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

         

Climate Change is causing the Earths ice caps to melt faster than had been predicted. In US we are seeing the first climate refugees due to rising seas and in as little as two years we could see unprecedented movement away from the low lying areas. Clearly, we are needing a rapid solution to avoiding this disaster. Thankfully we have that solution as new research shows that by mitigation of the short lived climate pollutants(SLCP's) of Black Carbon, Methane and Tropospheric Ozone we can slow sea level rise.  We must fight for policy to reduce SLCP's and as the greatest contributor to the SLCP's is livestock production we can participate directly by reducing our consumption of meat and animal products.

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!

Kudos to the city of Vancouver for joining Meatless Monday campaign!
             Roasted Asparagus Vinaigrette Soup [recipe]
ROASTED ASPARAGUS SOUP
Although it's already dog days of summer here in Florida, I know that somewhere it's still Spring; this recipe is for you because nothing says Spring like asparagus. A healthy 'creamy' Spring soup.

    2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed
    2 cloves garlic, peeled
    1/2 small onion, sliced
    2 cups warm vegetable broth or “no-chicken” broth
    1/2 ounce raw cashews (1 heaping tablespoon) or 1 tablespoon cashew butter
    1/8 teaspoon white pepper
    salt to taste
    grated peel of 1/2 lemon or orange

    Preheat oven to 450F. Place the asparagus spears on a baking sheet lined with a silicone liner or parchment paper. Roast for 10 minutes. Turn asparagus and sprinkle the onion and garlic over it. Roast for about 10 more minutes, until asparagus is very tender. If anything looks like it’s browning too much, take it out. (Important Note: These directions are for thicker asparagus. Thin asparagus may take much less time so start with 6 minutes, turn and add onions and garlic, and check again in 5.)
    While the asparagus is roasting, blend 1/2 cup of the broth with the cashews and pepper until smooth. Leave it in the blender.
    When the asparagus is done, select several of the best-looking spears, remove the tops, and set aside to use as garnish. Cut the remaining asparagus into pieces and put it and the onion and garlic into the blender, along with the remaining broth. Cover the blender and blend on high until perfectly smooth.
    If you’re using a Vita-Mix, you can blend it on high for a few more minutes until piping hot (remove the center cup and cover with a kitchen towel to allow steam to escape). Otherwise, pour the soup into a saucepan and heat until hot, stirring frequently. Add salt, if needed, to taste.
    Pour into bowls and sprinkle with grated lemon or orange peel. Garnish each bowl with the reserved asparagus spears and serve hot.
     Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce
VIETNAMESE SUMMER ROLLS with PEANUT SAUCE
I love making and eating these rolls. Perfect for a light summer meal while watching your fave films on TCM. No cooking required!

    8 ounces smoked tofu, julienned
    1 seedless cucumber, julienned
    2 large carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
    2 scallions, thinly sliced
    1 bunch cilantro, trimmed of bottom third coarse stems
    1 cup loosely packed mint leaves
    1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
    Twelve 16cm rice paper spring roll skins

    Arrange the vegetables, tofu, and herbs in neat piles on a plate or shallow bowl.
    Heat several cups of water in a kettle until just shy of boiling. Pour the water into a baking dish so it comes up the sides about 1/4 inch. Keep the remaining kettle water handy.
    Two at a time, dip the spring roll skins into the warm water to coat on both sides, shaking off any excess. Immediately remove to a large cutting board or clean work surface. Wait about 30 seconds for the skins to soften. Then arrange 2 tofu spears, 2 cucumber spears, 1 tablespoon of shredded carrot, and a sprinkling of scallions in the middle of the spring roll paper, parallel to the edge of your cutting board. On top, place a few sprigs of cilantro and a small handful of basil and mint leaves. Fold in the sides of the wrapper lengthwise - you should have about an inch on either end to play with. The fold over the flap closest to you. Pull that flap tight around the vegetable pile so it seals with the paper on the other side. Then roll the whole thing up. You should have a tight package. Repeat with the remaining skins, two at a time. It's easiest to do this in one motion, holding the veggies in with your fingers as you roll. If your roll tears, have no fear. You can double wrap. Simply repeat with a second skin.
    Cut each roll in half and serve alongside peanut or nuoc cham sauce.

Peanut Dipping Sauce
1/3 cup hot water
4 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp agave nectar
2 Tbsp vinegar or fresh lime juice
1 Tsp sesame oil
1 Tsp Chinese Chili Garlic Sauce or Sriracha
2 Tbsp chopped green onion

Mix ingredients thoroughly and serve with rolls above.
      Chickpea Piccata
CHICKPEA PICCATA
Delicious healthy and Earth friendly take on that trad Italian classic. h/t isa chandra . Serves 4 for an elegant dinner.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 scant cup thinly sliced shallots
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
2 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
A few dashes fresh black pepper
Generous pinch of dried thyme
1 16 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup capers with a little brine
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 cups arugula

Cooking spray

Preheat a large heavy bottomed pan over medium. Saute the shallots and garlic for about 5 minutes, until golden. Add the breadcrumbs and toast them by stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. They should turn a few shades darker.

Add the vegetable broth and wine, salt, black pepper and thyme. Turn up heat and bring to a rolling boil and let the sauce reduce by 1/2, it should take about 7 minutes.

Add the chickpeas and capers to heat through, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon and turn off the heat.

If serving with mashed potatoes, place the arugula in a wide bowl. Place mashed potatoes on top, and ladle picatta over the potatoes. The arugula will wilt and it will be lovely. If you are serving solo, just pour right over the arugula.
     Mango BBQ Kidney Beans Over Yucca w/ Cilantro & Lime
MANGO BBQ BEANS with MASHED YUCA, CILANTRO and LIME
Awesome Caribbean flavors to cool down a blistering hot day. h/t isa chandra

Mango BBQ Beans

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 mango, seeded and chopped small (use a firm mango so won't disintegrate)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or 1/4 tsp if you want less spicy
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1 (25 oz) can kidney beans or use 2 15 oz. drained & rinsed
1 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
2 to 3 tsp agave nectar (I used 2)

Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil (or use broth) with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes, until translucent.
   Add the mango, tomato sauce, broth, red pepper flakes, coriander, salt and kidney beans. Turn up the heat and bring to a rolling boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot, leaving a little room for steam to escape and let cook for about 45 minutes, stirring often. The sauce should thicken and the mangoes should cook down a great deal.
   Turn off the heat, mix the agave and liquid smoke, and let the beans sit for about 5 minutes. Taste for sweetness and add more agave if needed. Adjust the salt and seasonings and serve.

Mashed Yuca with Cilantro & Lime
If you've never tried yuca also called cassava, now's a good time. Perfect with this and so many Latin/Caribbean dishes

2 pounds yuca peeled and chopped into 2-inch chunks
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt, plus extra for salting the yucca water

Place the yuca in a pot and cover with water until submerged. Add a big pinch of salt, cover the pot, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer. Let simmer for about 20 minutes, until very, very tender. Turn off the heat.
  Reserve about a cup of the hot water by carefully dipping a heatproof mug into the pot. Don't burn yourself, please. Drain the yuca, then return it to the pot. Add the lime juice, cilantro, oil and salt. Mash well with a potato masher. Stream in the reserved hot water little by little, mashing as you go along. You may need up to 1/2 cup. Mash the yuca until nice and creamy and serve immediately.
        Quinoa Kale White Bean Stew
QUINOA KALE WHILE BEAN STEW
All you need with this lovely stew/soup one pot meal is some crunchy bread. So healthy, comforting and delicious! Change out the herbs, beans or grain to suit your taste.

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups leeks, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, peeled, diced medium
1 large parsnip, peeled, diced medium
8 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, diced medium
1 cup dry quinoa
1 15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 bunch kale (about a pound), rough stems removed, torn into bite sized pieces

Herb blend:
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
1 teaspoon dried majoram
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
Fresh black pepper, to taste

Preheat a 4 quart soup pot over medium high heat. Saute leeks and garlic in oil with salt for about 3 minutes, or however long it takes you to prep your carrot and parsnip. Add carrot and parsnip, along with the herb blend, turn heat up to high and saute for a few seconds.

Add vegetable broth, potatoes and quinoa. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, until potatoes and quinoa are tender. Add kale and beans, and stir frequently until kale is wilted. Cover and simmer on low for 5 more minutes. Taste for salt

When you serve you may want to add a little lemon juice or a splash of balsamic vinegar or hot sauce – whatever your thing is. Or you may not.
     tomato basil pasta!
TOMATO BASIL PASTA
This pasta is making the rounds of all my friends and family. It's a favorite because of its fast, easy and unique preparation and it's so yummy! We all have our different takes and you'll have your own too.

12 oz linguine
12 oz. grape tomatoes cut in half or cherry tomatoes quartered if large
4 1/2 cups water
large handful fresh basil leaves,torn plus leaves for garnish
1 medium onion, sliced thin (about 2 cups)
4 garlic cloves sliced thin
pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
2 TB olive oil
2 teaspoons salt

Serve with parmesan cheese or vegan cheese (optional)

Put all ingredients together in large straight side pan.  Bring to boil and cook uncovered, stirring as needed to keep pasta under water.  You are done when pasta is al dente.  Do not drain as it makes its own light delicious sauce.
     cointreau vegan chocolate mousse
VEGAN CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
I couldn't help myself and anyway you can't feel quilty because it's Earth friendly! Thanks Treehugger!

1 cup coconut milk
1 cup chopped dark chocolate (75% or darker)
1 tablespoons agave syrup
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons candied ginger
Toasted hazelnuts for garnish

1. In a food processor, grate the candied ginger until as fine as you can get it. The finer the better.

2. In a small sauce pan on medium-low heat, combine the coconut milk, chocolate chunks and agave syrup. Stir constantly until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove from heat.

3. Stir in the cardamom, sea salt and ginger.

4. Pour the mousse into individual containers.  Refrigerate the mousse until completely chilled -- a minimum fo 2-4 hours, depending on the size of container you use.

5. Just before serving, add the toasted hazelnuts. Enjoy!

Note: Even grated, the candied ginger has a texture that keeps the mousse from being perfectly smooth. If the texture bothers you, you can leave the candied ginger out, and sprinkle pieces of it on top with the toasted hazelnuts as a garnish. You'll still get the flavor, but with a distinctly different texture.

"Here Comes The Sun"  The Beatles "little darling, I feel that ice is slowing melting

"Seaside Woman"  Linda McCartney  this awesome vid won best short film at Cannes film festival 1980

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

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