Ode to Avocados

Prized as a delicacy and an aphrodisiac, avocados have been cherished since the early Aztecs first harvested the wild fruit over 10,000 years ago. While that’s an impressive history, proving its long term stating power, I’m disquieted to imagine any point in time that this most precious, indispensable stable didn’t exist. Rarely does a day pass without some form of avocado appearing on my personal menu, and often more than once. I hate to play favorites when there are so many incredible fresh finds out there… But I know avocado is the one I couldn’t live without.

Once the underdog of the produce world, avocados have enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity only during the later half of the 21st century. Now ubiquitous, Americans alone account for over $2.6 billion in avocado sales annually. No wonder millennials can’t afford to buy houses anymore. The buttery flesh may be green, but it’s really worth it’s weight in gold.

As National Avocado Day looms ever nearer on July 31st, the whole event seems curiously redundant. Don’t we already pay out respects at the shrine of the ahuacatl more religiously than most conventional deities? I don’t really need to suggest a celebratory round of guacamole, as if it wasn’t the most serving suggestion in the book? Besides, you have a whole separate holiday to rock out with your guac out, on September 16th.

There’s no wrong way to eat an avocado. In fact, my favorite method is to scoop it right out of of shell with a spoon, gilded with tiny pinch of flaky salt over the top. If you’d like to pull out all the stops for this party and try something special, however, I do have a few more ideas that are sure to make any avocado lover swoon.

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Breakfasts to Savor

A new day is dawning in the kitchen, jostling the soundest of sleepers awake. Far removed from the dusty boxes of cereal and granola bars, bold, bright aromas infused with spice and umami fill the air. Though the standard American diet leans heavily on sweets for the “most important meal of the day,” polls have shown that the majority of those chowing down before noon prefer a savory breakfast.

Skip the batter, forget the flour, and stick firm slabs of tofu straight into the waffle iron for a high-protein foundation to hold a deeply umami lashing of espresso-spiked gravy. Waffled Tofu with Red Eye Gravy provides a hearty, gluten-free vehicle for enjoying this thick, creamy sauce enriched with sautéed mushrooms without any regrets.

If dry cereal is more your speed, you’ll be bowled over by Curried Coconut Granola. Warmly spiced clusters of thick oats and coconut flakes are baked to golden-brown perfection with minimal added oil. They’re perfect for sprinkling over unsweetened yogurt, plain oatmeal, soups, salads, or simply eating out of hand.

Craving buttery pastries, flaky and crisp? Skip the sugary frosting and syrupy fruit filling with Cheesy Broccoli and Bac-un Toaster Tarts. White bean-based cheese sauce fills flaky pastry pockets along with smoky bites of tempeh bac-un and tender-crisp broccoli florets.

Some Americans consume eggs in the morning, but have you heard of the latest Indian street food sensation taking the world by storm? Bread Omelets wrap up a fusion of French toast, scrambled eggs, and an egg sandwich all in one neat package. My vegan version is made with chickpea flour seasoned with black salt for the same sensation, without the eggs or dairy.

South of the border, Chilaquiles have been an essential staple for using up stale tortilla chips but take on greater flavor when prepared fresh, from scratch. Homemade corn tortilla chips are baked and not fried in this take on breakfast nachos. Little prep or planning is needed to throw together fresh salsa, black beans, and diced avocado in a meal that can be scaled for one or one dozen.

Tall stacks of pancakes dripping with syrup may sound dreamy, but the sugar crash soon to follow isn’t quite as satisfying. For a substantial morning meal that will power you through the day, skip the sugary stuff. The breakfast revolution will not be sweetened.

Get all these recipes in the 2021 Issue 1 of Vegetarian Journal, and online at VRG.org!

New School Vegan

Like a duck, placidly gliding across the water while paddling madly underneath the surface, I’ve been churning through a lot more than just ice cream in recent months. Super Vegan Scoops! is due to land in just over a month, but the real news I’ve come to share is that you have something else delicious to look forward to soon. Very soon, in fact.

The Student Vegan Cookbook is due to set the world on fire (figuratively speaking; we don’t want to break any dorm rules) this fall! Inventive, inspiring, and accessible recipes that anyone can accomplish on a shoestring budget, without sacrificing time, taste, or nutrition. Made with low-tech tools in mind, you don’t need a full kitchen to eat well, or even a full stove. Heck, you don’t even need to be a student to benefit from these easy ideas! I like to consider myself a lifelong learner, personally, which means that there’s no end to the wealth of knowledge I find even at the dinner table.

Don’t get complacent with mere TV dinners either, for that matter. I’ve got you covered from morning to midnight with fresh breakfasts that will have you racing out of bed, no matter how early your first classes start, to deeply satisfying midnight snacks when you’re studying into the dark of night.

Open up your palate to a world of new flavors. Go island-hopping with Greek Spaghetti Squash Boats, throw a fiesta with Crispy Cauliflower Tacos, and come back home for deeply comforting Stove Top Mac and Cheese, all before the school bell rings. Never take a gamble on cafeteria food again, or waste money on expensive takeout when cravings strike. Cooking pros and novices can all stand to learn something from these simple, satisfying recipes.

Pre-order your copy today, and get ready to level up your plant-based meal prep!

The Duchess and the Pea

What could be more proper than a decorous English tea sandwich? Filled daintily but not overstuffed, crusts carefully removed, each mouthful is an architectural feat, rendered in an edible medium. History has spared no detail on this stately creation, giving full attribution to Anna Maria Stanhope, seventh Duchess of Bedford, who felt the sharp jab of hunger midday, while dinner was still many hours off. A well-mannered lady could not simply pilfer scraps from the kitchen- Heavens, no! Fashioning these elegant little two-bite affairs to serve with tea, no one needed suffer the embarrassment of an uncontrolled appetite in civilized company.

Why, then, has it taken so long for contemporary cooks to realize the potential of another British staple, the English pea, when crafting a perfectly proper filling? Tender, sweet green pearls that sing of spring’s bounty, they’re an even more esteemed asset than the common cucumber.

While we’re on the subject of names and origins, I must wonder why there isn’t more tea involved in a rightful tea sandwich? Of course, like coffee cake, the moniker intones what should be served with the food at hand, but I find myself unsatisfied with that explanation. In my remodeled bread building, stunning butterfly pea tea powder grants lightly tangy cream cheese an arresting blue hue.

In less formal settings, the pea spread could become a dip for any variety of fresh vegetable crudites, crackers, or chips. In fact, it could be swirled through strands of al dente spaghetti for a savory seasonal treat, too. However, something about the full combination of elements, complete with effortlessly yielding soft sandwich bread, really makes it shine. Do give it a go; it’s only proper to try.

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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!