Earth Day Reflections and Recipe

EARTH DAY is a time to reflect on how we may help to lower our personal carbon footprint. As more of us become passionate about following a earth-friendly-lifestyle, the question of how our individual food choices impacts the environment is now a major player in the conversation. I follow a vegan, plant-based life path for three reasons:

1) Compassion for animals

2) Better health

3) Eco-responsibility

For those reasons, I follow what I call an “Eco-Plant Diet.”

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See my recipe for Easy Earth Day Burrito Bake at the bottom of this post!

It turns out that eating meat, or any animal products, can have a negative impact on our environment. An article posted recently on Livinggreenmag.com gives us a few interesting facts to consider:

1) Overall, it takes about 11 times fewer fossil fuels to produce a gram of plant protein than it does to produce a gram of animal protein. 

2) A NationalGeographic.com report shows that the average vegan indirectly consumes nearly 600 gallons of water a day less than the average meat-eater.

3) It takes 3.25 acres of land to produce food for a meat-eater, while food for a vegan can be produced on just 1/6 of an acre of land.

4) According to Loma Linda University researchers, vegans have the smallest carbon footprint, generating 41 percent less greenhouse gasses than meat-eaters and 13 percent less than vegetarians.

5) It takes up to 13 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of meat, and even fish on fish farms must be fed up to 5 pounds of wild-caught fish to produce 1 pound of farmed-fish flesh.

To further address the impact we make on our Mother Earth when consuming animal products, the website, takeextinctionoffyourplate.com states “Meat production is one of the main drivers of environmental degradation globally, and the crisis is rapidly growing worse…By reducing our meat consumption, we can take extinction off our plates and improve our own health along with the health of the planet.”

See my recipe for Easy Earth Day Burrito Bake at the bottom of this post!

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So whether you are already vegan, thinking of going plant-based full time, or simply pondering adding more vegan meals into your weekly menu plan, try adding plant-based versions of dishes that you're already familiar with to your diet. Classic favorites like chili, lasagna, pasta, veggie burger with oven fries or a main dish salad, soup, sandwich, casserole or easy stew are a great way to start on the path toward eating more veggies, fruit, grains, legumes and nuts - and it’s an effective way to start lowering your carbon footprint. In fact, Environmental Defense Fund estimated that “if every American skipped at least one meal of chicken a week and ate vegetables and grains instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off U.S. roads.” So, by consuming just one vegan meal per week, anyone can start to make a difference in his or her personal carbon footprint. Good news.

My mission is to “make the world a better place, one recipe at a time.” Sharing delicious tasting, plant-powered recipes is my passion in life. So by moving toward an Eco-Plant Diet, you’ll feel better, save animals and help to save the planet! Now THAT’s jazzy! 

Want to learn more about how our food choices can affect the environment? Here are a few online resources:

Takeextinctionoffyourplate.com

Farmsanctuary.org

vegan.org

vegansociety.com

veganoutreach.org

 

Easy Earth Day Burrito Bake

Makes 2 servings  

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My steam/bake method for cooking these delicious burritos makes them slightly crisp on the outside and super moist on the inside. I have been making this dish for many years and it continues to be a favorite midweek, go-to recipe in my kitchen.

2 8- to 11-inch whole-grain tortillas

1 to 1¼  cups cooked pinto beans (depending on the size of your tortillas) (drained and rinsed

if canned)

1/2 cup prepared salsa, plus more as needed

1/4 cup shredded vegan cheese (optional)

4 cups well packed mixed spring greens

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line an 11 x 17-inch baking dish with unbleached parchment paper, allowing a 7-inch overhang on the two lengthwise sides of the dish.

Put a tortilla on a large dinner plate. On one side of the tortilla, layer half of the beans, 2 heaping tablespoons salsa, half of the vegan cheese, and one-third of the greens. Roll the tortilla tightly around the filling and place it seam-side down on the prepared baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortilla.

Bring the sides of the parchment paper over the burritos, fold it over, and seal tightly. (This will keep the burritos from drying out as they cook.) Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until heated through. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before unwrapping the parchment.

To serve, place a burrito on a colorful plate and top with 1 to 2 tablespoons salsa. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of  Dairy-Free “Sour Cream” and serve the remaining greens on the side.

Dairy-Free “Sour Cream”

Makes 6 to 8 servings  

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This realistic substitute for the dairy variety works well as a base for dressings and dips, spooned over baked potatoes or chili, or served with my Easy Burrito Bake When I served this to the crew on the set of my television show, they were amazed by how much it tastes like actual sour cream!

16 ounces soft silken or regular tofu, drained

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Put the tofu, lemon juice, and sea salt in a blender and process until smooth. Taste and add additional lemon juice and sea salt, if desired. Chill 1 hour and serve.