Tag Archives: cauliflower

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!

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Hot-house Vegetables

So let me be the first person to tell you that a) I’m not perfect and b) I made a mistake.

Many of the recipes I have shared with you guys so far have included tomatoes. My recent research has led me to realize that tomatoes are often grown in hot-houses because they are a summer fruit craved all year round (and people stopped putting up with green tomatoes “ripened” by chemicals that had no taste). Greenhouses and hothouses are different things. Greenhouses are a great way to grow your fruits and veggies using glass to trap heat in. A hothouse is a heated greenhouse. Therefore, tomatoes and other hothouse-grown produce are energy intensive. Temperature, ventilation, humidity, light, water and carbon dioxide are all kept at prime levels. This leads to delicious produce that can be eaten year-round and may even be locally grown, however, some environmental hazards come from the production of this produce.

So… the question comes down to whether you’re willing to put up with canned tomatoes (which are canned at peak season but include packaging and have lost some nutrients)… or should you buy tomatoes that have been flown from all around (since produce is always in season somewhere)… the third choice is to continue buying the locally grown tomatoes because at least they’re fresh produce (meaning they keep their nutrients) and you’ll be supporting your local economy.

Here’s what I’ve come up with: we can only do what we can. There will always be some environmental costs to our eating (and I love food too much to stop eating). That’s the price we have to pay due to overpopulation and the industrialization of our food industry. Therefore, what we can do is to continue to ask questions about where our food is coming from. Just because our meals can’t be completely “green” doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to try to eat in a more eco-friendly fashion… it just means that we can’t be upset if we have to buy an out of season tomato every now and then. Every little bit counts.

I’m sure that this won’t be the only time I have to apologize for making a mistake. I am not, however, going to stop using tomatoes in recipes. They are very good for you and summer is coming soon! Further, now that I realize the implications of the tomato, I will do what I can to extra “greenify” the recipes they are in.

Here are a few recipes that I love that don’t include the tomato. I hope they can hold you over until the brilliant summer months that I call tomato season.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

  • 1/2 cup of oats
  • 1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
  • 1/2 cup organic canned pumpkin
  • cinnamon
  • pumpkin pie spice
  • agave nectar
  • golden raisins
  • coconut butter (not necessary)

So I have been feeling under the weather and have not been really stoked on eating anything. Therefore, I made one of those comfort-foods that you can eat regardless of how you feel sort of things. I microwaved the oats, pumpkin, and vanilla soy milk together for about 2 and 1/2 minutes. Then I added the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, agave, and raisins. I topped it with coconut butter (which like L says is like crack) but it was more for aesthetic beauty than for flavor. It was a great home feeling pick me up! (It is kind of a hybrid between two recipes from Whole Wheat or Bust!).

Comfort food for when you're sickly. Mmm. Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal.

Two things about this breakfast:

  1. I used canned pumpkin because pumpkins are obviously not in season. If you find canned pumpkin at this time of year stock up!  When I was looking for it a while ago it took me 3 different shopping trips to find it! Or, stock up when it’s in season in fall.
  2. I realize I’ve talked about the perils of the packaged food. I am, however, human, and as I’ve stated, you can’t be 100% green all of the time. I used organic pumpkin, and the rest of the ingredients were things that I had lying around. Just do your best.

Veggie Omelet

  • 2 eggs
  • Any cheese you have lying around
  • Any veggies you want… I used:
  1. Asparagus
  2. Red bell pepper
  3. Cauliflower
  4. Sugar snap pea
  5. Parsley

So I used some of the leftover veggies from last nights stir-fry to make this delicious lunch omelet. I cooked them up with a little bit of olive oil and when they were done I placed the eggs into the leftover oil in the pan. I cooked the egg until it stopped being liquid on the sides before I added the cheese and veggies. Then I cooked until all of the egg was no longer liquid.

  1. Yay for leftover meals!
  2. I know what I’ve said about animal products. But again, I’m not perfect and since I don’t eat meat eggs and cheese make for good protein.

Leftover veggies made into a delicious omelet.

Lessons Learned

  • Don’t trust anyone’s word as 100% correct. I do my fair share of research and do the best I can to help you “green” up your diet, but I make mistakes.
  • Always ask questions. Most produce departments (or other departments depending on what you’re making) have a person who can answer.
  • Do research! I know I’ve learned a lot and I’m having a great time doing it!
  • An easy recipe to follow is to buy locally. There may be times (like with the tomato) that this may include some energy intensive process, however, more often than not this is going to be the easiest way to “green” up your produce. In times that it is not, at least you’re getting fresh produce that is normally in peak season (when all produce tastes better and includes all of its nutrients).
  • Even though canned and frozen produce increase transportation and packaging, they’re still better than not eating produce. Plus, much packaging is recyclable which can help offset the eco-costs of producing this packaging.

If anyone is out there and curious about anything in particular, let me know! I’d love to hear from you! And you’re all always welcome to question my statements. Like I said, I’m not always right. I do my research but I make mistakes like anyone else.

This site will help you find local food in your area.

And… as an addition to yesterday’s post, check out this site to get your carbon foodprint (it’s a very limited version but still fun).

The Cost of Oil

I know we’ve all realized the price of gas these days. I know that when the price of gas started getting towards $5 a gallon we freaked out and pushed for new modes of transport, “greener” fuels, and new technologies. I also realize that when the price per gallon started to decline, people stopped their eco-push. When the price was more manageable, people once again hopped into their SUVs and put their hybrids into the garage.

Let me tell you why the cost of gas is not the only factor that should be determining how hard we push for eco-friendly variations in fuel and technology… oil has a really large cost that cannot be seen by looking at the price at the pump.

If you don’t believe me, just check out this Times article and read some about the devastation happening in the Gulf of Mexico. The devastation is worse than anticipated. This oil spill is the largest oil disaster ever.

Oil also has a large carbon footprint which makes it a factor in the climate change.

This site talks of other effects oil can have on the environment… and let me tell you… none of them are good.

So… what are we supposed to do?

  1. Push for change. Our votes elected the government representatives. Let’s tell them what we would like them to accomplish.
  2. When you’re driving, try running all of your errands at once. This allows you to get your errands done quicker, and you use less gas!
  3. Carpool.
  4. When you’re cooking, use one appliance. Try not to grill one thing, bake another, and boil a third. If you’re going to boil things, boil them all (you can even reuse the water that way). And if the oven or grill are on, it’s less cost for you to use that for everything!
  5. In the upcoming summer months, invest in a screen door and keep your door open. Or (if you’re in a humid place), try only turning on your AC when you’re at home–>there’s no use paying for unused air conditioning.

As I’ve told you all, one of my goals for this blog is to teach myself about “greener” eating. Therefore, I’ve been researching a ton. I’ve learned so many interesting things that I hadn’t even thought about (that I promise I’ll share with you). For instance, did you know that “The average American diet creates 2.8 tons of CO2 emissions each year per person, which has now surpassed the 2.2 tons generated by American driving” (Go Green Get Lean, Kate Geagan). This includes the “production, transport, processing, packaging, storage, and preparation” (Geagan) of our foods. That’s CRAZY! 2.8 TONS of CO2 per person just for eating! “The amount of fossil fuel going into our food choices has outstripped the actual amount of energy in the food itself” (Geagan).

Well, today I’m giving you a couple of recipes that will hopefully get your diet to a “greener” level.

  • For today, each of these recipes are going to be using local, organic produce –> if you do not have a local farmers market or food co-op to find these at, check out Whole Foods (they have signs telling where your produce is coming from–> get something coming from the closest location if you are not in a produce-farming location).
  • If you would like to have meat in your dish, try buying lower on the food-chain. This is an easy way to tell which meat has more energy going into it–> more on that in another blog post.
  • Each of these recipes is going to use one appliance. It saves energy!
  • Take a hint from Kate Geagan’s Go Green Get Lean: Use the acronym L.E.A.N: Is the food local or global? (Local is greener), Energy used to bring it to your plate? (This includes transport, processing, packaging, and temperature food must be kept at–> having to use your refrigerator v. freezer), Animal or Plant? (Plants are the greener choice), Necessary? (Is it critical for you to eat this for your health?–> i.e. If you refuse to eat soy/tofu/nuts, you’ll probably need some sort of animal product in your diet to get enough protein).

Bulgar with Sun-dried Tomato, Feta, and Kalamata Olives

  • Find the original recipe here
  • I’ve cut it down since I’m just one person.
  • 1/4 cup bulgar wheat (find in the bulk section of your local supermarket–>cuts down on packaging!)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced (take it out or buy pitted)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled  (if you want this recipe to be vegan you can withhold this ingredient)
  • 1/4 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley, minced (I love this flavor and found it locally grown so I added extra. You can add less if you don’t love parsley)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (the recipe called for red wine vinegar but I had a local balsamic vinegar at my hands that I lovvvve)
  • juice of 1/4 lemon (add zest for extra lemony goodness)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Bring the water to a boil, add the bulgar and cover (turn down to a simmer) for 30 minutes. Combine the sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, parsley, shallot, and feta in one bowl. Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Drain the water from the bulgar and pat dry. Add the sun-dried tomato mixture and cover with the liquid dressing. Stir it all together and you have a delicious lunch!

Local Produce Stir-Fry

  • This year I became involved in a movement called “Food Not Bombs”. It’s an all-vegan group that cooks for local houseless people (or whoever would like to eat for free). The local farmers market donates all of their extra produce at the end of their Sunday market and we use it to cook for these persons.
  • One thing this has taught me is how easy it is to make a delicious veggie stir-fry regardless of the greens given to you.
  • All you need is some veggies, a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil, and a pan with a top to help steam and cook the veggies.
  • My newest love is this map from epicurious that tells you (by location) the seasonal produce in your area.
  • My stir-fry was an asparagus, mushroom, cauliflower, sugar snap pea, kale, red bell pepper stir-fry but you will find different local produce wherever you go.
  • I added some extra flavor with a kick of cayenne and some cumin and paprika, but that is up to you.
  • I also used soy sauce instead of salt for this dish. It gives it a little extra liquid and I think the flavor adds to the dish nicely.

I’m telling you this dish is idiot-proof. Turn on some heat, coat the pan with your EVOO, and then put in your veggies (time for cooking varies on how hard your veggies are and how little they have been cut so put in your hardest and largest veggies first–> add the others after those have cooked for a while), place the lid over your pan to help steam the veggies and VOILA, deliciousness.

Throw together some locally grown, organic, in-season veggies for a quick easy DELICIOUS dinner!

If you’d like some added protein, I suggest adding some peanuts to this dish (but make sure to cook them for a little as well). YUMMY!

Lessons Learned

  • Food is adding to climate change more than driving! This is due to the production, transportation, processing, packaging, storage, and preparation of the food.
  • There are ways to make better choices!
  • Use the acronym L.E.A.N when choosing your foods.