food

What Sustainable Bloggers Eat: A Week of Easy Vegetarian Dinners

easy vegetarian dinners - what sustainable bloggers eat
The members of the Ethical Writers & Creatives are sharing "what sustainable bloggers eat" today. Get the other links at the bottom of this post.

I am a lazy meal preparer.

It's not that I don't like to cook, but most days I'm only cooking for myself (my husband and I tend to be on different meal schedules) with limited time for prep due to evening meetings and choir rehearsals.

Over the years, I've managed to work out a pattern of meals that fill me up at minimal cost with minimal time spent. Especially if you're someone who's looking to transition away from as much meat, I thought a peek into my typical meal schedule might be helpful.

Full disclosure: My diet is not completely meat free, but I never cook meat at home and typically only eat it once per week. I have significantly reduced my meat consumption due both to the clear environmental link between grazing livestock and climate change/rainforest deforestation and animal ethics. I deeply respect vegetarians and vegans, but I also grapple with the fact that human evolution was heavily influenced by the consumption of animal products (things like honey, eggs, and meat) and the daily paradoxes of ethics and behavior evident in human culture. There's also some evidence that, in terms of global food security, a diet that contains a small amount of meat is more efficient. But I digress. Here are my easy peasy recipes for vegetarian dinners.

Monday:

Red Beans and Rice

What You'll Need:
  • 1 Cup Minute Brown Rice
  • 1 Can Dark Red Kidney Beans
  • 1/2 Red Onion
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • Celery Flakes or a Palmful of Diced Celery
  • Dry Spices: Thyme, Pepper, Salted Creole Spice. Parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

To Make:
  1. Add olive oil to a 10" frying pan and heat on medium-high.
  2. Dice onion and garlic and add to pan. Cook for 3 minutes or until onion starts to soften.
  3. Drain 1 can of red beans, but leave about 1/4 of the liquid. Add to pan.
  4. Add celery, spices, and cajun seasoning to taste (cajun seasoning already contains salt, so make sure to add it before adding more salt).
  5. Stir and cook for about a minute. Add Minute Rice, stir, then add hot water until it just covers the mixture.
  6. Cover the pan, set heat to low, and let simmer for 10 minutes or until rice is thoroughly cooked.

Tuesday/Wednesday:

Flat Bread Pizzas

What You'll Need:
  • 1 Pack Whole Wheat Flat Bread (the thick, pita kind, not the wrap kind)
Toppings!
  • Arugala
  • Diced mushrooms
  • Red onion
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Grape tomatoes, halved
  • Feta Cheese
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

To Make:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place two flatbreads on a baking sheet. Add toppings, then drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until flatbread is crisp in the bottom.

Thursday:

Mushrooms over Mashed Potatoes

What You'll Need:
  • Cremini (Baby Portobello) Mushrooms
  • Thyme
  • Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Lemon Juice or Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Margarine or Butter
  • 1/4 Red Onion

To Make:
  1. In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil on medium high heat.
  2. Dice onion and garlic. Add to pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Rinse and dry mushrooms. Dice (or buy pre-diced) and add to the pan with thyme leaves, salt, and pepper.
  4. Stir and cover. Simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Add 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar and cook for 1 additional minute.

For the Potatoes:
  • Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • Butter or Margarine
  • Splash of Almond Milk or Whole Milk
  • Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder

Friday: 

Go out to eat! You deserve it!

In case you're wondering, for breakfast I normally eat Greek yogurt with muesli or a banana. For lunch, I eat leftovers or Amy's Frozen Meals (I know, the single use plastics are a problem. Working to stop depending on them).

Staple Items (affiliate links): 
I also recommend Good Housekeeping's Vegetarian Meals Cookbook from 2010. You can purchase a used one here.

What Other Sustainable Bloggers Eat:

Holiday Recipe: Rooibos Chai Shortbread Cookies

Organic rooibos chai shortbread cookies recipe Organic rooibos chai shortbread cookies recipe
This post was written in collaboration with NUMI Organic Tea.

My husband is the baker in our family. He's the first one who tried adding spices and tea to shortbread. and his sweet, spiced cookies have always been a hit at holiday parties and weeknight get-togethers alike. I've eaten Earl Grey and Chai Shortbread before, but it seemed to me that Rooibos would make an even better addition to this simple, seasonal cookie due to its naturally sweet flavor and vanilla notes. The addition of chai spices makes it the perfect holiday dessert, enjoyed after dinner with coffee or tea.

This recipe is also fairly fool proof, with a simple ingredient list and no special prep. I hope you enjoy it!

Rooibos Chai Shortbread...

Organic rooibos chai shortbread cookies recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. Softened, Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 c. Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. Flour
  • 4 Roobois Chai Tea bags, opened, emptied, and lightly food processed (I used NUMI brand)

Organic rooibos chai shortbread cookies recipe
Organic rooibos chai shortbread cookies recipe

To Make: 

  1. Set oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream sugar and softened (but not melting) butter together in a bowl until fully combined.
  3. Place 4 teabags worth of tea in food processor and pulse until fine (see above photo for example).
  4. Add tea, vanilla extract, and flour. Knead dough in bowl with hands until ingredients combine.
  5. Form dough into log about 2" in diameter and wrap in wax paper. Cool in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Slice log into 1/2" pieces. Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.
Recipe yields 25-30 small cookies depending on how you cut them.


Organic rooibos chai shortbread cookies recipe

Shortbread cookies are great for gift-giving because their low humidity helps them keep for longer. I'll be making a bundle to give to my coworkers this Holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

12 months, 12 goals: eat fair trade food

march ethical goals

This month's goal is to replace non-fair trade food items with fair trade, organic options as often as possible. Something clicked with me at the beginning of the year and I started to find it easier to take the ethical path. It felt less like a sacrifice to avoid Old Navy or to buy fair trade chocolate over a tried and true brand. It's nice that it's becoming second nature over time.

The fair trade movement began with food, so there are more options at standard grocery stores than many people realize. And specialty stores like Whole Foods - we're fortunate to have one in Charlottesville - sell tons of ethical options, all clearly labeled.

This month, I plan to buy more fairly traded produce and continue to buy fair trade coffee, chocolate, and tea. All it takes in most cases is reading the label, but I can always research the production standards when production information is limited. I'll be relying in part on Fair Trade USA resources to narrow it down.

When I talk about fairly traded food, however, I don't just mean items with the fair trade label. Fair trade is tricky because companies normally have to initiate the certification process. If they don't, it doesn't necessarily mean they're hiding anything. There are plenty of local and domestic producers that likely follow ethical guidelines. It's all about doing proper research and asking for greater transparency.

Wish me luck and join in if you'd like. Also, if you have any suggestions or resources, let me know!

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