Food for Thought

a colorful arrangement of vegetables

Image by: Enri Endrian

Sometimes when people hear the words, “vegan” or “vegetarian”, it tends to frighten them to even momentarily consider a life without eating meat. A life without the luxury of hamburgers, steak and more, but for me this wasn’t frightening it was my entire childhood. I was a vegetarian for over fifteen years; my diet was mostly beans, nuts, soy-based protein products, fruits, vegetables, and grains. Yet so many people couldn’t understand or even try to fathom this lifestyle because of their love for meat-based meals. Meat is simply too valuable for them to give up, whereas most of their favorite dishes were those I had yet to taste or even have the pleasure of cooking.

Although, I now eat meat, I have a greater appreciation for all types of food, which I credit to being a vegetarian. I can enjoy many varieties of meals because of my flexible palate. I am now taking an art of vegetarian cuisine course at the college and it has added to my knowledge of vegetarian and vegan cooking. It is wonderful and reminds me of my childhood. I am no longer a full vegetarian because I was having some health concerns, I was not receiving enough protein to convert to the amount of energy I needed per day. Protein is one of the many reasons that vegetarians and vegans struggle in their dietary lifestyles, it can be difficult to eat enough protein that functionally needed for our bodies. If a chicken breast has twenty grams of protein, in order to equal as much in a meatless product you will probably have to eat more than one serving of tofu or beans. Grains help such as quinoa, which are not only high in protein but also a high source of fiber.

While being a vegetarian or vegan is difficult, it’s slowly gaining more attention. Still though there are not many food options at restaurants that support this diet, unless of course, you want to enjoy a salad every single time you dine out. I do not regret being a vegetarian at all, as it is what made me develop a greater love for food and how it’s prepared. However for more than half of my life I was a vegetarian and now I consume meat products and I wonder how much of a surprise that can be for someone who has always consumed meat and decides to become a vegan/vegetarian.

I wanted to share this video below with all of you; it is about butchers trying vegan and vegetarian food for the first time. They had many complaints in terms of taste, quality, and texture.

Comment below about your views of veganism/vegetarianism as well as if you would want to be a vegan/vegetarian? If so or not, why? How would you transition into this lifestyle? And have you ever tried vegan/vegetarian food?

How About Kill-Free Meat?

three raw steaks on a cutting boards

Image by: barış can

Have you ever wondered about how that hamburger you’re eating was created?  Or about the type of cows used? How about what those cows consumed before being used as meat for the production of that single hamburger? Do you care how animals are slaughtered and how the meat is distributed? How about the living conditions of the animals before they’re slaughtered for consumption?

Well, you may be surprised; it is always a risk to eat or prepare a meal with any type of meat in it. The quality of it may seem certain but some risks go unnoticed, such as, specific bacteria that can cause harmful viruses like E. coli et cetera. Scientists have created a revolutionary solution for this by creating a kill-free meat variety, which will create different types of meat while excluding the reality of slaughtering animals for our consumption.

A company by the name of Memphis Meats has created an entire business based off of kill-free meats. This is done by them manufacturing meat in a laboratory as they utilize the animal cells by feeding them with oxygen and a slew of specific nutrients (i.e. sugar and minerals) in order to ‘grow’ meat. The duration in which it takes to harvest the meat can range from nine to twenty-one days before it is ready to be used. They believe this practice is more sustainable in significantly reducing the death of animals for human consumption.

Memphis Meats has claimed that the kill-free meat will still cost the same, average amount of regularly consumed meats. And taste testers have said that the cultured meat tastes delicious and taste just like meat from an actual animal. The cultured meat is supposedly more sustainable than animal meats, even organics ones, as it eliminates the entire slaughtering process by ‘creating’ the meat.

The whole idea sounds nice but would you be okay with consuming laboratory-made meat? It sounds very similar to the Mondo Burger from Good Burger (a great and hilarious movie, I would suggest you watch it if you haven’t already) where they used chemicals to make the burgers bigger and more appealing while adding an addictive quality to it.

Comment below with your own opinions for this progression in the meat world for the future.

Tofu, Anyone?

As many of you know I’m majoring in Hospitality Management. This major allows us to have a hands-on approach to the hospitality industry by offering a variety of lab classes that include cooking, baking, or serving to the guests that visit the Janet Lefler Dining Room. This semester I am taking The Art of Vegetarian Cuisine and it is truly amazing to learn about the substitute ingredients that are being used to make the evolution of this particular diet possible.

I was actually a vegetarian for fifteen years and found that while it was extremely unique and healthy from a culinary perspective, as I got older I realized that I was lacking nutrients and that would leave me feeling fatigued very easily from simple daily tasks. Yet, it has allowed me to have a vast palate when it comes to different cuisines and I have a huge love for fruits and vegetables as well as what they do for our bodies.

Last week, we had the pleasure of studying plant based proteins for vegetarians/vegans; their diet lacks valuable proteins as well as vitamins that would naturally be found in animal products so these nutrients must be absorbed from other foods. Tofu as well as tempeh and seitan which are high in protein due to the nutrients present in the plants but are transformed into a more meat-like product.

I was able to make seitan last week as well as make tofu from scratch and the process has allowed me to have a better appreciation for vegetarian cuisine. The process was eye-opening to the fact that meatless proteins are created in many different ways and truly utilize the specific ingredient.

Homemade Tofu Recipe


2 quarts soy milk

Coagulant (Choose one of the following):

2 tsp. Terra Alba aka Gypsum (Calcium Sulphate) or

1 tsp. Nigari Flakes (Magnesium Chloride) or

1/2 tsp. Liquid Nigari (Magnesium Chloride)


Boil the soy milk for 5 minutes and then let it cool to 160-175°F (70-80°C) degrees.

If you are making soy milk using a soy milk maker, there is no need to boil the milk again.

Dissolve the coagulant of your choice in a cup of warm water–do not let it set too long!

Mix the water and coagulant mixture into the hot soy milk. Gently stir the milk but do not over mix. Allow the mixture to sit undisturbed for 15-25 minutes.

While the mixture sits, small white curds will separate from amber colored liquid.

Once the process is complete, transfer the curds into a molding container lined with cheesecloth or a similar fabric. Fold the fabric over the curds and place a small weight on top to begin pressing out the liquid.  Allow the mixture to be pressed by the weight for 20-30 minutes or until it holds together. Remove the block of tofu from the mold.

If you don’t plan to consume the tofu the same day that you make it, store it in a container filled with cold water in the refrigerator. Change this soaking water daily until you consume your tofu.

Makes a little less than a pound of tofu.

the production of tofu being drained

Image by: Brianna Vasquez

Tips for Making Tofu

The amount of coagulant used will influence the texture of the final product: For instance, more coagulant will produce firmer tofu, while less coagulant will produce softer tofu.

If you plan to consume the tofu within 24 hours of it being made, there is no need to store it in water.

To give the tofu a more fibrous texture, cover the tofu in water in a seal-able container and place in the freezer.  Thaw when ready to use.

Adapted from CulturesForHealth

Comment below the vegetarian meals that you enjoy. Or the ones you wish to try in the future. But I encourage trying vegetarian food at least a few times, it truly is an exciting experience and if done correctly you will be astounded by the results.

Roasted Chickpea & Broccoli Burrito


Every year, right before the school year begins, my mom goes on a “meat-less” diet. Let’s just say, what mom says, goes! Don’t get me wrong, I always enjoy a savory vegetarian meal, but my mom tends to lack variety when she’s pressed for time.

I was at a design client meeting, when somehow vegetarian meals came into topic. Let me be upfront when I say I am not a fan of tofu if it looks, tastes, or smells like tofu. My client mentions how she made garbanzo beans taste like chicken! WHAT, WAIT, PAUSE! Needless to say, I had to try it. As well as give mom a break in the kitchen.


3 cups of cooked chickpeas  (2-15 ounce cans, drained)

1 large yellow onion

1 red bell pepper

1 large crown of broccoli

4 cloves of garlic

1 lime


spice blend:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 tablespoons soy sauce, tamari, or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (You can usually find this near the vinegars or soy sauces)

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander or more cumin if you don’t want to go to the store

black pepper or cayenne pepper to taste



  • Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Chop up the onion, bell pepper, and broccoli so that all the pieces about the size of a chickpea. Chop up the garlic into small pieces, but save it until later.
  • Place all the chopped up veggies in a large bowl with the cooked chickpeas. Pour in the oil and soy sauce, stir, and then throw all the spices in there. Mix until everything is coated.
  • Put all of that on a large rimmed baking sheet (like what you would put cookies on but with an edge) and bake for 20 minutes. Take it out of the oven, add the garlic, and bake for another 15 minutes. The broccoli will look a little burnt at this point but that is the plan so  take it out of the oven.
  • Squeeze the juice of half of the lime over the pan and stir the roasted chickpeas and veggies all around. Taste some and see if it needs more spices or anything. Now here’s your filling, make a  burrito! I like mine with spinach, avocado, cilantro, and some chipotle sauce.

Notes: makes 6-8 burritos

a wrap sandwich

Photo © Deb Lindsey