What does it mean to be “green”? Typically, we mean doing something that is good for (or at least not harmful to) the environment. What we choose to eat has an enormous impact on the environment as a whole and the environment that is your body. Think of all the crops we harvest or all the livestock we raise. This month we’re looking at green ideas that benefit the environment, and more importantly, benefit you directly. Here are some simple things you can do to eat greener.
Meatless Mondays (or Tuesdays or any day of the week)
Making one dinner a week a meatless one has loads of benefits. Probably the most beneficial to you is that you’ll be healthier. Studies show that those who eat a plant-based diet weigh less and are less likely to develop heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Pick one day this week and replace your dinner’s meat entree with a bean-based dish such as Tuscan Bean Burgers or an omelet with sautéed vegetables. Once you get into the habit of once a week, try twice a week for even more health benefits. One more benefit: you’ll save money at the grocery store. Next time you’re shopping, compare the cost of beef to the cost of a can of beans. That savings will really add up!
Buy Fresh, Not Processed
This is a double-bonus tip: buy fresh foods (found along the perimeter of your supermarket). They’re less likely to be processed so the first benefit is less packaging being created and thrown into our ever-growing garbage dumps. Bonus to you: you’re automatically eating healthier. Packaged foods need additives to keep them from spoiling quickly so they can sit on the shelf for a long time. This means preservatives like sodium are added. And we know that too much sodium drives up our blood pressures, increasing our risk of heart disease and stroke. Man-made ingredients such as trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup may also be added. Our bodies don’t process these as real food and they also contribute to diseases such as heart disease and obesity.
Try Tuscan Bean Burgers for dinner one night this week. You get extra credit for using dried beans. If using canned beans, be sure to rinse and drain them very well (this will remove almost half the sodium listed on the package). Then recycle the cans!
Tuscan Bean Burgers
(click here for the printable PDF)
Makes about 9 burgers, so you’ll have extra for another meal
½ cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped carrots
⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
12 ounces dried cannellini beans OR 3 (15.5 ounce) cans beans, rinsed and drained
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup dried bread crumbs
If using dried beans, soak in cold water for about 6 hours. Drain, add fresh water to cover and simmer until beans are tender 30 – 90 minutes (cooking time depends upon size and freshness of beans).
Combine all ingredients, except for bread crumbs, in a food processor. Pulse to combine & chop up ingredients. You’ll want the beans ground up a bit, but still chunky. Scoop out into a large bowl. Add bread crumbs and mix well.
Form burgers using ½ cup mixture for each burger.
Spray a saute pan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Brown burgers on each side and cook until heated through, 3 – 5 minutes per side. Serve with your favorite burger accompaniments.
Tune in next week for more green ideas.