As you well know, Earth Day is Friday, and there's no better way to celebrate Mother Nature than by cooking up an eco-friendly meal. After all, responsible eating -- whether you're buying local produce, reducing meat consumption, or choosing sustainable seafood -- can help to reduce carbon emissions, pollution, and the strain on natural resources. And, you might just discover that what's good for the planet is also quite delicious, too.
Check out these three tasty eco-friendly meal ideas your whole family will enjoy.
Eating sustainable seafood helps to ensure the ecological health of the oceans. Check websites like Monterey Bay Aquarium or the labels at Whole Foods to see which species are caught or farmed in responsible, environmentally friendly ways. Right now sardines, oysters, and wild Alaskan salmon are some of your best bets.
Barbecued Wild Alaskan Salmon With Chili Lemon and Herbs from Marine Stewardship Council
- 1.5 oz. butter
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon rind
- 1 mild fresh red chili, deseeded and sliced, or a pinch of dried chili flakes
- A few sprigs of thyme, rosemary, or savoury or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 4 (6 oz.) wild Alaska salmon fillets
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large eggplant, thickly sliced (local if possible)
- 2 peppers, deseeded and halved (local if possible)
- 4 sprigs of small tomatoes on the vine (local if possible)
- 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Melt the butter and stir in the sugar, lemon zest and juice, and fresh chili/dried chili flakes. Add herbs.
Place each fillet on a large sheet of foil, brush with butter mixture, season with salt and pepper, then wrap and close. Cook over the barbecue coals for 10-15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. If grilling, arrange the fillets on the grill pan and cook under a preheated grill for 3-4 minutes on each side. When cooked, the flesh should be opaque and the fish should flake when tested with a fork.
Barbecue or grill the eggplant and peppers until beginning to char, adding the tomatoes for the final few minutes. Serve salmon with veggies and drizzle with olive oil.
If you must eat meat, grass-fed animals are better for the environment than those raised in feedlots because they cause less soil erosion and water pollution.
Apple and Cheddar Grass-fed Beef Burgers from Whole Foods
- 3/4 pound 90% lean ground grass-fed beef
- 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 ounces sharp cheddar, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup shredded peeled Granny Smith apple (local if possible)
- Canola oil cooking spray (optional)
Combine beef, onion, cheddar, mustard, salt, pepper, and apple in a large bowl and form into four (4-inch) patties. Grill over medium heat or broil, flipping once, until done to your taste, 6 to 8 minutes. Or, spray a large skillet with cooking spray and cook over medium heat, 6 to 8 minutes.
And, of course, eating vegetarian is eco-friendly because it reduces the strain on our limited resources, as well as helps to protect the planet from pollution, reduce CO2 emissions, and prevent global warming.
Portobello Pizzas from Vegetarian Times
- 4 giant portobello mushroom caps (local if possible)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, or more as needed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons basil pesto
- 1 1/2 cups shredded combination low-fat mozzarella and provolone cheeses
- 2 oz. soy "pepperoni" slices
- 6 artichoke hearts, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped olives, optional
- Pinch oregano
Wipe mushroom caps clean, and remove stems. Chop stems, and place in mixing bowl. Using small spoon, gently scoop out black gills on underside of mushroom caps, and discard gills. Place mushrooms, cap side down, on foil-lined sheet.
Combine balsamic vinegar and pesto in small mixing bowl, and brush mixture on mushroom caps. Place in oven, and cook at 500 for 5 to 7 minutes, or until tender.
Meanwhile, combine in bowl 1 cup cheese, soy “pepperoni” slices, artichoke bottoms, chopped mushroom stems, olives, if using, and oregano, tossing to mix well. Remove mushrooms from oven, and, dividing mixture evenly, fill each cap. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese over mushrooms.
Bake 7 to 10 minutes more, remove from oven, and serve.
Image via James Bowe/Flickr