March is here, and so is the promise of spring, warmer days, and greener surroundings. Anyone else excited about the new season’s arrival? 🙂
In the US, March is also known as National Nutrition Month, an annual campaign with an impressive history, which was created and promoted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. National Nutrition Month started in 1973 as National Nutrition Week, and it became a month-long observance in 1980 in response to growing interest in nutrition. During the month of March, “everyone is invited to learn about making informed food choices, and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits.”
The theme of this year’s National Nutrition Month is “Fuel for the Future.” As emphasized by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Eating with sustainability in mind is a tasty way to nourish ourselves during every phase of life and protect the environment.” The website also features a very useful list of 50 ideas to get involved in National Nutrition Month, such as organizing a food donation campaign, practicing mindful eating, and starting a school vegetable garden.
I have decided to contribute to National Nutrition Mind by posting a list of businesses that make delicious, good for you, sustainable products. I am honored to be able to support these companies, to the best of my abilities, and I invite you to check them out yourselves, and to support, as well 🙂
Last year I wrote about NoBull burgers, delicious handcrafted, 100% plant-based veggie burger patties made with organic quality ingredients, and lots of love for our planet. I am super excited to reveal that I am now a Nobull Burger Brand Ambassador!
NoBull Burger was born when Chef Crissanne Raymond started making veggie burgers to feed her young daughters. Soon, her burgers became very popular with her family and friends, and news of her awesome meatless patties spread around Charlottesville, VA. The rest was history, as they say!
These days, Chef Raymond’s vegan burger patties can be purchased from a variety of retailers nationwide, and they are available in 5 delicious gluten-free varieties: Original, Savory Mushroom, Sundried Tomato, Spicy Italian, and Madras Curry. As a lentil burger packed with 10g of protein and essential vitamins, NoBull is not meant to be a meat imitator, but a true, whole-food, real food veggie burger. I love that!
Last year I used NoBull Burger Savory Mushroom patties (made of organic green lentils, brown rice, quinoa, chia seeds, white and shiitake mushrooms, and spinach) to create a veggie burger. I started off by smearing the inside of a homemade bun with pesto, and I piled it high with some of my all-time favorite ingredients: onion, tomato, cucumber, sunflower microgreens, and red Swiss chard. Instead of cheese, I used a versatile creamy mix/topping made of sour cream, chopped sunflower microgreens and lovage, ketchup, and salt & pepper. The herb-packed notes of basil in the pesto and lovage in the creamy topping complemented the umami of the mushrooms in the patty beautifully, while the crunchiness of the (micro)greens added to the overall freshness and deliciousness of this excellent veggie burger.
Most recently, I used NoBull Sundried Tomato (made of organic green lentils, brown rice, onions, chia seeds, sun dried tomatoes, tomato paste, and spinach) and Spicy Italian patties (organic green lentils, brown rice, tomatoes, onions, spinach, sweet peppers, chia seeds, garlic, red pepper flakes, Italian herbs) in salads such as the one below:
This salad features radish champion and sunflower microgreens, fresh crunchy bell pepper, buttery avocado, spring onions, and a light lemon-based vinaigrette. Conveniently cooked in the air-fryer for 10 minutes and then torn into chunks, the NoBull Burger patties were the perfect addition to this bowl of delicious vegan goodness. I particularly enjoyed the fresh and vibrant flavors provided by the abundant mix of organic Italian herbs (oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, sage) in the patties.
Delicious, wholesome, gorgeous versatility!
NoBull prioritize health, wellness, and mental well-being through proper nutrition, and a commitment to sustainability. Stay tuned for more delicious dishes using NoBull Burger – coming up soon 🙂
Continuing my savory preparations, I recently collaborated with Jovial Foods to make the pasta salad below:
Jovial Foods was founded by Carla Bartolucci and her husband Rodolfo in 2010, after discovering that their daughter’s health issues were attributed to sensitivity to modern wheat and gluten. “Looking to the past for answers, they discovered a nearly extinct ancient grain called einkorn, nature’s original wheat. In einkorn, Carla and Rodolfo found a wheat their daughter could flourish with. They realized they had to bring einkorn back to help other families.” Carla and Rodolfo established the jovial brand to help address the many issues faced by those with food sensitivities. As stated on the company’s website, “Jovial is all about family, feeling good, celebrating life, and showing love with good food.”
Fast forward from the humble beginnings, nowadays Jovial creates allergen-friendly, ancient varietal, and artisan foods using traditional old world techniques, and their organic pastas, einkorn flour, crackers and cookies, beans, and jarred tomatoes are renowned for their high quality and wholesomeness.
To make the pictured pasta salad, I used Jovial Foods certified organic gluten-free brown rice mafalda pasta, which I mixed with pesto, garlicky buttery baby shrimp, bell pepper and corn, with tender homegrown microgreens and everything bagel seasoning as toppings.
The smooth texture of the wholesome pesto-packed pasta coupled with the crunchy, vibrant pepper and the sweet garlicky shrimp and corn created a very satisfying experience, in the spirit of National Nutrition Month- or so I think 🙂
La Brea Bakery
As you know, I am a big fan of sourdough breads, and I wrote about sourdough in the past. Sourdough-based breads are considered to be healthier than those made with normal dough, as well as higher in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The long and slow fermentation process provides unique flavor and visual appeal, and brings health benefits, such as lowering effect on blood glucose levels, making gluten more digestible, strengthening immunity, and keeping you fuller for longer (the latter thanks to the soluble fiber content). Equally important, sourdough breads are perfect for round the clock meals including breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and dessert, and they are a great choice to pair with cheese, beer, and wine.
While I continue to perfect my craft, and to add to my understanding of the art of sourdough making, I am pleased to know that there are delicious and nutritious sourdough offerings on the market, such as those made by La Brea Bakery.
La Brea Bakery was born in 1989, when the pastry chefs at Campanile Restaurant in Los Angeles could not find artisan bread good enough for the restaurant. Excited about the envisioned opportunities, the chefs “spent a year crafting the perfect recipe, creating bread with a caramelized, golden crust, soft inside and rustic appearance. The signature recipe resulted in such delicious artisan bread that they opened La Brea Bakery on La Brea Avenue.” Nowadays, La Brea Bakery enjoys nationwide distribution, and its reputation as an excellent purveyor and producer of quality breads is well established.
The secret to sourdough success lies in the starter, of course. The starter used by La Brea Bakery – “the signature ingredient in every single loaf of La Brea Bakery bread” – is made from scratch using flour, water, and wild yeasts from the skin of organic grapes.
I recently tried La Brea Bakery’s Country White Sourdough loaf, and I loved its sour flavor, hearty crumb, and a beautiful, golden crust. This loaf is non-GMO certified and vegan, and has no artificial additives or preservatives.
I used this hearty scrumptious bread to make several sandwiches. Below you have an open-faced sandwich with creamy goat cheese, sweet peppers and tomatoes, an abundance of microgreens, and a dash of extra virgin olive oil. The crispy-chewy texture of the sourdough was addictive – we found it very hard to stop eating this bread 🙂 The entire family loved it, and I loved the feeling of knowing they ate well. With so many daily tasks which need my constant attention, I don’t always have the energy to bake bread, and as such, I appreciate the delicious, wholesome convenience provided by La Brea Bakery.
You can check out La Brea Bakery’s website for extensive information on sourdough. La Brea Bakery is also celebrating National Sourdough Day on April 1st with delicious recipes and special promotions! Stay tuned for an upcoming giveaway on my Instagram channel to mark the occasion. All rise for sourdough? 🙌 Yes, please 🙂
Red Star Yeast
Key factors for fermentation, yeasts also possess other nutritional bonuses and properties worthy of interest for human health, such as preventing infectious diarrhea, treating mycosis, improving digestive comfort, and showcasing promising potential applications in dermatology and ophthalmology.
When I do get the chance to bake, I have a few bread recipes which use active dry yeast I absolutely love, which I have shared in the past. I store copious amounts of active dry yeast in my fridge, and I use it in breads as well as in a variety of sweet preparations (more on it below). Red Star Yeast has been my beloved baking ally over the years – I’m such a big fan that I usually buy it in bulk from The Restaurant Depot or Amazon. I recently sampled a variety of Red Star Yeast products, and I am super excited to show you what I made 🙂
To make the olive bread pictured below, I used the gloriously reviewed no knead recipe posted by Living Traditions Homestead on their YouTube channel, with the addition of chopped Kalamata olives. The brininess of the olives shining through beautifully in this rustic, crispy-chewy loaf, was something to behold.
You may remember that I have been trying to diversify my baked bread repertoire to incorporate a variety of flours. I saw several rye breads posted on social media, and my search for a recipe got renewed impetus, as a result. Up until that point, I had been meaning to make rye bread, but the recipes I had come across included ingredients I didn’t have in the pantry consistently. I just needed an approachable recipe, with relatively few ingredients, and easy potential substitutions – and I am happy to report that I have finally found it!
The rye bread recipe posted by Chef John Kirkwood on his YouTube channel has rave reviews, and I can see why: The ingredients are easy to find, the instructions are clear and straightforward, and the end result is incredible! The recipe featured treacle/blackstrap molasses. I used honey, and the bread turned out amazing, albeit not as dark as in the original YouTube video.
As you know, I love yeast in desserts, too, and I love homemade strudel 🙂 The vegan pumpkin & papaya strudel pictured below is a recent re-imagining of my family’s beloved strudel recipe, which I posted on the blog several years ago (you can find the version with pumpkin here and with ricotta here) I have simplified the required steps, while keeping the underpinning principles intact. For example, the dough is still sugar-free and yeast based, very economical since originally my family had a very limited number of ingredients at their disposal.
This version uses pumpkin pie spice in the filling for an abundance of warm fall flavors, gently sweetened by the homemade pumpkin puree and the papaya bits, a last-minute no-waste dried fruit addition. You can use any dried fruits, previously re-hydrated for 30 minutes in water or rum, if you so wish. This last step is not necessary, however, in my opinion, since the dried fruits get “soaked” in pumpkin puree during baking, and become moist and juicy anyway.
Are you celebrating National Nutrition Month? Let me know in the comments 🙂
*Disclaimer: While I received complimentary products to facilitate this review, all opinions expressed here are my own.