Archive for the ‘Food to Try’ Category

Quinoa in the news


Surely you’ve discovered quinoa by now –you know to pronounce it keen-wa and that it’s a grain. You may even know that technically it’s not really a grain, but let’s not get caught up in nomenclature. It looks like a grain, it cooks like a grain (only faster), but it does have an advantage: more protein, amino acids, and other nutrients than most actual grains.

Quinoa garnered some headlines last month when an article in Britain’s paper The Guardian claimed that our appetite for it has driven up the price in its home countries of Peru and Bolivia. Junk food is now cheaper there, the author claimed. We’re shocked, shocked, to learn that junk food is cheaper than healthier food – that surely couldn’t happen here, could it?

This article called attention to a real problem (rich countries benefiting from the foodstuffs of poor countries) but the headline was, in my opinion, just a cheap shot at vegans. As Tom Philpott of Mother Jones points out, carnivores eat quinoa, too. And it can be grown in other places, including in the U.S. Check out his article here for the rest of the rebuttal. Let me just add that the production and export of foods from poor countries unfortunately affects a wide range of foods, including meat and seafood.


Wonderful recipe

veg burger lg









Dear friends,

Please accept this as a belated holiday gift! My niece forwarded this recipe to me, which was very thoughtful, since she is a carnivore. Surely one of the best ways we can welcome our carnivore friends and family to the world of compassionate eating is to tempt them with such delicious and versatile dishes.

Quinoa patties

Cook 1 1/2 cups quinoa in 3 cups water with 1/2 tsp salt for 25 -30 minutes.

Place in a large bowl and add:
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs (whole grain if you have them)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
4 large organic genuinely free-range eggs (or ½ cup mashed silken tofu)
1 medium onion very finely minced
1-2 cloves garlic minced (optional)
1/3 cup chopped chives (chopped green onions also work)

Mix together well.  In a non-stick skillet heat 1 tbsp olive oil to low medium heat.

With wet hand place, about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of mix in pan and lightly flatten into cake to about 1/2 inch thick.   Fry till golden brown, then flip and do the same on second side. Heat may need to be turned down as pan gets hot. Take off heat while adding additional patties to avoid burning.

These can be refrigerated and microwaved when needed. At room temperature, they make good snacking, too, as my carnivore husband showed me.

If you know the author of this recipe, please let the rest of us know, so we can send to him or her some appreciation and fame!

All those food labels

We’re lucky that our food has been labeled for many nutritional facts for decades. (Of course, it took a big battle to get a law in place to require labeling). I’m old enough to remember when you had no idea what was inside that soup can or cereal box.

For the last 15 years, the labeling fight has moved to other health issues such as salt, sugar, and additives. Even more recently, justice for humans, animals, and ecosystems has taken front page, so we can put our dollars where our morals are.

Well, that’s the hope, anyway. Unfortunately, manufacturers try to dilute this movement by using meaningless words like “natural” or giving false reassurance with phrases like “cage free.” As a result, some labels are truer and more meaningful than others. Earthwatch Institute put up a wonderful page not long ago with detailed assessment of 27 labels.

Here are some of the labels they consider reliable:


Certified Humane Raised and Handled

USDA Certified Organic

Country of Origin

Dolphin-Safe from Earth Island Institute

Fair Trade Certified

Marine Stewardship Council

Rainforest Alliance Certified

Salmon Safe

And here are some that are questionable or frankly misleading:

Cage Free

Grass Fed

Hormone Free

Natural  or  All Natural

Pasture Raised

I encourage you to visit the Earthwatch page to get the details! That way, we can all support the genuine earth-friendly food producers and avoid the fakers.

Food Day – join the second annual celebration

Last year, the Center for Science in the Public Interest launched Food Day, a harvest-season counterpart to Earth Day, to honor food that is healthy for person and planet. Thousands of events were held around the country on or around the official day October 24, from potluck dinners to picnics and teach-ins.

This year, over 100 events are scheduled to happen around the Bay Area, not counting ones that have already occurred. In Lafayette, we chose October 14 to celebrate the first harvest in our town’s community garden.

Here are some upcoming events you might consider attending:

Tomorrow, Sunday October 21, from noon to 4 pm, Oakland’s Tassafaronga Park, 975 85th Ave Oakland, CA 94621   Live music, recipe exchange, cooking demonstration, jam-making workshop, documentaries, and more. Created byActa Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project (ANV) and California Food and Justice Coalition (CFJC).

Oakland is offering a stunning variety of Food Day events!  Sunday you can also learn about GMOs at Oliveto Restaurant, 5655 College Avenue, Oakland, from 1 pm to 3 pm.

Tuesday, from 1.30 to 6 pm Produce market at Franklin Elementary School, 915 Foothill Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606. “The Oakland Farms-to-Schools program brings affordable fresh produce to public schools in East Oakland. The program is collaboration between the Oakland Unified School District and the Oakland Farms-to-School Network.”

Wednesday, the General Services Administration will offer green smoothies, a health coach, the CSA Farm Fresh to You, and a screening of the critically acclaimed HBO documentary Weight of the Nation. Can Can Cleanse will give away samples of their fresh juice. Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate Ave, 1st floor lobby, San Francisco, CA 94102

This is just a tiny sample of all the events going on around the Bay Area this coming week to celebrate healthy food. Find one near you  here.

This weekend – World Vegetarian Day in San Francisco

This weekend in Golden Gate Park, the annual World Vegetarian Day will be celebrated. I’ve been to these events for years, and am always delighted to meet so many people who are choosing a healthy, compassionate lifestyle. Not to mention the tasty dishes, books, workshops, recipes, and much more. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, you are most welcome to attend.

Proposition 37 will be addressed, too. I’ll be speaking about it at 2.45 on Saturday, complete with slides, facts, and myth-busting. Once you learn the grim truth about how GMOs are harming our bodies and environment, you’ll be thrilled to learn the power of Proposition 37 and its countless supporters.

And if you like bluegrass music, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival is also being held in Golden Gate Park this weekend, so you can stroll over there after filling your tummy and mind with wonderful vegetarian options!

Be sure to allow extra time for travel and parking – there will be lots of activity in SF this weekend!

 When and Where: San Francisco County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park
1199 Ninth Avenue. Entrance at 9th Avenue at Lincoln Way, next to the Arboretum
$10 at Gate; Free for Children under 12, Students with ID, & Seniors over 65

Featured Events:
Children’s Corner, Green Lifestyle Film Festival, Healthy Food Demos with Recipes & Samples, International Speakers & Workshops, Live Entertainment, Vegan Cuisine to sample or buy, Urban Gardening.
Catered Vegan Dinners: Saturday & Sunday, 6:45 p.m. $26 each
Advance reservations:

How sustainable can a restaurant get?







A friend treated me to dinner at a restaurant she loves in Santa Rosa, enticing me with praise of all the things the owner was doing to meet the highest standards of health for person and planet. So after my author appearance at the Sonoma County Book Festival, we went to a place called Goji Kitchen. On the menu you can find a wide range of offerings, including meat dishes, but best of all, lots of vegetarian and vegan options. So there was gold star number one – going meatless is the best thing you can do for the planet.

The owner is named Kim Chi (not to be confused with the spicy Korean sauerkraut), who described one unusual and surprising cooking choice. She never uses a microwave, believing that microwaves damage the nutritional qualities of foods heated in them. This decision to forego one of modernity’s handiest inventions is impressive, given the complexities of serving numerous dishes hot over a meal time that might last hours. Instead, she uses a steaming chamber.

Another innovation was something called Nordaq Fresh, a device that purifies water on site to a high standard. Thomas Keller of the French Laundry restaurant uses it, too. I personally couldn’t tell a taste difference, but these days we need all the purity we can get!  Kim Chi also spoke knowledgeably about gluten sensitivities, the aflatoxin in peanuts (which is why she uses almonds for a garnish), and more.

So if you’re looking for a restaurant where you can trust that the owner/chef is committed to health of people and planet, here is one in Santa Rosa I recommend that you visit.  Goji Kitchen, 1965 Mendocino Avenue, Santa Rosa, 95401  (707) 523 3888.

Books and food, a perfect combination

First, the books. This week, the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library holds its semi-annual book sale at Fort Mason’s Festival Pavilion. More than 500,000 used books, CDs, books on tape, etc., will be available at amazing prices from Wednesday September 19 to Sunday September 23, 10 am to 6 pm. I went to the spring version of this event and was ecstatic to corral and take home a trove of goodies. You’ll doubtless find many books on food, recipes, growing vegetables, and more. So foodies and sustainable food and agriculture lovers will (going out on a limb here) have plenty to satisfy their curiosity.

Second, the food. Greens is a restaurant at Fort Mason that has been offering delicious vegetarian meals and takeaway baked goods since 1979. Greens is affiliated with the Zen centers at Green Gulch and Tassajara and has always focused on organic, local, and sustainable. And of course, vegetarian means low on the food chain, which is good for person and planet. Here are a few items from Green’s menu this week:

  •  Star Route Wilted Spinach Salad with DeVoto Jonathan apples, golden and chioggia beets, Point Reyes Original Blue, shallots, cider vinegar and hot olive oil
  •  Ricotta Corn Cakes with asiago, scallions and basil. Served with romesco, crème fraiche and herb salad
  •  Fire Roasted Poblano Chili with quinoa, white corn, grilled onions, cilantro, goat cheese, pumpkin seed cilantro salsa and crème fraiche. Served with salsa roja, Rancho Gordo beans, grilled zephyr squash with chipotle lime butter
  • Eggplant and Summer Squash Lasagne with leeks, pesto, Cowgirl Creamery Wagon Wheel, ricotta herb custard and San Marzano tomato sauce. Served with summer beans with shallots and pepper flakes

The menus at Greens are good reading themselves!  So before or after your visit to the Fort Mason book sale, you can recharge your batteries nearby with wonderful works of food artistry at Greens.