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Adopt a vegetarian lifestyle

When you think that the average household consumes around 120 kilograms of meat a year, imagine the difference it would make if everyone consumed a single vegetarian meal per week. It's not only good for the environment - it's good for your health too!

 

The choice to adopt a vegetarian-style lifestyle for one meal per week is a common green tip and already a practice in many homes. But for some, presenting a meatless meal to the family can seem like a daunting task. As a lifelong vegetarian, Mary Mazzoni - staff writer at Earth 911, had plenty of time to test out some recipes in her own kitchen and hand-picked a couple of favourites for you to try in yours. These meals aren’t just meat-free. They’re also low-waste and low-fat – so you can shrink your footprint and your waist size.

Rigatoni in Putanesca Sauce

This old-school Italian classic may be made from humble ingredients, but the savoury sauce packs a punch of flavour that is sure to satisfy. This meal may be a belly-full, but it’s low in fat.

You will need:

4 large tomatoes, diced
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 cup pitted Calamata olives, halved
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound dried whole wheat rigatoni pasta
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons sugar
Salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add pasta. Pour in a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil for flavour. Cook until al dente (tender), about 8 minutes.

2. While pasta is cooking, heat ½ cup oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and simmer for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add the garlic and simmer for 2 minutes more. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, sugar and tomatoes and continue to simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add olives, basil and oregano, simmer for 2 minutes and remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste.

3. Drain pasta and toss with sauce over low heat for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.

Compostable waste: Tomato tops, onion and garlic skins

Rice & Bean Wraps with Guacamole

These south-of-the-border classics are a hit at any summer fiesta, but it can seem like a challenge to make a tasty burrito without the meat. The protein-packed goodness of black beans combined with the brininess of olives and the sharpness of Asiago cheese make this recipe a surprisingly tasty hit – even without the carne.

You will need:

1 can black beans
1 pack rice
10 large flour tortillas
1 cup olives, chopped
2 large red peppers, chopped
2 cups shredded feta cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

Guacamole:

2 large ripe avocadoes, mashed
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of 1 lime

How to make it:

1. Prepare rice according to package directions and set aside.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add red peppers and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in olives, black beans, salt and pepper. Cook for 7 minutes or until the beans have softened. Add to rice and stir.

3. Meanwhile, mix up your guacamole. Combine avocado, red onion, garlic, cilantro, tomatoes, lime juice and olive oil in a glass mixing bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.

4. Place a generous scoop of the bean and rice mixture in the middle of each tortilla. Add 1 tablespoon of guacamole and a handful of shredded cheese. Fold the tortillas over into a burrito shape.

5. Lightly brush each burrito with olive oil and cook over low heat in a sauté pan until each side is golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from heat and serve.

Compostable waste: Avocado shells and pits, onion and garlic skins, tomato tops, lime

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