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

Greenhouse Gas Emissions: 2.5 Pounds

Each time you have a plant-based lunch like a PB&J you'll reduce your carbon footprint by the equivalent of 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over an average animal-based lunch like a hamburger, a tuna sandwich, grilled cheese, or chicken nuggets. For dinner you save 2.8 pounds and for breakfast 2.0 pounds of emissions.

Those 2.5 pounds of emissions at lunch are about forty percent of the greenhouse gas emissions you'd save driving around for the day in a hybrid instead of a standard sedan.

If you have a PB&J instead of a red-meat lunch like a ham sandwich or a hamburger, you shrink your carbon footprint by almost 3.5 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.

Conserve Water: 133 Gallons

You'll conserve water at lunch too! How about 133 gallons of water conserved at lunch versus the average American lunch? To put this in perspective, five PB&Js or other plant-based lunches per month would save more water than switching to a low-flow showerhead. If you're replacing hamburgers, it should take you just three lunches to conserve more water than the low-flow showerhead.

Save Land: 24 Square Feet

Don't forget the land you save from deforestation, over-grazing, and pesticide and fertilizer pollution: about 24 square feet at lunch.

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(Macca) who partnered with the Meatless Monday campaign to promote less consumption of meat. We not only discuss the advantages of a less meat diet; we also do some cooking, share recipes and listen to great Beatle music!

I have been writing this series for almost six years! Time flies when you're having fun! You may have noticed that most of the recipes I share are fast and easy; it's the way I cook at home during the week. On weekends I may spend more time with cooking or entertaining. The recipes I share today are right up my alley because not only are they fast and easy, but they use only one pot so clean up is a breeze. So with pleasure I share some of my favorite weeknight one pot meals.
      Mushroom Barley Soup
Have you heard about the new research on mushrooms?
Not only are they really good for you and delicious but they help you to lose weight! Thought you would like that.  Serves 4

1/2 oz  dried mushrooms, chopped or broken into bite-sized pieces
1 quart  good-quality vegetable broth
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lg onion, cut into medium dice
1 lb  sliced cremini mushrooms
3/4 tsp  dried thyme leaves
3 cups  cooked barley
1/4 cup  red miso paste
salt and black pepper

Stir the dried mushrooms and broth together in a 2-quart glass measuring cup or other microwave-safe container and microwave until steamy hot and the mushrooms have softened, about 5 minutes.

Note: To make the barley, 1 cup dried pot or pearl barley needs to cook in about 6 cups water or broth for about 45 minutes. One cup dried will yield about 3 cups cooked. I only used 2 cups in my soup, but you may like three in yours.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large soup kettle over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms and cook until well browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the thyme and then the hot broth and barley and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes to blend the flavours.

Whisk in the miso, and if too thick, add water to thin to desired thickness. Adjust the seasonings, including salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot.
     Indian fried rice
This different take on fried rice is a perfect use for leftover brown rice.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 cups cauliflower, chopped (1/2 head)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (or grated)
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 tbos. lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 cup water
cilantro, chopped (or parsley)

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Test the oil by adding one cumin seed. If it pops right away, the oil is ready. Add the cumin seeds to the oil. Once they start to sizzle or pop, add the carrots and cauliflower to the pan, and stir fry until the cauliflower starts to brown a bit and soften, about 7 minutes.

Add the peas, bell pepper, and ginger and stir to combine. Continue cooking until all the veggies begin to soften but remain crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked rice, lemon juice, coriander, turmeric, cayenne, and garam masala and toss to combine.

Add the water, and cook for about 5 minutes longer, stirring frequently.

Add salt to taste, and remove from heat.

Garnish with cilantro or parsley and serve. Enjoy!
    Green Minestrone Recipe
Perfect time of year for this lovely soup.

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 leek, white and light green parts only, chopped
    6 cups vegetable stock
    1 cup ditali or other small pasta
    10 pencil-thin asparagus, cut into 1-inch lengths
    1 small fennel bulb, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
    1/4 pound sugar snap peas, halved crosswise
    1 cup coarsely chopped Swiss chard leaves
    One 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
    1/2 cup thawed frozen peas
    2 tablespoons chopped mint
    Freshly ground pepper
    1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (may omit or use vegan cheese)

    Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the leek and cook over moderately high heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Stir in the pasta and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the asparagus, diced fennel, sugar snap peas, Swiss chard and cannellini beans and simmer until the pasta is tender, about 5 minutes longer. Add the peas and mint, season the soup with salt and pepper and simmer for 1 minute longer. Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with cheese and serve.
         One-Pot Vegetarian Pasta Primavera
Another colorful, springtime fast and easy meal in one pot!

    3 Tbs. olive oil
    3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
    1 tsp. grated lemon zest
    8 oz. whole grain fusilli pasta
    2 small yellow squash, halved and cut into ½-inch-thick slices
    1 medium orange bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
    8 oz. small broccoli florets (3 cups)
    2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
    8 green onions, thinly sliced (½ cup)
    ½ cup torn fresh basil leaves
    Grated Parmesan cheese or vegan Parmesan-style cheese for garnish, optional

1. Combine oil, garlic, and lemon zest in small bowl. Set aside.

2. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling, salted water according to package directions. Add squash and bell pepper 4 minutes before end of cooking time. Add broccoli 3 minutes before end of cooking time. Drain pasta and vegetables, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.

3. Return pasta mixture to pot, and stir in tomatoes, green onions, basil, oil mixture, and reserved cooking water. Heat over medium-low heat until tomatoes are hot. Serve with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
        barley risotto with arugula, walnuts, and citrus
One of my fave recipes ever.

    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 yellow onion, chopped
    2 shallots, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, chopped
    1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
    2 cups lightly pearled barley or pearled farro
    1 cup good quality dry white wine
    6 cups light vegetable stock (or water)
    Grated zest of 4 lemons (more to taste if you like, use Meyer lemons if you can get)
    1/2 cup Parmesan cheese or use vegan cheese
    1/2 cup crème fraiche (or sour cream) I use Tofutti sour cream..vegan
    3 big handfuls of greens, chopped (I used arugula, may use chard, spinach etc.
    Handful of toasted pine nuts or use walnuts, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, then add the onions, shallots, garlic, and salt and saute, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften.

Add the barley to the pot and stir until coated with a nice sheen, then add the white wine and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes, until the barley has absorbed the liquid a bit. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle, active simmer.

In increments, add about 6 cups of water or stock, 1 cup at a time, letting the barley absorb most of the liquid between additions; this should take around 40 minutes altogether. Stir regularly so the grains on the bottom of the pan don't scorch. You will know when the barley is cooked because it won't offer up much resistance when chewing (it will, however, be chewier than Arborio rice).

When the barley is tender remove the pot from heat. Stir in the lemon zest, Parmesan, and crème fraiche. Taste and adjust - add more salt if needed, more lemon zest. Then stir in the greens. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and a dusting of extra Parmesan before serving.

Note: If you love lemons as I do, you might like to add some lemon segments to finished risotto..awesome!

"Come and Get It"  Paul McCartney

"I Will"   Paul McCartney

What have you all been cooking? Please share your recipes and fave Beatle music here!

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