In Italy, the consumption of plant-based foods and drinks is increasingly trending herbal products assert themselves as protagonists of the shopping cart: they depopulate on the tables of vegans and vegetarians, but also and above all on those of the “flexitarians”, who choose them more and more often; and from the shelves of supermarkets they are also gaining starred kitchens, where the gourmet proposals of “veg” dishes are multiplying.
After the pandemic, the consumption of these products has not stopped growing: according to the IRI 2021 data, published by the group of herbal products of the Unione Italiana Food, it is estimated that the sector herbal, as a whole, last year recorded an increase of + 9.9%. A trend also confirmed during the first 6 months of 2022, during which the growth of the sector seems to have consolidated (+ 0.7%).
“THE herbal products they now cover many product categories, with an offer that satisfies everyone’s tastes and adapts to all times of the day,” says Salvatore Castiglione, President of the plant-based products group at Unione Italiana Food. “Consumers today are well informed and know the benefits of a varied and balanced diet rich in vegetables, grains, whole foods and fruits. Benefits not only for your own health, but also for that of the planet. This is why, in recent years, I have herbal products they have conquered many families, reaching approximately 22 million consumers. THE herbal they are children of our time, they are not a simple “fashion”. This does not mean that they will replace other foods in our diet, but the quantity and frequency of consumption will change, because there is room for everyone at the table,” concludes Castiglione.
Therefore, the Plant Products Group of Unione Italiana Food – the largest association of direct representation of product categories in the food sector in Italy and Europe – has provided an update on the situation in the sector. herbal and, thanks to the contribution of foodblogger Paolo Pedemonte, he has developed 4 specialties vegetarian recipes that explain how to combine and serve herbal productsto make the most of it, from breakfast to dinner.
A sector in constant growth: data
The success of the herbal products it is increasingly cross-functional: over the past year, different product categories that make up the sector have recorded excellent performances. In particular, in 2021, as confirmed by IRI data, burgers and plant-based ready meals reached +24.6%; vegetable drinks +9.6%; spoon products with lactic ferments + 5.8%; sauces and dressings + 13.7%.
According to the data published by the latest Coop 2022 report, some specific segments have marked a real “boom”: for example + 108% in sales of veg cold cuts, while among vegetable drinks, chosen today by 22 million Italians , oat-based beverages recorded the most steady growth (+24.7%), although soy-based beverages remained consumer favourites.
Data confirming how much I herbal are now part of the dietary habits of Italians, who consider them healthy, good and versatile and for this reason they are increasingly choosing and introducing them into their diet. As in the case of vegetable protein productsof which 16% of Italians say they want to increase their purchases further in the next 6 to 12 months.
Moreover, as revealed by early Italian research on herbal, carried out by Bva-Doxa for the plant products group of Unione Italiana Food, 1 in 2 Italians (54%) say they already buy plant products: 21% usually; 33% occasionally. They are mostly consumed at home (by 58% of users), but more than 2 out of 10 users (22%) choose them both at home and in restaurants.
But, although these products are increasingly present in our kitchens, do we really know how to combine them and prepare them in the best possible way? The receipts developed by Unione Italiana Food’s plant-based products group, in collaboration with foodblogger Paolo Pedemonte, they help us understand how to do it.
From breakfast to dinner: simple and quick vegetarian recipes to make at home
So let’s find out 4 easy vegetarian recipes and tasty, to make at home, to bring herbal products in 4 different consumption occasions, for all tastes and needs: an energizing breakfast, a quick but tasty lunch to take to the office, a nutritious post-workout snack and finally a dinner with friends.
Breakfast: macha latte and homemade pancakes
Prepare the macha latte by pouring the macha tea into the bottom of a cup and dissolving it with hot water. Heat the vegetable drink in a saucepan (in this recipe you can use the almond-based one, but alternatively also the soy one) and create the foam with a milk frother or the steam from the coffee machine. We finish by pouring everything into the cup with the macha.
For the pancakes, let’s start preparing the Recipe mash a banana with a fork and, when we have obtained a puree, add the product to the vegetable spoon, continuing to mix. In another bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder and a pinch of salt. We add the powders to the liquid ingredients – one tablespoon at a time – and continue mixing. Then heat the pan with a drizzle of seed oil or coconut oil and pour over it, when it is very hot, a spoonful of batter.
We cook on both sides for about 1 minute and serve our pancakes hot. The advice is to serve them with an abundant garnish of vegetable hazelnut cream, blueberries and diced strawberries and to accompany everything with a good mango and centrifuged peach, to also fill up on vitamins.
Lunch: Vegetable meatballs, oatmeal bread and salad with sliced nuts, seeds, apple and mango
Let’s start preparing lunch to take to the office, choosing the most suitable container that can hold everything we are going to cook.
We heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan large enough to comfortably hold the meatballs and cook for 13 minutes over medium heat, turning often. Place the salad in the bottom of the container, place the meatballs on top and top with nuts and seeds. Cut the apple and the mango into cubes, add them to the schiscetta and finally season with oil, salt and vinegar.
For the “homemade” oatmeal bread, allow the vegetable oat drink to cool and, off the heat, add the brewer’s yeast and the sugar. We mix everything until small bubbles begin to form on the surface. At this point we add the flour – little by little, without making lumps – the salt and finally the soft soy butter. We form a ball with our hands and place it in an oiled bowl covered with a cloth. After two hours, it should have doubled in size.
Divide the risen dough into small balls and arrange them on the baking sheet, far enough apart, to let them rise again for at least 1 hour. After the second rising time, we bake at 200° for 12-15 minutes and our oatmeal bread will be ready!
Snack: Banana Protein Cake with Salted Caramel Glaze
For the cake, pour the flour, hazelnut flour, cornstarch and baking powder into a bowl. In another container we have the bananas peeled and cut into small pieces, we add the sugar and we work the whole thing with an electric whisk until obtaining a frothy mixture. Then add the mashed banana to the ingredients, add the vegetable scoop jar, the seed oil and continue whisking until all the ingredients are combined. After oiling and flouring a springform pan, pour our mixture and bake the cake in the oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, let’s prepare the caramel: pour the almond-based vegetable drink into the bottom of a saucepan and add the brown sugar. Allow the sugar, over medium heat, to melt and begin to thicken to create a shiny caramel. When the cake is ready and hot, remove it from the pan and sprinkle the surface with plenty of caramel.
Dinner: gourmet veggie burger with homemade mayonnaise and guacamole sauce
Let’s start our recipe by preparing the sauces, an essential condiment for every burger!
We make a guacamole sauce with half an avocado to work with a fork with the juice of half a lemon and grated pepper.
Next, we prepare the mayonnaise by inserting a spoonful of soy product into the glass of a mini pepper and begin to incorporate air. Then pour the cold seed oil from the refrigerator with the extra virgin olive oil. When we have obtained a thick cream, add the lemon juice and the curry.
We then move on to cooking the vegetable burgers in a pan for a few minutes. We heat the bread in the oven or in a pan and then serve. At the bottom of the bun we place a generous amount of guacamole, on top we place the burger. We then continue with the mayonnaise, a slice of sliced vegan and finally another bit of mayonnaise before covering the whole thing with bread.