Monthly Archives: May 2010

Vegan Dark Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

Alright… I think it’s about time I pretend that I bake. I say pretend because minus cheesecake, which I’ve been baking my whole life (and therefore change the recipe for and mess around with), I don’t like that whole following directions thing. In my science classes I’m alright at it (mostly because I don’t want to blow up my labs or anything like that), but when it comes to the kitchen I’m just too ADD for the whole thing. I realize, however, that you may love to bake and if you do read this blog (all 6 of you :)) you may be interested in how to “green” up your baking as well. So… here’s a recipe for VEGAN (a.k.a. the most eco-friendly you can get) peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. I hope you enjoy it (and try to follow the recipe). I know I’ve told you why all of the components can be eco-friendly so I’ll bold and UPPERCASE the eco-friendly alternatives to normal cookies.

Vegan Dark Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

(check out the original recipe for the Peanut Butter Cookies here)

  • 2 cups WHOLE WHEAT pastry flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 3/4 tsp. SEA SALT, fine grain (more on why sea salt > than normal salt in another post)
  • 1 cup ORGANIC chunky Peanut Butter (smooth works just as well)
  • 1 cup ORGANIC, 100% NATURAL Maple Syrup
  • 1/3 cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil for those of you who aren’t Rachel Ray fans)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ORGANIC Vanilla Extract
  • ORGANIC, VEGAN Dark Chocolate Chips (my house really likes chocolate so we may have added more than you’d like)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In a different bowl combine the peanut butter, maple syrup, olive oil, vanilla, and chocolate chips. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Let sit for a couple of minutes and then stir a little more. Break into small balls and place on a baking sheet. Press down with a fork in a criss-cross shape. Bake for 10 minutes. Then try to let them cool before you devour them :).

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Growing Your Own Food

So… let’s talk about growing your own food. There is nothing more sustainable than this practice. Minus the transportation of seeds (which way next to nothing), and pots, etc. there are few to no negatives to this. You don’t have to drive to the store to get your ingredients, they’re definitely local, and if you grow them as such, organic. And they’re obviously not an animal byproduct.

I have not started my own veggie/herb/whatever garden as of yet, but my roommate A is successfully growing some lettuce and broccoli in our apartment! That’s the good thing about this. Although it’s obviously preferable, there are so many ways to grow your food in any setting be it an apartment, a house, or a farm.

Since I live in an apartment, I’m going to quickly give you some info about how to do indoor gardening. I feel as though this is the number one thing people are skeptical of and it’s so easy! Plus it makes your apartment or condo or wherever look and smell lovely.

  • Determine where in your house the plants will receive the most sunlight per day (I assume this would be by a window). 6 hours is the recommended per day. My apartment, however, does not really get that much sunlight so A tends to put her plants outside for some time most days.
  • To be even more eco-friendly, you can recycle your margarine, Cool Whip, or ice cream tubs–>just punch a few holes into the bottoms.
  • Select varieties that are bred to grow in containers–>no this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are genetically modified.
  • Make sure to water the plants… but don’t overwater them–>they may rot (I think A had this experience in our dorm room last year).
  • These plants do well indoors:
  1. Salad greens
  2. Wheatgrass
  3. All sorts of sprouts
  4. Tomatoes
  5. Most herbs
  6. Green onions
  7. Dwarf Citrus Fruits
  • Point being, you can kinda grow anything. I’m gonna start growing some stuff in my new apartment next year, but for me, I think I’ll start small with herbs. These make most meals and grow so well in small pots indoors!
  • Growing anything helps your air quality: plants reduce CO2. So be grateful to them and treat them well–>they’ll do the same in return.

Anyways, my point is, even if you’re just growing herbs (which I swear I’m going to start doing–>I’ll let you know how it goes), or even just an easy plant to grow (right now I’m growing one of those idiot-proof type plants) it’s good for you (air quality!) and it can be an easy, awesome way to eat SUPER local and organic. Basically you’ll be a super-environmental-hero!!!!

Fish Tacos

So. I know I’ve beat the fish issue into the ground. For that reason, and because I have a paper to write and a house to clean (we threw a party last night and our apartment was trashed… but it was fun!–>I’ll give you some green party tips at the end of this post) I’m not going to tell you the same things again. If you’re looking for a more sustainable way to eat fish check out my other posts about it: Fish: What Practices are Actually Sustainable and Overfishing. For now, I’m just going to give you another delicious sustainable fish recipe. Fish tacos! And believe me… this is absolutely delicious.

Fish Tacos

  • USA Farm Raised Tilapia filet (not a carnivorous fish, safe)
  • 1/2 cup Whole wheat flour
  • Herbs, chopped (I chose rosemary and thyme because I found them organic and they’re my favorite)
  • Paprika
  • A splash of cheap Beer (leftover from your kegger?)
  • 1 tbsp Vegenaise or Canola Mayonnaise (if you prefer non-vegan)
  • 1 tbsp Organic Salsa
  • squirt of Lime or Lemon Juice
  • Cabbage, shredded
  • optional: Organic Cheese
  • Whole wheat tortilla

Either chop the tilapia into bite sized pieces, or leave it as a whole filet. Mix flour, herbs, and paprika. Add just enough beer for the mix to become gooey. Dredge the fish in the beer mix. Pan fry the fish. Meanwhile, mix the Vegenaise, Organic Salsa, and citrus juice. Heat tortilla until warm via any means you want: stovetop, microwave, oven… Top the tortilla with the fish, cabbage, salsa mixture, and cheese if wanted. I realize it’s not the healthiest thing I’ve made… but I promise it’s a family favorite at my house. Use organic and vegan options for the ingredients, and it can be eco-friendly too!

“Green” Party Options:

  • Just remember I’m talking about a college kegger. Not a classy dinner party here. So I’m sorry ahead of time… I’m just a college student.
  • Buy a keg! Kegs are reusable, and do not involve all of the packaging that comes with multiple thirty racks. No cans!
  • If you have red cups for your beer, put them all in the dishwasher when the party is done and clean them up for next time–>washing dishes in a full dishwasher load is way better than hand-washing that many dishes.
  • Recycle any cans, handles, or red cups (that are beyond cleaning). Recycling is one of the most important things you can do for the environment!
  • Even better would be to ask people to bring their own cups to parties (but that’s not really an option at college).
  • No smoking! Aside from health effects for you, they have huge environmental impacts! Check out these¬†sites to find out more about how cigarettes cause deforestation, water pollution, and the effects of your cigarette butts. And if you didn’t know, cigarettes are the #1 most littered substance.

Tofu… Not Just a Bland White Blob

Let’s talk tofu:

It’s one of those foods that most people grow up making fun of, dreading, or even refusing to eat. In a few cultures, however, it is a staple. In these cultures, there is no mistaking tofu as bland or gross. I’d like to prove to you that didn’t grow up eating tofu how delicious it can be.

First though, here are some of the environmental benefits of tofu:

  1. If you replace meat with tofu once a month, you’ll save 20,000 gallons of water a year. That’s because cows drink water and eat food that requires water to grow. (Bon Appetit)
  2. I can’t say it enough: plant protein is way more eco-friendly than animal protein.
  3. Adding tofu to a dish will not change the flavor but it will add protein that will help fill you up letting you eat less which is awesome for you and the environment! Saving resources!
  4. Soybeans are fed to cattle. It takes 7lbs of grain and soy products to produce 1lb of meat. If this was used toward human consumption, 7x more people could have food to eat.
  5. Reduce deforestation (which takes place for cattle raising in other countries–> the #1 cause)
  6. Less methane emissions from cattle–>less cattle = less methane emissions.
  7. Less water pollution–> cattle sewage seeps into ground water and washes into rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans.

As an added benefit, tofu is way less expensive than animal protein. With the economy in the state it’s in right now, that’s a added reason to switch to tofu for some meals!

Strawberry Orange Smoothie Bowl

  • 1 frozen banana
  • Carton organic strawberries
  • Orange juice
  • Firm tofu
  • Granola (I used a delicious granola with flax seed in it)
  • Agave Nectar
  • Optional: maca

Blend all ingredients. Pour into a bowl and top with granola and agave.

Tofu Scramble Burrito

  • Two cloves garlic, sliced
  • Tofu (I had firm so that’s what I used, but silk is better for scrambles)
  • Garlic salt
  • Paprika
  • Black beans
  • Local salsa
  • Wheat tortilla

Saute the garlic and tofu together. If using silk, scramble it like an egg. If using firm, brown the tofu. Sprinkle with garlic salt and paprika and add black beans to the hot pan. Cook until hot. Meanwhile, warm tortilla. Place the mix in the tortilla and top with salsa.

  • You can add any veggies you’d like to this as well.
  • It kinda takes the place of a breakfast burrito.
  • This is a super good source of protein between the beans and the tofu! Check out The Magical Fruit to learn about beans eco implications.
  • It doesn’t look super scrumptious but it is!

“I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?” -Robert Redford

“Green” Pizza

So I have this great childhood memory of Friday night’s being pizza night. For my family, that normally meant Stuffed Crust from Pizza Hut. Now that I’m older, when my pizza craving kicks in, there’s still not much I can do to control it. So… here’s a couple of ways to “green” your pizza:

  1. If you’re definitely not going to cook your pizza yourself (which is obviously the best bet), use a local delivery service. They’ll use less gas than you will because they clump together trips in a more eco-friendly manner (though they do it for economic reasons)–>UNLESS you can bike or walk to your local pizza shop (then no gas is being used for transport).
  2. If you are making your own pizza (although I realize this is repetitive and I’ve pretty much beat this idea into you by now) buy local, organic, in season ingredients. ESPECIALLY for the cheese (unless you’re using vegan “cheese”–>which of course is better because as I’ve stated the less animal products used the better) you have to buy organic. It’s the only way that you’ll know that the cows are not treated with hormones, etc. Local dairy is fresher and logs less food miles.
  3. Try pizza without cheese. Instead, add things like adding extra herbs or veggies in lieu of cheese–>or at least add less cheese (triple cheese pizza may be delicious, but really fresh veggies can make pizza yummy too!).
  4. If you do have cheese on your pizza definitely skip the meat products–>or else you’ll be doubling up on the animal products (which is a big no no in the “green” world).
  5. Try using flatbreads such as pita, naan, or tortilla instead of the pizza dough. This allows the pizza to cook way quicker and it allows YOU to save on your utility bills.
  6. Crust from whole grains! Even if you aren’t down to switch your pizza to flatbread-style (or if you are) an easy way to be eco-friendly is using whole grains. They require a lot less processing. And they’re healthier for you!
  7. Make your own sauce! This cuts back on packaging waste and I think homemade sauces are way tastier too! (If you do use a sauce that’s premade, I recommend trying one in a glass jar–>that way you have an extra cup when you’re done with it! And, at least for my clumsy self, these are always needed!)

So… since I know I’ve been craving pizza, here are a couple of recipes that you will love! and they might even inspire the pizza-maker in you as well.

While we’re on the subject, check out Whole-Wheat or Bust!’s Veggie Naan Pizza. Yummy!

“Green” Green Pizza

  • Homemade Pesto (I made mine from this recipe). You could sub out the cheese (to make this vegan) by using breadcrumbs instead (–>it’ll give the same texture and there will be no animal byproduct!)
  • Swiss Chard (only leaves)
  • Arugula (only leaves)
  • Cherry Tomatoes, sliced
  • Zucchini, sliced
  • Dried Oregano
  • Optional: Goat Cheese
  • Some form of flatbread (I used a whole wheat tortilla)

Preheat the oven to 450 (while oven preheats, bake the zucchini–>cover with aluminum foil). Meanwhile, saute the chard and the arugula until darker green and a little wilted. Top the flatbread with pesto, wilted greens, tomatoes, and the zucchini once out of the oven. If you’re adding the goat cheese (it was a delicious addition), do so now. Place the pizza in the oven until the tortilla (or other flatbread is toasted and the toppings are hot). Top with the dried oregano. I’m not much of a bragger but holy moly it was SO good. Nom nom nom. For sure.

Classic-Style Flatbread Pizza (with extra veggies and less cheese)

  • Some flatbread (I used whole wheat naan)
  • Pizza sauce (here‘s a good recipe for homemade–>I was bad and used a bottle of jarred pizza sauce that I had on hand).
  • Organic cheese (I used a really delicious Mexican blend)
  • Artichoke Heart (Trader Joe’s has a frozen variety that are really tasty if you don’t like the normal canned type)
  • Broccoli, cut into little florets
  • Red Bell Pepper, cut into thin strips
  • Garlic, chopped
  • Optional: top with Parmesan

Alright. Like I said… sometimes I’m just in the mood for pizza. And as delicious as the Green Pizza is, it won’t end your craving like real tomato pizza sauce will. I topped the flatbread with the tomato sauce. I sauteed all of the veggies together before adding them to the top of the pizza. I then filled in the gaps with cheese (if you’re like me and you want a cheesy pizza–>try using less). Place in a preheated 450 oven until the cheese melts and the vegetables are hot. This pizza works with any veggies. I just used what I had on hand.

The earth we abuse and the living things we kill will, in the end, take their revenge; for in exploiting their presence we are diminishing our future.  ~Marya Mannes

The Results Are In!

So today was the big competition. And when I say big I had NO idea how big it was really going to be. There were probably 40 contestants and about 50ish people came to eat and judge the entries. It was crazy!

I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes people really surprise me. Today was one of those days. The contestants were all so friendly, so creative, and so knowledgeable about sustainable cooking. The majority of the recipes were vegan and all of them were at least vegetarian. There was everything from carrot sushi to carrot cake pancakes!

The recipes were judged based on four categories (with one winner in each category):

  1. Taste
  2. Appearance
  3. Creativity
  4. Use of Sustainable Ingredients

The judging process left me with no wins, however, I’m very proud of the work I, and my fellow contestants, did. I walked away with a lot of votes thrown in my direction, and the epitome of the night was when one of the people throwing the event came up to me and told me that my dish was hands down her favorite (she proceeded to scrape the bottom of my bowl and eat the remnants of the pasta). Other highlights of the night included being voted one of the top sustainable recipes and the fact that there was no pasta left after the competition was over.

Tonight gave me a taste of a sustainable cooking competition… and now I’m getting ready to enter many more.

Things That Make Me Happy

Things that make me happy:

  • My roommates and I having late night crazy singing parties.
  • Roadtrips
  • Cooking
  • The environment
  • The ability to spread the things I’ve learned with others.
  • Days that all of these things come together.

Today was one of these days. My roommate, L, and two of my best friends, K and B, decided to go on an adventure to the home of the split pea soup. And after getting hopped up on sugar at a local Danish town, we stayed up late singing Eminem and Brandy You’re a Fine Girl. Tomorrow, I am in a sustainable cooking competition at my school. I hope to show everyone at the competition everything I’ve been learning through this project. I’ll let you guys know how it goes, but here is the recipe I’ll be using:

Thai Veggie Pasta with a Peanut Dressing

  • Whole buckwheat soba noodles
  • Red Bell Pepper, cut in skinny strips
  • Carrot (the SECRET ingredient), cut in skinny strips
  • Broccoli, cut into small florets
  • Cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Green onion, chopped
  • Zucchini, cut in skinny strips
  • Peanut Butter
  • Sriracha
  • Maple Syrup
  • Sesame Seed Oil
  • Soy Sauce
  • Ginger
  • Ground coriander
  • Roughly chopped parsley, toasted sesame seeds, and grated carrot to top

Ok. I know there are a lot of ingredients, but they’re all local, organic, and seasonal. If these aren’t in season where you are, pretty much any vegetables can be used. Saute the vegetables in extra virgin olive oil while covered. Meanwhile cook the soba noodles per instructions. Mix the remaining ingredients (minus the parsley, sesame seeds, and grated carrot)–>I didn’t put portions for anything because if you like things spicy, you’ll want more sriracha, or if you like things sweet, more maple syrup (make sure to get 100% maple syrup). When the noodles are finished, mix in the veggies and the peanut sauce and top with the parsley, sesame seeds, and grated carrot. I recommend using a little less sesame seed oil than you might think because my first test was a little too peanuty and lessening the amount of sesame seed oil seemed to fix this problem.

Eco-Benefits

  1. It’s a vegan recipe! Check out Why Going Vegan is Like Riding a Bicycle to understand why this is awesome.
  2. All of the ingredients are local, in season, and organic. I’ve raved about these things in almost every post.
  3. Soba noodles take less time to cook so you’re using less fossil fuels! And covering the vegetables while you saute them cooks them faster as well!