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Energy-saving recipes: Reducing your carbon footprint in the kitchen

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Cooking green

Whether the economy has you looking for ways to save money or your commitment to eco-friendly living has compelled you to find energy-saving ways to reduce your carbon footprint, cooking green is a delicious way to do both. Kate Heyhoe, founding editor of GlobalGourmet.com and NewGreenBasics.com, delivers 50 delicious eco-friendly recipes and hundreds of green kitchen tips to save money, use less fuel and, best yet, improve your health in her recently released eco-book Cooking Green: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in the Kitchen. Here are three of Heyhoe's scrumptious recipes and 10 eco-tips to shrink your kitchen carbon footprint.

Cooking Green: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in the Kitchen--the New Green Basics Way 10 Easy eco-tips for a green kitchen

According to Heyhoe, how you cook is as important as what you cook when it comes to eco-friendly living. She says that, fortunately, the kitchen is the best place for you to make real green choices and take direct control of your environmental impact. And the good news is the choices can be very simple changes in the way you cook and plan your meals.Here are just 10 of the many eco-tips she provides in Cooking Green:

  1. Eat lower on the food chain (i.e. more plant-based meals).
  2. Cook with less fuel and water.
  3. Let foods thaw in the refrigerator as opposed to using the microwave.
  4. Use sustainable bamboo cutting boards or cutting boards made of recycled materials.
  5. Cook with grains that require the least amount of cooking time, such as quinoa, couscous or bulgur.
  6. Consider noodles that soften with soaking (i.e. bean thread noodles and rice sticks).
  7. Use propane or electric grills to reduce emissions and avoid the toxins released from charcoal and lighter fluid.
  8. Cook with a convection oven, which cooks food quicker and reduces greenhouse gases.
  9. Choose lentils for non-meat protein because they cook quicker and don't need to be soaked in water overnight.
  10. Design your diet around organic foods.

Energy-saving and eco-friendly recipes

Heyhoe features 50 energy-saving recipes in Cooking Green, with suggestions to create many more satisfying eco-friendly variations. Recipes range from appetizers to main-course meals, provide helpful eco-cooking tips, and utilize common ingredients for everyday fare. Even if you cook eco-friendly meals just a few times a week, you'll effectively cut your energy and food costs as well as do your part to reduce your kitchen carbon footprint.

Mediterranean Rice Paper Rolls

Serves 6 as appetizers or 3 as a main courseThe eco-advantages of this recipe are many. Not only is it a no-cook meal, it is in season all year round, is made from a variety of shelf-stable ingredients that don't need to be refrigerated and is a convenient way to use leftover cooked chicken.Sauce:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped capers
1/4 teaspoon black pepperWrappers:
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar plus 2 tablespoons water
6 (8-1/2) rice-paper wrappersFilling:
6 small to medium red leaf or other lettuce leaves
8 ounces cooked, shredded chicken meat
1/2 bell pepper, cut into matchstick-sized pieces
1 carrot, cut into matchstick-sized pieces
1 rib celery and attached celery leaves, if any, cut into matchstick-sized pieces
2 green onions (white and green parts), cut into matchstick-sized pieces
1 ounce shaved ParmesanDirections:
1. Mix together mayonnaise, lemon juice, capers and black pepper for the sauce. Fill a shallow plate or pan with seasoned rice vinegar and water. Soak one wrapper at a time for 1 minute or so. Lift up wrapper and let excess liquid drain back into the plate. Smooth wrapper out the wrapper on a work surface (as you remove one wrapper from the vinegar mixture, replace it with another one to soak).2. To assemble one roll, in the lower third of the wrapper place a lettuce leaf so the frilly part partially extends over the left or right edge. Distribute a few strips of chicken over it and drizzle on a bit of sauce. Add strips of bell pepper, carrot, celery, and green onion and Parmesan shavings.3. Gently pull the wrapper's bottom edge up and over the filling and tighten by pulling back slightly. Give the roll a forward turn. Fold the end without the lettuce in and continue rolling the wrapper into a cigar. Place seam-side down and continue making the remaining rolls. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Wraps will keep up to 6 hours.

Feta Pesto and 2-Minute Pasta

Serves 3 to 4Featuring a no-cook sauce and passively cooked pasta, this vegetarian dish saves fuel and keeps the kitchen cooler. Quick and easy with just a few ingredients, you can have dinner on the table in a half-hour or less.Ingredients:
2 cloves garlic
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, touch lower stems removed
1/2 cup shelled walnut halves or pieces
1 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons white or red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
12 ounces dried spaghettiDirections:
1. Finely chop garlic in a food processor. Add parsley and coarsely chop. Add walnuts and chop until grainy. Add 1/2 cup of the feta and all of the oil. Process just until mixture turns to a coarse paste. Pulse in the pepper just until combined. Set aside. Stir in the vinegar right before tossing with the pasta.2. To passively cook pasta, fill a large pot with 5 quarts of water and the salt. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the spaghetti until completely submerged. Partially cover and cook for 2 minutes. Stir again to mix up the pasta. Cover, turn off the heat, and let stand until al dente, about 8 minutes. Scoop out pasta to drain.3. When pasta is mostly drained, toss with the pesto. If the mixture seems dry, mix in a spoonful of the pasta cooking water. Serve warm or at room temperature, passing the remaining 1/2-cup feta on the side.

Green Bean Walnut Salad with Flaxseed Oil Dressing

Serves 2 to 3A prime summer and fall side-dish, this salad uses very little cooking energy and is ready in 5 minutes. You can even turn it into a hearty main course by adding canned tuna or hard-cooked eggs.Ingredients:
2 teaspoons flaxseed oil
2 to 3 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon coarse Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
6 ounces leftover blanched green beans, cut into 1- to 2-inch lengths
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, broken into large, coarse bits
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantroDirections:
In the bottom of a large salad bowl, stir together oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir in the red onion. Add green beans, walnuts and cilantro, tossing to coat. Taste and add a bit more vinegar or salt to balance the flavors, if needed. Let the salad rest for a few minutes for the flavors to marry, then serve.

More eco-friendly tips and recipes

Green couple's dinner party recipes 
Tips for throwing an eco-friendly dinner party
Eco-friendly kitchenware
Save money and the earth with eco-friendly kitchen cleaning supplies
Eco-cookbook review: Green Princess Cookbook

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