Tag Archives: EVOO

10 Things I’ve Learned This Summer… and Grilled Watermelon Salad

This summer has been crazy! From visiting my mom in Nashville and road-tripping to New Orleans, researching/swimming with whale sharks which are the largest fish species and SO cool, and having a family reunion on a lake in Washington (which is one of my favorite states) to getting my wisdom teeth out and finding out I’m one of the lucky people who gets chronic migranes, there have been ups and downs and loop de loops galore. And I really wouldn’t change this summer for anything. I had a ball. I hung out with my friends, I cooked up a storm, I spent a lot of time bonding with my family, and I had some crazy cool adventures too. Here’s what this summer has taught me (or at least 10 of the things I’ve learned–> in no particular order):

  1. It’s way easier to write a blog when I’m procrastinating schoolwork then it is when I’m putting off hanging out with friends–> even though I’ve cooked more this summer than I do during the year.
  2. Sewing is not as easy as it looks (I made a faux fur jacket that looks super vintage but my goodness was it difficult!–>and my mom helped me finish it up).
  3. I definitely chose the right major in college and after my time with the whale sharks I’m super amped for heading back up to school (on Thursday!)
  4. The more time you spend doing something (in my case cooking), the more you realize you have a LOT to learn. (Graduating high school I thought I knew everything… college taught me this lesson too).
  5. Growing herbs inside is actually pretty darn easy (I have a nice little herb garden going–>plus tomatoes and bell peppers–>and they’re doing well despite the fact I’m known to have the opposite of a green thumb).
  6. There’s no one in your life like your family followed closely by your best friends. The people that are there for you year after year despite what dumb choices you made are really valuable. I owe these people so much.
  7. We will all face a broken heart someday. And we will all think that it will not mend. Broken hearts do eventually heal. And if you truly loved someone they can end up as one of your best friends later even though you may believe you’ll never get there.
  8. We need to practice what we preach. I write all about eco-friendly eating and I really do try to incorporate what I write into my own cooking. Obviously, I have days where I want something that isn’t super green, and that’s ok as long as I do my best. There are people, however, who talk so much about certain issues and then leave them to someone else to resolve. Your cause doesn’t have to be the environment. You don’t even need to have a cause. If you do, however, lead by example. Don’t be hypocritical about it if you really do care.
  9. Sometimes the little things are really what makes the world a wonderful place to be living. Enjoy them. Sit and watch a sunset, eat a chocolate bar, paint a picture (if it’s bad just call it abstract… that’s what I do), play board games, blow bubbles when you’re chewing gum, take a bubble bath, read a book, go surfing (even if you end up not catching a wave and basically being a buoy), go for a bike ride, etc. It doesn’t have to cost you a lot to have a good time.
  10. Every day is precious. We only have so long. Don’t wait until you’re retired to start doing what you want to. By then… it may be too late. Travel now before the ice caps melt, the coral reefs bleach, and more animal species go extinct (even if it’s an icky species it has a place in the ecosystem). See the world in all of its beauty. Change some of your less “green” practices now so your children might get to see the environment like you can now. Stay out too late. Get up too early. Do something you are afraid you’ll fail at. Enjoy every moment you have.

In Washington, I tried wake surfing. I've never done any lake sport before so I was worried...I had a blast!

Grilled Watermelon Salad

  • Watermelon, cut into squares of about 2 in. by 2 in.
  • Arugula
  • Goat Cheese, crumbled
  • Balsamic Vinegar, reduced
  • Tomato, chopped
  • EVOO

Rub the watermelon on both sides with EVOO. Place on grill for about 3-5 minutes a side. Place a bit of arugula on a plate. Top with goat cheese and tomato. Place one watermelon square on top of that then make another layer. Top with another watermelon square. Place more goat cheese on top and drizzle with the reduced balsamic vinegar.

MAKE THIS WHILE WATERMELON IS STILL IN SEASON!!! It is soooo delicious. I love how the watermelon almost looks like a seared piece of ahi tuna and it gets such a delicious savory flavor when it’s cooked. SO GOOD. And using local, organic produce is so good for you and it’s so sustainable.

Mexican Spiced Flank Steak and Chipotle Caesar Salad

I have to apologize. I lied to you guys. I said I was going to cook up some meat recipes for you this summer even though they aren’t what I eat so that you could see what it means to eat “greener” meat (“green” eggs and ham anyone?)… but I’ve failed. I gave you guys one chicken recipe that wasn’t even all that wonderful and then I pretty much wiped my hands of the idea of cooking up some “green” meat. I apologize. This blog is so that I can hopefully have even one person try to cook a little bit more eco-friendly than they might be doing right now and I couldn’t even spend the time to teach all of you non-pescetarians how to grill up some meat. This recipe, however, is sure to make you forgive me. My dad said it was quite delicious and I’ll give you tons of tips on how to eat your beef and not feel all of the guilt I’ve been heaping on you. And I’ll even give you the recipe for a delicious Mexican-style caesar salad.

Mexican Spiced Flank Steak

  • Flank Steak
  • 1 small box Vegetable Stock
  • 1/4 cup Lime Juice
  • 1 Jalapeno, diced as small as possible
  • fresh Cilantro, chopped
  • Cumin, ground
  • dried Mexican Oregano
  • Chili Powder

Poke holes in the flank steak with a fork. Place the veggie stock (which gives the tomato flavor so present in many Mexican dishes) with the lime juice and all of the yummy Mexican seasonings in a plastic bag with the flank steak. Let marinate completely covered (you may need more lime juice or veggie stock if you’re feeding more than 2 people) for at least an hour (but the longer the better!). Then grill the flank steak for about 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second side (my dad likes his closer to medium rare so if you’re a medium-> well type go for a little longer). Slice the meat in 1/2 inch strips against the grain. It should be super tender and full of the flavors of Mexico. 🙂

I don’t know if you guys have figured this out yet, but I’m a HUGE fan of Mexican food. Maybe it’s the whole living in Southern California thing (and having worked at a Mexican restaurant) but it’s definitely my cuisine of choice when I can’t decide what else to eat. This salad is inspired by a recipe I found in a Mexican cookbook I got while I was in Baja, Cocina de la Familia and I thought it was absolutely wonderful. I hope you guys like it too.

Chipotle Caesar Salad (Ensalada Cesar con Chile Chipotle)

Serves 2 as a Side or 1 as a Meal

  • 2 Hearts of Romaine, torn and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Stale French Bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 can Anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. Grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 canned Chipotle Chile en adobo sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbsp. EVOO
  • 1/2 tbsp. Peanut Oil

Preheat oven to 275 F. Warm the 1 tbsp. of EVOO and 1 tbsp. of unsalted butter over medium heat. Add the minced garlic. When the garlic begins to lightly brown, add the bread and toss until just starting to brown as well. Then place the bread cubes in the oven for about 20 minutes. Turn while they are cooking to toast evenly.

Meanwhile, place the anchovies, garlic, cheese, mustard, and the chipotle chile, vinegar, and salt in a food processor and process until smooth. (If needed add more chile). Pour in the 3 tbsp. EVOO and 1/2 tbsp. peanut oil while motor is running. Salt and pepper to taste.

Mix together romaine leaves, croutons, and dressing to coat then toss the salad.

I hope that the recipe makes up for my lagging on the eco-information about beef. If not, here’s some real tips to keep your foodprint as small as possible even when you’re craving red meat.

  1. Because meat, especially cow and pig, has such a huge foodprint I can’t stress this enough: ORGANIC ORGANIC ORGANIC. Opt for organic, grass-fed and especially local if you can find it! Organic meat means organic feed means no harmful pesticides or gross antibiotics or growth hormones. Local means less transportation. Grass-fed leads to less cow flatulence leads to less greenhouse gas emissions. It’s better for you, better for the environment, and some people say it tastes better.
  2. Choose a meat such as flank steak that can be sliced (and in this case is meant to be). Then give everyone a smaller portion of meat and a larger amount of sides. Less meat= greener, however, you still get the protein you’re craving.
  3. Since you’re getting meat, pay attention to what else you’re serving. Opt for local and organic produce, quick-fix grains (such as bulgar wheat or quinoa), less dairy, and meat and sides with less packaging (recyclable packaging is best).
  4. Eat less beef. Make the days you do eat it count and then cut back on how often you make it. This recipe is perfect for that. Super yummy so you’ll be satiated until your next beef-fix. If everyone cut back a little bit on their beef intake, there’d be a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. If you were to cut back on 2 oz of meat a day, you’d save 819 lbs CO2 a year. If you were to cut back on 16 oz of meat a day you could save 6,548 lbs CO2 a year. That’s HUGE! –Go Green Get Lean
  5. In Go Green Get Lean, it shows that it takes: about 7 lbs of corn and 2, 500 gallons of water to produce 1 lb or body weight on cattle, more than 200 gallons of fuel to raise a 1,200-lb steer on a feedlot, about 5 times as much water to grow feed grains as it does to grow fruits and veggies, and roughly half of all irrigation water in the US goes to livestock… so think about the changes. I’m not saying stop eating meat. I’m just saying think about cutting back a little. Cows take a lot of land, water, and food. Even if you don’t believe in the “green” movement, think about the fact that that could be going to humans.

eco-benefits

  1. This meal used a lot of the techniques stated above to “green” up the meat. Smaller portion of meat to a larger portion of a side dish, organic grass-fed beef raised in CA (which is local for me), organic local salad ingredients, etc.

Tabbouleh

First off, I’m just gonna let you know that my mom and I are actually heading to Louisiana right now. I’ve set up some posts to keep you busy while I’m away in New Orleans munching down on all of the Creole cooking I can eat.

On that note, I’ll have a ton to talk about when we get back because we’re also going to go look at the oil devastation on the coast.

For now, I promised you a tabbouleh recipe and here it is:

Tabbouleh

  •  1 cup Bulgar Wheat
  • 1 1/4 cup Boiling Water
  • Juice of 2 Lemons
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 3 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 bunch Scallions, chopped (white and green part)
  • 1 bunch Mint, chopped
  • 1 bunch Parsley, chopped
  • 1 Cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes, diced
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Pour the boiling water over the bulgar wheat and mix in EVOO, half of the salt, and the lemon juice. Let stand for an hour then add everything else and mix well. Place in the refrigerator over night so the flavors can meld together well.

ECO-BENEFITS

  1. Vegan
  2. Organic
  3. Bulgar is a quick cooking grain… in this case you only have the stove on as long as it takes to boil water.
  4. Check out this link to learn about the difference in salts for the environment.

Falafel with Homemade Tzatziki and Hummus

Alright. I can’t take credit for the falafel craving that led me to make this delicious recipe. My friend over at Whole Wheat or BUST! made some falafel the other day and I just had to follow suit. I did, however, use my own recipe so if you’re having a falafel craving you’re welcome to check out both of our recipes and pick your favorite.

So all of these recipes call for a food processer. If you do not have one, a blender will work just as well.

Tzatziki

(You can make this up to a few days ahead of time. It can stay in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it).

  • 1 whole Cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 1 1/2 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. Mint
  • 1 clove Garlic, crushed

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. (This recipe will give you a lot of tzatziki but it can be used on everything. I lovvvve it. And I like the mint instead of the normal dill but if you want a more traditional tzatziki use dill instead of the mint).

Hummus

  • 1 can Chickpeas (a.k.a Garbanzo Beans), drained except for a little bit of fluid
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 6 tbsp. Sesame Seed Paste
  • 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, crushed
  • Paprika, to taste
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Put chickpeas (and leftover fluid) and lemon juice in the food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the sesame seed paste, olive oil, and garlic until smooth. Add paprika, salt, and pepper to taste. (This also makes some extra hummus. And if you’re only making hummus and not the whole pita meal, I recommend trying variations like adding kalamata olives or sundried tomatoes).

Falafel

  • 1 can Chickpeas (a.k.a Garbanzo Beans)
  • 1 Red Onion, chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
  • 2 slices Whole Wheat Bread
  • 2 small Red Chiles
  • 1 tsp. ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground Turmeric
  • 1 tbsp. Cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1 3/4 cup Bread Crumbs
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for frying
  • Tomato
  • Cucumber

Place chickpeas, onion, garlic, bread, chiles, spices, and cilantro in the food processor for 30 seconds. Stir and season with salt and pepper. Shape mixture into walnut-sized balls.

Dip the balls into the egg and then roll them in the breadcrumbs (shake off excess).

Heat the oil in a large pan and deep-fry the falafel for 2-3 minutes, or until crisp and browned.

At this point, I microwaved whole wheat pitas for about 30 seconds and topped them with hummus. I placed the falafel on that and then topped it all with the tomato, cucumber, and tzatziki. Falafel is also delicious in salads or by itself so don’t feel limited by anything. All of these recipes can be used in different ways and will taste just as delicious.

Eco-Benefits

  1. This was a vegetarian dish which means that a lot less animal by-products were used. Since animal waste is one of the #1 worst factors contributing to climate change this is a great way to eat.
  2. All organic and local produce was used in this dish. This means there are no pesticides (which can enter water streams and pollute them) and there was a lot less transportation (less greenhouse gas emissions).
  3. The cans that chickpeas come in are easily recyclable and you won’t have food waste if you decide not to use the chickpeas because canned foods last so long. You’ll easily use the chickpeas before they go bad.
  4. Whole wheat bread products require a lot less energy because they are not bleached and refined.
  5. And though this isn’t a “green” benefit, this is a super healthy fried recipe. (Again check out Whole Wheat or BUST for more facts on that).