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I can’t say it enough: I love meat. The pink, the red, the white stuff, I’ll devour it all. If I grew up in China, IF, I’d probably eat dogs, too. Then again, I was born and raised in Europe and yet never ate a horse (at least not to my knowledge). Though horse meat was readily available to its enthusiasts (were they?), it just never sounded good. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that, when I was in my teens, my room was plastered, floor to ceiling, with posters of horses, plus an occasional image of Patrick Swayze and Mel Gibson (the real life mad man turns out) tucked in between.

Maybe Mel Gibson ate horses? Or dogs??

Here is another thing I not only am crazy about, but also can’t live without. So can’t you. The thing is the Earth with its abundance of life forms, with its breathtaking beauty, with its mind-boggling complexity, with its mighty power of creation…

 

I watched this video today, made by a very cool organization called GOOD, where I heard it again: meat production creates three times the green house gas emission as veggies, eggs, grains, or fish. The video is not a dooming project, it’s educational. See what small changes you can adopt in your every day living that will help not only to save you BIG BUCKS but also contribute to global energy savings and thus help protect our motherland.

 

 

When you go grocery shopping this weekend, plan your menu for your next Meatless Monday. You’ll find countless ideas for satisfying and nutrient-dense meals made with no meat on the pages of yours truly (ONE MORE BITE). For a quick reference, however, I’ll throw in another one today.

This is one of those dishes I actually don’t plan for. Funny enough, the only ones I do are those meat-heavy platters. Every week I get a variety of vegetables, whatever calls my name and with no agenda. Around 4 PM on a mid week day I enter the kitchen and poke my head into the refrigerator trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Slowly, one by one, I begin to pull out various greens and land them on the kitchen counter. Next, I go through the pantry cabinet and look for grains or pastas, beans, nuts, dried fruit, canned anchovies, tomato paste, etc. From a basket in the corner I grab an onion or a couple of shallots, a head of garlic, maybe a couple of potatoes. At this point, while I may look calm and relaxed on the outside, in my head I undergo a violent and calorie-consuming brainstorm.

Within minutes my kitchen turns into a mad scientist’s lab with lights blinking, cupboard doors slamming, windows shattering, and other inexplicable explosions visible on the horizon. Half an hour or so later I come out, as if nothing ever happened, with a complete dinner, plated and all.

It’s as easy as cooking rice and adding to it a handful of frozen edamame beans minutes before its done. It’s as easy as finely chopping a shallot, garlic and chili pepper and tossing them together on a hot pan with a touch of olive oil and a handful of almonds. It’s as easy as parboiling string beans and florets of broccoli in salted water and then adding those guys to the pan with the nuts. Drop in a handful of sweat peas, drizzle with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar or lime juice, even a touch of honey. Serve over the rice, garnish with fresh herbs and sprouts of any kind, and ENJOY immediately. I guarantee, you won’t even notice there was no meat on the plate.

Some days, when a special someone, like my friend Tamara who also happens to be an incredibly knowledgable and skilled acupuncturist (she’s funny, too!), comes over for dinner, I think things through and prep ahead. She follows what I call a relaxed vegan diet. Her household is free of animal products, however when out and about she will occasionally enjoy a piece of cheese, or pastry. She lives her life labels-free, thus allowing herself to be mostly content with what is, rather than stressed out with what’s not. I admire that quality in her as it’s not as easy to attain as it is to write about it.

We ate together last night, and I wanted to celebrate her joy de vivre by creating a dish bursting with flavors, textures, and colors, while respecting her vegan preference. Hence, I juxtaposed dark Mahogany rice with roasted peanuts and basil oil (all sunk in) against white and raw celeriac salad with walnuts and creamy sunflower seed vinaigrette. On a bed of bright orange sweet potato mash I laid green zucchini and bok choy, plus a handful of garbanzo beans made Southern style (meaning fried). To add texture I sprinkled nutty hemp seeds over the rice and red teardrops of pomegranate seeds all over the plate. A couple of edamame beans delivered another building block of protein, and made the meal complete.

Cooking is fun, especially when you think outside of the box and keep reinventing yourself. Mother Nature gifted us with thousands of incredible varieties of edible plants. Whether you like them raw, cooked, dehydrated, even fried (however rarely), chances are you’ll never get bored with them. So get jiggy with it!

Guess what, no animal was harmed in the process of writing this post. On the contrary, Cosmo napped on my lap all along with my left hand scratching his ear while the right one typed each letter  o n e   b y   o n e.

Also, for the record, I would never EVER bite a dog. Not even a hot-dog.

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I put Jason through a flavor hurricane this week. The poor guy was my guinea pig from Monday through last night. Not that this is such an exotic job at this household, considering that my cooking style is pretty much a perpetual experiment. This week was different, however, as what I did mostly was… un-cooking and serving RAW.

If you stopped by the last few posts, you know I’m talking about GAZPACHO. What’s the big deal, you must be thinking then. The deal is that each one of my cold soups came out quite pungent and powerful. Still, I refused to mellow it down with cream or veg/chicken stock (as commonly practiced by other cooks out there). On the other hand, I welcomed that punch in my mouth, for it was not only refreshing, but also it lit a fluorescent bulb inside of my skull, and for the first time in my life I found myself in the center of the limelight. Alas no red carpet in sight.

The phenomena of the bright green glow enveloping my entire body was especially visible last night, when I finished my series of Spanish chilled soups with this MUCHO VERDE GAZPACHO. Today I kiss the ground I step on in gratitude for my apt thinking and taking a photo of all the ingredients that went into the blend. Otherwise, there would be no guarantees for me to retrace my own steps whilst being so blinded by my own halo.

Here you are, all the suspects rested supine on the bowl ready for the BIG WHIZZ:

– 2 Persian cucumbers (peeled)

– 1 Poblano Pepper, deseeded

– 1 Sweet Chili Pepper

– 1 Green Chili Pepper

– 1 Green Bell Pepper

– Heart of Celery Stalk

– 2 Green Onions

– 2 Lrg Avocados (ripe)

– Bunch of fresh Hawaiian Basil

– Bunch of fresh Cilantro

– 2-3 cloves of garlic

– Juice of 1-2 limes (depending on your liking)

– 3-4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

– 1/2 Cup Cold Water, filtered preferably, not tap water

– Sea salt + white pepper + cayenne pepper to taste

– A few drizzles of Worcesterchire Sauce (optional)

– 1-2 tbsp of Mascarpone or cream (optional)

The last 2 component are completely optional, and avoid them especially if you want to keep your Gazpacho vegan. That’s how mine was, and also that’s why my Jason’s eyes came out from their orbits upon the first sip of the soup after it had chilled in the ice-box for half a day. Let me explain this. Jason doesn’t eat oranges, nor green apples, not to mention grapefruits unless they are certified to be infused with honey by the bees themselves. His baby tongue is too delicate for any level of tartness. Whereas I myself squeeze the juice of an entire lemon into a small glass of water, after which I gulp it down, come up for air, smack lick my lips and ask for more. Therefore, you be the judge of how much lemon juice versus olive oil versus water you choose to add into your soup. Think of the consistency and flavor. If using more water, remember to adjust the saltiness and heat of your amalgam.

It’s most likely clear that all the vegetables should be cleaned, peeled and deseeded when needed, then chopped into smaller pieces and blended together in a food processor or a blender. For that extra smooth and creamy consistency I like to press the entire batch through a fine sieve before storing in a glass, air-tight container for the chilling part of the process.

I enjoyed a glass of my Elixir of Youth with dinner last night, and then again with my wrap I devoured for lunch today. Just think about the boost of live enzymes and vitamins that enter your body in liquified form, thus making its magic that much faster. I feel illuminated. Even now, two hours after my last meal I’m still burping lightning bugs…

Bon Appetit!

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