Hungry? Let's Talk About Sustainable Foods!
In almost every single one of my sustainability courses, I am told about the large effect of industrial agriculture on the climate. One of the main contributors to greenhouse gases in this sector is the raising of livestock. As Americans, meat consumption is deeply engrained into our society and therefore, our personal lives. I grew up eating burgers, ribs, hot dogs, and chicken on a pretty frequent basis. Likewise, living in the Midwest, I rarely (to ever) saw "vegetarian" or "vegan" options.
When I got to college in Minneapolis, my view completely changed. I took courses and met people that showed me just how doable plant based eating can be. I have been vegetarian for 2 years now and vegan for about 6 months, which I never thought I'd do! Along my journey, I have helped my family integrate more plant-based meals to show them how delicious- and sustainable plant-based eating can be.
As you're reading this, I don't want you to think I am saying GO VEGAN NOW! because that is not my message. I just want to challenge you to integrate more plant-based meals (whether thats once a week, twice a week, etc). into your diet and to understand the role food choices play in the climate crisis.
To help you out, I'm including some of my favorite sustainable foods (that you can buy in bulk!) and some recipes to go along with them:
Oats are without a doubt one of my favorite foods. I have them every day for breakfast and they're so easy to add to! I usually add fruit, seeds (chia and hemp seeds) and nut butter to make them filling and even more delicious! One easy recipe I found for oats to -spice- them up is a single-serve banana baked oatmeal (by @itstaylermarie). I adore this recipe and love to make it when I get sick of a basic bowl of oats.
Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal:
1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 spotty banana mashed + slices for topping
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
Splash of vanilla extract
optional add-ins: flax meal, chia seeds, scoop of plant-based protein powder
-Preheat oven to 350F and spray an oven-safe dish/ramekin with nonstick spray.
-Mix all ingredients in a separate bowl and then pour into ramekin.
-Bake for about 25 minutes or until top is dry and golden brown.
-Let cool for a few minutes, top with some nut butter, and enjoy!
Both nuts and seeds are incredibly easy to buy in bulk and they're good on almost everything. I love to buy bulk chia, hemp, and flax seeds for my oatmeal, smoothies, salads and just about anything else! For nuts, I have them as a snack or I use them to make my own nut milk. Here are a couple recipes using nuts and seeds that are so easy and sooo delicious!
Chia Seed Pudding:
(recipe from boomwithyou.com)
-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
-2 tablespoons of chia seeds
-Toppings: fresh fruit, raw nuts, cinnamon, coconut, hemp seeds, flax seeds, nut butters, cocoa nibs, etc.
-Combine almond milk and chia seeds in a small cup or bowl. Mix so that chia seeds are submerged in milk (they may float at the surface, that’s okay too).
-Let sit in refrigerator for at least one hour, stirring once to make sure chia seeds aren’t sticking. Tip: Make a batch the night before and stir them when you wake up— they’ll absorb more liquid and gel/expand better.
-Add any topics you’d like!
Lentils & Beans
Think vegetarians & vegans don't get enough protein? Let me introduce you to these protein superstars that are so easy to buy in bulk- lentils and beans! I eat beans (black beans, garbanzo beans, etc.) on a daily basis and never get sick of them. They are so versatile and add a nice protein punch to every meal. For beans, I roast chickpeas and add them to salads for a nice little crunch or I use them in stir-fry, veggie bowls and almost anything else! For lentils, I love to make a delicious easy lentil curry that I can meal prep with rice (also easy to buy in bulk) for the week.
Easy Roasted Chickpeas:
-1 can chickpeas
-Seasonings of choice (I do salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika)
-Preheat oven to 400 and rinse & drain your chickpeas
-Gently pat chickpeas dry with a towel
-Toss with olive oil and seasonings and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet
-Roast for 25-30 minutes or until crispy
Easy Red Lentil Curry
(recipe from itstaylermarie.squarespace.com )
for the curry:
-1 cup red lentils, rinsed*
-3 cups vegetable broth
-1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
-1 tbsp coconut oil
-1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
-2 large carrots, chopped
-1 tbsp curry powder
-1/2 tbsp ground cumin
-1 tsp turmeric
-heavy sprinkle of black pepper
-heavy sprinkle of red chili flakes (for some spice)
-pinch of salt
for the rice (optional side):
3/4 cup jasmine rice, rinsed
1 and 1/4 cup water
pinch of salt
-Grab a medium sized pot and add in your oil, chopped onion, garlic, ginger, and carrots and bring to a high-med heat.
-Saute until your onions are slightly browned and translucent (about 4-5 minutes). I recommend rinsing your red lentils during this time.
-Next add in all of your seasonings as well as your red lentils and let them warm up with each other for about a minute by stirring around in the pot. Now add in your broth and crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil, cover the pot with a lid, then lower the heat down to a simmer.
-Let the curry stew for 40-45 minutes at a simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.
-Cook your rice during this time by adding all rice ingredients to a second pot. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid, then lower to a simmer to cook for about 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally towards the end to make sure it’s not sticking. Once finished, turn off heat, leave on the lid, then fluff with a fork after 5 minutes. Set aside.
-Once curry is finished, serve with your rice if you chose that as a side or perhaps some cooked veggies, a bit of cilantro, and some chopped cashews or peanuts. Enjoy with friends or refrigerate leftovers.**
Ahh pasta. A college student's best friend. Also great for buying in bulk! I buy bulk pasta and toss it in a bunch of different sauces. Marinara is always a go-to for me but I recently tried out an avocado basil pesto that really made our main ingredient shine.
Creamy Avocado Basil Pesto
(recipe from @cecesvegankitchen)
-1/2 a large avocado
-1/4 a cup basil
-1/8 cup hulled hemp hearts
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
-1/3 cup olive oil
-1 tsp garlic powder
-1/4-1/2 cup water
Blend it all up in a high speed blender- that's it!
Serve this beautiful sauce over a bed of pasta with some cherry tomatoes and veggies.
Below is a picture of when I made this just a few nights ago!
I hope these recipes give you some inspiration for your next sustainable, plant-based meal!