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Recipes with Whole Wheat Pasta

In “Everyone’s Table,” Gregory Gourdet shares healthy recipes and an amazing story of perseverance

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In many ways, Top Chef star Gregory Gourdet’s new cookbook arrives on bookshelves at the perfect time. After a year in which we found ourselves grounded at home, “Everyone’s Table: Global Recipes for Modern Health” presents us with a much-needed guide for eating healthier. Amid a conversation about equity in the food space, it presents us with globally inspired dishes that should be staples in every American home. At a time when mental health is top of mind, Gourdet also opens up about how his sobriety.

When Gourdet entered recovery, he not only audited his life but also his pantry. Now, he’s sharing the concept of “modern health,” as well as the recipes from his own kitchen, with the world. This is a healthy cookbook that isn’t about exclusion; as Gourdet points out, fried chicken makes the cut, and there’s even a whole chapter about dessert.

“There’s a full desserts chapter in the book, and I think the fried chicken and the example of the pineapple cake, which has almost three cups of sugar in it,” he recently told Salon. “It’s maple syrup and coconut sugar, which are far better sugars, but at the same time, it’s still sugar.”

“It’s about having a great alternative to some of the ingredients within that recipe and not eating it every day. Of course you can enjoy fried chicken every once in a while,” he continued. “The fried chicken in the book has an African-inspired marinade. It’s got some habanero. It has a nice spice to it. It’s coated in tapioca starch, and it’s fried in avocado oil. It’s a little healthier. It’s definitely still a decadent item, but with a few tweaks, you can have something a little bit healthier on the table.”

What Gourdet presents us with is a way to eat healthy that not only makes us feel good but also is 100% attainable. This is exactly how Gourdet cooks in his own home, even when he doesn’t feel like cooking.

RELATED: Click here to purchase a copy of “Everyone’s Table: Global Recipes for Modern Health”

“When I’m at home, I’m busy. I don’t want to cook. I have a small apartment. I don’t want to get the kitchen dirty,” he said. “The way I cook at home is really inspired by these dishes that are in the book. They’re super easy to make, for the most part. You can pretty much shop at your local grocer for most of the ingredients.”

When Gourdet recently appeared on “Salon Talks,” we talked about the new season of Top Chef, how he got sober and tips for eating healthier at home. To learn more, read or watch our conversation below.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

It goes without saying that if our readers aren’t lucky enough to have tried your food, they’ve seen you on TV. Can you tell us about your experience shooting Top Chef?

I’ve been on Top Chef numerous times. I’ve competed twice. I think my first season was about six, seven years ago. Time flies. Currently, I am featured as a judge and mentor to our current season, which was filmed in Portland, Oregon, last fall, right smack dab in the middle of the pandemic.

Is there anything you can tease us for the rest of the season?

I think I thoroughly enjoyed watching the season, and it’s a little different with being a judge and not being a center figure and watching myself the entire time because I’m not competing. I get to just really dive into the other chefs, and I get to watch it as a spectator, as well. Even though we were there and seeing things happen, there’s a lot that happened with the chefs that we didn’t see. I’m watching a lot of it for the first time, like with the other viewers. I think we’re going to see some really cool challenges come up, and we’re going to see some really beautiful, iconic locations in Oregon and in Portland, and some really great ingredients being featured.

I think as it thins out, it definitely gets harder. I know that for a fact, and the critiques get a little bit more challenging. We’re going to see the chefs really push themselves. I truly think Top Chef is a story about perseverance and endurance and really tapping into yourself. I think we’re going to see some really great food from some of these chefs. It’s a really diverse cast, and they all come from different culinary backgrounds and different ethnic backgrounds, so it’s going to be really fun to see the rest of the season.

Speaking of endurance and perseverance, that’s your personal story, as well. Your new cookbook starts off with a story about a car crash. I was wondering if you can tell us a little bit more about that because that’s not necessarily an expected way to start a cookbook. 

The book starts at the beginning, and the beginning for me isn’t memories of cooking with my mom as a child. My book is a health book, and it is based on the style of eating that I’ve enjoyed for the past 12 years. I wanted to explain how it came to be. It’s a diet-centered book because it is geared to dietary distinctions. It’s gluten-free, it’s dairy-free, it’s soy and legume-free, it’s grain-free for the most part and it’s refined sugar-free.

At the same time, it’s really inspired by global flavors, having a global pantry, spices from around the world, chilis from all around the world, both year-round produce and seasonal produce. It’s really a book that everyone at the table can enjoy. You don’t have to be on any kind of special diet to enjoy the book. I feel like oftentimes books have said that, but you’re left kind of reading the recipes or eating the recipes and you feel like something’s missing or you’re eating something “healthy.”

For me, it really started with my story of recovery. After fighting a seven-year battle with drugs and alcohol, I decided I wanted to get my life back together. I wanted to take some steps forward to just pick myself up. That included the first step of getting sober, then kind of getting healthy. A really pivotal point in my life was this tremendous car crash that I had in California about 13 years ago. The funny thing is, that really wasn’t what got me sober, but that was definitely one of those moments where you look back in your life and you realize that 100% I could have died in that car crash.

I was wearing my seatbelt, thank God. The car flipped over in the air. It was totaled. I was arrested immediately. It could have been a pretty traumatizing thing, but I walked away unscathed. It’s one of those things — when you look back at your life and you take stock — you’re like, “Hey, that really was something that I’m extremely grateful I’m still alive today.” I’m grateful for that. It just helped trigger my recovery — and here we are.

I have been gluten-free and dairy-free for about a decade. At the same time, I’m a chef who works at different types of restaurants. I’ve been able to travel the world and eat all different types of foods. When I’m at home, I’m busy. I don’t want to cook. I have a small apartment. I don’t want to get the kitchen dirty. The way I cook at home is really inspired by these dishes that are in the book. They’re super easy to make, for the most part. You can pretty much shop at your local grocer for most of the ingredients. The other ingredients, you just keep in your pantry. Maybe go to your Asian or Caribbean grocer once a month and just stock up on these ingredients, and just create beautiful, interesting food that’s full of flavor, that’s full of life.

At the same time, as a professional chef, I want to give people lots of tips and tricks to up their game. It’s definitely written with the home cook in mind. The recipes are extremely detailed and extremely explained, a step-by-step process — because I want everyone to be successful in recreating them.

Thank you for being so open and honest with your story. Addiction is a prevalent issue in the industry. What advice you would give others who are struggling, as well?

Sure. My addiction was definitely founded working in the kitchen. I mean, it starts earlier. Since high school, I was experimenting with drugs, and in college I was a very vigorous recreational drug user. Honestly, a lot of my friends are in recovery because of that experience. We’ve all moved to separate states, but a lot of us are in recovery — our own recovery.

It really was working in kitchens in New York City and that period of my life that really coincided with the worst of it. The first time — the pinpoint of the start of my addiction — I consider, I remember the first day I was late for work because I had drunk too much the night before. I clearly remember that day. I really can point to that day as the first day of a seven-year battle that just got worse over time, which was really bad for the last two years. It was an era of “you work really hard and you play really hard.” We would work 12, 14 hours a day, oftentimes off the clock. It was a very high-pressure situation.

I worked in fine dining, Michelin stars and New York Times stars. It was a very high-pressure situation, where perfection was absolutely expected. It was the standard. To counteract that, you go to the bar, and it’s New York City. The bars are open till 4:00 a.m. To counteract working hard, I definitely played hard. Oftentimes, when my friends would responsibly go home at four in the morning, I would go back out with people who had even less responsibility than I did and maybe even more penchant for drug use than I did.

I think a lot of conversations have happened nationally over just health and wellness and mental health and addiction and recovery in the industry. I feel the counterbalance to all of that today is openly talking about sobriety in the industry, making sure that we make space for discussions about mental health and really changing the way the industry looks. I think we’re still deeply in those conversations with a huge industry reckoning — with workers saying that they’ve been treated unfairly over the past many, many years of them working. The younger generation — that’s our current workforce — and a lot of chefs who have had a lot of trauma or have come out of these crazy experiences and how that impacts their leadership.

I definitely think the conversation is changing. I think it’s really important that we just destigmatize addiction in the industry. I’m very grateful to be a part of a group called Ben’s Friends, which is specifically a recovery group for people in the hospitality industry.

The new book was also born out of recovery. That included going to CrossFit and adopting the paleo diet, which you still more or less follow today. The new cookbook is categorized as “modern health.” Can you explain exactly what you mean by “modern health?”

Modern health is a term that came out with, I think, the paleo diet. I think the paleo diet was really, really big 10 years ago. I think CrossFit was really big 10 years ago, and that’s how I stumbled into it. I think modern health to me just really means being able to make some smart choices — not feeling like you’re being restricted, not feeling like you can’t have some things that you enjoy.

Really, what it truly means to me is understanding that while Mother Nature makes all these amazing things that have nutrients that come out of the earth — not all of them are the best foods for you. It’s really about focusing on the plants and the proteins and all the amazing ingredients that are truly the healthiest. The superfoods: kale, sweet potatoes, organic meats, all those types of ingredients that you can truly have as much of it as you want. All the ingredients featured in my cookbook are based on the top 100 superfoods.

It’s understanding that when we talk about something like grapeseed oil, which is an extremely chemically processed ingredient and it’s made by a harsh chemical process, and instead use something like avocado oil, which is just avocado squeezed, which is a far more natural ingredient. Making these small switches and being confident that having these best ingredients, you can eat as much of them as you want.

One of our readers’ favorite foods is  not surprisingly  chicken. First, you have a fried chicken recipe in the book. How can fried chicken be healthy?

This is what I mean by modern health. It’s just being comfortable that what you’re eating makes you feel good or you’re happy about it — and we can still enjoy the foods that we love. There’s a full desserts chapter in the book, and I think the fried chicken and the example of the pineapple cake, which has almost three cups of sugar in it. It’s maple syrup and coconut sugar, which are far better sugars, but at the same time, it’s still sugar.

It’s about having a great alternative to some of the ingredients within that recipe and not eating it every day. Of course you can enjoy fried chicken every once in a while. The fried chicken in the book has an African-inspired marinade. It’s got some habanero. It has a nice spice to it. It’s coated in tapioca starch, and it’s fried in avocado oil. It’s a little healthier. It’s definitely still a decadent item, but with a few tweaks, you can have something a little bit healthier on the table.

You also have an entire section where you have different kinds of sauces and blends that we can make at home. Do you have any tips or tricks for making sauces healthier in our diets?

There’s a huge sauce chapter in the book actually, and there’s a huge pantry section. It’s sauces, there’s a fermentation chapter, there’s a pickles chapter, there’s a spices, spice mix chapter. I personally love those chapters because those are all things you can make and keep in your fridge. Oftentimes, they feature ingredients like fish sauce and great spices and chilis, and a lot of them are shelf or pantry-stable or fridge-safe for a week — maybe even a few months if it’s a pickle or a ferment.

Oftentimes, having those ingredients on hand is an easy way to just spice up anything. If you have a simple roasted chicken or even just some sauteed chicken thighs, you can just grab the chili-lime sauce, the Vietnamese-inspired chili-lime sauce. It’s fish sauce and garlic and chilis and lime juice, and it’s pungent and it’s funky and it’s a little bit spicy. A few drops of that on your chicken, and you have a pretty delicious dinner made in just a few minutes. All my sauces — all the sauce work in the book — are definitely featured with alternative ingredients. They have that health-mindedness in mind, from using tamari instead of soy sauce, from using prunes and dates instead of sugar, to really get those nutrients in there.

 

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Recipes with Whole Wheat Pasta

The hunt for New Zealand’s best meal kit delivery service

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Jihee Junn analyzes the numbers from a recent study comparing the greatest players in the Meal Pack game.

As a single parent, childless person who doesn’t mind eating five bowls of oatmeal a day, I can’t say I’ve ever fully embraced the movement of meal sets. But I know that for many families, having the same meals cooked or taken away every week is not a viable option. For example, my eternally exhausted sister and her busy husband have three young children who don’t eat anything all the time, except chocolate, french fries, and pizza. Eating out – even at McDonald’s – somehow always costs a small fortune.

It is no coincidence that parceled meals have found a lucrative niche in families like hers. When the concept first hit the market in Sweden in the late 2000s, they were exactly with the modern family in mind – one where both parents worked full-time. Created to combine our desire for fresh, healthy home-cooked meals with our increasingly busy, comfortable lives, it wasn’t long before the concept gained momentum and spread across the continent to central Europe and the United States by 2012 .

Around the same time that food parcels were on the rise in the USA, the idea with the introduction of My Food Bag 2013, which was co-founded by star chef Nadia Lim, had also found its way to Aotearoa. A few years later came the slightly more gourmet Woop service (which stands for “world on our plate” in case you’re wondering), followed by the Bargain Box, a cheaper option launched by the My Food Bag team. Then, in 2018, HelloFresh came on the market – the German meal kit juggernaut that managed to capture a large part of the local market in less than three years.

The Hello Fresh empire arrived in New Zealand in 2018. Photo: Hello Fresh

As the Covid-19 lockdowns accelerate the growth in meal set deliveries, My Food Bag, Woop, Bargain Box and HelloFresh have had a lot to celebrate over the past two years. More people than ever are trying these “essential services” instead of the supermarket chaos, and while they all share the same business model, there are important differences, a recent study by consumer-centric research website MoneyHub points out.

Over the course of six months, the team subscribed to the four largest and most popular meal set delivery services in New Zealand and consumed over 100 different meals to directly compare almost every detail you could ask for, including cost, cooking time, and packaging waste ( Unfortunately, taste was deliberately left out because it was perceived as “too subjective”). We have summarized their key insights into which company did well in which areas. To read full details and see photos of each meal, go to MoneyHub website.

Prices and plans

Aside from the Bargain Box, which only offers two types of plans (classic and vegetarian), the remaining three offer meals tailored to a gluten-free or health-conscious diet, as well as a plant-based plan from My Food Bag that is completely vegan in ingredients . All three also have options that instead let you choose from a selection of recipes from different plans, with HelloFresh having the largest selection of recipes (20+) that you can combine and customize each week.

However, if you only want to get the most bang for your buck, the Bargain Box is your best bet, especially if you want to feed a large family or have multiple servings on hand. Designed to accommodate the largest number of people from all four services, a regular five meal plan can only cost $ 6.30 per plate for six people ($ 190 per week), $ 7.30 per plate for four people (140 USD per week). and $ 11.50 per plate for two ($ 115).

Remember: meal sets are designed so that the bigger your order (more servings, more meals), the cheaper it will be per plate.

Bargain box from a bird’s eye view (Photo: MoneyHub)

HelloFresh (including the $ 10 delivery fee) ranks second in the price per platter. But with more than 20 recipes to choose from compared to Bargain Box’s eight recipes, HelloFresh has a far wider choice for just a few more dollars, especially if you have dietary requirements. However, it’s worth noting that there is an additional $ 5 delivery fee in the South Island.

Packaging and ingredients

Woop may be the most expensive of the four, but the comparison found that not only does it contain the highest quality local ingredients, but it also produces the least amount of waste. Its pre-made sauces and precisely portioned ingredients were found to leave the least amount of food waste and unused ingredients, while its recipes also required the fewest and simplest “pantry items” (ingredients not included).

Most of woops The packaging is made from materials that are suitable for roadside recycling, but Woop also gives you the option to return all of your packaging directly to the company (provided it is completely clean, dry, and food-free) that it at yours next order and properly recycled. This includes things like soft plastics as well as gel cold packs that are disinfected, frozen and reused for other woop deliveries.

A typical woop box contains less waste than its competitors. Photo: MoneyHub

Cooking and preparation

With regard to the actual preparation of the meals, the comparison showed that the preparation and cooking (carried out by one person) took significantly longer than all estimates of all four providers. Based on the recipes used during the comparison, the actual time taken to prepare meals averaged between 20 and 30 minutes longer than the average estimated times. Of course, this all depends on the speed and skills of whoever does the job, but if you’re your average home cook, it’s safe to say that it will likely take a little longer than any of these companies think.

However, among the four companies, the recipes were the fastest to prepare thanks to Woop’s pre-made sauces and sometimes pre-cooked vegetables, with an estimated time averaging 23 minutes, or around 40 minutes in reality. My Food Bag and HelloFresh (excluding the “fresh and quick” recipes that only take 15 minutes) were the second and third fastest with an estimated average time of 37 and 40 minutes, in reality around 55 and 60 minutes. The Bargain Box meals lasted the longest, with the 35-minute meals running closer to 65.

Two bargain box meals prepared during the study that, on average, lasted much longer than promised (Photo: MoneyHub)

In the meantime, if you’re the cook who needs all the help you can get, comparing HelloFresh’s recipe cards proved to be the best of the group. Her detailed instructions included pictures of all the ingredients and each step of the cooking process, as well as a list of the utensils you need and suggestions as to whether you should prepare a particular dish earlier than another. The ingredients for each dish are also packaged in individually color-coded paper bags, so you can easily sort what you need each time you cook.

Which one is right for me?

No company does the best at everything, and all have their individual weaknesses. For example, Woop only delivers to certain cities, HelloFresh charges extra for the South Island, Bargain Box has little for those with dietary requirements, while My Food Bag often requires more unusual supplies such as whole grain mustard, rice vinegar and corn starch. It’s up to you to decide what is important and what is not, but here is which service, in MoneyHub’s opinion, is best.

Woop

“Best for people in large cities (because of their delivery areas) and plans for one person. Their estimated prep times are consistently shorter than those of the other companies, and while we didn’t necessarily finish the meals in the estimated time, they were faster than the other food companies we tried. All of their plans use high quality ingredients, but we especially liked their ‘Foodie’ plan as it is the only gourmet option on the market that is available for one, two or four people. “

Hello Fresh

“Best for people without much cooking experience, because the recipe cards are very detailed and the app helps too. [It also has the] largest selection of recipes to choose from and you get access to the HelloFresh cookbook with thousands of recipes. They offer a particularly good price-performance ratio for low-calorie and vegetarian recipes. “

My grocery bag

“Best for weight loss plans and herbal recipes, but there are many plans. Wide availability across New Zealand (according to their website, they serve 86% of New Zealanders). We have found that they use more adventurous spices than HelloFresh and Bargain Box, but also require more supplies for their preparation. “

Bargain box

“Best for the budget-conscious, families with more than four members or picky eaters, as the recipes are usually kiwi classics.”

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Recipes with Whole Wheat Pasta

10 Kale Pasta Dishes, from Spaghetti to Lasagne!

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Kale is a plant in the cabbage family, which also includes favorites like cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, arugula, and Brussels sprouts. Kale was nicknamed King Kale for its excellent nutritional profile and health benefits. It’s also tasty and easy to incorporate into many meals.

Kale is rich in vitamins A, K, C, B6, manganese, calcium, copper, potassium, magnesium. It’s high in chlorophyll and contains 3 grams of protein per cup. In fact, a cup of raw kale contains more vitamin C, an important antioxidant, than an orange and is also one of the most well-known sources of vitamin K. Plus, kale is a good source of fiber and is low in fat and calories. This makes kale one of the most nutritious foods out there.

There are obviously many ways to include kale in your meals, from side dishes to smoothies to desserts. Here we have a list of the best ways to incorporate kale into your favorite pasta dishes.

1. Garden picnic noodle salad with vegetables, herbs and orange-miso-tahini dressing

Garden picnic noodle salad with vegetables, herbs and orange-miso-tahini dressing

Source: Garden picnic noodle salad with vegetables, herbs and orange-miso-tahini dressing / One Green Planet

Kale plays an important role in this garden picnic noodle salad with vegetables, herbs, and orange miso tahini dressing from The Whole Foods Diet. Pasta is tossed along with a rainbow of vegetables and topped with a creamy orange-miso-tahini dressing that adds a lemony touch. Here, kale is eaten raw. This is a quick toss-up meal and works wonderfully as leftovers.

2. Creamy kale and zucchini pasta

Creamy kale and zucchini pasta

Source: Creamy kale and zucchini pasta/ A green planet

This is a great recipe for anyone looking for an alternative to wheat noodles. It is also ideal for this time of year when zucchini are in season. In this recipe for Creamy kale and zucchini pasta from Rouxbe, the kale is cooked with caramelized onions and stirred into the zucchini noodles. A creamy tahini sauce brings it all together.

3. A pot of creamy Tuscan kale pasta

https://i0.wp.com/www.wholegrainpasta.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/1632087400_966_10-Kale-Pasta-Dishes-from-Spaghetti-to-Lasagne.jpg

Source: One Pot Creamy Tuscan Kale Pasta / One Green Planet

You can put this meal together in under 30 minutes. The creamy sauce of this One Pot Creamy Tuscan Kale Pasta by Shanika Graham-White is made from cashew nuts, which gives you a velvety texture and a protein boost. The kale is sautéed with garlic and tomatoes for a rich hearty taste.

4. Pasta Primavera

Pasta with vegetables

Source: Pasta Primavera / One Green Planet

This is a really simple dish that requires you to add some veggies and, of course, some kale to a jar of tomato sauce. This could be one you had in your pantry waiting for the perfect recipe. This Pasta Primavera recipe from Wholesome LLC is a perfect weekday meal.

5. Vegetable protein pasta salad bowl

Pasta salad with vegetable protein

Source: Plant Protein Pasta Salad Bowl / One Green Planet

This vegetable protein pasta salad bowl from Nikki and Zuzana call for red lentil noodles that add protein power, but you can use any pasta of your choice. You’re still getting plenty of protein from the black lentils and hemp heart-based dressing. Here kale is accompanied by its green friends spinach, rocket and many fresh herbs.

6. Kale Walnut Pesto Noodles

Vegan kale walnut pesto pasta

Source: Kale-Walnut-Pesto-Pasta / One Green Planet

This Mitra Shirmohammadi Kale Walnut Pesto Noodle Recipe couldn’t be easier. Aside from making a pot of pasta, all you need to do is put all of the ingredients in a blender to make a batch of this kale pesto. Kale is added to the pesto along with the traditional basil flavor. Walnuts are used in place of pine nuts and a healthy dose of nutritional yeast gives it that “cheesy” note.

7. Spaghetti a la Caesar

Spaghetti a la Caesar

Source: Spaghetti a la Caesar / One Green Planet

This recipe for Spaghetti a la Caesar by Kim Sujovolsky is also easy to make. Kale is sautéed with garlic and mixed with the spaghetti. Then the dish is served with a serving of almond parmesan, lemon and chilli flakes.

8. Sweet potato noodles with garlic and cashew cream

Vegan sweet potato noodles with garlic cashew cream

Source: Sweet Potato Noodles with Garlic Cashew Cream / One Green Planet

Here’s another great gluten-free pasta option. This Garlic Cashew Cream Sweet Potato Noodle Recipe by Christine Zulkosky takes a creamy cashew sauce and serves it with sweet potato noodles, a generous helping of kale, and chunky mushrooms to give it a bite.

9. Soothing kale pesto pasta casserole

Kale pesto pasta casserole [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Source: Soothing Kale Pesto Pasta Casserole / One Green Planet

This soothing kale pesto pasta casserole from Florian Nouh is full of texture and flavor. The crust is made from gluten-free breadcrumbs and the noodles are tossed in a kale-based pesto. The whole dish is then baked for about 15-20 minutes. It’s a nice vegan version of a classic comfort food.

10. Kale lasagna

Vegan gluten-free kale lasagna with bechamel sauce

Source: Kale Lasagne / One Green Planet

We can hardly make a list of pasta favorites and leave out the lovely lasagna. This kale lasagna from Peffe Stahl is vegan and gluten-free. This is a really simple recipe that requires a soy or oat milk based bechamel sauce layered between sheets of vegan lasagna. The kale is then sautéed with onions before joining the bechamel.

Make your pasta dishes particularly tasty and nutritious with a generous helping of kale.

Learn How To Make Plant-Based Meals At Home!

Vegan creamy ginger-coconut-kale-zucchini-spaghetti [Gluten-Free]

It is known to help reduce meat consumption and eat more plant-based foods chronic inflammation, Heart health, mental wellbeing, Fitness goals, Nutritional needs, Allergies, good health, and more! Milk consumption has also been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, Prostate cancer and has many Side effects.

For those of you interested in eating more plant-based foods, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App – With over 15,000 delicious recipes, it is the largest herbal recipe source to reduce your ecological footprint, save animals and get healthy! And while you’re at it, we encourage you to find out about the environment and health benefits from a vegetable diet.

Here are some great resources to get you started:

For more daily published content on animals, earth, life, vegan food, health and recipes, subscribe to One Green Planet newsletter! Finally, public funding gives us a greater chance of continuing to provide you with quality content. Please note support us through donations!

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Recipes with Whole Wheat Pasta

Types of Chocolate, Explained:

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You’ve seen these numbers on fancy candy bar packaging, but what do chocolate percentages mean and which one should you choose? We’ll break it down so you can make the best chocolate choice possible.

When it comes to chocolate, I used to be part of the high cocoa cult. My favorite was 70 percent, with an 82.5 percent shot every now and then. However, the more I learned about chocolate, the more I realized that the percentage had nothing to do with quality: I had greasy 85 percent bars and fantastic 40 percent bars.

That’s because the cocoa percentage is the percentage of the bar that comes straight from cocoa beans. Take my beloved 70 percent bar as an example: 70 percent of this bar is made from refined cocoa beans, and 30 percent is made from all the other ingredients like sugar, vanilla, sea salt, pop rocks, whatever.

Just because you’ve tried a 70 percent bar doesn’t mean you’ve tried them all. Everyone has a unique mouthfeel and taste. (A genius came up with the fancy sounding “mouthfeel” to describe how things feel in the mouth. In practical terms, this means whether the chocolate is grainy or smooth, melts quickly or slowly, etc.) One reason is that one chocolate bar contains significantly more cocoa butter than another. Both cocoa solids and cocoa butter are included in this 70 percent.

As I write in my book, “Bean-to-Bar Chocolate: America’s Craft Chocolate Revolution ”,“ A 70 percent bar could contain 50 percent cocoa mass and 20 percent cocoa butter; another could have 30 percent cocoa mass and 40 percent cocoa butter (that would make a very smooth, buttery bar!). To make it even more complicated, different types of beans naturally contain different amounts of cocoa butter. Some are leaner, others fatter. The natural “butteriness” of a bean changes the consistency of the resulting chocolate. “

Milk chocolate generally has a fairly low percentage, usually around 40 percent or less (Hershey’s is 11 percent). I’m in love with Zotter’s 40 percent bar diluted with “Bio Tiroler Bergmilch” and Frans smoked salt.

Dark chocolate has no legal definition in the United States (it comes under the umbrella term semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate). It’s usually at least 55 percent, but most dark chocolate lovers enjoy 70 percent or more. I’m obsessed with a new variety called dark milk chocolate, a high-proof milk chocolate that combines the best of both worlds: you get the intense flavors of dark chocolate with the creaminess of milk chocolate. My favorite right now? Chocolate Naive’s 62 percent dark milk with porcini mushrooms. (Yes, you read that right: mushrooms!)

Then there are some dark candy bars that stamp in at 100 percent. That said, they only contain ground and refined cocoa beans, and the trick for the chocolate makers is to bring out the natural flavors of these beans to make them not only edible but also enjoyable. The best – like those from Fruition and Pralus – are far from making chocolate. I urge you to try a 100 percent bar for Valentine’s Day: you might find your true love.

But don’t forget the white chocolate either.

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