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

Destruction of the Amazon makes it the fourth largest source of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet.  80% of Amazon deforestation is due to the livestock industry for grazing land and for space to grow crops for animal feed. More than 70 Million cattle are living in the Amazon right now. The cattle industry in the Amazon is the single largest source of deforestation on the planet.

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 Iran for joining the Meatless Monday campaign! (yes, THAT Iran)

For a second consecutive year the expert judges at the MIT Climate CoLab have chosen our submission for a rapid solution to reduce the worst effects of climate change by reducing meat consumption as their choice to receive a special judges commendation. As I wrote about here our entry this year built upon last years winning entry and will be presented at the MIT Crowds and Climate Conference in Boston this November. This is especially gratifying as this gives additional validation to our ongoing work to continue to reduce meat consumption as a means of reducing the most immediate effects of climate change.

My thanks go out to all of you who have been supportive of our efforts at the MIT Climate CoLab and here at Meatless Advocates/Macca's Meatless Monday! Now on to the food!

This past weekend I noticed the slightest suggestion of the fall season here in Florida. Probably no one but a native Floridian would notice the difference, it's such a slight shift. But the small decrease in humidity is much welcomed after the sultry summer and makes the air seem clearer and brighter. Here we call it the beginning of football weather and in my house it marks the end of living on salads and popsicles and the beginning of opening up the kitchen for some real cooking.

I don't want to get too ambitious all at once so today I'm sharing some recipes that are perfect for the end of summer and beginning of the school year so they are still fast and easy just not popsicles. And as usual these recipes are super economical and healthy too!

Easy, hearty one pot meal great with some crunchy bread. Cooked wheat berries will keep for up to 1 month in freezer and there's no need to thaw; just stir directly into the chili.  Serves 6

    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 large yellow onion, chopped
    1 large yellow bell pepper,chopped (or any color)
    5 cloves garlic, minced
    2 teaspoons chili powder
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
    2 14-ounce cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
    1-2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced (see tip below)
    2 cups vegetable broth
    2 teaspoons light brown sugar
    2 cups Cooked Wheat Berries, (recipe follows)
    Juice of 1 lime
    1 avocado, diced
    1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

This recipe calls for:cooked wheat berries

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, chipotle to taste, broth and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.

Stir in cooked wheat berries and heat through, about 5 minutes more. (If using frozen wheat berries, cook until thoroughly heated.) Remove from the heat. Stir in lime juice. Garnish each bowl with avocado and cilantro.

Tip: Canned chipotle peppers (smoked jalapeños) in adobo sauce add heat and a smoky flavor. Look for the small cans with other Mexican foods in large supermarkets. Once opened, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.


Spaghetti Squash

To roast the squash: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the squash lengthwise and remove the seeds. Pierce the skins of the squash with a fork and place spaghetti squash cut sides down on the baking sheet. Add enough water in the bottom of the pan to where there is 1/2 inch of water in bottom. Bake 30 minutes or until a sharp knife can be inserted with only a little resistance. Remove squash from oven, and set aside to cool enough to be easily handled. Once cool, shred the squash with a fork. The squash will look like thin pasta noodles.

Mushroom Ragu

0.5 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 1 1/2 cups warm water
1 pound fresh mixed mushrooms (cremini & white), sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon each dried thyme, dried rosemary, dried sage
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine (I used Merlot)

Salt and black pepper

2 cups vegetable broth

1. While the spaghetti squash cooks, soak the dried mushrooms in 1 1/2 cups of warm water. After about 10 minutes, remove mushrooms from water and gently squeeze out any excess water. Reserve the water. Slice the mushrooms about 1/4 inch thick.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 6-7 minutes. Add all the mushrooms to the pan. Season with salt. Add the dried herbs and stir well. Cover the pan and cook for 5 more minutes.

3. Uncover and increase heat to medium-high. Continue to cook until the liquid evaporates, 5-7 minutes. When the liquid has evaporated, add the tomato paste and combine.

4. Add the wine and stir to deglaze the pan. Add the reserved mushroom water, vegetable or beef stock, and return to a boil. Cover the skillet and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Uncover the pan and cook for another 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the sauce has thickened, it is done. Serve immediately.

6. To assemble, place shredded spaghetti squash threads in a bowl or platter. Top with mushroom ragu. If desired, you can top with shredded parmesan or romano cheese (optional).

I love these stuffed peppers and they are very versatile! You can stuff more than green peppers with this, too. Try red peppers, poblano chiles, tomatoes, potatoes, or your favorite stuffable veggie! Don’t have or want to use soy crumbles? Just double the rice instead. H/T Thriving Vegetarian

4 large or 5 medium green peppers
sea salt
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup green pepper from the tops you removed, chopped
1/2 a jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup long grain rice
1 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes, preferably no salt added
1 8 oz can tomato sauce, preferably no salt added
1 1/2 cup veggie crumbles (your fave brand)
1 tsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1/4 tsp sea salt
black pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded Cheddar Jack cheese, optional (I use Daiya vegan cheddar)

Heat a large pot of water to boiling. Slice the top off each pepper and clean the seeds and insides out. Place each pepper in the pot and boil for 3 minutes, turning once or twice. Remove from the water. Sprinkle with sea salt, if desired, invert on a paper towel and let cool.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Cook the onion, chopped green pepper, and jalapeño for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute.

Stir in the rice, tomatoes, tomato sauce, veggie crumbles, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, hot sauce, sea salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer covered, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the peppers cut side up in a baking dish big enough to hold them all.

Divide the filling evenly among the peppers, adding half the cheese when they’re about halfway full and the remainder of the cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes.

Chinese restaurant goodness just easy and cheap; less than $2.00. per serving including brown rice for this healthy, Earth friendly one dish meal which serves 4   

    1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks or tidbits, packed in juice
    3 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar
    2 tablespoons ketchup
    2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
    1 tablespoon brown sugar
    1 14-ounce package extra-firm water-packed tofu, drained, rinsed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    2 teaspoons cornstarch
    2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
    2 tablespoons minced garlic
    1 tablespoon minced ginger
    1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-by-2-inch strips
    1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-by-2-inch strips

Drain and set aside pineapple, reserving 1/4 cup of the juice. Whisk the reserved pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce and sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Place tofu in a large bowl; toss with 3 tablespoons of the sauce. Let marinate for at least 5 minutes and up to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, add cornstarch to the remaining sauce and whisk until smooth.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer the tofu to the pan using a slotted spoon; whisk any remaining marinade into the bowl of reserved sauce. Cook the tofu, stirring every 1 to 2 minutes, until golden brown, 7 to 9 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add red and green peppers and cook, stirring often, until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the reserved sauce and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 30 seconds. Add the tofu and pineapple and cook, stirring gently, until heated through, about 2 minutes more.

Enough for 1 pound of pasta, serving 4-6. A hearty family meal served with salad.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp crushed red pepper
¼ c tomato paste
35 oz. can Italian-style tomatoes, chopped
½ cup water
1 cup bell pepper, green, red, or a combination, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp thyme
½ tsp sea salt
black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, optional(I use vegan parm)
12 oz. pkg veggie crumbles (I like Boca.)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Cook the onion 5 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook another minute. Stir in the tomato paste and cook a couple of minutes more.

Stir in the tomatoes and water. Add the bell pepper, bay leaf, oregano, basil, thyme, sea salt, pepper, and Parmesan or Romano. Cover and cook on medium heat 30 minutes. Stir often, but watch out for spattering sauce when you lift the lid!

Stir in the frozen veggie crumbles and return to a simmer. Cook another 10 minutes until heated through and serve. Serve over spaghetti.

"Thank you girl"  The Beatles

"Eight Days a Week"  The Beatles

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

Originally posted to Meatless Advocates Meetup on Mon Sep 09, 2013 at 03:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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