In 1995, Charles Phan opened The Slanted Door in San Francisco’s Mission District and introduced the dining public to the relatively unexplored cuisine of his native Vietnam. The restaurant became an overnight sensation. Since then, Phan has moved his restaurant to the historic Ferry Building, earned a James Beard Foundation Best Chef of California Award, and been inducted to the James Beard Foundation’s list of “Who’s Who of Food in America.” Read more
Lunch at many public schools across New York City means chicken nuggets, mozzarella sticks and mystery meat sandwiches. But at P.S. 244, The Active Learning Elementary School, in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, the menu sounds like this: Roasted Organic Tofu with Sweet Curry Sauce, Braised Black Beans with Plantains and Herbed Rice Pilaf, Chickpea Falafel with Creamy Tofu Dressing, Lettuce and Tomato and Loco Bread, and Mexican Bean Chili. In April, it became the first public school in the nation to become 100-percent vegetarian. But there’s more. To drink, there’s low-fat milk and water. No juice, no soda. And the salad bar looks like something from a very expensive day spa, not the 24-hour corner mart.
For Bob Groff, a co-founder and the principal of P.S. 244, and the man who turned his menu meatless, the need for better food was obvious. Kids were drinking neon sugary drinks, eating cheese puffs, losing focus and gaining weight. His students were not alone. Nationwide, one in three children and adolescents is obese or overweight, and childhood obesity has more than doubled in the past 30 years. “There is a strong correlation between academic achievement and student health and nutrition,” said Groff. “I wanted to prove that better nutrition could make a difference to students’ lives.”
What’s the best way to use up an abundance of summer vegetables? Pizza, obviously. And in as much time as it takes to order delivery, you can make a summer pie that’s bursting with flavor and able to satisfy hungry guests. Bonus points: This pie is gluten-free, meat-free and dairy-free too. So what’s the trick?
When Doug Crowell opened Buttermilk Channel in Brooklyn in 2008, the crowds were lured by chef Ryan Angulo’s hearty Americana fare: buttermilk fried chicken and cheddar waffles with savoy cabbage slaw, duck meatloaf with corn pudding and blackberry gastrique and St. Louis ribs with new potato salad and mustard glaze.
But Crowell and his chef knew their audience included almost as many vegivores as carnivores. Instead of cobbling together an array of vegetable sides to satisfy these guests, they created a separate vegetarian menu that included a house-made mushroom-barley burger, a warm mozzarella and romaine salad with a soft poached egg and roasted cauliflower, grilled flatbread with snap peas and ricotta, and locally made Caputo’s linguine with summer squash, tomatoes and basil. “There is such demand here for vegetarian dishes and recipes that are just a little lighter,” Angulo says. “So many people are eating that way. They don’t want steak frites every night. We wanted to give them a menu that included as much variety and thoughtfulness as the regular menu.”
Throw a bash these days, and you’ll likely be faced with a barrage of requests from friends who are gluten-free, dairy-free, meat-free — you name it. But that doesn’t mean these guests are fun-free! Whatever your pals’ eating styles, they will be primed to party (and think you are the Best Host Ever) when you serve one of these dishes.
For the (Gluten-Free) Quinoa-tarian: Quinoa Salad (above)
Here, the gluten-free king of the grain aisle gets tossed with cubes of cucumber, red onion, and tomato in a simple oil-vinegar-lemon dressing. Fresh mint and parsley add bright flavor, and when the salad is spooned into endive spears with diced avocado, the whole thing becomes a party on a platter.
For the Flexitarian: Creamy Broccoli Salad
A little bit of bacon goes a long way in this tasty side — good news for friends who are trying to cut back on meat, especially the processed variety. Two strips of crisp bacon are finely chopped before being tossed with the broccoli, onions and golden raisins. Buttermilk, reduced-fat sour cream, lemon and bacon drippings form the irresistible dressing.
“Vegetarians want the vegetarian option not to feel like an afterthought,” says Daniel Holzman. “And so the question was how can we celebrate vegetables and make something really delicious.” This question was particularly perplexing to chef Holzman, who, in 2010, along with his partner Michael Chernow, opened a restaurant called The Meatball Shop on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The plan, as you can imagine, was to specialize in meatballs. “We wanted to include a vegetarian meatball to be as inclusive as possible,” Holzman explains.
Their solution to the vegetarian meatball conundrum came in the form of this recipe, a green lentil meatball, which Holzman is partial to serving with a basil-spinach pesto, one of five sauces guests can choose from at each of the Meatball Shop locations (a sixth shop is opening this summer on New York City’s Upper West Side).
No meat, no cheese — no problem! Whether you’re aiming to eat a little bit cleaner or just want to be more like Beyoncé (who completed a 22-day vegan challenge last year), there’s really no wrong reason to add these vegan recipes to your repertoire.
Vegan Lentil Burgers (above)
Admit it: You’re pretty sure even the most serious vegans miss burgers from time to time. These hearty lentil burgers are packed with other wholesome ingredients, like spinach and walnuts, and get their flavor from a punchy trio of garlic, black pepper and cumin that will make you forget all about their beefy brethren.
Vegan Tofu and Spinach Scramble
For those in the “Vegan Before Six” club, we’d like to introduce you to your new egg-breakfast substitute. The tofu is spiced up with turmeric, pepper and cayenne; it may actually be better than your standard scramble. Read more
In this week’s news: Mondays get even more meatless; the world learns what happens when a household bans sugar (hint: a book deal); and coupon-clipping takes a healthier turn.
Hitting the Beach — and the Tofu
Why book Canyon Ranch when you can visit Grandma in Boca? Earlier this week, the Florida city announced that it was joining Meatless Mondays — a national movement that advocates exactly what the name suggests. The logic is this: Research suggests that when you eliminate a day’s worth of meat, you’re cutting 15 percent of saturated fat intake. That, in turn, may decrease your risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Twenty percent of Boca Raton’s residents are 65 or older, and with role models like Bill Clinton, whose health swami — Mark Hyman — was featured in the New York Times earlier this week, it might not be a surprise that the trend caught on.
Pass the Tofu Drumstick
Having a vegan feast is becoming more popular. According to the Department of Agriculture, Americans ate about 12% less meat in 2012 than in 2007. Instead of turkey and trimmings, some Thanksgiving cooks are making tofurkey (tofu shaped like turkey) or cooking portobello mushroom steaks with kale salad, pecan stuffing and mushroom gravy on the side.
You don’t need a turkey at the center of the table to make Thanksgiving a special day! Here are delicious dishes that can take the spotlight at your feast, whether you’re a vegetarian or just hosting a few.