For many, sustainability and sound environmental practices are a way of life. They automatically sort their trash and seek out the best in green alternatives. Try as I might, I still need to do more. I realize that no matter how much I might like to blame the conditions of the earth’s melting ice caps or rising seas on an industrialized world, we all need to take responsibility; we need to do our part in reducing our personal impact on the planet.
I just discovered Kate Heyhoe’s Cooking Green, a highly informative eco-friendly book published in 2009. She offers plenty of ways to make sustainability more relevant in our lives and suggests how we can practice conservation in our kitchens on a daily basis. It has an excellent selection of thought provoking recipes that further exemplify conscious lifestyle choices. For further information on eco-friendly kitchen practices check out Kate’s websites www.globalgourmet,com and www.newgreenbasics.com.
Kate points out there are plenty of foods that do not actually require cooking: a simple soaking is all they need. That caught my attention, since this summer’s heat has been so oppressive I am always looking for cooking alternatives.
Passive cooking takes advantage of an existing heat source― quickly boiled water from a tea kettle, for example―it’s enough to “cook” such foods as bulgur wheat or bean threads. Both are perfect candidates for an eco-friendly kitchen because a quick soak is all that is necessary to soften them enough for further preparation.
Here are a few test questions from Kate’s eco-quiz to challenge your energy smarts. Consider these:
- If you’re an eco-friendly cook, should your next cutting board be made of Corian, glass, bamboo, acrylic, or maple?
Glass is more eco-friendly than made-made materials of Corian and acrylic, but chopping on glass is hard on knives. Bamboo is the most sustainable material, even more so than maple. It’s strong, hard, and resists bacteria better than wood. Bamboo’s downside lies in its traveling cookprint: bamboo comes from China. Maple hails from North America, but some forests are facing environmental stress. The best answer is to dig deeper: check into new cutting boards made of recycled cardboard, plastic, and cork; they perform well and re-purpose materials that would otherwise go to waste.
- Do you save more energy if you run your dishwasher at midnight, noon, or 5:00PM?
Because electricity at power plants is generated more efficiently during off-peak hours, midnight saves fuel at the source.
- If your garbage disposal breaks, should you (a) call the repair service, (b) replace it with an Energy Star model, or (c) remove it and without?
Lose it, don’t use it. Garbage disposals bring unnecessary energy and water consumption to the waste process. Composting, and even regular trash disposal, are better options. Garbage disposals don’t come with Energy Star ratings.
Now that fresh peaches are literally falling off my neighbor’s tree, I am joyfully besieged with bowls of plump, ripe peaches. There is absolutely nothing better than a sweet, juicy peach dripping down your chin to make you thoroughly grateful for any amount of summer heat.
These mornings I have taken to beginning the day with a peach smoothie of some sort. I’ve learned that a heaping spoonful of my favorite raw 6-grain oats will literally disappear into the mix and create a thick luscious power breakfast. In one cool, creamy glass, I get a healthy supply of fruit, fiber, dairy, vitamins, minerals, and plenty of energy for my morning exercise. Absolutely no cooking required.
Peach Breakfast Smoothie
Any combination will work, use what is available and tasty and whirl it up―even an immersion blender gets the job done.
1-2 Tbsp rolled oats, 6-grain, or other blend
1 tsp chia seeds (optional)
3 Tbsp yogurt
¾ cup milk
1 large peach, peeled and cut up; or 1 cup fresh fruit or a combination
½ tsp vanilla
Handful of ice cubes
1 squirt agave or honey to taste
In blender or processor of choice place all ingredients through ice and blend until smooth. Taste for sweetness; add agave or other sweetener as needed. Serves 1