I love coffee! My morning does not seem complete if I do not have a cup of coffee, preferably good coffee. Everyone who drinks coffee has their favorite brand, coffee shop, preparation method, etc. My preference is Ethiopian beans from Java at the Market, freshly ground and made in a french press. I add a scoop of carob and a grind of nutmeg for extra flavor. I was telling this to someone recently and when I said carob, she said “oh, the fake chocolate.” That took me aback because carob is NOT fake chocolate. Carob is real carob. Yes, carob powder looks like cocoa powder and can be used in similar ways but it is not fake. It is simply carob. I get a little annoyed when people say vegetarian or vegan foods are fake anything.
I understand that it is easier to label foods in a way that people will understand what to expect, but please do not call it fake. One food that has broken through this stigma is dairy free milk. Today when you use the term milk you could be referring to anything made from almonds, soy, rice, hemp and, yes, cows. Milk has become a generic term used to define a process rather than a product. Last I checked all the milks I mentioned are real, not fake. Cheese is starting to follow the same path. Cheese can be made from soy, nuts, nutritional yeast or vegetables. If you look up the definition for cheese it usually includes an entry that says cheese can refer to something that resembles dairy cheese. Again, not fake. The point I am trying to make is that even if a food is referred to as something familiar to most people but made from unfamiliar ingredients, it doesn't mean it is fake. Using customary terms to describe food is easier than coming up with strange new words. Google vegan cheese and you get weird names like Teese, Sheese, Cheezly, etc. Seriously? If you say cashew cheese, I know what to expect. But what is Jeezini? That just makes it sound fake! Of course there are always exceptions. People get very touchy when you refer to anything as bacon that is not made from a pig. I refer to my alternatives as smoked, such as smoked tofu or smoked tempeh. For more thoughts on this topic, refer to my blog from last year, Ingredients.
Now I am going to move from fake to false, as in false claims on cereal boxes. At Thanksgiving my sister and I were reminiscing about our favorite sugar cereals from when we were young. Mine was Cap’n Crunch. Last week my husband and I were in the cereal aisle at Wegmans and decided to check out some labels. We compared Cap’n Crunch to Quaker’s Peach Apple Medleys. Then we checked out two of Wegman’s brand, Chocolaty Corn Crunch and Fitness Crunch. Check these out (you might have to zoom in. I was so outraged I took bad photos!):
The cereals that were being marketed as “healthy” have more sugar and calories than their decadent sounding counterparts! Moral of today’s blog: Look beyond the labels and choose wisely!
Since I mentioned vegan cheeses, here are a couple links to recipes I have shared that use cashews and tofu as bases for cream and cheese. I also used cashews to make a dessert and appetizer. I have only tried one commercial vegan cheese, Daiya Cheddar Slices. They are okay. I don't like how much oil they have in them so I choose not to use them. I do eat dairy cheese but try to stick to ones made with vegetarian rennet, an ingredient in cheese that is usually sourced from cows.
Today’s recipe is my go-to for making smoky tofu. I use it in sandwiches, on top of pasta or rice and on salads. It is a little messy to make, but not difficult. I often double it to use the whole package of tofu.
1/2 block tofu, drained and pressed (see note at bottom) and sliced into strips
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons Bragg Amino Acids (or low sodium soy sauce or tamari)
Scant teaspoon Liquid Smoke
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
To press tofu, wrap in clean kitchen towel, place a baking pan on top and put a couple heavy cans on top of that. I use boxes of broth, large tomato cans, a cast iron skillet or a 1/2 gallon of milk. Let sit for 10-15 minutes.