Posts Tagged ‘food’

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Vegetable-based diets can be better for the planet.

by Joanna Pustilnik, Bodacious Nutrition

A condo building is going up in my neighborhood, and my husband and I were worried it might cause more traffic congestion. We already live by a highway, and I’ve read that can increase the risk of high blood pressure. But then I read the world is going to house 9.6 billion people by the time my baby daughter is thirty, and the condo suddenly seems like a very minor concern.  

Already, one in nine of us—or about 13 percent of people worldwide—don’t have enough to eat. That’s not fair. I like food. You like food. We should all have enough of it. As a dietitian (and a human), I’m perplexed – how are we going to feed the 3 billion more people that will share our space with us? We’ll have even less resources by then.

Food production would need to increase 70 percent to feed all our new friends. Globally, producing food already eats up 70 percent of fresh water and causes 80 percent of total deforestation. Ten billion acres of land across the globe – an amount the size of Africa – is being used to raise livestock.

We can’t increase our global food production ? we don’t have the space. Instead, we need to drastically change how we grow, produce, and eat food. The most powerful thing we can do as individual consumers is to eat sustainably.

Food security and sustainable dietary patterns

To feed our 3 billion new friends, we need to be food secure. Food security is when we have enough safe, nutritious food. A sustainable dietary pattern has minimal environmental impact but maintains food security and nutritional value.

A “dietary pattern” is essentially the way we normally eat. It includes our typical portions, combination of commonly eaten foods, and the variety in our habitual choices. To be sustainable, a dietary pattern should be healthy, shouldn’t decrease the biodiversity of an ecosystem, should be economically sound, and should optimize our resources.

Plant based diets such as the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), and a vegetarian (or vegan) diet seem to fit this bill. Health benefits of these diets include lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and they boast a lower amount of red meat, processed foods, and more fruits and vegetables. Studies are repeatedly finding that diets high in animal foods are not sustainable.

Beef, in particular, uses a lot of resources and produces too much waste. In one Italian study, beef was the food tied to the greatest negative impact on the ecosystem while a vegan diet had the lowest environmental impact and greatest health score. Beef and lamb require the most fossil fuel per calorie of protein ? 250 times more than beans!

Here’s a graph from the World Resources Institute that shows the impact of various foods on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Notice animal-based foods use consistently more resources:

Here’s a graph from the World Resources Institute that shows the impact of various foods on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Notice animal-based foods use consistently more resources

Overall, agriculture is responsible for 30 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but 18 percent of this is due to raising livestock. That’s more than the transportation industry and all industrial processes combined – they only emit fourteen percent.

Another issue is that meat increases per capita land requirements while feeding less people overall. The grain we feed animals doesn’t go as far as it would if we just were to feed it directly to people, and we feed 40 percent of grain globally to livestock instead of our hungry 1 billion human friends.

Meat also produces a large amount of waste – methane and other gases as well as solid waste that pollutes land and waterways. A plant-based diet with a smaller amount of meat is making more sense.

Harvard and the European Union have both looked at sustainability research to develop diets. Harvard’s plate boasts more fruits and vegetables than USDA’s MyPlate, more whole grains, and focuses more on plant protein while limiting red meat intake. It also encourages milk and dairy no more than 1 to 2 times a day.

The European Union’s LiveWell for LIFE diet has been found to reduce GHG production by 25 percent compared to current intake. It too promotes a plant-based diet with a focus on more plant proteins than a typical person eats with no more than 1/3 of the diet consisting of foods from animal sources.

How we eat now

Currently, we are not eating in line with either of these diets. Most of us eat a Western-style diet that’s high in red meat, dairy, and processed foods (think packages, boxes, bags, and the center of the grocery). We include few fruits and vegetables, limited legumes and beans, and not enough whole grains.

We especially love our red meat.

In 2009, we ate 14 million tons of beef ? about 92 lbs. per person. By 2030, this number is projected to increase to 17 million tons. The average man only needs 56 gm of protein per day, but he eats over 100 gm daily! Demand is also increasing worldwide as countries become more industrialized.

Simple changes we can all make

First, we can shop locally. This limits GHG produced by the transportation of food from far away. Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is also a smart choice, and not just for health reasons. Consumerism is powerful. We need to show our government that sustainable farming practices that maintain the soil are demanded.

We can also limit ourselves to our fair share, because excessive energy intake requires more energy use. We can also shop for fresh food to decrease waste from packaged goods. Also, we throw away 40 percent of our food. Eating more mindfully would help decrease this amount and preserve our vital resources.

And finally, eat less animal products. If just 10 percent of us limited consumption of animal products, enough food would be saved to feed 1 billion people.

That’s huge.

From a nutritional perspective, limiting meat would only promote positive health. We don’t all have to abstain and become vegans, but research shows any decrease in meat consumption increases sustainability AND improves decreases disease risk.

I like to call a plant-based diet a gracious diet. Include small amounts of meat if you like, but let’s remember to conserve. We can get everything we need while still being considerate of future generations. They’ll be hungry, too.

To continue supporting sustainability, DC EcoWomen is partnering with Whole Foods’ program Nickels for Non Profits through December 17th. On your next shopping trip, bring a reusable bag to Whole Foods Markets in Montgomery County, and ask to donate your earned nickel to DC EcoWomen. For more information, visit: http://dc.ecowomen.org/2017/10/31/nickels-for-nonprofits/ 

Looking for healthy and sustainable meals for the holidays? Kristin Bell shares her best vegan holiday fare at http://holiday.wholefoodsmarket.com/tips-and-recipes.html. I’m getting hungry already…


Joanna Pustilnik is a DC EcoWoman, dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and health coach with a tele-health private practice, Bodacious Nutrition, and a beautiful new baby daughter. She blogs at http://www.Bodaciousrd.com, and is passionate about sustainability and helping others find their best selves. She hasn’t been eating meat for about 11 years, but she admits she craved the occasional hot dog during her pregnancy. Contact her at bodaciousrd@gmail.com

posted by | on , , , , | Comments Off on The Benefits of Local Brew

blog-nov09

This blog post highlights the benefits of a sustainable local brewery.  DC EcoWomen does not endorse any particular organization but does serve as a resource to communicate sustainable efforts made by all.

By Megan Devlin

Across industries, the consumer trends are clear: people want local. In response to market demands, many companies are shifting business strategy in an effort to be more sustainable and to optimize community impact. While the beer industry isn’t necessarily known for its sustainable practices, a majority of craft breweries keep up with localization by focusing on their regional markets.

Some of the big players like New Belgium and Sierra Nevada have expanded beyond their flagships and opened brew sites in new markets across the country. Smaller outfits have rooted deeper in their communities — with the female-owned Denizens Brewing Co. in Silver Spring, Md., owning that through business as usual.

Denizens cofounders Emily Bruno and Julie Verratti deliver on this region’s demand for hyper-local, fresh beer by brewing three times per week only 75 feet below the taproom.

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Since opening in 2014, Denizens has worked to foster a taproom culture where customers get to know the brewers, owners and staff in a great social atmosphere to drink fresh beer. Denizens draft lineup includes five flagship beers plus five rotating seasonals. While the beers are produced in house, they reflect a global palate, with styles ranging from a Czech-inspired Pilsner to an English extra special bitter (ESB) to a tequila barrel-aged “petit” sour ale influenced by head brewer Jeff Ramirez’s earlier days crafting in Colorado.

The diversity of flavors, aromas and ingredients on the 10-beer menu creates opportunities for pairings with seasonal food items. Traditional pub fare like the burger and fries often pair well with the Born Bohemian Pilsner, while this summer’s spicy mango salad could be accented with the Southside Rye IPA or played down with maltier styles like the Lowest Lord English-Style ESB.

While the kitchen menu is seasonal not all of the products are locally sourced, a common practice that businesses implement to go “green.” Breweries moving in sustainable directions typically focus on partnering with local farmers for beer ingredients or by bringing production in-house, which is a more costly endeavor. Rogue Ales and Stone Brewing Co. have kept costs low by purchasing and leasing farmland, which in turn helps guarantee local farmers business or create agricultural jobs.

Smaller breweries don’t always have the financial resources to locally source beer ingredients like hops, which often require an advanced contract of two to three years and are grown best in regions like the Pacific Northwest, Europe and New Zealand. Despite these challenges, establishments operating under the brewpub model, where beer and food are produced in house, have more flexibility with local sourcing.

Denizens works exclusively with regional vendors for its kitchen items to further drive sustainable business relationships. Because the brewery doesn’t have a freezer on site, its Baltimore-based meat provider and local produce providers help ensure menu freshness.

To minimize waste in beer production, Denizens repurposes some of the grain used in the brewing process for the kitchen’s tomato spent grain toast, topped with pesto, mozzarella and a balsamic reduction. The rest is donated to a Maryland farmer who feeds the grain to his pigs.

Keeping its focus on the community, Denizens partners with the University of Maryland’s Graduate School of Fermentation, which grows a variety of yeast used for the brews: two sour/wilds, two for saison and hefeweizens as well as 3 different bacterias. The relationship is a win-win in that the graduate students get to work with commercial products while Denizens keeps costs low.

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Denizens community-oriented business approach also dovetails with their distribution strategy. Thanks to laws passed in both Maryland and DC, Denizens can self-distribute in Montgomery County and DC, whose border is just three blocks from the brewery. The further beer travels, the more expensive it is to distribute in terms of time, energy and labor.

Self-distributing breweries not only keep more revenue than breweries that go through a distributor, but the ripple effects of minimizing beer miles traveled include local economic growth, lower carbon footprinting and quality control.

“We know exactly where the beer has been at every step of the way,” Verratti said.

Denizens is conscious in identifying bars, restaurants and stores that carry local, independent alcoholic beverages. The neighborhood is also important. Republic in Takoma Park, located less than a mile from the taproom, serves as a perfect example of Denizens “trifecta,” which includes brand affiliation, efficiency, and the volume and speed of beer consumption.

“Our customers are their customers and their customers are our customers,” said Verratti.

Bruno said partnerships like the one with Republic helps Denizens carve its identity as a local brand.

“We want to expand our footprint in targeted ways,” Bruno said. “We’re not trying to be the Budweiser of craft beer.”

As the duo puts their heads together on how to sustainably scale their business, they also keep a pulse on what’s in front of them: beer and community. Over Halloween weekend, Denizens re-released Fear of a Black Beer, a coffee-infused blonde ale, in part to coincide with the brewery’s participation in this year’s annual Silver Spring Zombie Walk, which gathered nearly 700 zombie-clad humans on October 29 for a walk from Denizens to the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center for horror-film watching, ending the festivities at Quarry House Tavern.

“We try to do things to make ourselves really entrenched in the community.”

Megan Devlin is a Program Coordinator of Global Forums at Meridian International Center and was most recently the Editorial Assistant to The Atlantic’s Washington Editor at Large and Editor in Chief of AtlanticLIVE, the magazine’s events arm. Her journalism roots sprouted at Ithaca College where she was Editor in Chief for the award-winning campus newspaper The Ithacan. Megan also bartends at Glen’s Garden Market in Dupont Circle and contributes to DCBeer.com – and trains for marathons, in her spare time.

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by Jessica Wilmer

I am awful at keeping New Year’s Resolutions. There is something about them that screams, “Make ridiculous requests of yourself, then feel guilty when you can’t live up to your own expectations!”

So for 2016, I decided to go with something that seemed more attainable: reduce waste. More specifically, I decided to focus on food waste: both the food itself and related packaging.

Six R's are better than three

Six R’s are better than three

Waste has weighed on my conscience for many years now, and our “throw-away culture” doesn’t ease my pain. Sometimes it feels as if we make things just to throw them away.

Part of my resolution was to learn more about waste. Over the past few months, I’ve watched upsetting documentaries*, read eye-opening articles, and researched many amazing local organizations, including the Food Recovery Network and Hungry Harvest.

It might surprise some people that over 40% of the food produced in the US each year is thrown away and 23% of the solid waste stream comes from packaging and single-use containers. It’s become an epidemic that costs over $218 billion a year in the US alone.

While I have learned a lot through my research, the real lessons have come by making the conscious effort to stop and think every time I purchase or eat food.

A few lessons learned

3514710196_ba6d7b3a87_oSingle Use items are out of control

Have you seen that awful video of the sea turtle conservation group, Leatherback Trust, removing a single use straw from a sea turtle’s nose? Google it. It is a seriously devastating visual of what can happen to single-use products after their purpose is served.

On a typical day, Americans use over 500 million single-use straws. 500 MILLION. Just let that sink in for a second.

Always ask questions

While brainstorming ways to reduce waste, I wondered if it was ok to bring reusable packaging to the market for bulk items.

It turns out you can; all you have to do is ask! The customer service desk at the Foggy Bottom Whole Foods was more than happy to help me navigate their system. Turns out, bringing cloth bags and glass jars is a quick and easy way to get rice, quinoa, greens, and many other items while skipping the extra packaging.

Photo credit: Jessica Wilmer & Steve Milner of http://www.dcphotoop.com/

Photo credit: Jessica Wilmer & Steve Milner of DCPhotoOp

Check your trash

Household_food_trash_NY

Photo credit: petrr

I noticed that the majority of the paper waste in my home came from paper towels. It’s amazing how many of those suckers you rip off when you are learning to cook!

Luckily, I stumbled upon Bamboo paper towels. They are easy to wash out while you’re using them, and when they get too gross, you can throw them in the laundry with your towels. Some can be washed up to 100 times! Sustainable, reusable material? Definitely a win-win.

Going Forward

Be prepared

Single-use containers are everywhere, and our food service industry has made them almost impossible to avoid. However, my experience taught me that you will feel more successful when you have all the proper tools.

I carry a reusable, glass water bottle, coffee mug, and set of bamboo utensils every day. I also keep a set of dishes and utensils at my office, so I’m not tempted by single-use options. Every time I hear, “Grande Americano in a personal cup”, I feel like I’ve received a gold star.

You will save money!

A huge portion of food costs is in the packaging, so when you just buy the food you bypass that cost. Bonus! This summer you won’t have to spend $2 on a bottle of water at that hot-dog stand, and you’ll save a bit each time you bring a personal mug to your local Seattle-based coffee shop.

The Wave of the Future

Thankfully, food and packaging waste has come into the spotlight. Recently the government stepped up efforts that address this large and systemic problem. Individuals and companies are also realizing that food waste affects not only the environment, but also the economy and hunger.

If the momentum continues, I think that there can be a real change. We have already done a significant amount of damage both financially and environmentally, but we do have the ability to stop the damage from growing exponentially.

I may be just one person who made just one resolution, but for the sake of the environment, this is one I’m going to keep.

Jessica Wilmer is an aspiring blogger, vlogger, photographer, and activist. She currently works in finance and lives with her boyfriend on Capitol Hill. You can usually find them at the farmers market in their matching Patagonia sweaters looking for new veggies to include in their repertoire of vegetarian dishes.


* Recommended documentaries: “Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” (2013) and Morgan Suprlock’s “United States of Trash” on his series “Inside Man” (2015)

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on Crickets…It’s What for Dinner?

By KC Stover

There has been increasing attention paid to the role of insects as a protein source for humans in the place of meat. Insects do not create the same climate and human health impacts as livestock and they can be raised on a vegetarian diet. Many cultures around the world enjoy insects as an integral part of their diet. There are over 88 countries where insects are consumed regularly and over 1900 species of edible insects worldwide.

Image: Leandra Blei

Image: Leandra Blei

The concept of eating bugs has received a lot of press lately. However, this is not a new practice. As the world struggles to keep up with burgeoning human populations, we are searching for new sources of protein. Insects require much less land to raise and are more efficient at converting feed to protein than most livestock. They also emit fewer greenhouse gases than livestock. The UN has been actively promoting the use of insects to meet our protein needs, and it is an area of major innovation in the food industry.

Currently, there is a $20 million industry around entomophagy in the US, and the concept has received widespread support. However, cultivating and consuming insects on a mass scale is not a simple solution. There are many questions about the real rates of protein conversion, best practices for husbandry and the ideal diet. Regulation has yet to become tailored to this industry and the market is still in its infancy. The Washington Post highlighted that high-density cricket farm operations are still governed by the same USDA regulations as those for livestock.

Some commonly consumed insects are crickets, mealworms, beetles, black soldier flies, butterflies and moths (mostly eaten in their larval and pupal stages), bees and wasps, ants, termites and grasshoppers. Apparently mealworms have a nutty flavor and ants and termites have a lemon flavor to them.

Image: Leandra Blei

Image: Leandra Blei

There are some very unique offerings for insect-based foods. Popular Science reported this month on several new companies, (with 30 insect-based startups since 2012 nationally) including, Critter bitters, Jungle Bar and Chirps (cricket chips) among many others. There are several manners in which insects are being brought to market and the most common is as a protein bar or powder. This powder can be used in a wide variety of recipes, including cookies. Time magazine recently released a list of recipes, including a recipe for deep fried tarantulas.

While insects provide a diverse and more sustainable form of protein than many forms of livestock, integrating them fully into our diet will mean learning to eat in new ways. A nonprofit called Little Herds in Austin, TX has taken on the challenge of changing perceptions and creating markets, and Open Bug Farm is an open forum for insect farming enthusiasts. As consumers and environmentalists, we are presented with the opportunity to help this industry grow in a sustainable way. It will be interesting to see if home production of insects grows in urban environments. An additional challenge is that of bringing production costs down to compete with conventional foods.

Some local DC restaurants, such as Oyamel, are serving insects on their menus. In addition, there is an annual event, the Pestaurant, where restaurants serve insects worldwide. Last year’s event featured a DC restaurant. We can hope to see more insect products on the shelves and I for one will be getting more used to the idea!

KC Stover works on programming for DC EcoWomen and on wildlife conservation issues. With a background in entrepreneurship and the environmental field, she believes that new businesses can create opportunities to address some of our most challenging problems.

posted by | on , , , , , | Comments Off on A Delicious and Sustainable Spring Salad

By Elizabeth Hubley

This salad is everything I love about spring – crisp, tender asparagus; the first juicy vibrant tomatoes of the season, creamy pasture-raised goat cheese, and a light dressing featuring sweet local honey. A satisfying crunch from toasted hazelnuts brings it all together.

In each recipe I create, I choose ingredients that are good for you, people, and the planet. I believe that we have the power to support our bodies, strengthen our communities, and live our commitment to the environment through what we buy, where we make each purchase, and how we prepare and enjoy each meal. This salad was inspired by last weekend’s stroll through the Takoma Park Farmer’s Market and a quick trip to the TPSS Co-op.

I encourage you to make this salad a local adventure – seek out your local farmer’s market for the asparagus, tomatoes, goat cheese and honey. Support a food cooperative or independent grocery store for the hazelnuts and other dressing ingredients. Each dollar you spend is a vote for the kind of world that you want to live in. Not sure where to start? Visit Local Harvest to find markets, farms, and co-ops near you.springsalad3

As you enjoy the flavors of spring, know that you’re supporting your own health in addition to your community and the planet. This salad is rich in folate, a B vitamin that is especially important for women’s health. It also contains fiber, protein, and healthy fats for a well-balanced and nutritious meal.

Since local produce is harvested just before being brought to market, it contains more nutrients than food brought in from faraway places. Asparagus contain a wide variety of important vitamins and are a good source of prebiotics, which improve digestion. Tomatoes contain, lycopene, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin E, as well as other nutrients that have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.

Purchasing local honey supports honeybee populations, beekeepers, and the health of our local ecosystem. Honey has been used as medicine since ancient times and locally produced honey has been shown to have much stronger antibacterial activity than conventional honey.

springsalad1Choosing goat cheese from pasture-raised goats is a responsible way to indulge in a little dairy. Learn more about the importance of selecting animal products carefully at Eat Wild. Following a vegan diet? Just double up on the hazelnuts, which are full of protein, healthy fats, and promote heart health. You can substitute another natural sweetener for the honey.

Most importantly, take time to prepare and enjoy this delicious salad! Know that you will be supporting your own health, people near and far, and living a little lighter on the planet.

Shaved Asparagus Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients:

Shaved Asparagus Salad:

1 pound asparagus

1 cup cherry tomatoes

2 oz local goat cheese

¼ cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

Honey Dijon Vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon raw honey

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus. With a vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus into thin strips and toss into a bowl.
  2. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and add to the bowl with asparagus.
  3. Crumble the goat cheese into the bowl with the vegetables.
  4. Make the vinaigrette: combine all ingredients in a separate small bowl and whisk well to combine.
  5. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well.
  6. Divide the salad onto two plates and top each with half of the hazelnuts.
  7. Enjoy!

Make it a meal: top with a poached or hard-boiled local organic egg.

Tip: If you can’t find toasted hazelnuts, simply roast them in an oven at 275 degrees F for about 15 minutes.

Elizabeth is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Yoga Instructor who created Siena Wellness to inspire people to live happy, healthy and fulfilling lives that positively impact the world we share. She believes that each of us has the power to change the world through daily choices that positively impact our own health, help lift people out of poverty, and protect the planet.

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How To Pack Your Vegan Lunch

Written By DC EcoWoman Katharine Eaton

When the air gets cooler and the leaves turn color, we tend to crave heartier meals. Cue the soups and stews! But these can be precarious on your commute and a hot lunch might give you an afternoon slump.

The recipes below are easy to pack, store well in the fridge, and do not need to be reheated. In fact, they’re best served at room temperature. They are also healthy, flavorful, protein-rich and gluten-free.

All portions serve one but you can easily multiply the ingredients for more.

Butternut Squash Hummus

Autumn is gourd season! This recipe calls for butternut, but you can use any other kind of winter squash or pumpkin instead. Note that this single serving- sized portion will not use the whole butternut squash.

1 small butternut squash
½ cup chickpeas, cooked or canned
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup finely chopped mint
Bread or crackers, for serving

Peel the butternut squash, slice it in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut the flesh into 1-inch cubes until you have 1 cup of cubes. Save the remaining butternut squash for another recipe – or for more hummus.

Steam the butternut squash cubes until they’re tender. Peel and crush the garlic.

In a food processor or blender, blend the steamed butternut cubes, chickpeas, garlic and olive oil into a smooth consistency.

Season with salt and pepper and fold in the fresh herbs.

At lunchtime, give the hummus a good stir and eat it on your choice of bread or crackers.

Raw Beet Slaw

No roasting or boiling, just the season’s sweetest root vegetable in its purest form. This recipe also makes a great Thanksgiving side dish.

1 medium-sized beet (about 1 cup shredded)
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 tsp stoneground mustard
1 tsp raspberry jam (or any berry jam you have on hand)
Salt and pepper
¼ cup hazelnuts
1 cup mixed salad greens

Peel the beet and shred it with a box grater or a food processor with a grating blade, using the large hole grater. Put the shredded beets in a bowl and fold in the chopped parsley.

Mix the oil, vinegar, mustard and jam into a paste and thoroughly stir it into the beets. The juice from the beets will thin out the dressing; so don’t be tempted to make more. Season the slaw with salt and pepper.

Heat a pan over medium-high heat and dry-roast the hazelnuts, stirring frequently, until they’re fragrant and their skins start to blacken. Remove the nuts from the pan and let them cool. Place the cooled hazelnuts on a clean kitchen towel, roll it up and rub off the skins through the fabric. Pick out the clean hazelnuts and discard the skins. Roughly chop the nuts.

To pack your lunch, pack the hazelnuts, salad greens, and the beet slaw separately. Combine all components right before you eat.

Kale, Potato and White Bean Salad

Ah, le kahl… The summer pests that feast on leaves are gone and kale flourishes once again. Potatoes and white beans add creaminess and celery adds crunch.

2 small red-skinned potatoes (about 1 cup cubed)
2 large kale leaves (about 2 packed cups chopped)
2 tsps olive oil 2 tsps apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 tsps stoneground mustard
¼ cup white beans, cooked or canned 1 stalk celery
1 tbsp capers or chopped pickles, optional
Salt and pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes, add them to the water and cook them for about 10 minutes, until they’re tender but still firm. Drain the potatoes (do not run them under cold water or put them in an ice bath).

Remove the kale stems and cut or rip the leaves into 1-inch pieces. Put the kale in a bowl with 1 teaspoon of the vinegar and 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Using your hands, knead the kale for at least 1 minute. The vinegar will break down the green and you’ll be left with about 1 cup of kale.

Whisk the remaining olive oil and vinegar with the mustard. Chop the celery stalk into small dice.

Carefully toss all the ingredients together and season with salt and pepper. The still-warm potatoes will absorb some of the dressing.

Let the salad cool before storing it in the fridge for next day’s lunch.

posted by | on , , , , , , , | Comments Off on VegFest: A DC festival you don’t want to miss

By DC EcoWoman Dawn Bickett

DC Ecowomen take note: Vegfest is just around the corner.

Never been? Then you are in for a treat. Or—if you are me—several. DC Vegfest is an annual festival of all things meat- and dairy-free—great for ecowomen who avoid animal products, or just enjoy good food.

Next Saturday, you can explore vegan vendors, munch on plant-based foods, and be inspired by speakers and cooking demonstrations all day long (or at least 11am-6pm).

And another plus—the festival is near the Navy Yard Metro Station at Yards Park, so no need to increase that carbon footprint with driving.

Here’s what to expect:
Food

Washington, D.C. has great vegetarian options scattered across the city. But at Vegfest, restaurants like Amsterdam Falafelshop, Bread and Brew, Pete’s Apizza, Sticky Fingers, and Mango Grove are lined up to provide everything from samples to full meals. Vegan sweets shops and stands with new vegan food products also dot the festival with freebies to try or to bring home.

Speakers

In between meals, there is plenty of time to hear from an assortment of speakers from the vegan and vegetarian community. The speaker lineup ranges from chefs to news anchors, all connected by their advocacy of the plant-based diet. This year, highlights include vegan ultra marathoner Rich Roll and cooking demos by Cupcake Wars winner Doron Petersan and vegan chef Ayinde Howell.

Good Causes

Many of the exhibitors at Vegfest will be there for educational, rather than epicurean, purposes. Animal welfare organizations, health groups, and even the District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility will be in attendance to get new folks engaged and excited about their causes.

If you enjoyed the Green Festival this weekend—or you are sad you missed it—then the DC Vegfest may be right up your ally.

Don’t miss out on this chance to explore vegan, vegetarian, and vegetarian-friendly cuisine and organizations in Washington, D.C., no matter what your eating preferences.

For more information on Vegfest:

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The dinners I remember best are the ones I threw together with odds and ends of ingredients.

There was the lentil barley salad made with twelve almonds and one and a half bruised peaches, the pizza whose toppings included roasted cauliflower and eggplant, and the “Great Depression” dinner where some college friends managed to turn a handful of peas, a sweet potato, soy sauce, chickpeas, and leftover lentils (sensing a theme?) into Shepherd’s Pie.

During the summer growing season, my fridge and countertops are usually overflowing with vegetables, some of which I’ve never before seen. Google is my friend, but more often than not I rely on a handful of basic recipes to pull together a new version of a meal.

 

Pesto

Besides its standard use as pasta sauce, pesto makes a great topping sauce for pizza, a garnish for soups, and a sandwich ingredient (try it with sliced August tomatoes). You can make it with almost any green, leafy vegetable. Try using beet greens for a surprisingly pink sauce, or mustard greens for one that’s tangy and spicy. The traditional pesto is made with basil and pine nuts, but I like variety. My nut of choice – the almond – tends to be slightly sweeter, but walnuts also make a great substitute. Puree together four cups of greens, one or two cloves of minced garlic, a half cup of olive oil, and a quarter cup of nuts. Adjust and add salt and parmesan cheese to taste.

Freeze any extra pesto in an ice cube tray for meal-sized leftovers

Pizza

Vegan, vegetarian, or meat-lover, it’s surprisingly easy to elevate this simple dish into one worthy of a dinner party. Caramelize your leftover onions, slice up those tomatoes, and toss on some shredded raw kale. Throw caution to the wind and mix together fresh mozzarella, arugula, and sliced cherry tomatoes. Play around with the types of cheese and the sauce.

Fritters

An egg (or, if vegan, ground flaxseed), a couple tablespoons of flour, and shredded veggies make an easy and delicious breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Mix the ingredients with your hands, separate into golfball sized chunks, then flatten and fry on a skillet. Try shredded sweet potato and chipotle flour or zucchini and Old Bay seasoning, then add to sandwiches or eat alone.

Veggie Pie

My Mom makes spinach pie for special occasions, and when I went away to college I learned to make it with my own twist. I’ve used collards, kale, and beet greens in addition to – and instead of – spinach. To make the pie, I start with Tamar Adler’s olive oil tart dough.* Next, I mix together handfuls of cooked greens, about a sixth as much cheese, and (if there’s one laying around), an egg. As always, salt to taste.

Another twist: try mixing together pureed roasted veggies instead of greens. My favorite version includes roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions, and asiago cheese.

Salad

The best salads make full, hearty meals. Starting with a base of raw greens (spinach, kale, mesclun), try mixing together a grain (bulgur, barley, quinoa, brown rice), a protein (lentils! chickpeas, crumbled feta), something sweet (raisins, chopped apples, strawberries), and something salty (roasted almonds or sunflower seeds, croutons, crumbled pretzels). Experiment with texture: try chopped kohlrabi and blueberries, or roasted beets and goat cheese. Try cooked greens instead of raw, or omit them entirely and throw in a roasted vegetable instead. Anything bitter (turnips, I’m looking at you) will be sweeter when roasted and even tastier when drizzled in vinegar or oil. Serve with a slice of toast rubbed with raw garlic and herbs. Need to kick it up a notch? Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over your bowl.

*An Everlasting Meal is my favorite cookbook of all time, and that’s saying something. About a quarter of the books I own revolve around food.

Written by Caroline Selle, the Zero-Waste Girl

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Is a calorie just a calorie?

Obesity is one of the most visible problems in our country. But it may be masking another overarching chronic health problem – malnutrition.

In a country with so many choices, so much inexpensive food everywhere, and a McDonalds in every town big or small, why would we have to worry about malnutrition?

We pride food on being inexpensive and convenient above all else – above sustainability, above quality, and above nutritional content. As a result, the grocery aisles have become stuffed with packaged, processed foods designed for low cost and long shelf-life. Unfortunately, the nutritional value of these foods is often little to none. So while most Americans are certainly getting enough to eat, they are not consuming the nutrients that are essential for health.  Nutrient deficiency-related diseases can happen to anyone – even an EcoWoman.

Everyone has a different diet, and risks for possible nutrient deficiencies. And women in particular face risk of certain nutrient deficiencies. Here are five common nutrient deficiencies in American women:

1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D aids the auto-immune system – a deficiency may lead to increased susceptibility to colds and the flu. Vitamin D’s role with the immune system also helps prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes. More commonly known is vitamin D’s critical role in calcium absorption and in regulating the nervous system. Women have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis than men, so maintaining bone health is particularly important.

2. Calcium

Calcium and Vitamin D go hand in hand in terms of bone health. Osteoporosis is one of the most common diseases among women – over half of women over the age of 45 are affected. The risks of osteoporosis are more deadly than one might think – bones degraded from osteoporosis causes about 250,000 hip fractures in the U.S. each year, resulting in a 20 percent risk of death.

3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Over 90% of Americans have too little Omega-3 Fatty Acids in their diet. As an essential component of the brain (60% of brain material is made from omega 3 fatty acids), a deficit can lead to learning disabilities, such as ADHD, or contribute to depression. It also may contribute to obesity or heart disease.

4. Folic Acid

Folic acid is extremely important for women that are pregnant or planning to get pregnant. Folate helps protect against a number of embryonic malformations, including neural defects. Also, advanced folate deficiency can lead to anemia. And speaking of anemia…

5. Iron

For vegetarians, iron can be the biggest challenge. Iron-deficiency anemia causes extreme fatigue, dizziness, and an increased heart rate – so much so that it can be difficult to simply walk up a hill. And in the longer term, anemia can have severe impacts, leading to heart disease or heart attacks. The World Health Organization considers iron deficiency the number one nutritional disorder in the world.

With all the research on the dangers of vitamin supplements, it is important – and increasingly difficult – to get these nutrients from natural sources. There are exceptions, of course – vegetarians might take iron supplements to ensure their iron stays at healthy levels and prevent anemia. But they should always be supplemented with the real thing – iron pills could be taken with quinoa, spinach, and lentils.

One thing to take away from this is that maintaining nutrient health is HARD. It can be very difficult to get all the nutrients you need in a natural way, without relying on a multivitamin. But there are experts that can help. Now, I’m no expert – just an EcoWoman trying to stay healthy. For a chance to learn from real experts, DC EcoWomen is hosting a workshop. Dr. Melissa Windsor and Dr. Karen Threlkel of the Restorative Health Center for Integrative Medicine will talk about why we’re malnourished, what the common deficiencies are, and how simple changes in your food choices can make a difference.

A calorie is NOT just a calorie. A nutrient-filled calorie means a whole lot more. In time, it could mean everything.

Learn more about the workshop “Overfed Yet Undernourished” and reserve your ticket.