Tag Archives: tomato

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.

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Halibut and Scallop Ceviche

I have been cooking up a storm lately, however, it seems that I continue to have a sort of writers block. So I’m going to let this delicious recipe talk for itself. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Halibut and Scallop Ceviche

  • Wild-caught Pacific Halibut
  • A couple of scallops for added flavor
  • 1 cup Lime or other citrus Juice (I actually mixed lime and grapefruit)
  • 1 medium Tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 Red Onion, chopped
  • 1-2 Jalapenos, diced (add more if you really like it spicy)
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Salt, Pepper, and Mexican dried Oregano, to taste
  • 1/2 Avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped, to top
  • Cilantro, to top

Put the fish into a nonmetallic bowl and cover with the citrus juice. Mix thoroughly, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Drain off excess juice and an hour before serving, stir in the tomatoes, onion, and jalapenos. Add enough olive oil to coat. Add the salt, pepper, and oregano, and return to the refrigerator until just before serving. Taste for seasoning and mix in the avocado. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Eco-Benefits

  1. My dad’s friends son was staying with us for the summer and actually went to Alaska and fished. The halibut that I used was one of the fish he caught. Non-commercial catching of fish is much healthier for the environment because there is no damage done to the ecosystem such as with nets and dredging.
  2. Pacific, wild-caught halibut is a sustainable fish according to Seafood Watch. Other types of halibut, are not sustainable so be careful what you’re buying.
  3. I used left-over scallops in this and ceviche really is a great way to use any excess fish you may have on hand.
  4. Buying seasonal and local vegetables helps allow for a greater flavor in this dish and it is more sustainable to not have to get ingredients transported large distances.
  5. Ceviche needs absolutely no cooking. Your gas bill and the environment will thank you.

And if you happen to be worried about fish parasites or other nasty no-cooking diseases, I recommend that you freeze your seafood for at least two days and then thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. The freezing will get rid of anything on the fish.

Tostada

I’m going to start out by telling you a little about my Louisiana–>New Orleans trip: there’s definitely a reason it’s said that they are the masters of fried food… and believe me I ate a lot of it :). I figured I could treat myself with Cafe du Monde beignets since I do normally eat healthy (my mom and I have since made a pact to eat only salads for a couple of days just to counter-act the grease and not-so-healthy foods we ate while in New Orleans). Basically we ate, walked, and did all of the normal touristy things 🙂 (I have a ton of pictures to prove it). Sadly, we did not make it to the coast because most people we asked about it said that most of the beaches would be closed and that you can see everything better on the TV anyways. Even in New Orleans, however, the devastation of the oil spill has started to have its effects. We may have been there one of the last weeks that we could still have seafood at all (for awhile at least). Many restaurants had stopped serving seafood dishes (and in a town that is known for its seafood this will have effects on other things such as tourism). The people in New Orleans are still waiting to find out if the oil will travel into their town, but the effects have definitely already spread. My mom and I had a great time there though! Here are some pictures from our trip:

Char-Broiled Oysters from Dragos->theres a reason it's a New Orleans institution. I actually have a cookbook with the recipe so I'll green it up and post it someday.

I'm pretty sure if you're in New Orleans you HAVE to get a beignet and a chickory cafe au lait from Cafe du Monde. We got them twice!!

There's still a lot of work to be done from Hurricane Katrina. Only ~380,000 of the million people that used to be in New Orleans are back.

I loved this quilt! It shows some of the all-time jazz musicians.

We tried to be healthier with this vegetarian pasta... but because we were in New Orleans where there's such a strong French influence, the delicious sauce was super buttery.

A 100 year old shrimp creole recipe. Sooo good. And how pretty is that kale leaf? I've never seen kale those colors.

 

No trip to New Orleans is complete without bread pudding!

 

This ad is actually in Nashville but I find it so funny and you should eat mor chikin than beef if you want to be "greener" so it was appropriate :).

Since we’ll be eating salads, I decided to spice it up by making a tostada in a tribute to the south-of-the- border country I will be in soon (I’m going to be researching whale sharks in Baja, Mexico for the end of July).

Tostada

Makes 2 Servings

  • 2 Whole Wheat Tortillas
  • 1 can Black Beans, warmed
  • 1 Tomato, chopped
  • Romaine Lettuce, shredded
  • A dollop of low-fat Plain Greek Yogurt per tostada
  • A dollop of Homemade Guacamole per tostada (see recipe below)
  • Shredded organic Mexican Cheese
  • optional, top with more Cilantro

Fry the whole wheat tortillas in EVOO until crispy and hard. Top with beans, shredded lettuce, guacamole, plain greek yogurt (or sour cream), cheese, and tomato.

Homemade Guacamole

  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 big clove Garlic, minced
  • 1/3 Red Onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. Lime Juice
  • 1 tbsp. Cholula (or other Mexican hot sauce)
  • Sea Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Cilantro, chopped, to taste (I like a lot!)
  • 1/2 Tomato, chopped

Mix all ingredients together with a fork until blended and the correct texture.

ECO-BENEFITS

  1. Organic veggies! Local if you can find them. Most farmers markets have tomatoes and lettuce year round 🙂 (though in summer while they’re in season you can get them from local growers not using hot-houses). But make sure you get the Hass avocados while they’re in season during summer!
  2. Whole wheat tortillas have less energy consumption than refined bleached white flour tortillas.
  3. Beans are an awesome source of plant protein so you can avoid animal proteins for a meal :).
  4. Organic cheese means organic produce for the cow! Same as when you eat organic this means no pesticides entering water systems!
  5. I used Plain Greek Yogurt instead of Sour Cream due to the amount of protein found in greek yogurt! Super good for you!

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).

Eggs

So… I’ve talked about how animal proteins are worse for you than vegetable proteins. I know you know this. Therefore, when I do talk about animal protein I’m going to tell you how to keep them more eco-friendly for those days that you just want eggs.

I’ve been really longing eggs. There’s no way else to put it. And although I tried to put it off, the craving struck at midnight while I was finally trying to write my 8-10 page paper (luckily only the rough draft is due tomorrow). So… as a way to put off writing just a little bit longer (and as a hope that maybe my writers block would go away), I made myself a rosemary egg salad burrito. I’m definitely going to spare you the pictures (it wasn’t pretty–>and I didn’t want to wake up my roommate who had finished her paper just to get my camera) but it taught me a lesson (and it was pretty darn good)–> sometimes you can’t put off a craving because it’ll just get worse and worse and you’ll end up with a rosemary egg salad burrito. So… like I said: here are some ways to “green” up your eggs for the times you get those cravings–>and so you don’t put them off until it’s too late. (And I’ll even add my recipe at the bottom of this post after the ‘real’ recipes just in case someone out there is dying to try it… or just really gutsy.

  • LOCAL AND ORGANIC!!!!! Especially in the case of animal proteins these are two key words you should follow! Head to the local farmers market. The eggs are so delicious too! You really don’t know what you’ve been missing.
  • Organic eggs mean that the chicken hatching them has been fed a solely organic diet (and I know you know by now the environmental benefits of organic produce… no chemical fertilizers, etc.)–>if your organic eggs are flying from far away in the world, however, it’s probably better to settle for non-organic or else you’ll be part in the waste of a lot of fossil fuel.
  • Get cardboard egg cartons instead of the styrofoam ones. Styrofoam is not biodegradable!
  • Add extra vegetables to animal protein dishes so that less animal protein goes a long way.
  • Cut back on animal products. You can definitely still eat them, eat a little less than you regularly eat. If you used to eat 5 eggs a week, eat 2 or 3.
  • And good news: of animals, chickens are one of the greenest “in terms of manure waste and inputs” (Go Green Get Lean-Kate Geagan). Thank goodness we don’t get eggs from cows!

Here are some egg recipes for your tasting pleasure:

Veggie Frittata (w/ extra veggies)

  • 1/4 Onion, chopped
  • About a cup of any Vegetables you would like: I used Broccoli, Red Bell Pepper, and Zucchini.
  • 2 Eggs
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • optional: Organic Cheese

Saute the onions until transparent and then add the other vegetables. Cook until tender. Meanwhile, beat the eggs with salt and pepper. If you want cheese add it to the eggs and beat again. When the vegetables are tender, cook them until almost dry and then pour eggs over the top and cook through. Flip over and finish cooking.

Curried Eggs

  • 2 eggs, hard-boiled and quartered
  • Coconut milk (I added a little too much but I love coconut so add to taste)
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger, chopped
  • ~6 almonds, chopped
  • A dash of turmeric, cayenne, and coriander
  • Curry powder
  • 1 Tomato, diced
  • 1 cup Wild Rice, cooked

Saute the onion until transparent and then add the ginger, garlic, almonds, turmeric cayenne, and coriander. Add a little bit of water so it’s a little bit pasty.  Pour in coconut milk and then add tomatoes and eggs. Place on top of wild rice.

(It tasted good. Just forgive the picture)

Finally: What you’ve been waiting for: The Rosemary Egg Salad Burrito

  • A hard-boiled ORGANIC egg, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 sprig of organic Rosemary, chopped
  • Paprika
  • A squirt of Mustard
  • A spoonful of Vegenaise
  • A tiny squeeze of Lemon Juice
  • Cabbage, chopped
  • A Whole Wheat Tortilla

Mix the egg, rosemary, paprika, mustard, Vegenaise, and lemon juice in a bowl. Place on whole wheat tortilla and top with cabbage. Don’t judge me. The craving hit and I raided the fridge and it tasted darn good. 🙂

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).