When our parents lectured us to eat green, that pretty much meant, eat your broccoli. A decade later the “generation z” kids will have an entirely new interpretation. They’ll associate eating green to being environmentally conscious.
How are food is grown, raised, processed, packaged, and transported affects the environment and ultimately our own health and wellbeing.
The simplest of changes can make an everlasting effect on the planet…
Bag the beef. Or at the very least cut back and switch to grass fed beef. Almost 10 percent of U.S land is used for animal feed utilizing excess land, water, fertilizer, pesticides, and energy. Just over 30 percent of land is used for grazing cattle, equaling a very large portion of terrain for livestock. Instead of topping off your lunch salad with beef or chicken (for your protein source) try soybeans, a much more efficient energy source and equally high in protein.
Veg out. Veggies require less energy to grow and produce no greenhouse gasses. Plus they provide a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Instead of the usual (and unexciting) steamed veggies, try roasting them (any and all veggies) in the oven, then shave a little fresh Parmesan cheese on top just prior to serving (double portions may reduce how much animal protein you eat).
Stay close to home. Eating locally is a great way to support your community and cut down on the carbon footprint (it takes an average of 1500 miles for produce to get to your plate). For more info, go directly to the source—farmers markets are everywhere and a great place to shop. Grocery stores are also taking part by labeling local and organic produce. Some local farmers may not be labeled organic but do in-fact practice organic methods (they just can’t afford the high cost of certification).
Stay seasonal. Taking advantage of the northern and southern hemisphere just to get berries during our winter is no excuse. Think of the food miles. Eating seasonal means we’re listening to Mother Nature and not sucking energy from hothouses (when produce is grown in the winter—unless of course those hothouses are run on renewable energy).
Home Cookin. Not only will you save yourself the trifeca of fat, calories, and sodium, you’ll also save energy, packaged waste and cooking at home is always more cost effective.
As a dietitian, I feel compelled to say that while this might not be what you want to hear, consuming fewer calories equals less stress on the environment it also equals one less notch on the belt. Cutting back just ten percent of your calories would make a huge change in global warming. It’s a co-benefit that we all benefit from.
1 ½ pounds fresh tuna, cut into ½ inch-thick steaks
2 cloves garlic, peeled
12 fresh basil leaves
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch arugula, washed and stemmed
1 small bunch radicchio, broken into leaves
2 Belgian endives, broken into leaves
- Trim and bloody spots or sinews off the tuna. Arrange the fish steaks in a glass baking dish. In a mortar and pestle, combine the garlic, basil, and salt and pound to a smooth paste. Work in 3 tablespoons lemon juice, ½ tablespoon olive oil, and the pepper. (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, puree the ingredients for the marinade in a blender or finely chop them and stir to mix.) Pour the mixture over the fish and marinate for 20 to 30 minutes, turning the steaks two or three times.
- Slice all the bitter greens crosswise into ¼-inch strips. Place the greens in a bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and salt and pepper, but do not toss. Preheat the grill to high.
- Grill the tuna steaks until cooked to taste, about 1 minute per side for medium rare, basting with marinade. (Alternatively, the fish can be cooked in a ridged skillet or under the broiler.) Just before serving, toss the bitter greens with the dressing, adding salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the tuna on a platter or plates and top with the bitter greens. Serve at once.
246 calories per serving, 40 grams protein, 7 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 4 grams carbohydrates, 70 milligrams sodium, 74 milligrams cholesterol
As a dietitian, I’m totally down with the grill. There are just too many positives, and the few potential negatives can easily be rectified (see previous post).
Among the advantages of grilling: it adds unique intense flavors without fat. In fact, the high, dry heat of the grill helps remove excess fat. How many foods can you say that about? Grilling and barbecuing (the first involves direct dry heat; the latter, indirect moderate to low heat and a lot of wood smoke) both make extensive use of rubs, herbs and spices—all three intense providers of flavor without fat.
For most of us, barbecue means animal proteins, but don’t stop there, grill vegetables and starches. The high dry heat caramelizes the plant sugars, making vegetables like corn, asparagus, peppers and eggplant (my favorite) taste even sweeter than normal. You can also grill those healthy, nutrient- rich greens, like broccolini and kale. (I like to brush them with a mixture of sesame oil and sea salt).
Here in the U.S., we’re a country of carnivores, but not in other countries where it means grilled seafood, cheese, breads, soy products, and even desserts. Fruits, like peaches and sliced pineapples make a healthy dessert either by themselves or over frozen yogurt.
Grilling is also fast—ideal for people who claim they have no time to cook. If I haven’t sold you yet… there’s little clean up. No pots and pans to scrub—just a few swipes of a stiff wire brush over the grate before and after grilling to make sure you grill is ready for next time.
RX: Grill on.
Recipes to follow.