Bloody Beet Chili

There aren’t many things as filling, warming, comforting and delicious as chili. As the weather begins to cool down, making big pots of this spicy bean stew that will either last a few days or feed several people is good way to stay fueled with protein and warming spices. In this recipe, I wanted to achieve a vibrant red coloring to my chilli using beets. Not only did the color come out a magnificent blood red, but the beets added a an unexpected layer of flavor that complimented a more traditional chili recipe quite nicely.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED (Serves 6)

  • • 6 medium red beets
  • • 1 cup crimini mushrooms
  • • 1 large yellow onion
  • • 4 cloves garlic
  • • 1 cup black beans
  • • 1 cup pinto beans
  • • 1 cup kidney beans
  • • 2 cups seitan
  • • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • • 2 cups water
  • • 1 tsp or cube veg bullion
  • • 2 Tbs chili seasoning (combine chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, coriander, allspice, clove)
  • • 1 Tbs nutritional yeast
  • • Salt and pepper to taste
  • • Cashew, soy, seed or other non-dairy crème fraîche or sour cream
  • • fresh herbs or greens for garnish (I used arugula)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. 1. Remove beet stems and leaves, and in a large pot, boil the beets until tender (about 30 mins)
  2. 2. Meanwhile, chop the onions, garlic and mushrooms, and in a large skillet, sauté them on med-low heat until tender and golden.
  3. 3. Strain and coarsely chop the beets.
  4. 4. In a large pot, combine all of the ingredients, and allow to simmer on low-medium heat for about an hour, occasionally stirring to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. Add additional water as needed.
  5. 5. Serve in bowls with a dollop of the cream and top with fresh greens

 

The Vegan Fallacy

By D. R. Hildebrand

Not too long ago I was in LA for work.  I arrived in the evening, starving, of course, and as soon as I reached my hotel I headed across Sunset Boulevard to the closest Veggie Grill I could find.  There are no fewer than ten of these godsends on the West Coast, and along with Loving Hut they comprise the closest thing I can think of to a vegan fast-food chain.

The Sunset Boulevard location is huge, though at 9:00 at night just about every table was taken.  I ordered the Papa’s Portobello with the Soup of the Day and sat down next to an energetic group of three, twenty-something surfer guys who couldn’t stop talking about the one thing they were all eating: carrot cake.

“Dude, holy shit, this stuff rocks!”

“I know, man.  We keep telling you, it’s incredible.”

They carried on until it became apparent that two were vegan, educating their non-vegan friend in the joys of, as one said, “actually eating real food.”  I sat there with little else to do but listen and try to pace my own consumption—the Papa’s Portobello was fantastic—when one of them made a comment that caught my attention.

“Dude,” he said (to his not-yet-vegan dude friend), “it’s good and it’s good for you!”

Oh geez, I thought, the ultimate vegan fallacy.

At first I wanted to laugh.  Then I glanced at them and realized they were each ordering seconds, and in all likelihood really believed what they were telling themselves.

To be clear, I’ve never studied nutrition.  I can’t explain why it is that some foods are good for us and others are not.  In general though, I think it’s safe to say that the carrots, walnuts, coconut, and perhaps a few other ingredients in this particular delicacy fall on the healthy, beneficial side of the nutritional spectrum.  I think it’s just safe to say, however, that non-dairy cream cheese, non-dairy margarine, a cup or two of cane sugar, and any sort of oil undoubtedly do not.

It seems a number of vegans equate cruelty-free for animals with cruelty-free for themselves, forgetting—or ignoring—that what isn’t the devil isn’t consequently a saint.  This is not to say we should all eat three salads a day with nothing but whole fruit and nuts for snacks in between.  It is simply to say that we should educate ourselves about the products we most often consume, and remember to be as kind to our own bodies as we strive to be others’.

We often hear non-vegans tell us about all the foods of which we supposedly deprive ourselves.  And it is tempting to shove the delicious vegan options of those foods straight down their throats.  It’s tempting to shove them down our own as well, but we would be wise to do so in moderation.  For cake will always be cake, junk food will always be junk, and at the end of the day a treat should remain just that—a treat—not the foundation of a meal, and never the basis of one’s diet.

Cafe Blossom on Carmine: 40% Off

Today on Gilt City, get 40% off at the delectable and cozy Cafe Blossom on Carmine in New York City’s West Village. Gilt City is members-only, so click here for your invite to join.

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Superior Drinks


images by Spencer Kohn

As you sip, or chug (no judgement), that cocktail, wine, or beer in your hand, did you ever think about it first being a plant?

It’s amazing how easily we disconnect from what we put in our bodies.  But the truth is, alcohol doesn’t fall from the clouds, nor is there a clean, fresh mountain spring from where it was sourced.   In fact, it was a plant, rooted in soil, just like fruits and veggies bought from a local farmers market (to ensure we’re doing the best we can for our bodies and the environment, of course).

Yes it’s liquid, but like a butterfly who was once a caterpillar, we are actually drinking the metamorphosis of a grain, seed, fruit, or root.  Corn, quinoa, apple, grape, sugar cane, potato – you name it. If there is sugar present, we can turn it into alcohol, and we do!


images by Spencer Kohn

I understand.  Choosing what to eat and drink these days has become overwhelming.  It seems like constantly everything thought to be right is now wrong.  So what else to do but go take a load off, forget those worries, and have a drink?  Nothing wrong with that, well, except the load of chemical fungicides, pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers that just bombed our bodies. Wine especially is of great concern. All of those chemicals sprayed onto the grapes actually become the wine and there is no way to filter them out.  That nasty headache? Not from the naturally occurring sulfites –  believe me, only a tiny percentage of the world’s population is sensitive to that. But I wouldn’t recommend vodka made from genetically modified grain sprayed with countless chemicals as an alternative…

“So now I can’t even have a drink!?”

Wrong.

There are plenty of incredible local, organic, and sustainable options today.  It’s as easy as a Google-search to find them.  And if you keep your eye out, I bet you’ll see at least one or two organic liquors, wines, or beers on the list.  But if you don’t, make sure to ask.  You have the buying power so don’t be shy. The more you ask, the more you’ll see!

Some will claim, “organic never tastes as good.” To which I reply, “If that were true in the past, it is no longer true today, most you will see taste better.” The Earth and your taste buds will thank you.

Check out Greenbar Collective, Puro Verde Organic Tequila, and Bluecoat Gin for some of my very favorites.

Meatless in Seattle

I was in Seattle for the first time last month and had the chance to explore the city’s vegan side.  From what I had always heard about this vibrant capital of the Pacific Northwest was that it was as replete with coffee shops and rain as with delicious vegan dining.  Yet even as the city teems with cruelty-free options (possibly more per capita than New York) it is just as committed to its “free-range” chicken, “grass-fed” beef, and “open-water” fish—none of which I’m convinced actually are.  For a city so adamant about the separation of trash from compost from recyclables, I imagined more of this environmentalism shining through in day-to-day dietary choices as well.  For now, we’ll just focus on the positives.

Moo Shoes has a Left Coast sister—and she sells chocolate, too.  Vegan owner, Sadaf Hussain, opened The Chocolate Shoebox two years ago in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge.  It’s twenty minutes by bus north of downtown, and surrounded by other vegan options.  The store is small but offers a wide selection of men’s and women’s shoes, accessories from belts to wallets, and chocolate.  Lots of chocolate.  Really good chocolate.  I brought back an assortment of these US-made treats for my non-vegan friends and they apparently fought over every flavor.

Highline Vegan Bar is an enormous second-floor space in Capitol Hill that caters to punk bands and the scull-and-crossbones-wearing vegans who listen to them.  It wasn’t my ideal night out, though not because of the music.  I got the Tempesto, a tempeh sandwich with pesto, avocado, and red onions, all swimming in grease.  The latter wasn’t listed on the menu, and my friends had to wade through the same soppy oil to reach their meals as well.  Eat at your own risk.

Seattle has a gem in Makini Howell.  When I ate at Plum Bistro I knew I had found the real deal.  Like many restaurants in the area, Plum’s architecture and décor is industrial-chic, with its steel and distressed wood and its massive garage-like door that slides up to the ceiling for fresh air.  Everything—and I ate a lot—was second to none.  From the spicy Cajun mac ‘n’ yease to the grilled polenta and orange fennel salad to the wild mushroom fettuccine, I was so impressed I thought I might write a letter to the restaurant.  Then I met the owner herself.

Ms. Howell, who insists she’s much older than she looks, was born and raised vegan in Tacoma, just south of Seattle.  In 1972 her parents opened the still-thriving vegan restaurant, Quickie Too, in her hometown, and went on to open Hillside Quickie, Sage Café, and Plum Bistro in Seattle.  On my last morning in town I ventured over to Sage, an itty-bitty joint with a Bob Marley vibe and by far the best sandwich I’ve ever had (the crazy Jamaican burger).  I implored the waitress to let me compliment the chef and moments later, warm and smiling, out stepped Ms. Howell.


Second from the left, Makini Howell, with her staff at Sage Bakery and Cafe
 

The incredible Crazy Jamaican Burger with a side of seasoned and stir-fried short grain brown rice

It’s not often the owner of four establishments also serves as one of its chefs, especially when preparing to open her fifth—a vegan kiosk at the Seattle Center—later this month.  Ms. Howell is clearly passionate about producing high-quality vegan fare and has set the standard very high.

A few other spots to note include In the Bowl, listed as vegetarian pan-Asian but entirely vegan and first-rate; Wayward Vegan Café for brunch, in the University District; and Cinnamon Works at Pike Place Market which offers a range of incredible vegan muffins and cookies.