesforpresident was a random phrase that popped into my head during the previous election cycle, a small nod to my frustration over lackluster candidate options. Tinged with a whiff of frustration and the omnipresent craving for comfort, potatoes just stood out as the spuds for the job.

Potatoes themselves are diverse, proliferating across the globe in all colors of the rainbow. Far beyond white waxy varieties, purple, orange, yellow, and more speak to a wider range of flavors than just basic bland starch.

Endlessly adaptable, versatile, and accommodating, most potatoes can be eaten either cooked or raw, hot or cold. Spiralized, roasted, boiled, steamed, baked, scalloped, simmered, sauteed, mashed, fried, dried, juiced, distilled, blended, or stuffed, your humble potato is there for you, ready for the job.

Persevering through the bleakest of harvests, they’ve withstood the test of time. Unlike most fresh produce, they’ll keep at room temperature for months in the right conditions, good as the day they were unearthed. Potatoes are there for you when you need them, no matter what.

It’s never been more important to vote, so make it count. I’ll still be going to the polls to cast a real ballot on November 3rd, but at home, I’m always going to back this culinary campaign. #Potatoesforpresident, until we get someone in the Oval Office with even slightly more of a brain.

Here are a few of my favorite spuds to keep you company in the meantime.

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Shell Shock

Everyone in my family is a fidgeter, a picker, or a combination of the two. We simply can’t sit quietly, motionlessly, and we certainly can’t keep our hands still. As if possessed, they move with minds of their own, searching and groping into empty space for something to latch on to, work through, touch and feel.

If not for knitting, I would have long ago torn my nail beds to utter ruin, all without realizing precisely what those devious hands were doing. I’ve noticed that my mom often tries to redirect that energy into more positive channels as well, typically working knots out of yarn or twisted lengths of jewelry, impossibly tangled by yours truly. My sister’s gift, however came as a complete surprise. It turns out, she’s a gifted and endlessly enthusiastic sheller.

Failing to locate shelled pistachios for a recipe in need, I resigned myself to a frustrating night of cracking open about a million half-smiling green nuts, their tiny smirks mocking me from the safety of their hard cocoons. Somehow detecting the need for help, my sister was there in an instant, popping them out left and right, until only a pile of clean, perfect pistachios remained. Stunned, I could only stare at the heaping bowl of nuts, dumbstruck. This girl hates nuts, had never willingly or knowingly eaten a nut of any variety, and yet relished this horribly monotonous duty to free them from their shells.

Of course, this discovery came years ago, when we all lived together under one roof. Now separated by hundreds of miles, I can’t help but think of this moment wistfully as a new heap of nuts sits before me, cocooned in their impenetrable cloaks.

In the times of quarantine, though, it’s not the worst way to pass the endless hours. Any project that ends with a delicious result is a worthwhile investment in time.

Most cream of [fill-in-the-blank] soups are good only as ingredients, possessing little redeeming culinary value alone, but this pale green pottage was designed specifically to fly solo. Lush toasted pistachios are blended to both flavor and enrich the silken brew, dazzling with simplicity and subtlety. Glorious spring greens enhance the color, of course, while adding a light, peppery bite. Fennel, typically a bit player, is essential for this unique concert of seasonal flavors, not to be overpowered by the standard array of aromatics.

If you don’t start with shelled pistachios, it will definitely take a minute to prepare, to which I say: All the more better. Consider it an act of productive meditation. Don’t rush the process, but embrace it instead.

Continue reading “Shell Shock”