April 22 is Earth Day. But, when you are plant-strong, everyday is Earth Day. Each year, Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. I know this, because I was there when the word “environment” took on a new meaning.
The kitchen seems to be the epicenter for beginning your stewardship in practicing good enviro-habits. Taking a few extra minutes to rinse out a can or crush a cardboard pasta box, are good ways to jump right into recycling. No matter what, there are many ways to implement best practices for taking care of Mother Nature,
Leftovers are a great way to “recycle” and in the most tasteful and delicious of ways. From a delicious “Crisper Soup,” to a “Veggie Roast,” never waste food. And, if you have to dispose of fresh food, a compost bin is a good way to start (even if using a mini-counter top container).
Here are five, easy ways to focus on the environment. It can start in the grocery store when you buy in bulk, and finish in the kitchen when you practice batch-cooking.
Five Quick Ways to Save Time, Money, and the Environment
Use Containers When Buying in Bulk: If you’re buying nutritional yeast, the best thing to do is grab a plastic container (from the peanut butter machine), and fill it with the “nooch.” When you get home, you do not have to transfer contents, and you already have a storage container. Reuse the container when you refill with your next purchase. NOTE: each container has a “tare weight” and that weight will be subtracted from the actual scale measurement when you check out.
Try Batch Cooking: What better way to save time and energy? Take a five-pound bag of potatoes and bake them (whole) all at the same time. You’ll have an arsenal of cooking ideas before, and you’ll never have to wait to bake a potato. Think of things like potato salad, oven-fries, “croutons” and more! Cooking rice, quinoa, and other grains is another way to save time and energy. Store them in the collection of containers you’ve assembled from take-out and the like. Mark and date the containers.
Make Your Own Broth/Stock: When you peel, slice, etc., store the skins and such in the freezer. I keep a container and I fill it with apple cores, carrot skins, celery tops, green bean ends, etc. You will have the richest and most delicious stock, ever. Then, after the stock is finished, you can compost the cooked skins.
Buy Only What You Need: It’s very easy to over-shop. Beautiful end-caps at the grocery store can often lure you into buying things that you hadn’t planned on purchasing. Create a shopping list, stick to it, and you will not over-shop. How many times have you bought something (not on your list) and then have it turn into a scientific experiment?
Leftovers Are Your New Best Friend: Recycle your dinner and make it tomorrow’s lunch (or breakfast). Think of fun and creative ways to disguise Monday’s dinner, and have your friends and family go “wow,” with a new dish. Add some rice, and extra salad, etc. Change up the seasonings, too. Too much fruit? Make applesauce, compote, etc. or freeze the fruit and use it in your Yonanas machine!
Once a week, I clean out my vegetable crisper. Using that half onion, the last carrot, and two wilted kale leaves, there is always something to do to create a delicious and bountiful plant-strong meal. Here’s a quick, easy and delicious recipe. It is so easy, that there really isn’t a recipe, but you will have fun making this dish.
Recipe for “Crisper Plant-Strong Soup”
Onion + 5-6 Garlic Cloves
2-3 cups of vegetables (fresh, or frozen)
4 cups of water or stock
1 cup of uncooked oatmeal (old-fashioned)
2-3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
2-3 tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce
Cooking it Up
Chop onions, smash garlic cloves, and dry saute over medium heat until the onions become translucent.
Add other vegetables, which you have chopped into your favorite “cuts.” (medium dice-cut is great), gently saute.
Simmer soup for 30-40 minutes on medium heat.
Add oatmeal, and cook for an additional ten minutes.
Finally, add the chopped kale. Cover soup. Turn off heat.
Add nutritional yeast and hot sauce, mix well into the soup.
Serve with a side salad. Enjoy. Have fun making this “no recipe” delicious soup.
And, Happy Earth Day, 2016!