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The Fusion Cook

Homemade Apple Chips

Apple pie and apple crisp are cherished American classics. However, if you have ever actually prepared one of these dishes yourself, then you probably know the feeling of looking down at a healthy pile of apple skins, not knowing quite what to do with them. While commonly accepted as an undesired byproduct, for some of us, throwing away food just doesn’t sit right.

Well, now there is a solution: apple chips! Apple chips can me easily made at home, are cheap, and are a huge crowd-pleaser. The chips are excellent served alongside Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus, or frankly anything savory. The are also a great alternative to regular fried potato chips for a healthy snack.

Below, I have shared my recipe for this tasty treat! Per the instructions, the chips are designed to be slightly chewy. If you prefer them more crispy, you should bake them for a shorter period of time at a higher temperature, about 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes.
Delicious, healthy apple chips!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups apple peels or thinly cut apples
  • 1 /2 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Mix together bourbon and brown sugar in a medium bowl
  3. Stire in the apples
  4. Spread the covered apples evenly over a cookie sheet
  5. Sprinkle apples with cinnamon
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes, until sufficiently crisp.
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes, and enjoy!

So You Want to Go Vegetarian

What Can Vegetarians Eat?

“What are you even going to eat anymore? Meat is everything. Bacon is everything.”

That was my younger brother’s instantaneous reaction to him learning that I decided to make the move to a meat-free diet five years ago.

However, meat is far from ‘everything’! In fact, I have found that not consuming meat actually opens your eyes to countless delicious vegetarian options, never before considered. There are countless substitutes that can take place of bacon, chicken, or almost every other meat-related product you may be craving. There is an endless variety of food items that can come together to make up an incredibly diverse meal plan with just a little creativity.

Since vegans and vegetarians are voluntarily removing direct sources of nutrients such as iron, B12, calcium, and other nutrients, we consciously make sure to provide ourselves with appropriate nutritional substitutions.

Dr. Kathy Pollard, the owner of The Wellness Forum and certified instructor of plant-based nutrition explains that when done in a healthy manner, “a whole food plant-based diet offers all of the nutrients needed to maintain health and resolve most chronic diseases.”

But what about protein? Dr. Pollard continues:

“Whole plant foods contain the protein, complex carbohydrate, fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants in the correct ratios for health, vitality, immune function, and cell maintenance.”

A healthy vegetarian diet is diverse, and provides your body the essential nutrients needed to thrive. But enough broad talk, let’s get to some recommendations.

“Love homemade baked tofu. Vegetarian chills and stews are easy,” recommends Dr. Melissa Pickell, a registered dietitian. “Sunshine Burgers are a whole foods veg burger that are frozen and convenient…just sunflower seeds, brown rice and veggies, pretty clean. Almond butter. Steel-cut oats. Make homemade hummus. Keep cans (BPA-free) of black beans and chickpeas on hand. Love collard wraps.”

Other numerous grub ideas include eggplant-based meals, vegetable based pasta dishes, grilled portabella mushrooms burgers, vegetarian pizzas, veggie stir-fries and stews, quiche, and the endless possibilities that come with tofu.

Growing demand has led grocery stores to expand their stock of vegan and vegetarian products. For instance, several grocery stores now offer customers a variety of different products including everything from meat-free lunchmeat, dairy-free ice cream, and even faux hot dogs. Check out PETA’s Favorite Vegan Substitutes for extensive list of delicious, cruelty-free alternatives.

Specifically, some brands that carry these types of products include: Daiya Foods, VeggieLand, Boca Foods, Silk, Tofutti, and countless others.

For those times that you’re not in the mood to cook or out with friends, most restaurants typically have at least some vegetarian options. In fact, there actually are over 5,000 vegetarian and vegan specialized restaurants across the nation.

Fear not meat-free participators: between basic food groups, vegetarian and vegan friendly food brands, restaurants and health food stores, and a little imagination, vegetarian food options are nearly endless!

The Fusion Cook

Peanut Butter and Jelly All Classed Up, Crostini Style

Who doesn’t love peanut butter and jelly?

It’s a classic combination, the sweet tart jelly is a perfect counter to the nuttiness of the peanut butter, with the acidity making a crisp cut through the natural oils of the peanuts. In fact, this same acidic versus fatty dynamic is what makes wine and cheese go so well together also.

While I love my PB and J, I tend to shy away from serving these delectable little sandwiches to guests. I guess that when I’m trying to have an elegant wine night with the ladies, I don’t want to be evocative of lunch hour alongside the elementary school playground.

Frustrated and determined, I thought to myself that there must be a way to serve the PB and J in a classed up kind of way. A way to have my sandwich and eat it too. And so from this concept was born a new breed of appetizer: the PB and J crostini.
PB&J has never been so fancy

Directions:

1. Prepare the bread – slice and toast the baguette, lightly oil if desired.
2. Spread the peanut butter over the crostini.
3. Finally carefully add a dollop of.jam over the peanut butter.

If you want to take the PB and J to another level of elegance, don’t back down! Any kind of nut butter is a great match for a fruit-based jam because the acidity of the fruit is a great contrast to the fattiness of a nut-butter. Here are some quick suggestions to impress on your friends with a global take on the classic PB and J!

Tahini Spread with Raspberry Jam: Tahini spread is made with sesame seeds and is about the same consistency as peanut butter. It tastes a bit more mild, and so the crisp flavor of the raspberries will shine through.

Almond butter with Fig Jam: Almond flavor and figs go very well together in French pastries; this remains true and manifests very nicely on crostini!

Macadamia Nut Butter and Guava Jam:
A delicious & unexpected, tropical twist on PB and J. Perhaps my favorite!

The Fusion Cook

Fusion: It’s a Beautiful Thing

Fusions are a beautiful thing. Here’s a short list of some of my favorite fusions:

  • Puggle (Pug + Beagle)
  • The New Mini Cooper (sporty + cute)
  • Mumford and Sons (rock + folk)

And of course…

  • FOOD FUSIONS

As something of a fusion myself (I’m half Japanese and half Jewish), growing up mixed has shown me that unexpected combinations of features, or “ingredients,” can offer a lot of unique and valuable experiences.

Take a look at this National Geographic image, Changing Faces of America. It does a great job of conveying what I feel.

A combination of unexpected features (those eyes with that hair?!) can lead people to feel intrigued or unsettled, or sometimes even both.

Not to minimize the complex issue of America’s multiracial landscape, but when I cook from a multiracial perspective, I get the same reactions! (Those spices with that dish?!) Sometimes people are intrigued. Or unsettled. Or both.

The truth is a lot of the time people don’t know how to react to what they’re not used to seeing. But once their eyes adapt, I think it’s safe to say that we can all see the beauty in how contrasting features (or flavors) can actually be startling in a very positive way.

In my opinion, claiming that, “those two cuisines could never harmonize!” is just as blasphemous as saying, “those races could never go together!”

In fact, my own mother was dubious when I talked about creating a series of Japanese-Jewish dishes. But, once I cooked up a few recipes for my family, her mind was changed and her outlook altered.

Without further adieu, here are a few Japanese-Jewish recipes I have come up with so far from my blog, MeltingGrape.com

Japanese-Jewish Latkes

Edamame Hummus

Israeli-Japanese Cous Cous Salad

Bagel and Lox Sushi Style

So You Want to Go Vegetarian

Part 2: ‘Vegetarian’ – What Does That Even Mean?

Whether you are interested in cutting down on the amount of meat in your diet, removing all meat from your diet, or even removing all animal-based products from your life, adopting a whole foods, plant-based vegetarian diet can offer a variety of health and lifestyle benefits.

But what does it even mean to be a vegetarian?

Generally, a vegetarian diet excludes meat products. It is a meal plan that is made up of plant-based foods including vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and seeds, and can include a variety of animal products including dairy.

If you are interested in removing specific types of meat from your diet, cutting back on your carnivorous ways, or are simply looking to make the transition to a meat-free diet slowly, taking on a ‘semi’ or ‘partial vegetarian’ diet initially may be the way to go.

In addition to plant-based foods, a semi-vegetarian diet often include eggs, fish, as well as specific types of meat selected by the individual. For instance, as a partial vegetarian, you may cut out all forms of meat including beef, pork, and lamb, yet wish to keep chicken in your diet.

A pescetarian diet is a regime of plant-based food that excludes any form of meat with the exception of fish. If you can do without meat, but love yourself some seafood, adopting a pescatarian diet may be the diet for you.

If you are willing to cut out all forms of meat and fish, a ovo-lacto vegetarian diet may be the most suitable for you. This form of vegetarianism is a meal plan that is made up of plant foods, dairy products, and eggs. In other words, if you can’t quite part with your daily two egg omelet or hot out of the oven chocolate chip cookies, that’s okay!

If you are ready to say goodbye to eggs, a lacto-vegetarian diet has your name written all over it! As you may have guessed, this diet includes plant-based foods as well as dairy products. Can’t live without your two favorite men, Ben & Jerry? No worries!

While vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry, vegans take that one step further by removing all animal-processed foods and other items from their diet. Eggs, dairy, honey, leather, leather, fur, and other cosmetics and soaps made up of animal products are excluded from the vegan lifestyle. Vegans recognize that humans can live happy and healthier without necessitating animal suffering.

Whether you are willing to remove all, some, or most meat and animal products, there is no “right” way to adopt a vegetarian diet – it’s all about comfort and customization.

Any reduction in meat consumption is great for your health, the environment, and the animals suffering.

Learn more about the reasons to switch at ChooseVeg.com

ChooseVeg is an amazing resource for those considering the switch, funded by Mercy For Animals, a non-profit.

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