Welcome to our second ever A Week in Food! If you missed last week's post explaining this new series, check it out here.
This week, we're covering everything you need to know about rhubarb, the easiest thing you can do to reduce food waste, a vegan baking tip and an important conversation around food and climate change. Oh, and a few last minute Cinco de Mayo recipes!
Seasonal ingredient of the week: Rhubarb
Around the age of six or seven, a family member gave me a slice of strawberry rhubarb pie at a July 4th barbecue. I specifically remember pushing it away in disgust. For whatever (ill-informed) reason, rhubarb was on my list of foods to avoid. Now that my tastes have matured, I can't imagine not loving rhubarb. It's slightly sour, tart and pairs perfectly with sweeter berries.
Rhubarb season is relatively short. Its peak season starts in April and ends in June, so by now, you should be able to find rhubarb in grocery stores or at a local farmers market. Look for rhubarb that's about 10 inches long and firm.
Did you know that rhubarb is actually a vegetable? In 1947, the US legally deemed rhubarb a fruit to reflect how most Americans were using it, but it’s actually a part of the buckwheat family. Another thing that's good to know when choosing rhubarb at the market is that color is not an indicator of ripeness or sweetness. Whether yours is pale pink or deep red, it should be just as tasty. Just don’t ever consume the leaves – they’re poisonous!
A few of our favorite ways to use rhubarb:
- Not in the mood to make a pie from scratch? Try this much easier & healthier Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp instead. (Bonus: it's gluten free and vegan!)
- These gluten free and vegan Raspberry Rhubarb Muffins are a great on-the-go breakfast or snack!
- Working on your mixology skills? Try this Strawberry Rhubarb Daiquiri or this Raspberry Rhubarb Margarita.
- Have lots of rhubarb to use? Make a big batch of Rhubarb Vanilla Chia Compote and use it on everything (toast, pancakes, yogurt, etc.).
- We love the idea of this Sweet Pickled Rhubarb from The Gourmet RD.
- This Roasted Rhubarb, Brie and Arugula Sandwich by Fork in the Road looks and sounds AMAZING. I might have to give it a try with some vegan cheese!
Food waste tip of the week: clean out your fridge ASAP!
This may sound like a no-brainer, but when was the last time you cleaned out your refrigerator? I mean, truly cleaned. As in removed everything, checked for expiration dates, disinfected and reorganized?
In an effort to reduce our food waste and our grocery bill, we try to fully clean out the fridge at least once a month, if not every week or two. It can be really easy to lose track of how many bottles of mustard you have in the back of the fridge or how many lemons are rolling around the bottom drawer. If you keep a clean fridge, it will be much easier to keep track of what you have and how quickly you need to use it before it goes bad.
Try to keep older produce and condiments towards the front of the shelves so you're more likely to use them up. Once you've done a thorough cleaning, it can be helpful to plan out a few upcoming meals using items that are close to expiration.
Need a refresher on which produce items to store in the fridge vs. pantry? Check out this helpful article.
Currently happening in the food industry
- Earlier this week, the NY Times published a great, comprehensive article on food and climate change. It covers the effects of various dietary choices on global warming, finding that meat and dairy are (by far) the worst offenders.
- Our take: Crowded Kitchen is a judgment-free zone. We respect all dietary choices. However, we also believe that climate change is arguably the most pressing global issue. By reducing meat and dairy consumption even just a little bit, you can actually make a huge difference. We're not saying you have to go vegan overnight (or even at all), but it's honestly quite easy to make a few swaps once or twice a week. We suggest taking a few minutes to thoroughly read through the article linked above - it's very informative!
- Finnish company Solar Foods is going beyond lab-raised proteins to "make protein out of air". Their new technology uses gas fermentation to make edible protein without water, fertilizer or much land. Read more here about the surprising way Solar plans to use their food products!
- Our take: I can't claim to fully understand the science behind making protein out of air, but props to Solar Foods for such fantastic innovation. Ideas like this have the power to entirely change the future landscape of the food industry, even if it takes years to become mainstream.
Vegan Baking Tip: Flax Eggs
Earlier this week, we shared a comprehensive tutorial on how to properly use flax eggs as a vegan egg replacement.
If you've never heard the term "flax egg", it's essentially a combination of ground flax seed and water, which creates a gelatinous paste that acts as a binding agent in baking recipes.
Last minute Cinco de Mayo recipes
We don't really celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but I'm always down for tacos + margaritas. Here are a few of our favorite recipes if you're planning to celebrate (but please also take a moment to check out this article on What Cinco de Mayo Really Means, From a Mexican).