Tag Archives: kale

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.

Leftover Ingredients

Alright. Let’s talk about one of the WORST food faux pas:

Not using up the leftover ingredients from recipes past.

My dad can definitely tell you that I used to be one of the worst about this. I would use an ingredient once and then let it expire in the fridge before just throwing it out. Luckily, I’ve learned my lesson. Hopefully, if you haven’t already, this will help you see the wrong in your ways.

Reasons that using your leftovers helps you and the world:

  • In this recession, no one can afford to let food go to waste! We just don’t have that kind of money!
  • When you waste leftovers, you put to waste the energy that went into getting that food to your table. All of the transportation that added to the greenhouse gases!
  • You also add to the amount of land being put to waste, overfishing, and water source degradation (obviously this depends on what food is going unused).
  • There are so many ways to use leftover ingredients! This never needs to happen!
  1. Freeze extra fish/meat and many vegetables/fruits. I’ve even found that it’s easy to freeze extra bread products (they are exactly the same once you defrost them).
  2. I bet you didn’t know you can also freeze things like eggs and milk! Check out this website it gives you some cool little hints!
  3. You can make a stock out of extra veggies, or even leftover chicken bones! Stocks can be used in everything from soup to roasted chicken. Here are some ideas for your leftover chicken stock.
  4. There are so many ways to use leftovers! Check out this website if you want some more ideas!

So, now that I’ve hopefully convinced you that you need to use your leftovers, I’ll show you some recipes I came up with for the things I have in my fridge.

Salmon Caesar Salad Wraps

  • I used the leftover salmon from the homemade sushi. About 1/4 lb.
  • 1 wheat tortilla
  • Romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Blend the parmesan, garlic, olive oil, egg, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. It makes way more caesar dressing than you’ll need, but it was really good and you can always use it on your leftover romaine lettuce.

Place the romaine lettuce, caesar dressing, and salmon (I ate it raw, but if you don’t have sushi grade salmon or you feel like it, bake the salmon) onto the wheat tortilla.

Salmon Caesar Salad Wraps make yummy leftover lunches!

Let’s talk about why this was better for getting rid of excess ingredients than for getting new things to get rid of:

  • Salad is delicious and great for you! You can always use extra lettuce!
  • The ingredients for the caesar dressing tend to be lying around. It’s a very pantry-friendly salad dressing to make.
  • Wheat tortillas can be used for wraps, quesadillas, pizzas, etc.
  • Salmon is really great for you so even if you did not have extra lying around it’s a good thing to eat!

For dinner, I had so much leftover vegetable stock and kale from yesterday’s vegan adventures that I decided to turn it around and use both in a hearty soup. I based my soup off of this one, but my recipe is a bit different.

Sweet Potato Kale Coconut Peanut Soup

(You may want to come up with an easier name)

  • 1 whole sweet potato (no leftovers there!)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • I used all of the leftover vegetable stock I had (around 2 cups)
  • All of my leftover kale (a really good amount because it shrinks a lot)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • cinnamon
  • pumpkin spice (I love all of the flavors in it)
  • cayenne pepper (I love the little kick it gives to everything. It’s my #1 spice to have)
  • raisins
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • top with peanuts (for protein!)

Cover the bottom of a large pot with olive oil and brown the sweet potato (cut into small, uniform cubes) and the garlic (minced). When they are browned, add the coconut milk and vegetable stock (you can also add a bit of milk if you like your soup creamier). Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Blend mixture and then strain with a super fine strainer to get rid of all of the extra lumps.

Put the soup back into the pot and add all of the other ingredients (except for the peanuts –> those are for the top). Cook until kale is bright green.

Leftover kale made into a delicious dinner!

I made this soup recipe so large not only to avoid having extra ingredients, but also because it is so good you’ll want the leftovers!!!

Lessons Learned:

  • Leftover ingredients are easy to use in many different ways!
  • It’s good they’re easy to use because they’re horrible for the environment! All of the environmental degradation done in getting the food to you is a waste if you do not use the food!

Why Going Vegan is like Riding a Bicycle

I’m not a vegan. That does not stop me from wishing that I had the cajones to woman up and go vegan. The problem is… I love SO many things that have eggs in them, or BUTTER (which can make anything taste good in my opinion), or honey, or cheese… the list goes on and on.

Like I said… I wish I had the cajones. Mainly because last year one of my first and favorite Environmental professors told us this: eating meat is like driving a Hummer, being a vegetarian is like driving a hybrid, and going vegan is like riding a bicycle.

The largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is the meat industry. Livestock are responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. Part of this is due to the burning of fuels to transport meat, part is due to the fuel used to make the synthetic fertilizers used to grow the crops that the animals eat, and part is due to cow flatulence and manure. The flatulence and manure actually emit methane which is 20x worse than carbon as a greenhouse gas.

Furthermore, cows need a lot of water. Just to produce one liter of milk, it is said that 990 liters of water must be used.

Animal manure washes into waterways and kills ecosystems in rivers, lakes, and oceans. It also makes the water toxic for human ingestion.

In South America and other places, deforestation is occurring to clear way for cattle grazing lands. This means a loss of complete ecosystems! Plant and animal populations are being devastated.

If going vegan can help reduce all of this… maybe we should all grow a pair. OR maybe we could all try going vegan a day or two a week (or if it’s difficult for you a meal or two a week). Like I said… I really like butter. So, to give it a try (and to prove how DELICIOUS vegan recipes can be) I decided to ride a bicycle today.

Strawberry-Banana Agave Smoothie

  • 1 1/2 cup soymilk
  • 1 Banana
  • Frozen Strawberries
  • 1 Tablespoon Agave Nectar
  • A dash of pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, clove)
  • A dash of extra cinnamon (I love cinnamon)
  • Ground flaxseed
  • A pinch of Maca (if desired)
  • Optional: If you’re looking to make this a breakfast meal like it was for me, I recommend adding almond butter. It’ll thicken up the recipe and add some protein and fat which will allow it to make you full. Added bonus: almond butter is completely vegan! WOOHOO!

Then just blend all of the ingredients together! The frozen strawberries take the place of any ice needed, so if it is not to the desired consistency, just add some more!

Yummy vegan breakfast!

Quinoa, Kale, Artichoke, Tomato Pilaf

Makes 2 Servings

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 bunch kale, torn up, stems removed
  • 3 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 artichoke hearts chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • optional: add mushroom (portabella) for some protein, you can also add other vegetables such as broccoli.

Rinse the quinoa to remove bitterness.

Heat vegetable stock to a boil, add all of the ingredients and reduce to a simmer. Cover the mixture and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the quinoa is fully cooked.

Yummy vegan goodness! It’s not the most attractive thing but believe me. It was delicious!

It was really delicious and the recipe is really easy to fiddle with. I used all organic locally grown vegetables again and it was 100% vegan yumminess.

Lessons learned:

  • Vegan things can be delicious!
  • The meat industry (which is also in charge of the milk, butter, cheese, etc. that we love) is environmentally hazardous. I recommend that we all try to eat vegan for at least a couple of meals a week.
  • And eating vegan stops YOU from ingesting the growth hormones and antibiotics in our animal products these days.