Why I Am Posting These Recipes

I believe that it is healthier for an individual and for the planet to reduce the consumption of animal products in the human diet. However, I love to eat all kinds of delicious food, and find it really, really difficult to go totally vegetarian. Also, my family protests if I serve too many vegetarian meals in a row. So I am committed to making an effort to move towards a vegetarian diet without wholly doing so. I will post recipes several times a week that represent my philosophy of eating well, eating healthy, eating local. Most recipes will be easy to prepare, as I have a busy life. So I expect my followers to be people who love to cook and eat well, want to try to help the planet through their eating (by eating local foods and trying to reduce the use of meat in our diets), and have many other things to do each day besides cook.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Fish with Mayonnaise and Old Bay


This is the simplest of dishes, and very tasty.  This recipe was sort of given to me many years ago by someone I sat next to at a dinner party, a Chesapeake Bay fisherman from the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  He told me to basically cook striped bass (also called rockfish in some places) like this but to cover the fish with crab imperial before sprinkling the Old Bay on top.  That dish is even more fantastic, but more complicated and expensive--certainly not everyday fare in my household.  But this simple fish dish is perfect for a busy day when you want something good and nutritious, but don't want to put much effort into it.  Even a frozen dinner isn't really any easier than this, and this is so much better!

The day I made this, I wanted to buy striped bass from the Chesapeake Bay but it was unavailable.  I chose to purchase black sea bass because it came from Rhode Island waters, which is very close to where I live in Connecticut.  My thinking is that a) it is more sustainable to buy wild fish and b) if it comes from waters near where you live, it is more sustainable because there are less fossil fuels involved in the transport to your local store.  
Before cooking

After cooking


1 ½ lbs. striped bass or black sea bass fillet
mayonnaise
Old Bay seasoning

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Spread mayonnaise on fish fillet, skin side down on baking sheet (covered with foil for easy clean-up).  Sprinkle Old Bay seasoning over it.  Bake for  about 10 minutes.  Test fish for doneness by seeing if it flakes with a fork inserted into the middle.  Serves 4-5.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hummus

Lots of people have commented that they really like my hummus.  I think it is because of the cumin.  Hummus is wonderful as a dip or spread for veggies, crackers, and bread.  It is also great on sandwiches.  Use it instead of mayonnaise on a sandwich with turkey and/or vegetables.  My husband has discovered that he loves a dollop of hummus on a green salad.  After he pours the dressing on, he mixes the hummus up with the salad greens and dressing to make the salad a little more substantial and really tasty.  I have started doing the same thing once in a while.  Try it!  This is super-easy to make.  For the most sustainable cooking and eating, boil your own dried chickpeas that you purchase in bulk at a health food store.  Take your own container to the market, have them weigh the empty container before you fill it, and then weigh it again after you fill it to determine the weight of the beans.  This extra effort on your part saves the oil that is burned by the factory that cooks and cans beans, as well as all the other resources consumed in such mass processing.  You are polluting the environment less by taking this effort and eliminating a middleman.

I started soaking the beans early in the morning, cooked them at night, and made the hummus the next day.  It did not take much time or effort; it just delayed the preparation of the hummus by a day.  You can follow my lead here, if you don't need the hummus immediately, even if you have a busy life and a full-time job.  But if cooking your own beans will just mean that you will never make your own hummus, then just open a can of chick peas and whip the hummus up in five minutes.  No harm done.  You are still being greener than buying store-bought hummus!  Pat yourself on the back.


To cook your own chickpeas:  rinse and soak dried chickpeas in plenty of water in bowl or pot for at least 6 hours.  When ready to cook, rinse and drain.  Put chickpeas in pot with water that covers chickpeas with two finger sections or more above the level of the chickpeas.  Boil for 45 minutes to an hour, until tender.  Add 1 tsp salt after chickpeas are starting to become tender, but before they are finished cooking.  If you add salt at the beginning, the beans will be tough.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Better than usual Chocolate Chip Cookies

The other day, I set out to make chocolate chip cookies the way I always do, by following the directions on the back of the chocolate chip package.  As I am always looking for ways to sneak nutrition into the diets of my teenaged boys, I decided to substitute whole wheat flour for some of the white flour.  I prayed that they would not notice.  Then, on a whim, I tossed in some flaxseed meal.  Again, I prayed that this would not destroy my children's love for my homemade chocolate chip cookies.  I wanted them to be happy that I baked for them.  I hoped.  They came home from school, delighted that I had baked for them.  No comments were made about them not tasting as good as usual.  Then I ate one, and I thought, "I think these taste better than usual.  Could this be possible?"  I wondered how this could be possible.  Maybe the oiliness of the flaxseed meal did something good to the mixture.  Maybe it was just because the sea salt I used is better than regular salt.  I did detect just a subtle saltiness in some of the bites, as if I got a granule of salt--and the taste was good.  I asked one of my sons if he liked these cookies better, worse, or the same as the ones I usually make.  He told me they were especially delicious, and he thought they might be a little bit better than usual.  Eventually, I confessed to him that I had added whole wheat flour and flaxseed meal to the batter to make them more nutritious.  He groaned and replied, "I wish you had not told me."  I made them again and this time I used a new spice grinder that my sister-in-law gave me to grind pink Himalayan sea salt very lightly over some of the cookies, to see if the extra saltiness would enhance the flavor.  As I said, I did it very lightly, so it was hard for me to tell, but I think it might have done a good thing to the cookies.  You should try it, just sprinkling a bit of nice sea salt if you don't have a grinder.  Be sure not to overdo it!

Why, you might ask, would I post a cookie recipe that has butter and sugar on a wholesome website with the name, "greenplaneteating"?  Well, because making delicious cookies with butter and sugar is better for the planet than buying factory-made cookies that have contaminants such as HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP in them (see the little video clip at the bottom of this page).  Baking your own goodies is better than supporting those factories that produce mass-produced desserts.  Stick with me, and I will help you justify eating all kinds of wonderful things.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Vegetarian/Non-Vegetarian Stir Fry with Rice Noodles


This is the perfect dish to feed to a group of people that includes both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.  This is for those families that have one or two vegetarian members amidst others who want meat with their dinners.  This is for the cooks who want to please everyone.  


One of the tenets of green planet eating is to eat more vegetables than meat, because plants require fewer planetary resources to produce than animals.  Another tenet of green planet eating is to reduce (or better yet, eliminate!) food waste.  Food waste means that some part of the environment was used or damaged unnecessarily.  This recipe encourages the consumption of plants over animals, but by using leftovers that otherwise might have gotten thrown away, we are doing our part to conserve Earth's resources.  In my case, I had a chicken carcass from a few days ago that looked like it had been picked pretty clean.  We had roast chicken for dinner one night and I made a couple of sandwiches the next day with some of the leftovers.  But I got out a bowl and picked at that carcass some more, and came up with enough meat to be able to throw it in the pan at the end and satisfy the teenage boys who complained last night about a dinner with no meat at all.  (Luckily, they do not read my blog, so they have no idea at how scrappy the meat portion of tonight's dinner was!)  Before I added the meat at the end, I served myself a healthy portion.  Unfortunately, I wanted seconds, so I had to serve myself some more after I had added the chicken.  Make sure you do not make the same mistake--serve plenty to the vegetarians before adding the meat.  Remember that if you serve too much before you add the meat, you can always put it back in the pan with the meat later if it doesn't get eaten (as long as it wasn't on the plate that someone was eating off of!)

This is the chicken I was able to pick off of the carcass, with a few pieces of broccoli left on the cutting board after I chopped vegetables.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Roasted Carrots with White Balsamic Vinegar


I think I might be addicted to roasted vegetables.  I find myself craving them, quite frequently.  Something about roasting them in olive oil brings out their natural sweetness, and that sweetness juxtaposed with the saltiness of the sea salt that gets sprinkled over them and that seeps in as they cook, is just heavenly.  I recently acquired some special white balsamic vinegar, imported from Italy, the kind that comes in a very small bottle because it is expensive (I think, though I don't know how much it cost because it was a gift) and has concentrated flavor.  The kind that is of such high quality that you really can almost drink it by itself.  It has a sort of sweet flavor if you just put a dab on your tongue.  I had used it in with olive oil in a salad dressing, but that did not seem to do it justice.  I thought that if I roasted vegetables in olive oil and then just drizzled a little bit of this wonderful vinegar over them, the vinegar would give the dish a nice oomph and take it to another level.  I was right.  I had never roasted carrots before, but am sure these would have been tasty even before I drizzled the special vinegar over them.  But the vinegar gave it pizzaz, something extra.  I got the idea for covering the carrots during the first part of roasting from Cook's Illustrated, but the rest of it is my idea (they used butter in the recipe I saw).

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pear, Berry, Tropical Fruit Superfood Smoothie




I make smoothies just about every day, and put different mixes of fruit together for them.  I buy frozen fruit (berries and mango chunks, mostly) in the winter, and mix in fresh fruit most of the time, such as bananas, pears and apples.  I like a blend of fresh and frozen because the fresh fruit blends more easily but the frozen fruit gives it a slushy, cold taste that makes it extra delicious.  In the summer, when I don’t need to use frozen fruit due to the bounty of local fresh fruit available, I usually throw in a couple of ice cubes to achieve that same frosty characteristic.  Recently, I have loaded the smoothies up with “superfood” powders and seeds (purchased in health food stores) to boost the nutrition.  I am trying hard to keep the flu out of my house, and this can’t hurt!  These are the packages I line up on the kitchen counter, and what the packages claim:

acai powder-“loaded with antioxidants . . . essential amino acids (and) many other micronutrients, including resveratrol, polyphenols and flavenoids, as well as magnesium and potassium.” (from the Navitas Naturals brand package)

chia seeds-excellent source of fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

flaxseed meal-rich in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and lignans.

maca powder, derived from a Peruvian root-“a nutritional storehouse of minerals, vitamins and fiber including vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin C, proteins and tannins.  Maca Powder is rich in quality alkaloids and carbohydrates which can form the basis for sustainable energy.” (from the Ojio brand package)

hemp seed powder-“Protein from hemp seeds is one of the highest vegetarian sources and is highly absorbable. Additionally, the seeds contain all the essential amino acids making hemp a complete protein.  Hemp seeds possess an ideally balanced ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.  It is an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, manganese, zinc, and a good source of potassium and iron.” (from the Navitas Naturals brand package)

While I don’t rely completely on marketing for my information, I have read about these ingredients in other sources that tout them as nutritional superfoods and encourage adding them to recipes for general health.  They don't seem to change the flavor of the smoothie.  They are expensive, but they will last awhile (I store them in the refrigerator), and I think it is worth it if they work to keep my family healthier.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Red Quinoa Pilaf with Miso

The other night, I wanted to create a nutritious, quick and easy side dish to go with the fish I served.  Quinoa fit the bill, as it cooks very quickly and is extremely nutritious (loaded with protein, and also contains many vitamins and minerals).  I wanted to mask its flavor a little, as my kids don't care for it much when it is plain.  It tastes somewhat bitter on its own.  My pantry boasts several kinds of quinoa, as I recently saw a variety at the store and bought them all, so that I could experiment a little.  The red quinoa I chose to use here is very pretty on the plate, so I encourage you to use it if possible.  I'm sure the taste would be similar if you chose to use plain quinoa, or another kind, such as tri-color.  I often start grain dishes with sauteed onions, carrots and celery, as I find these vegetables easily dress up grains nicely, and offer flavor to the broth as the grains cook.  This time I decided to go out on a limb and throw in a bit of miso.  I love miso when I taste it at Japanese restaurants but I am not that familiar with how to use it in my own cooking, so this was very daring on my part.  I decided to add soy sauce at the end instead of salt, since I was already leaning towards Asia with the miso!  My husband said it was the best quinoa he had ever eaten.

1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water
2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tsp organic white miso paste, mixed with 2 TBS water
2 tsp soy sauce

Heat olive oil in sauce pan.  Saute onions until translucent, then add carrots and celery and saute for a couple of minutes.  Rinse quinoa and then add to pan with 2 cups water.  Cover and bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until water is absorbed.  Remove from heat and add miso that has been mixed with water, and then soy sauce.  Stir until miso is distributed throughout pilaf mixture.  Serves 5-6.