Friday, September 23, 2022
In Italy, the consumption of plant-based foods and drinks is becoming more and more trendy and plant-based products are confirmed as the protagonists of the basket: depopulated on the tables of vegans and vegetarians, but also and above all on those of ‘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 continued to grow: according to IRI 2021 data, published since Unione Italiana Food Plant-Based Products Group, it is estimated that the plant sector as a whole recorded an increase of +9.9% last year. A trend also confirmed during the first 6 months of 2022, during which the growth of the sector seems to have consolidated (+ 0.7%).
“Products of plant origin now cover many product categories, with an offer that satisfies everyone’s tastes and adapts to all times of the day – he says Salvatore Castiglione, President of the plant-based products group of Unione Italiana Food – Today’s consumers are well informed and know the benefits of a varied and balanced diet, rich in vegetables, cereals, whole foods and fruits. Benefits not only for your own health, but also for that of the planet. This is why, in recent years, herbal products have conquered many families, reaching around 22 million consumers. Plants 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.
On the occasion of the world vegetarian day (October 1), 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 – takes stock of the situation in the plant sector and, thanks to the contribution of food blogger Paolo Pedemontedevelops 4 special recipes that explain how to associate and serve vegetable products, to savor them at best, from breakfast to dinner.
A sector in constant growth: data
The success of vegetable products is increasingly transversal: for the past year, different categories of products that make up the sector have recorded excellent performances. In particular, in 2021, as confirmed by i 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%.
Still according to the data published by the last Co-op Report 2022, some specific segments marked a real “boom”: for example, +108% in sales of vegan charcuterie; and among plant-based drinks, chosen today by 22 million Italians, oat-based ones recorded the most regular growth (+24.7%), even if soy-based drinks remain the favorite of consumers.
Data that confirms how plant-based products have become 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 products with vegetable proteins , of which 16% of Italians say they want to increase their purchases further in the next 6 to 12 months. Additionally, as early Italian plant research conducted by Bva-Doxa for Unione Italiana Food’s plant-based product group revealed, 1 in 2 Italians (54%) say they already buy herbal 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 recipes developed by Unione Italiana Food’s plant-based products group, in collaboration with foodblogger Paolo Pedemonte, help us understand how to do it.
From breakfast to dinner: plant protagonists of our tables
Let’s discover 4 easy and tasty preparations, to make at home, to bring vegetable products to the table on 4 different consumption occasions, for all tastes and needs: an energizing breakfast, a quick but tasty lunch to take to the office, a snack post-workout nutrition and finally a dinner with friends.
For an energizing breakfast: macha latte & homemade pancakes with vegetable hazelnut cream and fresh fruit (see opening photo =
- 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, start preparing the recipe by mashing a banana with a fork and, when you have obtained a puree, add the product with a 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.
For a healthy and gourmet office lunch: vegetable balls & salad with nuts and seeds, slices of apple and mango, served with oatmeal bread
- 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!
For a nutritious snack after exercise: protein cake with banana, salted butter caramel icing, accompanied by a bowl of vegetable ice cream with cereal granola
- 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. And let’s not forget to complete our snack with a bowl of vegetable ice cream with cereal granola.
For a “street food” dinner with friends: gourmet vegetable burgers with mayonnaise and homemade 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.
Source: Italian Food Union Press Office