Sunday, June 19, 2016

Meatless Monday: Summer is for Salads

It’s the first day of summer! And the weather in New England is glorious at the moment. With such perfect weather it is a shame to spend too much time indoors. In our house, summertime is salad time, especially now that fresh local greens and berries are making their way to our farmers’ markets. With some careful planning before you go to the market, and a bit of advance preparation on the weekend, you too can stock your fridge for a week’s worth of salads.

In all my years of Meatless Monday blogging I can’t believe I have never shared this favorite recipe — a riff on “Kidney Bean Salad” from Recipes for a Small Planet, by Ellen Buchman Ewald, first published in 1973. This easy to prepare salad is versatile and economical; it can be altered depending on the ingredients you have on hand, making it perfect for a surprise invitation to a potluck. Served on a bed of greens with a side of bread it is all you need for a quick dinner on a hot summer night. It stores well in the fridge and makes a wonderful grab and go lunch for the office or a spontaneous picnic. No need for those high-price containers from the deli section!

The original recipe follows with my changes in brackets.

6 portions; 1 portion=approx. 7 grams of protein

  • 1 cup dry kidney beans [1 small can kidney beans + 1 small can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained, + 1/3 lb. fresh or frozen green beans, lightly steamed]
  • 1 green [red] pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions [Vidalia]
  • 1 teaspoon crushed or minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil [extra virgin]
  • 1/4 cup wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato catsup
  • dash [or 2 or 3] hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley [Italian] 
  • 1 cup yogurt whisked with …1/4 cup milk powder [Greek yogurt]

  • Combine the beans, pepper, onions, and garlic.
  • Make a dressing of the remaining ingredients EXCEPT yogurt and milk powder.
  • Pour the dressing over the bean mixture and toss gently. 
  • Refrigerate at least one hour.
  • Just before serving, stir in the yogurt mixture.

Optional additions: chopped cucumber and/or celery. NOTE: I chose not to stir the yogurt into the mix. I prefer to top each salad with a scoop of Greek yogurt, some crumbled feta cheese, or some grated sharp cheddar. The salad stores better that way.

Enjoy your time outside the kitchen! And come back next week for a complete list of the salad recipes I have shared over the years.

Happy Summer! Happy Meatless Monday.

On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Choice is Clear

Many of my blog posts have an optimistic tone. I strive to share good news about people doing things to make the world a better place, such as the recent post about a bee swarm and a beekeeper who came to its rescue.  

But now to a reality that should strike fear into any responsible person’s heart. The presumptive Republican candidate for president, in a late May speech to oil producers in North Dakota, said he would “cancel” the Paris climate agreement and withdraw any funding for United Nations programs related to global warming. He also pledged to reopen coal mines and to try to reopen negotiations to build the Keystone XL pipeline. You can read his entire energy policy plan here

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has vowed to “deliver on the pledge President Obama made at the Paris climate conference last December… Her plan will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 percent in 2025 relative to 2005 levels and put the country on a path to cut emissions more than 80 percent by 2050.” In November 2015 Hillary Clinton said: “I won’t let anyone take us backward, deny our economy the benefits of harnessing a clean energy future, or force our children to endure the catastrophe that would result from unchecked climate change.”

For the first time in its history the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) has endorsed a candidate for president. That candidate is Hillary Clinton. The advocacy group declared: “She has the deep knowledge and diplomatic skills to fight for our kids’ future, preserve America’s leadership role in the Paris Climate Agreement and build upon that global framework to fight climate change. We will work with her to honor and implement that historic accord to preserve our planet for future generations.”

Why is this so important? In a talk entitled “A Future Free from Fear: Why We must Act on Climate Change Today,” delivered at Yale in May, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCC (Un Framework Convention on Climate Change) stated that we have just FIVE YEARS to make important progress to reducing the amount of CO2 in our air. 

Figueres praised the Paris Climate Agreements for setting up the possibility of a new reality, but emphasized in her message the we need to make this reality happen NOW. She was careful to point out that with challenges come great economic opportunities. Yes, we can change the world and garner economic benefits. We must face the challenge head on. This is our moon shot!

One only has to watch or read the news to see that destabilization of our world has begun. Parents and grandparents in particular must realize the burdens which we are going to pass on to the next generation. That is the price of inaction.

It is clear that just one of these candidates has the vision to help us as a nation achieve a clean energy future. An obvious first step is to vote for that candidate in November and to work in the coming months to persuade everyone you know that they should do the same.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I Stand Corrected: The First of Several New Posts on Honey Bees

While bee keeper Jon Garliepp did give me kudos and thanks for my recent post on bee swarms and bee keepers who come to their rescue, he also pointed out that I was not entirely correct when I gave the Europeans credit for introducing honey bees to the New World. “Reintroduced” is the verb I should have used.

In 2009, archaeologists discovered a single specimen of Apis (honey bee), a female worker, preserved in a shale formation in the Stewart Valley Basin of West Central Nevada. This 14-14.5 million years old specimen provides the first evidence that honey bees were once native to North America. The researchers named the find A. nearctica and published their findings in the May 7, 2009, Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences.  

The scientists wrote: “In the case of the honey bees A. nearctica indicates that North America was one of the native regions of Apis distribution, where they became extinct sometime subsequent to the Miocene [that ended 5.3 million years ago], and the genus, like horses…was later reintroduced by European colonization of the Americas.”  

The complete paper is rather lengthy. For a summary that includes a photo of the fossilized bee, check out this blog

It’s really quite amazing that this one tiny fossil could have such an impact!