The top vegan holiday recipes submitted by you

December 21, 2020 by  
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Drumroll, please… after much deliberation (and salivating), Inhabitat has chosen the winner and runners-up of our 2020 Vegan Holiday Recipe competition. The winner receives our sustainable chef’s kit featuring the Ninja Foodi 2-Basket Air Fryer, Farberware Knife Set, Bamboo Cutting Board Set and a Stasher bag bundle. Because we were blown away by the creative submissions for this contest, we’ve decided to highlight some of our favorites, too. Without further ado, we present our contest winner and top contenders. First place: Vegan Wild Rice Stuffed Seitan Wellington Congratulations are in order for Megan C., who submitted this mouth-watering vegan wellington. We chose this recipe because it was impressive, unique and festive. Now, Megan can plan for many more days of cooking and baking ahead with a prize pack of new kitchen goodies. For the wild rice (prepare a day in advance) • 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted • 1/4 C yellow onion, finely chopped • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped • 1/2 tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves • 1 C cooked wild rice mix • 1/3 C pecans, toasted and finely chopped • 1/8 C dried cranberries, finely chopped • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed Place the melted butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When it foams, add the onion, shallots and celery, season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, around 6 minutes. Stir in the thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the rice, pecans, cranberries and measured salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. For the caramelized onions (prepare a day in advance): • 6 yellow onions, sliced • 3 tbsp butter • Salt • 5 tbsp balsamic vinegar Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Add butter and onions to the pan. Sauté onions until translucent. Add in pinches of salt to help the onions sweat. Stir and continue to sauté for another 10 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar to onions and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. For the seitan (best prepared a day in advance, needs time to cool) • 1 1/2 C vital wheat gluten • 1/4 C nutritional yeast • 1 tsp poultry spice • 1 tsp onion powder • 1/2 tsp garlic powder • 1 tsp salt • 3/4 C water • 1/2 C soy milk • 2 tbsp oil • 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar Get your water boiling in a big pot with a steamer over it (I use a metal mesh strainer). Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients in a separate bowl and then add this mixture to the dry ingredients. Combine with a wooden spoon until it forms a wet dough. If it seems too wet, add a bit more vital wheat gluten. It should be soft but still hold together. Transfer dough to a countertop or board. Flatten it into a rectangle with your hands, about 1/2″ thick and no longer than your steamer. Put the wild rice in a wide line, lengthwise, in the seitan. (Imagine the seitan is a flag with four horizontal stripes. The two middle stripes should be covered in wild rice.) Compress the stuffing with your hands so the center of the roast will be firm. Grab each side of the dough and seal them around the rice as best you can. Transfer the roll to a piece of aluminum foil, and tightly roll it up. Transfer the seitan into the steamer and steam for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Cool completely. For the final wellington: • vegan puff pastry (most store-bought puff pastry is already vegan) • lots of melted vegan butter or use Just Egg • Stuffed seitan • Caramelized onion Preheat the oven to 400°F. Flatten the puff pastry out with a rolling pin until it is slightly larger than your seitan, (you want it to all fit in the puff pastry shell). Spread caramelized onion as an even layer across the puff pastry. Place seitan in the middle of the puff pastry and wrap it. Score the top to allow air to escape. Cover in melted vegan butter or Just Egg, which gives it the golden color while baking. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until your pastry is golden and crispy. Runners-up for appetizers There were so many incredible recipes , so we decided to pull together an entire menu of delicious vegan dishes broken up by category. Here are some excellent appetizers for the holidays. Vegan Spanakopita This vegan spanakopita recipe by Elaine P. calls for simple, fresh ingredients to create an impressive vegan dish that adds to the holiday dinner table. • 12 oz vegan feta cheese • 8 oz firm tofu • 1 lb cooked baby spinach • 1 sweet onion, sautéed in 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil • 1 lb phyllo dough • 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil Combine the first four ingredients and mix well. Remove phyllo dough from its box and lay flat. Cut phyllo dough into three long strips and cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel to prevent drying. Take one strip of phyllo dough and dab on olive oil with pastry brush. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of spinach/vegan feta filling and fold into triangles using a flag-folding technique. Place on baking tray and brush the tops with olive oil. Repeat with the remaining mixture, then bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 30 servings. Christmas Soda Bread Bread is a mealtime staple, and we loved the festive flair of Samantha Y.’s soda bread, which uses spinach and tomato paste as natural food dyes. For the green dough: • 195g whole wheat pastry flour • 1/2 tsp baking soda • 1/2 tsp baking powder • 1/2 tsp sea salt • 120 ml plant-based milk • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar • 65g fresh spinach For the red dough: • 195g whole wheat pastry flour • 1/2 tsp baking soda • 1/2 tsp baking powder • 1/2 tsp sea salt • 120ml plant-based milk • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar • 60g tomato paste • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika Preheat your oven to 425°F. Make the green dough: In a food processor, blend the milk, vinegar and spinach until smooth. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the spinach mixture to the dry ingredients and combine with a spatula until incorporated. Set aside. Make the red dough: Blend the milk, vinegar and tomato paste together until smooth. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and paprika. Add the tomato mixture to the dry ingredients and combine with a spatula until well incorporated. On a lightly floured surface, pat or roll out the green dough into a 6.5x10inch rectangle. Repeat with the red dough. Stack the green dough on top of the red dough. Roll the dough up into a batard (an oblong shape) and seal the ends so that the red dough covers up the green dough. Place the loaf onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Slash the top of the loaf in three diagonals. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing. New Year’s Eve Roasted Chestnut Soup You don’t have to roast your chestnuts on an open fire, but bonus points if you do! Enjoying this soup, submitted by Wendy W., sounds like the perfect way to ring in the new year . • 2 1/2 pounds fresh chestnuts, shelled and roasted • 2 tablespoons coconut oil • 1 medium onion, diced • 1 leek, sliced • 2 celery stalks, diced • 1 medium carrot, diced • 6 cups vegetable broth • 1 tsp salt • 1/2 tsp black pepper • 1 tbsp sage • Fresh parsley or thyme • Optional: 1 C alternative milk to substitute 1 C of vegetable broth Boil chestnuts in a medium pot for approximately 20-30 minutes. Drain and rinse. Using 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, caramelize onions, celery, carrot and leek until softened. Working in batches, in a high speed blender, puree chestnuts, onion, celery, carrot, leek and vegetable broth. Blend on high until smooth. Add mixture to a sauce pan and cook down until desired thickness. Add alternative milk for a creamier texture. Warm the soup and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh parsley or thyme. This soup is so delicate, it is a flavor few get a chance to experience. Runners up for entrees Vegans are used to being stuck with a few sides to choose from during celebratory meals … but no more! Plant-based main dishes are absolutely delicious, as shown by the following recipes. Creamy Stinging Nettle Tagliatelle We couldn’t help but share this unique pasta dish, which even suggests foraging for the stinging nettles. This recipe, submitted by Azem S., is “inspired by my grandmother’s love of cooking with stinging nettles in Kosovo and my girlfriend’s veganism!” • 1 onion • 2 garlic cloves • 1 vegan stock cube • 1 plain oat-based yogurt • 300ml vegetable stock • 300ml oat milk • 1 large bunch of fresh nettles (available at most parks in London, for free) • 1 pack of eggless tagliatelle Start by finely chopping the onion and grating the garlic cloves, then add both to a large pan with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Let the onion and garlic fry for a few minutes until caramelized. Give the nettles a thorough wash (use gloves) and place straight into the pot. Cover the pan with a lid and let the nettles sweat for 2-3 minutes, then add 300ml of vegetable stock to stop the frying process. Leave the lid off and reduce by half. Once the ingredients have softened and start to break up, add in oat milk and oat-based plain yogurt and stir thoroughly. You can now add seasoning with a pinch of salt and black pepper (to your own preference — general rule, you can always add more but it’s difficult to take them out). With the lid slightly at an angle, let the sauce reduce by a third to a thick creamy consistency. While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta (preferably fresh) until it is soft and silky. Once ready, drain the pasta and place straight into the nettle sauce. Mix the two thoroughly and leave for a few minutes to rest with the lid on under its own heat. Serve with a fresh rocket and tomato salad (add salt, black pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar to your own preference). Thai Sweet Potato Noodles This warming dish would be delicious any time of year, but it is especially so on colder days. The colorful, fresh ingredients make it a healthier option, too! Many thanks to Suzanne P. for sharing this tasty, nutritious meal idea. • 4 oz Thai rice noodles • 1 tablespoon olive oil • 1/2 medium onion, chopped • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped • 1 medium sweet potato, skin removed and chopped • ½ inch piece of ginger, chopped fine • 1/2 tsp salt • 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste  • 1/4 C lime juice • 2 tbsp brown sugar • 1 can coconut milk • 1/2 cup pineapple tidbits • 2 tbsp chopped peanuts Cook the noodles according to the package directions and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, jalapeno, sweet potato, ginger and salt and sauté until the onion is soft, but not browned. Add the red curry paste and 1/4 cup of water and sauté for another minute. Add the lime juice, brown sugar, coconut milk and pineapple and simmer until the sweet potato is cooked through. If the sauce gets too thick, you can thin it with a few tablespoons of water. Stir in the noodles and continue to heat for another minute. Top with the chopped peanuts and serve. Baked Melanzane in Spiced Holiday Sauce Essentially an eggplant parmigiana recipe, this submission from Sandhya S. offers a festive touch by adding both red and white sauces, the latter of which is especially impressive to make vegan. • 1 large brinjal (eggplant), blue or purple with smooth skin • 100 g moist tofu •200 g of extra virgin olive oil • 1 1/2 tsp salt • 1 tsp crushed black pepper • 3/4 cup gluten-free yellow corn flour or bajra flour • 1/2 C powdered flax seeds or bread crumbs • 1/2 tsp oregano • 1/2 C water Ingredients for white sauce: • 100 g water • 2 tbsp gluten-free smooth flour or wheat/white flour • 200 g of soya or walnut drink, unsweetened • 1 tsp salt • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger • 1 tsp dried thyme • 1 tsp olive oil Ingredients for red sauce: • 5 plum tomatoes • 1 red bell pepper • 6 cloves of garlic • 1 tsp salt • 2 tsp basil seeds • 200 g water for boiling To prepare red sauce: Cut the tops off the tomatoes and red pepper. Boil in water for few minutes until the skins come off easily. Remove the skins and retain the pulp. Drain most of the water, and set the pot back to the stove on low heat. Crush the tomatoes and pepper using a potato masher or hand blender. Add salt and basil seeds, then cook for 5 to 6 minutes, mixing continuously with the masher or mixer, until a smooth sauce is formed. Turn off the stove and set aside. To prepare the white sauce: Heat a skillet with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and dry gluten-free flour on low flame. Stir for just a minute until the flour is mixed with the oil. Add water, soya or walnut milk and salt and bring to a low boil while mixing continuously for 2 minutes. The sauce should be smooth and not lumpy. When the mixture starts to splutter, carefully stir and turn off the heat. Add thyme and grated ginger to the white sauce. Tip: To make the sauces smoother, blend the sauces separately before adding the ginger and thyme seasoning. To prepare the brinjal and tofu: Wash and cut the brinjal into 1/8 inch thick slices; they will look like round discs. Set aside on a plate, sprinkle with salt and cover with a paper towel or cloth. Slice the tofu into 1/4 inch slices and set aside on another plate. Sprinkle salt and crushed black pepper and a pinch of turmeric on the tofu slices. Set aside and cover with paper towel or cloth. Make a smooth paste with the gluten-free yellow corn flour and water. It should be a free-flowing custard consistency, not too thick. On another plate, lay out the dry bread crumbs or flax powder mixed with oregano. Heat 200 g olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Dip the brinjal slices one by one into the flour paste and then into the dry breadcrumbs, coating both sides lightly. Deep fry each slice in the heated oil until golden brown. Sit the slices on a paper towel-lined plate or wire rack to remove excess oil. If there is any flour paste and breadcrumbs left after the brinjal is done, repeat the process of dipping tofu into the flour and crumbs and deep fry for a minute. Tofu can also be used as-is without frying if the paste and crumbs are gone. Preheat the oven at 170°C (about 340°F). While the oven is preheating, lightly grease a shallow glass pan. Pour half of the white sauce into the pan. Arrange the brinjal crisps on the sauce in one row. The discs may overlap slightly. Pour half of the red sauce over the first layer of brinjal. Place the rest of the brinjal slices on the red sauce. Pour most of the remaining red sauce on the layer of brinjal to cover it lightly. Place one layer of tofu on the red sauce. Pour nearly all of the remaining white sauce on the tofu layer. Place all the remaining pieces of tofu, if any, on the white sauce. Use the last of the white and red sauces on the plates, drizzling in a zig-zag pattern. Lightly shake the casserole dish to let the layers settle. Lightly drizzle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and bake for 25 minutes in the center of the oven. Just before serving, heat the dish for 5 minutes at 150°C (about 300°F) to get a light brown color on the tofu, similar to melted cheese. Runners-up for side dishes Sides are key to a vegan’s heart. The following recipes stole ours for their creativity and extra care given to presentation. Lacey’s Vegan Green Bean Casserole Lacey L., you’ve really accomplished a lot here. Veganizing a cream-based dish and making it taste good isn’t easy, but you’ve made it look effortless. • 3 cans cut green beans • 1/2 C unsweetened almond milk • 1/2 C vegetable broth • 2 tbsp flour (more flour = thicker gravy) • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (or more to taste — don’t be shy!) • 1/2 tbsp salt • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced (or replace salt and garlic with garlic salt if necessary) • 1/2 onion, finely diced (optional) • Pepper to taste • Fried onion crunchies (if available, also get crispy garlic) Preheat oven to 350°F. Put drained green beans in a casserole dish. Add onions and garlic. Mix almond milk, nutritional yeast, flour, broth and seasonings in a bowl. Pour the mixture over the green beans, add half of the onion crunchies. and mix. Bake for 30 minutes. Stir up casserole and add more flour to thicken if necessary (keep in mind it will thicken a bit more as it cools as well). Add more onion crunchies to the top, and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and add more onion crunchies as desired. This dish is incredible fresh, but it doesn’t reheat as well. I suggest only making what you need for the upcoming meal. Sweet Potato Pecan & Pomegranate Medallions with Mexican Cashew Chipotle Crema From the base to the garnish, this recipe by Areli B. is crafted with attention to detail. The addition of pecans and pomegranate seeds offer traditional flavors in an exciting new way. • 2 large sweet potatoes • 1/2 tsp paprika • 1/2 tsp cumin • 1/2 tsp cinnamon • 1 tsp kosher salt • 2 tbsp olive oil • 1 C candied pecans • 1/2 C fresh pomegranate For the Mexican Cashew Chipotle Crema: • 1 C raw cashews • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar • 1 tbsp chipotle in adobo • 1 tsp lime juice • 1 tsp kosher salt • 1/4 vegan nut milk or vegetable broth For the garnish: • 2 green onions, clean and cut (green part only) • Zest of 1 lime • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar reduction (heat 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar on low for 5 to 8 minutes until it reduces to 2 tbsp) Preheat oven to 450°F. In a small bowl, combine paprika, cumin, cinnamon and salt. Mix well and add olive oil to make a paste. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1-inch-thick rounds. Brush sweet potatoes with olive oil paste. Place them on a large baking tray without touching each other. Bake sweet potatoes for 8 to 10 minutes on each side until golden, flipping them half way through. Transfer to a serving tray and set aside. Soak the cashews in water for 4-6 hours. Drain the cashews, then add them to a blender along with vinegar, chipotle, lime juice, salt and nut milk or vegetable broth. Blend the cashews for a 3-4 minutes until completely smooth. If the mixture is grainy, continue blending until the cashews are smooth. Add 1/4 cup of liquid if needed. Store in a jar with a tight fitting lid in the fridge. It will last one week. Assemble medallions by placing sweet potatoes on a plate, add a couple of pecans on each medallion, drizzle Mexican crema and now add pomegranate seeds. Drizzle balsamic vinegar reduction and garnish with green onion greens and lime zest. Finish with salt and paper. Enjoy! Festive Holiday Wild Rice and Purple Potato Medley This recipe from Emily F. combines rice and veggies with warming spices and tops it all off with fresh herbs like cilantro and mint as well as pomegranate arils to give it a festive touch. • 1/4 C canola oil • 1/2 C carrot, diced • 4 cooked purple fingerling potatoes, sliced • 1/2 C yellow bell pepper, cut in chunks • 4 C cooked wild rice • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice • 1/2 tsp salt • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper • 1 tsp ground garam masala • 1 tsp ground turmeric • 1/4 C shelled pistachio nuts • 1/3 C pomegranate seeds • 2 tbsp mint leaves, torn • 2 tbsp cilantro leaves In a saucepan, sauté carrot in canola oil until just soft. Add cooked potato, bell pepper, cooked wild rice, lemon juice, salt, cayenne pepper, garam masala and turmeric; toss well. Remove from heat and pour into a serving bowl. Toss in pistachio nuts, pomegranate seeds, mint and cilantro. Runners-up for desserts The moment we’ve all been waiting for … dessert! So many desserts are made with eggs, butter and milk, so veganizing them can be a challenge. Vegan Cinnamon Roll Cake We were drooling instantly as we read the recipe for Alison F.’s cinnamon roll cake. Don’t judge us for eating this for breakfast and dessert. For the cake: • 1 3/4 C gluten-free, all-purpose flour • 1 C white sugar • 1 tsp baking soda • 1/4 tsp sea salt • 1 C almond milk • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar • 1/3 C coconut oil, softened • 2 tsp vanilla extract For the filling: • 1/4 C vegan butter, softened • 1/2 C coconut sugar • 1 tbsp cinnamon • 1 tbsp gluten-free, all-purpose flour For the frosting: • 1/2 C vegan cream cheese • 1/2 C vegan butter • 2 C powdered sugar • A shake of cinnamon • 1 C chopped walnuts (optional) Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch cake pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together the almond milk and vinegar. Set aside for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, beat together the almond milk mixture, coconut oil and vanilla extract. Add the flour, sugar, baking soda and sea salt. Beat until smooth. Pour batter into cake pan and set aside. In a small bowl, beat together the filling ingredients. Once smooth, drop by spoonfuls over the cake batter. Swirl into the batter using a knife. Bake cake for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. While cake is baking, beat together the frosting ingredients. Once cake is cooled, spread frosting generously over cake, making sure to frost the sides. Add walnuts if using. Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream with Warm Miso Caramel Pecans The secret to this creamy, dairy-free ice cream by Hidemi W.? Avocado. Consider our minds blown. Best of all, you don’t even need an ice cream machine to make this. • 2 medium avocados • 1/2 C almond milk, unsweetened • 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder • 1/4 C granulated sugar • 1/2 tsp sea salt • 1 tsp white miso paste • 2 tbsp granulated sugar • 2 tbsp and 2 tsp water • 2 tbsp pecans, chopped Halve each avocado, remove the pit and scoop out avocado flesh. Cut avocado into a small pieces and put into a resealable bag. Freeze overnight. The next day, remove the avocado from the freezer and put it into a food processor. Add almond milk, cocoa, 1/4 cup sugar and sea salt. Pulse until avocado is almost crushed and mixture is well blended. Scoop the mixture out and put into 4 serving glasses. In a nonstick skillet, put miso, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and water. Turn on the heat to medium. When the sugar begins dissolving and big bubbles start to appear, stir the mixture until well blended and slightly thickened. Turn off the heat and stir in pecans. Pour these miso-caramel pecans over the ice cream. Orange Kissed Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies Not only are Kim V. D.’s orange-and-chocolate gingerbread cookies vegan, they’re also gluten-free! The gingerbread, chocolate and orange blend together for an explosion of seasonal flavors. • 1/2 C dairy-free butter spread (I used Melt) • 3/4 C light brown sugar • 2 tsp pure vanilla • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg • 3 tsp ground ginger • 1/4 tsp ground cloves • 1 tbsp molasses • 1 C finely ground almond flour • 1/2 C gluten-free flour blend with xanthan gum • 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder • 1 tbsp orange zest • 1/2 tsp baking soda • 1 C sifted powdered sugar • 1 tbsp unsweetened cashew or almond milk • 1-2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a stainless steel baking sheet with parchment paper. With a mixer, cream together the dairy-free spread, light brown sugar, spices, molasses and vanilla until smooth. Add in the almond flour, gluten-free flour, cocoa, orange zest and baking soda to the wet ingredients. Mix until well combined. Using a 1 tablespoon-sized spring-loaded scoop, scoop out level tablespoons of dough. Roll the dough between the palms of your hands to create a ball. Place the ball onto the cookie sheet. Cookies should be spaced 2 inches from each other, as these cookies do spread. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then, using a thin spatula, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Allow the cookies to cool completely. In a bowl, stir together the sifted powdered sugar and almond/cashew milk and orange juice until smooth. Dip a fork into the drizzle and drizzle back and forth over the cookies. Allow to set completely before serving or storing. Images via Adobe Stock and Unsplash

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The top vegan holiday recipes submitted by you

Wood-burning stoves can triple particulate matter levels in homes

December 21, 2020 by  
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A recent study published in the journal Atmosphere shows that wood-burning stoves are harmful to air quality and can triple the level of particulate matter in homes. Researchers are proposing that these wood burners be sold with health warning labels. The study authors also recommend that the stoves are not used around children or elderly adults. According to the researchers, the number of harmful particles in a room increases when the wood-burning stove’s door is opened for refueling. Thus, the level of pollution depends on the number of times the stove is refilled. People who load wood into the stove once are less exposed to the higher particulate matter levels as compared to those who refuel multiple times. Related: In London, coroner rules air pollution as cause of death of a child The research was carried out in Sheffield over a period of one month in early 2020. A total of 19 homes were surveyed, all of which use modern wood-burning stoves that are certified by the government as being “smoke-exempt appliances.” The research shows that these products are still risky due to the particles they supply to the indoor atmosphere. “Our findings are a cause for concern,” said Rohit Chakraborty, lead author of the study. “It is recommended that people living with those particularly susceptible to air pollution , such as children, the elderly or vulnerable, avoid using wood-burning stoves. If people want to use them, we recommend minimizing the time the stove is open during lighting or refueling.” The particles produced by such stoves have been found to be damaging to the human respiratory system . The particles can pass through the lungs into the blood system and can increase risk of heart and lung diseases. Wood and coal burning jointly contribute about 40% of outdoor  tiny particle pollution. Although there is no sufficient data on the potential pollution from wood used indoors, this study sheds light on how harmful this type of fuel can be. In a bid to deal with particle and carbon pollution, the U.K. government is currently phasing out sales for wet wood, which produces more smoke. However, more efforts still have to be made, given that the research only surveyed homes that use dry wood. + Atmosphere Via The Guardian Image via Meg Learner

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Wood-burning stoves can triple particulate matter levels in homes

Vegan Hanukkah recipes that everyone will enjoy

December 10, 2020 by  
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Like most holidays, food is an integral part of Hanukkah . But as is often the case at holiday celebrations, it’s easy for vegans to feel left out of the fun. Don’t despair. Genius chefs have found workarounds so that vegans can eat a plant-based rendition of everything from matzo ball soup to brisket. Here are some recipes to accompany lighting the menorah. Latkes Latkes are a Hanukkah favorite, and there are so many ways to make these small and savory fried pancakes. Potatoes are the classic main ingredient, but other grated root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots or even beets will also work. Instead of using egg for a binder, vegan versions mix in potato starch or flax seed. Forks Over Knives offers a healthier baked version of potato-corn latkes . Or you can really go rogue with the Minimalist Baker’s recipe for samosa potato cakes with green chutney. As the Minimalist Baker herself puts it, “Everyone knows samosas are the best appetizer, so why not make them into latkes?” Serve with applesauce and/or vegan sour cream. Related: 5 tips for a green and happy Hanukkah! Brisket What?! Vegans don’t eat brisket. Well, not really. But the handy resource group Jewish Veg has a recipe for a jackfruit-based alternative. Just add crushed tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, red wine and a few more tasty ingredients, and you’ll have a new take on the traditional meaty main dish. Kugel Kugel is usually made as an egg noodle-based dessert casserole involving eggs and sweet cream sauce. But the Unconventional Baker replaces all that egg and dairy with a cashew-based cream cheese sauce and adds raisins and apples for sweetness. Or you can turn kugel savory with this recipe from the Spruce Eats . It uses carrots, onions, zucchini and potatoes, with the flexibility to add some of your other favorites. Matzo ball soup Matzo (also spelled matzah) ball soup is one of the most famous Jewish dishes and is especially know for its connection to Passover. But Hanukkah is also an excellent time to make it. The traditional way of preparing it is to float Ashkenazi Jewish soup dumplings called matzo balls — a mixture of matzo meal, water, eggs and chicken or other fat — in chicken soup. But you can substitute a delicious veggie broth and make vegan matzo balls. This recipe from The Edgy Veg uses coconut oil and potato starch as fat and binder. Forks Over Knives’ recipe for herbed vegan matzo ball soup holds it together with cooked quinoa and flax seed. And if you’re wondering, matzo meal is mostly wheat flour. Challah Braided challah bread can still be good even without the egg coating traditionally used to make it shiny on top. Instead, you can use soy or other plant-based milk to replicate the shine. There’s even a whole class of “water challah” recipes for those who avoid eggs. Water challah is more popular in Israel , while eggy challah prevails in the U.S. The Spruce Eats gets sweet with the topping in its maple-glazed vegan water challah . You can liven your bread up with poppy seeds, too. Blintzes Blintzes are sweet, thin crepes usually filled with fruit or cheese. It’s simple enough to swap out the usual milk and eggs in the batter. This recipe from Yum Vegan Lunch Ideas fakes the cream cheese with silken tofu , plus a little vanilla, powdered sugar, lemon juice, vegan butter and apple cider vinegar. Famous vegan chef Mark Reinfeld’s recipe for blueberry blintzes is on the Jewish Veg site and includes tahini and cardamom for extra flavor. If you keep your batter basic, it’s easy to go savory instead of sweet with the fillings. Applesauce Applesauce is almost always vegan . But you don’t have to settle for a bland version straight from the jar. Check out Cookie and Kate’s recipe for applesauce with maple and cinnamon. Or spice up your store-bought applesauce with something special, whether that’s a pinch of cayenne or some pureed cranberries. Cashew sour cream Top your latkes (and everything else) with freshly made cashew sour cream. The Simple Veganista recommends soaking the cashews in two to three inches of water for a couple of hours to soften them. Then all you have to do is add water, lemon, apple cider vinegar and salt to your high-speed food processor and blast them into cream. Chocolate babka Chocolate is important to any holiday celebration, and chocolate babka is good morning, noon or night. You’ll need plenty of vegan butter to make this delicious, pull-apart dessert bread. The Domestic Gothess provides easy-to-follow pictorial directions. Sufganiyot Part of the Hanukkah story is a miracle of long-lasting oil. As Jewish vegan activist Mayim Bialik explains on PETA’s website, “Sufganiyot, or jelly doughnuts, are a traditional food eaten for Hanukkah. The holiday falls in the winter and commemorates the miracle of oil that lights the menorah in the Great Temple in Jerusalem lasting for eight days rather than one. Foods fried in oil are thus traditional for this festive winter holiday. This is a recipe I veganized, and although it is labor-intensive, the results are unbelievably delicious.” Happy Hanukkah! Images via Pixabay and Adobe Stock Images

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Vegan Hanukkah recipes that everyone will enjoy

Vegan apple recipes for fall

October 13, 2020 by  
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October is the heart of apple season, so now is the time to pick or buy fresh apples and get baking. Did you know that apples are part of the rose family, and that more than 7,000 varieties are grown around the world? Maybe 2020 is the year to expand your repertoire of vegan apple recipes . Picking the best baking apples What makes a good baking apple? You need a variety that keeps its structure while baking and retains a bit of the acidity, which lends tartness. Otherwise, you wind up with a soft, flavorless dessert. Bon Appetit recommends six top varieties: Granny Smith, Jonagold, Honey Crisp, Braeburn, Mutsu, Winesap and Pink Lady. Granny Smith is a top option because it’s widely available and affordable in most ordinary grocery stores. Related: How to make your own organic caramel apple treats for Halloween Spicing up your apple desserts Cinnamon is the most common spice to pair with apples. But you can get creative with your fall flavors. To spice up your pies and muffins, try adding extra nutmeg, ginger, cloves or cardamom to the recipes below, depending on your taste preferences. Adjusting the spice levels let you make these recipes your own. Vegan apple recipes Here are some of the most popular ways to make the most of the season’s harvest. Apple fritters Cooking apples instantly gives your home a delicious autumnal smell. And when you’re frying apple fritters, this is doubly so. School Night Vegan has an easy fried fritter recipe that combines nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom with apples for a breakfast or brunch treat. You don’t need special equipment to make these vegan apple fritters — an ordinary high-sided saucepan works fine. Ice them with cinnamon- or maple-flavored frosting for extra decadence. Vegan apple cobbler The fewer the dishes, the easier the cleanup. This apple cobbler recipe from My Darling Vegan requires a single skillet and features a caramel sauce. In case you’re wondering about the differences between a cobbler, a crumble and a crisp, here’s how Chef Sarah McMinn, creator of My Darling Vegan, explains it. All three involve sugary baked fruit and pastry. But the difference comes down to toppings. Crisps and crumbles are both topped with streusels. A crisp’s streusel contains oats and a crumble’s doesn’t. Cobblers, on the other hand, are covered with a sweet drop biscuit. The biscuit rises as it cooks, creating a bumpy look reminiscent of a cobbled road. Vegan apple cake What’s even better than vegan apple cake? Apple gingerbread cake. This simple recipe from Minimalist Baker requires one bowl and only about an hour before you’re eating a delicious dessert. Oats lend it a hearty texture. Eat it unfrosted for breakfast, or add a thick layer of vegan cream cheese frosting for dessert. Vegan apple pie As every American has heard a million times, apple pie is the quintessential dessert. No autumn is complete without a few. The trickiest thing about apple pies is making the crust. If you’re a serious baker, you’ll pride yourself on the flavor, flakiness, consistency and aesthetic quality of your dough lattice work or other artistic flourishes. For those of us who aren’t up to making a crust from scratch, store-bought crust or a crumble-top pie are easier and still delicious. If you’re going for store-bought, read the ingredients to be sure the crust doesn’t contain butter or lard. Connoisseurus Veg offers this vegan apple pie recipe featuring a coconut oil crust. Vegan apple muffins Eating a couple of vegan apple muffins can be a healthful way to start the day. Chunks of tart, diced apple will give your muffins more texture. Or if you prefer a smoother, more uniform kind of muffin, use applesauce. This recipe from Lazy Cat Kitchen includes healthy ingredients like oat flour, almond flour and cardamom pods. For extra taste and beauty, top each muffin with a fresh blackberry. Vegan apple crisp This vegan apple crisp recipe can be made with several different types of flour, so it’s easy to adapt for your friends and family members who follow a gluten-free diet. Walnuts give the crisp extra protein and flavor. Top it with a few apple slices and it looks festive enough to bring to a holiday brunch . Applesauce Sometimes, the simplest desserts are the best. If you’ve come into a small fortune of apples, why not make applesauce? According to this recipe from The Stay at Home Chef , the best applesauce relies on a mixture of apple types. Golden Delicious, Fuji, Granny Smith, McIntosh and Jonathan all work well and are easy to find in most supermarkets. You can use the conventional stovetop method of cooking applesauce in a saucepan, or you can put the apples in a slow cooker or pressure cooker with some lemon juice, water and a cinnamon stick. Your refrigerated applesauce will stay fresh in an airtight container for up to two weeks, but the sooner you eat it, the better it will taste. If you don’t think you’re going to eat all that applesauce that fast, freeze it in freezer bags. Images via Joanna Sto?owicz , Sarah Gualtieri , Pixel1 , Conger Design ( 1 , 2 ) and Rachel Loughman

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Halo Top debuts new and improved vegan ice cream recipe

September 15, 2020 by  
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Vegans often face limited options for frozen treats. Sure, you can put a banana in the freezer, get a little fancier with a sorbet or maybe cool off with some vegan frozen yogurt. But now, thanks to Halo Top’s new line of vegan ice cream flavors, consumers can enjoy a range of choices with the creamy texture that makes ice cream summer’s perfect treat. Halo Top has offered vegan ice cream for years. The company’s new line features an improved taste and texture that feels more like real ice cream. Starting with a coconut milk base, the recipe also contains fava bean protein, which gives the ice cream a creamy texture. Previously, Halo Top used brown rice protein in its vegan ice cream creations. The switch to fava bean protein lends the ice cream a better texture that allows every flavor to stand out. Halo Top also swapped out the soluble corn fiber in its old recipe for inulin. Stevia provides the recipe with sweetness. Halo Top’s line of dairy-free ice cream introduces several flavors, including sea salt caramel. This mix of sweet and salty comes in at under 340 calories per pint. The flavor line also includes peanut butter cup, chocolate almond crunch, chocolate chip cookie dough, classic chocolate, candy bar and birthday cake. Each flavor’s calorie count stands between 280 to 380 calories per pint. The fava bean protein provides every pint with 10 to 20 grams of protein. The flavors will debut in grocery stores in September and October, in two different release waves. This line is exactly what vegans have been waiting for: ice cream that tastes like the real thing. Even better, this line includes a variety of flavors packed with protein, but not calories. Get your spoons ready and prepare to enjoy this new plant-based offering from Halo Top. + Halo Top Via Plant Based News Image via PR Newswire

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Lunaz converts the classic Rolls-Royce to a fully electric car

September 15, 2020 by  
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The Rolls-Royce image has always been synonymous with luxury and innovation. These standards now take on a new meaning as British engineering company Lunaz restores a 60-year-old car design, the Rolls-Royce Phantom, into a breathtaking electric car for the 21st century. For owners of the elegant Rolls-Royce Phantom touring car — traditionally driven by chauffeur — a daily work commute or leisurely summer drive will now be friendlier to the earth. Lunaz, dedicated to keeping classic cars on the road, has restored this 1961 beauty from the ground up. It features a host of upgrades, along with Lunaz’s proprietary electric powertrain for a fully electric, eight-passenger eye-catcher that allows for customization throughout the build. To match the interior size, the Rolls-Royce Phantom V employs a 120 kWh battery, the largest electric battery in the world, which will travel up to 300 miles on a single charge. Few will be honored with the experience, however, since production is strictly limited to 30 units. Related: New electric car can be rented for just $22 a month “The time is right for an electric Rolls-Royce,” said David Lorenz, founder of Lunaz. “We are answering the need to marry beautiful classic design with the usability, reliability and sustainability of an electric powertrain. More than ever we are meeting demand for clean-air expressions of the most beautiful and luxurious cars in history. We are proud to make a classic Rolls-Royce relevant to a new generation.” Additionally, Lunaz is also electrifying the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, a vehicle intended for a driving experience rather than a chauffeured one. The restoration involves stripping the car down to the bones and restoring each system with acute attention to overall weight and weight distribution, chassis, suspension and technical precision. Production for the Silver Cloud series is also extremely limited to customers around the world who have already secured build slots. “My approach to design is defined by Sir Henry Royce’s philosophy that ‘small things make perfection and perfection is no small thing,’” said Jen Holloway, design director for Lunaz. “Together with our clients, we work to create relevant expressions of the most significant cars in history. I am proud to give new purpose to some of the most beautiful objects ever created.” + Lunaz Images via Lunaz

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Cool vegan recipes for a hot summer

June 11, 2020 by  
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What makes food summery? Our top summer food picks are lighter than winter meals. They’re unfussy dishes that won’t have you standing inside for hours over a hot stove when you could be enjoying a summer evening. Better yet, some are foods that you can cook outside on a grill. Vital tips for summer recipes include using fresh seasonal fruits and  vegetables , incorporating more raw ingredients and trying some dishes that you eat at cooler temperatures. Dust off the patio furniture and get ready for summer dining! Fresh and delicious summer salads You can get endlessly creative with salads as a main course. Even if you ate salad every day for a week, you could vary the ingredients enough that you wouldn’t get bored. Start with fresh, crisp greens.  Everyday Health  ranked the five most nutritious: kale, spinach, beet greens, Swiss chard and dandelion greens. Each will give your salad a distinctive flavor. If you’re planning salad as a meal, you’ll want to include  protein  in the way of lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, black-eyed peas, nuts, seeds, chunks of tempeh or similar. Adding pasta, or whole grains like millet or brown rice, will provide energy and give that salad more staying power. Find your salad inspiration in these 25 recipes from  It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken . Related: Wonderful recipes for all the weird veggies in your CSA box Gazpacho — the summer soup This chilled Spanish soup has a long and intriguing history. You can find mentions of gazpacho all the way back in Greek and Roman literature. But the recipe must have been different then, as  tomatoes  and green peppers, two of the soup’s now standard ingredients, came from Central and South America. Gazpacho recipes vary regionally, but usually include tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, garlic, olive oil, onions and breadcrumbs. This gazpacho recipe from  The Spruce Eats  only takes 20 minutes to prepare and is perfect to eat outside on a summer evening. For an extra summery recipe, try basing your gazpacho on watermelon rather than tomatoes. This watermelon gazpacho recipe from  Forks Over Knives  spices things up with jalapeño, jicama and chili powder. Endless taco variations Tacos are another easy and highly adaptable dish. It all starts with the tortillas. Most store-bought tortillas seem to be vegan these days, but double-check to be sure you’re not buying ultra-traditional tortillas made with lard. Or buy a bag of masa harina and make fresh corn tortillas with this recipe from  Mexican Please . It’s easy, if a little messy. For a balanced taco meal, choose a protein like tempeh, tofu or walnut taco meat like this recipe from  Make it Dairy Free . Topping choices are endless. Add some sautéed fajita veggies like mushrooms, peppers and zucchini, or choose raw toppings like shredded red cabbage and diced tomatoes. Cauliflower is especially trendy this year.  Brand New Vegan  has a recipe for cauliflower-mushroom taco “meat.” What vegans grill Backyard dining often calls for the grill. Red peppers, zucchini strips and onions are grilling standbys. But you can get creative. The folks at  Meatless Mondays  have crazy tips for grilling cucumbers, kale,  avocados , romaine lettuce, watermelon and grapes. Vegans also like veggie burgers. If you’re in a hurry, pick up frozen patties from the store. Otherwise, you can craft your own. This innovative mushroom-based veggie burger from  Love and Lemons  incorporates short-grained rice, paprika, walnuts, breadcrumbs and other good stuff for a thick burger that will put most frozen patties to shame. It’s berry time Summer is time for fresh berries. If they’re perfectly ripe, they need no accompaniment. You can also mix your fruit and veggies by adding fresh raspberries to vinaigrette  salad  dressing. This recipe from  The Spruce Eats  adds the oomph of Dijon mustard. Of course, lots of us with a sweet tooth like berries even better when they’re in a pie.  Feasting on Fruit  meets all your blueberry needs with thirty recipes. Homemade vegan ice cream If you have an ice cream maker, you might have already dusted it off for your summer frozen treat needs. But even if you don’t want to acquire yet another appliance, you can still make vegan ice cream at home. For the lightest indulgence, try a two-ingredient ice cream made from frozen bananas and cocoa powder with this recipe from  Bowl of Delicious . Those who crave something creamier can use coconut milk,  coconut  cream, avocados or nuts as a base. Once you get the hang of making homemade ice cream, it’s endlessly adaptable. You can add peanut butter, vegan chocolate chips, fresh fruit or spices. Related: Easy vegan ice cream recipes to enjoy all summer long Vegan lemon bundt cake Citrus fruits are so summery. This vegan lemon bundt cake from  Vegan Yumminess  has been a huge hit at my  house , already showing up for a birthday and an anniversary celebration. The key is the glaze, which goes on before the frosting. It moistens the cake so nicely. Use a combination of fresh lemon juice, lemon zest and lemon extract, and all tasters will know this cake means serious citrus business. Images via Teresa Bergen

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Should you make sourdough starter?

April 27, 2020 by  
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Because the pandemic has ushered in a back-to-the-kitchen movement, social media is filled with gorgeous, professional-looking loaves of sourdough bread. Is it easy to make a sourdough starter? Should you jump on the sourdough bandwagon? Here’s what you need to know about making a sourdough starter. Initial reservations Making sourdough starter has one big advantage. It only requires two ingredients: flour and water. It’s like magic, how these two ingredients , plus time, can produce yeast. Really, it’s more like science. As it says on the King Arthur Flour website, “Wild yeast is in the air around us. It settles on kitchen work surfaces and in your ingredients, including flour. Add liquid to flour, and this wild yeast is activated and starts to produce carbon dioxide bubbles. This growing army of gas bubbles, effectively trapped by gluten within the dough, are what ultimately make sourdough bread rise.” Related: How to bake bread Together, the yeast and lactobacilli form a harmonious symbiotic relationship right on your countertop. Making your own yeast out of thin air is especially popular now, since the yeast supply chain has dried up as the pandemic turns us into a nation of home bakers. But as I read online guidance about how to create my starter, I had some reservations. First, I don’t have filtered water. I drink good ol’ Oregon tap water that has some small amount of chlorine , which isn’t good for sourdough starter. Second, my online sources advised keeping the starter at room temperature, which they claimed was 70 degrees. Not in my house, which currently ranges between the upper 50s and low 60s. My third reservation was that you must constantly “feed” the starter with flour, each time discarding much of the starter. In the name of science (and this article), I endeavored to persevere. The starter would just have to deal with my water. Next, the temperature. The King Arthur Flour website advised those living in cooler houses to “try setting the starter atop your water heater, refrigerator or another appliance that might generate ambient heat. Your turned-off oven — with the light turned on — is also a good choice.” It was just too creepy to put the starter on the water heater in my dungeon-like basement, and no way am I leaving my oven light on for a week. We’re also trying to conserve energy , here! So the fridge it was. Unfortunately, the top of my fridge doesn’t seem any warmer than the rest of the house. How to make your own sourdough starter The process for making sourdough starter is quite simple. It is also perfect for sheltering in place, because starter likes a regular schedule. Though I consulted many websites, I decided to go with King Arthur as my guru. It has a five-day program to turn your flour and water into sourdough starter. On day one, you combine one cup of pumpernickel or whole wheat flour with one-half cup water in a non-reactive container with at least one-quart capacity. This means crockery, glass, stainless steel or food-grade plastic. I used a blue plastic mixing bowl. Unfortunately, I only had all-purpose flour, so I used that. This isn’t the time to be running out to the shop for one ingredient, right? You mix your flour and water until you can’t see any flour. Use cool water if your house is warm or warm water if your house is cool. Cover loosely with a kitchen cloth and set the starter somewhere warm. On day two, discard half the starter (or save that for a recipe to reduce food waste). Add a cup of all-purpose flour and one-half cup of water to the remainder. Stir well, re-cover and return the starter to its warm spot. By day three, your starter is supposed to start bubbling and increasing in size. Its appetite soars, and it demands two flour feedings a day, spaced 12 hours apart. Each time you feed, you must reduce the starter to about one-half cup before adding the new flour and water. Sometime after day five, the starter is supposed to be very lively and will have doubled in size. “You’ll see lots of bubbles; there may be some little ‘rivulets’ on the surface, full of finer bubbles. Also, the starter should have a tangy aroma — pleasingly acidic, but not overpowering,” according to King Arthur. Now, your starter is ready to become sourdough bread. You’ll use some in the bread recipe and keep the rest in your fridge, where it needs to be fed once a week and used for future loaves. You might want to name your starter — it could be around for a long time. The famous Boudin Bakery in San Francisco is still using the yeast Isidore Boudin collected in 1849. Hardcore bread lover Seamus Blackley, with the help of an Egyptologist and a microbiologist, managed to collect 4,500-year-old yeast off ancient Egyptian pottery for his loaves. So treat your starter well. Cooking with sourdough starter discard What is the reality of joining this long line of sourdough bakers ? Is it as romantic as it sounds? You might spend a lot of time asking yourself if your sourdough is really bubbling yet, whether it’s supposed to smell this way and what on earth are you going to do with all the discarded starter, especially as you move onto feeding and discarding twice a day. Related: Bakers yeast and sourdough starter — it looks alive to me! The first day, I added some starter discard to a regular cornbread recipe, pretending it was just more flour. It was a little hard to stir in, but for the most part, it worked out okay. My most successful dish was vegan sourdough pancakes, which involved following this recipe from Food52 and stirring in a ripe banana. They tasted more like delicious flat donuts than pancakes. My low point came when I tried to fashion a flatbread out of starter. The stomachache-inducing flatbreads wouldn’t cook all the way through. As I made my fifth attempt, my back aching, smoke alarm screeching and my husband and quarantine-mate sniping at my starter — “That (bleep) is like (bleeping) glue!” — I realized it was not the lifestyle moment those Instagram bakers had promised. The main event: sourdough bread All this feeding the starter eventually leads to making delicious sourdough bread. Theoretically. “When your starter has doubled in size, you see bubbles breaking on the surface, and it feels somewhat elastic to the touch, it’s ready to bake with,” King Arthur explained. But woe to us in cold houses. As I read down to the comments section, another cool-home dweller said his took two weeks to bubble sufficiently! Meanwhile, my starter has eaten nearly all of my flour, so there won’t even be enough to bake a loaf with. At press time, I’m trying to decide between A) trying my luck with my prepubescent starter and remaining flour to make a mini loaf, B) aborting the mission and turning all the starter into pancakes or C) throwing it all in the compost . A more persistent soul could add option D) going to the store and buying more flour to see the process through. Another option? Try making a “mini starter” , which requires much less flour but also takes longer to yield enough discard to make anything. But let’s assume you’re in a warmer house and have a bubbly, delightful starter. Now you’re in for a long process of kneading, folding, autolyzing (letting your dough rest), watching like a hawk for sufficient rising and eventually baking a delicious loaf. Best of luck to you. Here’s the Clever Carrot’s guide to that multistep process. The verdict I was not sufficiently committed to sacrificing all my flour to the voracious starter, nor did I have the right container. I thought all those upright glass vessels that look like vases were just for show on social media. As it turns out, they help you watch the starter. Maybe mine doubled in size and dropped back down when I wasn’t looking. Who knows? It’s in an opaque bowl atop the fridge covered with a tea towel. This experiment will also tell you more about what kind of person you are, if you don’t already know. Good candidates for making starter include people who love being in the kitchen, who take pride in their cooking or who have kids at home that enjoy culinary science experiments. If you cannot commit to your sourdough starter, it could just lead to a lot of food waste . Some of us lack the patience and interest. For the last 15 years, whenever I wanted a quick bread fix, I’ve made baking powder biscuits from a recipe in PETA’s The Compassionate Cook. The whole process takes about 20 minutes. My slightly more ambitious bread-making friend swears by this no-knead bread recipe . These might be better options if you don’t feel confident in working on a sourdough starter. The biggest thing I learned from making my own starter is how lucky I am that Trader Joe’s sells sourdough loaves for $3.99. Even my neighborhood boutique bakery that charges $7 or $8 a loaf seems like a bargain now. If you’re like me, you can consider making sourdough starter an exercise in bread appreciation. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat, Tommaso Urli , Thomas Bock , Oscar S , Richard Klasovsky

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How to make milk alternatives at home

April 8, 2020 by  
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Milk alternatives have become a booming industry. More and more people are choosing plant-based milk alternatives because they can be healthier. These options are also cruelty-free and better for the planet. Plus, in these times when grocery store offerings are sparse, non-dairy milks — or at least the ingredients to make them — are often more readily available and shelf-stable. Here are some tips for making your own milk alternatives , such as oat milk, almond milk, coconut milk and more. Types of plant-based milk Grocery stores typically carry a wide variety of milk substitutes: soy, almond, cashew, hazelnut, oat, rice, coconut, pea-protein and even flax seed. But homemade varieties can be healthier, and during a pandemic when it is hard to come across any milk — vegan or otherwise — making your own plant-based milk could be your only option. Related: How to choose the healthiest, most sustainable milk alternative Advantages of making your own plant-based milk Despite the popularity of brand names, sometimes making homemade non-dairy milk is preferred over store-bought. Consider how COVID-19 has made shopping in the age of social distancing a challenge. Besides, making homemade plant-based milk can save money. You can also control the consistency, flavor and sweetness of the non-dairy milk you make, avoiding unnecessary additives, like oils, thickeners and xantham gum. Homemade milk alternatives also allow you to tailor your recipes for any dietary restrictions. How to make most milk alternatives First, choose your ingredient. If you prefer soy milk, select organic , non-GMO soybeans, as suggested by One Green Planet . For nut milk, select your organic, non-GMO nut of choice, making sure they are raw. The same can be applied to oat, rice, coconut, pea and seeds (sesame or sunflower). These ingredients can all be sourced either online, at stores like Whole Foods or Sprouts or from a local farmer. Thoroughly rinse 2 cups of your ingredient of choice, whether dry soybeans or raw nuts, for example, then let them soak overnight in 5 to 6 cups of water. The next day, remove them from soaking. Discard the water and rinse off the soybeans (or nuts). Next, remove the skins (skip this step if the ingredient of choice has no skins). Add the soybeans (or nuts) to about 6 cups of water in a blender, and blend until smooth. Related: Is almond milk bad for the environment? After blending, strain the blended mixture via a muslin, cheesecloth or fine nut milk bag. Note that twisting permits the squeezing out of more milk from the pulp. After ringing out as much milk as you can, either discard the soybean pulp (in a compost bin) or save the nut pulp. Nut pulp can be frozen for later use in smoothies, pancake batters, oatmeal or granola. Next, place the strained milk in a pot or saucepan. Remember, adding more water determines the thickness and consistency of your milk. For instance, you may add about 1 cup of water to the mixture, or more if you prefer a thinner milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, while frequently stirring to avoid sticking. When at a boil, reduce to medium heat and continue heating or cooking the milk for up to 20 minutes. Make sure to continue to stir often. After the 20-minute span, cool the milk to room temperature. For added taste, stir in cocoa powder, honey or cinnamon while serving. If you want your entire batch of milk to have added flavor, place all of the liquid into a blender and mix in vanilla extract, honey, dates, berries or other fruit. How to make oat milk For oat milk , there is no need for overnight soaking. Rather, you can choose to either soak for just 30 minutes before draining and then blending, as recommended by the Simple Vegan Blog . Or, you can just immediately blend together 1 cup of rolled oats in 4 cups of water for about 30 to 45 seconds before straining. Why under 1 minute? Over-blending can make the oat milk seem slimy in texture, as observed by the Minimalist Baker . Another important adjustment is not boiling nor heating the milk mixture after straining from the pulp — heating will lead to a slimy texture, too. Note that nut milk bags might not work for oats, so try a fine mesh strainer instead. Some folks even go so far as to use a towel or clean T-shirt to strain the milk out of the pulp. How to make coconut milk For coconut milk, the Minimalist Baker recommends using 2 cups of shredded unsweetened coconut. Once you’ve acquired your coconut, blend it in 3 to 4 cups of water, noting that for thicker, creamier milk, less water is best. You’ll still strain the milk with a thin cloth, cheesecloth, nut milk bag or fine mesh strainer. Again, the pulp can be saved for future baking purposes. No need for heating of the strained milk either, just seal in a tight container in the refrigerator. Should you see separation after removing this milk from the refrigerator, simply shake it before use. How to make pea or seed milks For pea milk, Nutramilk follows the same basic methods described above, except there’s no need to boil or heat the strained milk, either. Moreover, pea pulp can be saved for soups or as an added ingredient in just about any dinner recipe. Regarding seeds, Nest and Glow says they must be soaked overnight, but there’s little need to extract skins or boiling the milk. Because they are smaller, their blend time need only be 2 to 3 minutes until finely ground. How to store homemade milk Store your homemade soy, nut, seed or oat milk in an airtight bottle within your refrigerator. It should be good for up to 3 days. Hoping to preserve the milk for longer? Your homemade, plant-based milk can be kept in the freezer for 3 to 5 months. After thawing it, you can choose to also use this homemade milk as a dairy substitute for cooking or baking. Images via Unsplash and Adobe Stock

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The Nature Conservancys Oregon HQ gets a green renovation

April 8, 2020 by  
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Portland-based LEVER Architecture has breathed new life into The Nature Conservancy’s Oregon headquarters with a LEED Gold-targeted renovation. Completed in 2019, the refreshed headquarters has received a much-needed facelift constructed from sustainably harvested materials as well as a new addition topped with a roof garden. Beautiful and sustainable, the addition is also one of the first buildings in the nation to be built of domestically fabricated cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Built in the 1970s, The Nature Conservancy’s Oregon headquarters was formerly defined by dark and introverted offices as well as a lack of sizable meeting and event space. To better meet the needs of the highly collaborative organization, LEVER Architecture expanded the building footprint to 15,000 square feet and introduced new open-plan layouts, meeting rooms of varying sizes and a staff cafe and lounge. The Nature Conservancy’s mission of environmental stewardship has also been proudly showcased through updates to the exterior facade and landscaping. Related: Metal-clad Treehouse for “no-commute lifestyles” mimics Portland’s forests The new landscaping that surrounds the building on all sides evokes three types of habitats across Oregon: the Rowena Plateau, Cascade-Siskiyou and forests of western hemlock and cedar. The connection to nature is strengthened by the use of juniper and cedar siding, materials that were sustainably harvested from The Nature Conservancy’s conservation sites. The weathering steel that wraps around the upper portions of the new addition and main building will develop a handsome patina over time to further blend the building into its surroundings. In addition to a sustainable renovation and expansion, the architects have introduced new energy-saving and -generating systems. New rooftop solar panels on the main building produce 25% of the headquarters’ energy needs, while efficient fixtures and building systems reduce electric consumption by 54% and water consumption by 44%. All stormwater is captured and managed on-site. Low-tech passive strategies, such as daylighting and operable windows for natural ventilation, also help cut down the building’s energy demands. + LEVER Architecture Photos by Jeremy Bittermann and Lara Swimmer via LEVER Architecture

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