May 28, 2021 5 min read
The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur’s contributors are their own.
For many of us, growing up, cake was something that came out of a box. Baking mixes made freshly baked goods an option even in busy households with working parents, and simplifying the whole process also made baking more kid-friendly.
If you’re someone trying to eat healthy these days, boxed cake and muffin mixes are likely not a staple of your diet. This is especially true for vegans and people with other specific nutritional needs such as gluten-free or low-sugar. Not everyone has a grocery store within easy reach, and many grocery store baking departments haven’t even dreamed of having specialty items available. This means that if you’re looking to get a birthday cake for someone on an alternative diet, chances are you’ll be baking it yourself from scratch. Good luck choosing a recipe from the huge numbers on the internet.
For those of us who aren’t regular Betty Crockers, it’s great to see the tides change. Several plant-based alternative food companies are bridging the gap between convenient, easy-to-use home baking and vegan home baking, bringing products to market that provide consumers with the simple experience they grew up with while meeting their modern nutritional expectations .
One such brand is Lehi Mills, a wheat milling company that has operated in Utah for over a century. Lehi Mills is committed to the tradition of making quality wheat products, but it’s clearly not against growing over time: the company sells vegan brownie, raspberry muffin and pancake mixes. The mixes all contain minimal, identifiable ingredients, including sodium bicarbonate as a riser, eliminating the need for eggs. Lehi is proof that packaged food can be healthy, high quality and vegan at the same time.
Nobody piles up with you
Kodiak is another Utah-based brand that makes baking mixes. Their core product is the pancake-waffle mixture, which they of course also offer on a plant-based basis. Given Kodiak’s commitment to wildlife and conservation, this is not surprising. A portion of all profits will be donated to programs that preserve Kodiak bear habitats (hence the name). The herbal blend also features whole grain oat and wheat flour and contains 12 grams of protein per serving. Who said pancakes couldn’t be a healthy breakfast?
Another pancake option comes from vegan chef Ed Harris, whom you may know from Chopped and Iron Chef International. You don’t have to be a master baker or chef to recreate his recipes, however, as he recently released a new “brunch mix” that can be used to make waffles and pancakes. Harris has published an entire cookbook devoted to vegan breakfast, but luckily for us, the brunch mix couldn’t be easier – just add water or milk of your choice.
Related: How the humble chickpea stormed snack and dessert markets
Brownie points, anyone?
Blue Diamond, the company known for its almond products, has just released some quick baking solutions. They used almond flour instead of wheat and debuted mixes for brownies, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake, and yellow cakes, all of which can be made vegan with an egg substitute like flax. If your sweet tooth calls, but you really only have a minute to spare, you’re in luck: soon they’ll also be bringing out a 60-second cup brownie with cubed almonds that is vegan-friendly too.
If you’re looking for a simple treat for school events or children’s birthdays, Partake makes baking mixes that are vegan, gluten-free, and free of the eight best allergens. They make a complete brownie mix – just add the water and oil – as well as a five-in-one baking mix that can be used as a base for cakes, pancakes, muffins, and other baked goods. No matter who you feed, Partake’s allergy-friendly mixes make it easy to cater to people with special dietary needs.
Related: Pour the Vegan Milk: Breakfast Cereals Pivot To Plant-Based, High-Protein, Low-Sugar Options
I don’t have a muffin
When you’re ready to step up your breakfast and dessert game, Okina is an independent brand that makes it easy to put exciting culinary creations on the table. All of their blends are vegan and gluten free. In addition to the basic mix of muffin and bread, they offer a baking base for banana chocolate chips, pumpkin spices, zucchini double chocolate and carrot and currant masala. Not only is Okina delicious, but it also boasts of sourcing ingredients exclusively from farms that use sustainable and regenerative practices.
And finally, a long-time favorite vegan brand has taken another step towards convenience: Follow Your Heart is now selling ready-to-cook pancake and waffle batter. There is even no need to add water. Your “Rocket Cake” mix can be poured straight from the bottle into a pan. That means less time, less dirty dishes and a light, airy breakfast.
Thanks to brands like this, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an entire production to prepare a vegan brunch. As plant-based foods grow in popularity, we’ll likely see more and more vegan-friendly (and allergy-friendly and nutritional-friendly) mixes in the oven. And for those of us who aren’t natural bakers or are just too busy to break out all of the ingredients, this is a great thing. Weekday muffins, pancakes, and brownies? Yes, please.
See also: Extra Schmear, please! Vegan cream cheese alternatives make for happy bagels
The hunt for New Zealand’s best meal kit delivery service
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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. “
“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. “
“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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10 Kale Pasta Dishes, from Spaghetti to Lasagne!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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:
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Types of Chocolate, Explained:
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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