Dragon Bowl

The Dragon Bowl is a menu staple at New York City’s Angelica Kitchen. It’s hearty, delicious, and colorful.  After a holiday of binge eating and too many sweets, this is a clean meal that makes you feel healthier just looking at it. Choose whatever steamed vegetables and beans you have on hand or are in season.

Dragon Bowl

Serves 2


2 cups cooked brown rice
1 bunch greens, i.e. kale, collards, or chard
1 can black-eyed peas, rinsed or 2 cups cooked black-eyed peas (or bean of your choice)
2 cups cooked seasonal vegetables. We used sweet potatoes. Other options include broccoli, squash, cauliflower, etc.

Miso tahini dressing
1 T tahini
1 T miso
3/4 cup warm water
1 t dill

Wash and cut greens into bite sized pieces. Steam about 5 minutes until bright green.

Cook your seasonal vegetables. If using sweet potatoes, poke holes in them using a fork and microwave on high for about 5 minutes, turning once at 3 minutes. If using broccoli, cauliflower or summer squash, steam until tender, about 5 minutes.

To make the sauce, combine miso and tahini then slowly add warm water. The sauce will thicken at first. Smooth out lumps, then add remaining water and dill.

Fill two bowls with half of the rice, greens, beans, and seasonal vegetables, then pour dressing over to taste.

Mean Greens: The nation’s first all-vegan dining hall

In a move that shook up college dining services in 2011, the University of North Texas in Denton became the first institution in the country to have an all-vegan dining hall. You read that right, a vegan dining hall deep in the heart of Texas.

The decision was driven in part by student demand for healthier food. And it’s been good for business too. UNT’s executive director of dining Bill McNeace has said that since opening Mean Greens, voluntary meal plans have gone up by 30 percent and opening the vegan dining hall was the only big change the school made.

What’s even more unique about Mean Greens is that all the food is made from scratch: no processed meat alternatives here. Executive chef Wanda White had to learn how to cook vegan and has done an exceptional job. On the day I visited, students could choose from chili mac, shepherd’s pie, polenta, gluten-free Mexican pizza, stir fries, pasta, and much more.  Not to mention the desserts: vegan rice crispy treats, lemon meringue pie, and an ever-present vegan soft serve ice cream machine.

The success of Mean Greens is no surprise given that more and more people, especially young people, are embracing veg eating. And it’s not just vegans who are looking for more vegan meals. More and more people are looking to eat plant-based meals even if they’re not vegetarian or vegan, as this article that just appeared in Columbus Alive reports. We’re at an important time when people realize they don’t need to eat meat, eggs, or dairy at every meal and that there are delicious alternatives to those products. I couldn’t be happier that Mean Greens is blazing the trail for university dining. It’s a good thing I don’t live close though!

Squash scones?

We’re being overrun with squash, which is not a bad thing, but coming up with ideas for different ways to use it is not always easy. I used to work at Starbucks and gazed longingly for hours at their pumpkin scones. Frosted to perfection the fact that they weren’t vegan was my only saving grace. Using that as my inspiration, I went on a quest this morning to make my own vegan version using slightly less icing. I found this recipe online and used it as the basis for my recipe.

Instead of pumpkin, I used kabocha squash which is sweet and a great replacement. I used whole wheat flour instead of spelt and had to increase the milk (I used soymilk) by about ½ cup. Add it gradually until the dry mixture is moist enough to stick together. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out if you add too much, so do it a little at a time.  The verdict:  Probably not as sweet as Starbucks’, but they’re fresher and healthier. 10 out of 10 say they’d eat them again. Or at least two of us.

And hey, we’re down 1/3 cup of squash. Now what to do with the rest of it?

Meat-Free Product Sales Are Rising as Meat Consumption Falls

This post originally appeared on TriplePundit.com

Employees at The Valley Hospital in New Jersey celebrate Meatless Monday

With the annual Food Day approaching, it’s hard to overlook the fact that people seem to be thinking more about where their food comes from every day. Food Day is a nationwide celebration and movement for healthy, affordable and sustainable food and a day of awareness about these issues couldn’t be more important.

What we eat has deep implications, and in the last several years, socially responsible businesses have started taking an active role in addressing those implications. Many are creating policies to improve the welfare of animals in their supply chains, reducing GHG emissions or purchasing only from suppliers that pay workers fair wages. And there’s one area that’s gaining traction by the day: meat reduction. Some savvy businesses have noticed a decreasing demand for meat and are creating new products to meet every meat-free need. Others are using the popular Meatless Monday program to improve employee wellness or to encourage customers to eat healthier by cutting out meat one day a week.

Eating Our Veggies

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post said earlier this year, “Meat eating in the United States is going out of style.” Klein was referring to USDA statistics that projected U.S. consumers would eat 12 percent less meat in 2012 than just five years ago.

What’s the driver for this decline?  USA Today says many Americans are reducing meat consumption out of concern for their health and the environment as well as rising meat prices. A Harvard study that came out this year found that replacing meat with high-protein plant sources could reduce mortality rates by as much as 11 percent. And according to the United Nations, meat production is one of the top contributors to climate change, due to its high carbon dioxide and methane emissions and vast use of water, land and fossil fuels. People also want to prevent animal cruelty. Factory farms, where the vast majority of our meat, eggs and dairy come from, have a notorious reputation for inhumanely confining millions of animals in crates and cages where they can barely move.

Whatever the reason, vegetarian eating is on the rise:

A 2011 poll from food industry research and consulting firm, Technomic, found that twenty-one percent of U.S. college students are limiting meat consumption, sticking to a vegetarian or vegan diet, or eating meat only occasionally.

Polling by Bon Appétit Management Company, which operates dining services at hundreds of colleges nationwide, found that the number of college vegans had doubled in that four year period, and the number of vegetarians rose by 50 percent.

And in an announcement that made national headlines, last year the University of North Texas in Denton opened the nation’s first all-vegan dining hall, resulting in a 20 percent rise in voluntary meal plan sales.

Meatless Momentum

Started during WWI by the U.S. government as a resource-saving measure, and revived in 2003 by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Meatless Monday promotes replacing meat with non-meat foods one day a week for our health and the health of the planet.

The program has mushroomed in recent years with support from big names like Oprah Winfrey—who implemented it at Harpo Studios—and Sodexo, a food service provider that’s participating at more than 2,000 hospitals and colleges nationwide.

Restaurants are also getting in on the game by offering new meatless options. A cover feature in Nation’s Restaurant News proclaimed “Veggie-heavy brands see growth in sales, popularity with consumers” and concluded with restaurant exec Aviv Schweitzer’s thoughts: “Is the country ready for a national vegetarian chain? I think it’s a fact; it’s not really a question anymore.”

This surge in demand has caused new meat-free products to pop up regularly. Beyond Meat, a new product financed in part by Twitter founder, Biz Stone, was so popular that a California grocery store sold out its entire week’s supply in just 48 hours. Another meat alternate that emulates the taste and texture of meat, Gardein, is now sold in the frozen section of Target stores nationwide.

Whether to reduce their carbon footprints, their waistlines, or the number of animals suffering on factory farms, one thing is clear: people are eating more meat-free meals than ever. And whether it’s corporate cafeterias participating in Meatless Monday to help keep healthcare costs down, restaurants adding new vegetarian options to menus, or manufacturers developing new meat-free products, savvy companies can bite into this market opportunity in a major way.

Chile soup

Chile soup is one of my dad’s specialties. The spicier, the better. If you have roasted chiles, it’s quick and easy to make and paired with tortillas, makes for a filling meal. My parents sent me home with a bag of Anaheim peppers on my last visit which I roasted and froze. Here’s how:

To roast the peppers, broil for about 20 minutes on 400 then turn, broil for another 10-20 minutes or until the skin is blistered. Remove from oven and put in a sealed container, sealing the lid to trap the moisture and heat. Once they’ve cooled enough to touch, wearing gloves remove one pepper at a time, remove seeds, and peel. Chop into one inch pieces.

Soup Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons canola oil or water
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 cup roasted, peeled Anaheim pepper, or to taste
2 potatoes, cubed into 2 inch chunks
6 cups water and a bouillon cube or 4 cups water and two cups of vegetable broth
1 package Boca crumbles, Morningstar Grillers Crumbles, Yves Ground Round, or TVP
Salt to taste (optional)
1 Tablespoon minced fresh cilantro (optional)

Sauté the onion in the oil or water on medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté one minute more. Add the tomatoes, cumin, peppers, potatoes, and water or broth and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork. Add the crumbles and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add salt to taste and served garnished with cilantro.

Serve with fresh warm tortillas. I recently got this tortilla press which makes my tortillas more consistent in size and shape, plus it’s a little less of a mess to clean up than rolling them out on the counter. Just make a ball of dough, add some flour, and press!