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In this weekly series we have been discussing the benefits of a vegetarian diet including: better health, longer lives, animal rights, public health, food safety, global food crisis, frugal living and the staggeringly huge impact of meat/livestock production to climate change/resource depletion.

Beef production uses more agricultural land than all other food sources combined

    Nearly 60 percent of the world's agricultural land is used for beef production, yet beef accounts for less than two percent of the world's calories.
    Beef makes up about 24 percent of the world's meat consumption, yet requires 30 million square kilometers of land to produce. Poultry (34 percent of global meat consumption) and pork (40 percent) each use less than two million square kilometers of land.
    Beef production is an inefficient use of food resources. Chickens need to consume two kilograms of grain to produce one kilogram of meat. Pigs need four kilograms. For beef cattle the ratio is 10 to 1.

Livestock production has global impacts

    Tropical deforestation is responsible for about 15 percent of the world's global warming emissions and adversely affects the planet's biodiversity.
    The expansion of meat production, epecially beef, has been a major driver of deforestation over the last 20 years, responsible for about 45 percent of the heat-trapping gases produced by deforestation.
    Cows produce extensive amounts of methane during the digestive process, a potent heat-trapping gas that exits the cow from both ends and causes about 23 times as much global warming per molecule as carbon dioxide. Large amounts of manure are also a leading cause of water pollution.

Macca's Meatless Monday/Meatless Advocates is a solution oriented activist group, with solutions for some of the most pressing issues of our time including: climate change, global food/water insecurity and public health.  Here we don't just talk about the severity of the crisis.  Armed with knowledge about how our actions can contribute we become part of the solution.
 

I was inspired to create this series by former Beatle and vegetarian advocate Paul McCartney who partnered with the Meatless Monday campaign to promote less consumption of meat.  We not only discuss the many advantages of a less meat diet we also do some cooking, share recipes and listen to great Beatle music!

I love bread!  There is so much you can do with it besides the old sandwich standby.  We usually have some around and when it gets a little stale I like to use it as an ingredient, works so well for my frugal side.   Today I'm sharing some of my favorite recipes using bread as an ingredient and we'll also do some quick baking.
                   Panzanella1
GREEK PANZANELLA
This is go-to summer salad for me.

    Good olive oil
    1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
    Kosher salt
    1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
    1 red bell pepper, large diced
    1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
    1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
    1/2 red onion, sliced in half rounds
    1/2 pound feta cheese, cut in 1/2-inch cubes or use vegan feta
    1/2 cup calamata olives, pitted

vinaigrette:

    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 cup good olive oil

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Add more olive oil as needed.

Place the cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.

For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a small bowl. While still whisking, add the olive oil and make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta, olives and bread cubes and mix together lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.
             pita bread salad
HERBED TOASTED PITA SALAD
An easy entree salad and a great use for stale pitas!

    3 (6-inch) whole-wheat pita breads with pockets
    1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    1 teaspoon lemon zest
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    1 large head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces (about 6 cups)
    1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    1/4 cup sliced scallions
    1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
    1 English cucumber, cored, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
    1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
    1 can canellini beans, drained & rinsed

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Split each pita into 2 rounds and toast on a baking sheet in the middle of the oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Allow pitas to cool and break into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper. Add the oil and whisk to incorporate.

Toss the lettuce, parsley, scallions, mint, cucumber, tomatoes and beans together in a large bowl.

Right before serving, add the pita and dressing to the salad. Toss well to coat.
         Olive Oil Finger Stix with Greek Olive Hummus
OLIVE OIL FINGER STIX with GREEK OLIVE HUMMUS
A quick light meal with some added crudities.  Kids love this! H/T to Vegan Feast
Make the stix ahead and freeze some.  Then just defrost and heat in toaster oven.

For the stix:
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup warm beer
1 tbsp dry yeast
3/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
4 1/2 cup wheat flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water and warm beer for 10
minutes or until very foamy. Add olive oil, salt.
Mix in 3 1/2 cups flour and knead until
smooth and elastic adding more flour as needed to
prevent stickiness. Place dough in oiled bowl, cover
and let rise double. Punch down dough and divide into
12 balls and divide each ball into 4 pieces. Roll each
piece into a long rope and then pinch each rope into “fingers”
and place on greased baking sheets at least 1 inch apart.
You can brush these with a little olive oil if you like- but don’t
forget to toss them half way through and baste the other while
they are baking for even color.
Bake immediately, 350 until golden about 20
minutes.
Note: You can also sprinkle rosemary, anise or other seeds on the dough and even in the dough…like fennel, poppy seed, sesame, etc.
6 Dozen “Fingers”

GREEK OLIVE HUMMUS

1 can garbanzo – chick peas
2/3 cup chopped kalamata olives plus extra for topping
1 tablespoon tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cloves garlic minced
parsley for top (optional)

 place all hummus ingredients in food processor
 add more olives for stronger olive flavor
 add olive oil to thin as needed
 Place in bowl and surround with olive oil stix and/or crudities
 top with small bit of chopped olives and parsley
         savory wild mushroom bread pudding
WILD MUSHROOM BREAD PUDDING
This is one of my all time fave recipes h/t Tyler Florence. It's a bit decadent(I mean REALLY decadent!) but  makes a great brunch entree.  Serves 8

    1 1/3 cup heavy cream
    4 eggs-organic free roaming
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1 loaf crusty Italian bread, cubed (ciabatta is good here)
    3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering baking dish
    2 shallots, sliced
    4 pounds mixed wild mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
    3 tablespoons chopped chives
    3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
    3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
    4 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more to top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

On a sheet pan put cubed bread. Toast it in the oven until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

In a large saute pan melt the butter and saute the shallots until just wilted. Add the mushrooms and saute until browned, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.

In a large bowl make custard, whisk together the cream with the eggs and season with the salt and pepper.

Add toasted bread cubes along with the chives, thyme and rosemary to the egg mixture. Stir in the sauteed mushrooms and mix in the grated Parmesan.

Transfer the mixture to a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, top with more grated Parmesan, to taste.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the custard is set.
          Spinach Bread Pudding with Lemon and Feta  
SPINACH BREAD PUDDING with LEMON and FETA
Lovely, lovely recipe from Super Natural Everyday.  A wonderful light supper or brunch idea.  Serves 8

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces whole wheat bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 ounces baby spinach, finely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, divided
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6 large eggs, beaten (hopefully from your own peeps)
2 cups milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the bread cubes onto a baking sheet. Drizzle the bread cubes with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season lightly with salt. Bake until lightly browned. Set aside to cool. Transfer the bread to a large bowl. Stir in the spinach and 1/4 cup of the feta.

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the mustard, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Add the eggs and beat until blended. Add the milk and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the bread and spinach mixture. Use your hands and toss well to combine.

Transfer the bread mixture to a baking dish or two and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours. Alternately, you can refrigerate the mixture over night.

Sprinkle the remaining feta on the bread pudding and bake in the center of the oven until risen and set, 30-40 minutes. Scatter the oregano on top. Cut into squares and serve.
            Tropical Pineapple Nut Bread
PINA COLADA BREAD
This vegan quick bread is so awesome has many of my fave tropical flavors.  Makes a fantastic breakfast or dessert bread.  H/T joy the baker

2 large or 3 small very ripe bananas
1/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
generous pinch of ground ginger
pinch of allspice
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas really well. Add the sugar, pineapple, and oil and whisk briskly to incorporate.

Sift in the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Use a wooden spoon to mix until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined.  Fold in the coconut.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and sprinkle with extra sugar if you’d like.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The top should be lightly browned and a knife inserted through the center should come out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes before transferring out of a pan and onto a wire rack to cool completely.

"Norwegian Wood"   The Beatles    "it's time for bed"

"Day Tripper"   The Beatles

What have you all been cooking?  Are you going Day tripping on the 4th?  Please share your recipes and fave Beatle music here!

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