recipe

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:

Recipe: Fair Trade, Organic Ginger Tea Hot Toddy


I hope you all had a festive, comforting, and delicious Christmas (if you celebrate it). My mother-in-law has been in town for the last week, so we've been taking her to neighboring towns, museums, and wineries. We all worked together to make a traditional dinner yesterday, but for the most part, we've just been relaxing, listening to Christmas music, and watching Malcolm in the Middle on Netflix.

It's the perfect season for Hot Toddy.

I returned from Kentucky Bourbon Country in October with a real appreciation for the spicy sweetness of this true American beverage. I don't typically want it neat or on the rocks, but it seemed like the perfect thing to add to my evening tea.

Over the last month or so, I've developed a hot toddy recipe that plays on the traditional combination of lemon, honey, and whiskey, but with a twist: fair trade ginger tea. I won't pretend this combination hasn't been done before in some form, but mine might be the first recipe that uses fair trade ginger tea.

Whether you're enduring a cold snap or a winter cold, this hot toddy will warm you up.


Ginger Tea Hot Toddy

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bag Equal Exchange Fair Trade Organic Ginger Tea
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon Locally Sourced Honey
  • 1 Squeeze of Lemon Juice
  • 1 oz. Bourbon (I like Evan Williams' Black Label and Buffalo Trace's Benchmark)

To Make:

  1. Boil 12 oz. water. 
  2. Add 1 oz. of bourbon and a tea bag to your favorite mug.
  3. Pour hot water over tea bag. 
  4. Stir in honey and lemon. 
  5. Remove ginger tea bag after 1-2 minutes for best balance.
  6. Put on your flannel PJs and settle in for the night. 

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If you're into Hot Toddy or tea cocktails, I would love to hear about your custom recipes. Feel free to share in the comments. 

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!

Recipe: Fair Trade, Organic Thai-Inspired Spiced Milk Tea

Special thanks to Numi Organic Tea for sponsoring this post

If you've ever been to a Thai restaurant (or better yet, Thailand) you've likely seen ombre Thai Tea served in a jar or a tall glass. My local Thai restaurant makes a great version of this with just the right amount of sugar and spice.

If you haven't had Thai Tea before, the flavor profile is reminiscent of iced chai or bubble tea depending on the spices used and the amount of sugar added. It's the perfect mid afternoon pick-me-up on a hot day because it's refreshing, energizing, and filling.

Traditional Thai Tea combines Thai Tea leaves with sugar and a spice blend of cardamom, cloves, and star anise. I wanted to put my own spin on it, so I opted for one of Numi Organic's spiced teas mixed with organic sugar, cloves, and half & half. Though the color and viscosity of my tea is different from traditional Thai Tea, the flavor and refreshment factor are right on par, perfect for a lazy afternoon spent reading in the shade of a porch.


Thai-Inspired Spiced Milk Tea for Two


WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

TO MAKE:
  1. Add 2 cups of water, 2 tbsp. sugar, and a few shakes of ground cloves to a small pot. 
  2. Heat on medium high heat. Gently stir until all sugar is dissolved. 
  3. Once water is boiling, take the paper tags off of 4 spiced tea bags and submerse in pot. 
  4. Reduce heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes. 
  5. Take pot off heat and let tea continue to steep until the water is room temperature.
  6. Pour room temperature tea and tea bags into a glass or plastic container and let cool in the refrigerator for 2 hours, or overnight. 
  7. After steeping, remove your tea bags, pour tea in two glasses, and add cold half & half to taste. You may add ice if you wish. 
  8. Drink immediately or place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


I've tried to make my own spiced tea at home before with less-than-stellar results. But this recipe is my new go-to when I'm craving a sweet spiced drink. It's easy enough to make on an easy Saturday morning in between other chores and tasks, and it stores well in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Let me know if you make it and how it turns out.

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See my previous collaborations with Numi here. 


Follow along with Numi on social media: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

recipe: easy mediterranean brown rice


Rice and Beans is my main food group, but occasionally I like to mix things up. I went crazy earlier this week by making rice with tomatoes and kalamata olives instead! It was way more delicious than I anticipated - even Daniel liked it - so I thought I'd share it with you. 

Serves 2-3 as main dish. 
Preparation/Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. Minute or other quick cook brown rice
  • 1 3/4 c. vegetable broth (one small carton or 13.7 oz.)
  • 13-14 oz. grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • handful kalamata olives, pitted and diced
  • 1-3 cloves garlic (depending on size and preference)
  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil
  • parsley, salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste
  • feta cheese


Instructions:

  1. Bring vegetable broth to boil in medium sized sauce pan. Add rice according to instructions on your box of Minute rice. 
  2. Cut grape tomatoes in half. Pit and dice kalamata olives. Finely chop garlic. Set aside.
  3. Once the rice is nearly cooked, add 1-2 tbsp. olive oil to a frying pan or skillet on medium heat. Add garlic, olives, and tomatoes and cook until garlic is fragrant (2-4 minutes).
  4. Add cooked rice and stir. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and parsley as desired. 
  5. Turn off heat and add a hint of lemon juice. Crumble in feta cheese and stir until melted.
  6. Enjoy!


easy recipe: balsamic potatoes with arugula

balsamic potatoes recipe with arugula, stylewiseguide.com

I didn't enjoy cooking until recently, so I still have the bad habit of not preparing something to eat until I'm ravenously hungry. I tend to fall back on black beans and rice and chickpeas with garlic and parsley, but sometimes I get tired of it and make potatoes instead.

My super easy recipe for balsamic potatoes uses the microwave, but I'm sure there are better ways to prepare this if you've got a little more time on your hands and don't mind cleaning up the stove top.

Ingredients:

  • Salt

  • Thyme (fresh or powdered)

  • Balsamic Vinegar

  • Olive Oil

  • Yellow Potatoes (I used five in varying sizes)

  • Garlic (fresh or jarred preferred)

Instructions:

Wash potatoes and cut into bite sized pieces (keep in mind that smaller pieces will cook through quicker). Place in microwave safe bowl and add salt, balsamic vinegar, thyme, olive oil, and garlic to taste. Use a large spoon to coat potatoes evenly.

Cover bowl completely with plastic wrap and microwave for 5-8 minutes at a time, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are cooked through. Garnish with arugula to taste (I added a lot and it was delicious).

recipe: easy chickpea salad

chickpea salad recipeI'm unhealthily obsessed with chickpeas (that's not really an exaggeration - I overdosed on fiber one week and drove myself to nausea). I usually cook a can with olive oil, parsley, and garlic, but I decided to branch out this week by making a cold chickpea salad.

All you need is:

  • 1 can salted chickpeas, drained

  • Chopped tomato (just a palm full)

  • Chopped red onion (just a palm full)

  • Chopped cucumber (just a palm full)

  • Parsley, kosher salt, pepper, and basil to taste

  • Red wine vinegar, olive oil, and lemon juice to taste


Mix it all together in a bowl, taste and season away, and enjoy.

Daniel and I try to avoid processed grains and dairy, so this type of meal is exactly the type of thing that's healthy, well-balanced, and delicious. I try to buy from local farmers when possible since it's a bit more sustainable than buying vegetables that have been transported here from a faraway land. Organic cucumbers are also a must because they aren't waxed like their non-organic counterparts, which means you can eat the skin (yum!).

Did you know? Chickpeas have been a part of the human diet for at least 7, 500 years!

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