Put an Egg On It…And Call It Dinner!

Have you noticed how everyone is suddenly #putaneggonit? Eggs on pizza, eggs on sandwiches, eggs on pasta…yum. I even saw someone put an egg on a sweet potato! I am so excited about this trend because eggs are a great way to bolster a meat-free meal (full disclosure, I also really, really love runny egg yolks!) Want to add an egg to your veggies?

Here’s a quick lesson on perfectly poached eggs:

You will need:

A medium pot with a few inches of water
White vinegar
One egg, cracked open and placed into a small bowl
A wooden spoon or rubber spatula
A slotted spoon
A small plate, lined with a paper towel

Let’s begin:

1. Place the pot over high heat and add a splash of vinegar to the water. When the water starts to boil, reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer, and begin stirring the water with a wooden spoon to create a whirlpool. Gently pour the egg into the center of the whirlpool. If you’ve never poached an egg before, you’re going to feel like you’ve done something wrong at this point. Some of the egg white will look stringy and won’t be wrapped around the yolk yet. It’s ok; the whirlpool will help it come together. (If it’s really bothering you, you can gently nudge the white into place with your wooden spoon or rubber spatula before it sets).

2. Let the egg simmer 3-5 minutes or until the white is completely set but still somewhat jiggly. Then, scoop the egg out of the water with the slotted spoon and drain it on the plate lined with a paper towel. Yep, it’s really that easy!

How will you serve yours?

Boost Your Health by Eating Less Meat

Looking for an easy way to improve your overall health?  Try swapping your source of protein. Reducing your meat consumption (and increasing your consumption of fruits, veggies, seeds, and nuts) boasts major health benefits.  Here are three:

#1. Reduce Your Risk of Cancer

The Science: Studies suggest that high fruit and vegetable intake may reduce your risk of cancer. By contrast, red meat and processed meat consumption may increase your risk for some cancers.
The Swap: Replace burgers and hot dogs with homemade chickpea patties; you can add diced veggies directly to the patties or top them with things like peppers, lettuce, tomato, or avocado.

#2. Reduce your Risk of Heart Disease

The Science: A study from Harvard University found that replacing saturated fats (found in meat) with polyunsaturated fats (found in foods like nuts and seeds) reduces your risk of heart disease by up to 19%.
The Swap: Replace the meat in stir-frys, salads, and pastas, with nuts and seeds.

#3. Reduce your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

The Science: The consumption of red and processed meat increases your risk for type 2 diabetes.
The Swap: Portobello mushrooms make a great substitute for meat.  Grill them whole for sandwiches, or chop them up as a replacement for ground beef.

Do you have a tasty vegetarian “swap” or recipe to share?

 

Feeling Sick? The Rise of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in our Food

The use (and serious over-use) of antibiotics in our food has been a popular topic lately.  And for good reason…

According to the CDC’s 2013 Threat Report “scientists around the world have provided strong evidence that antibiotic use in food-producing animals can harm public health through the following sequence of events:

  • Use of antibiotics in food-producing animals allows antibiotic-resistant bacteria to thrive…
  • Resistant bacteria can be transmitted from food-producing animals to humans through the food supply.
  • Resistant bacteria can cause infections in humans.
  • Infections caused by resistant bacteria can result in adverse health consequences for humans.”

Basically, 23,000 people die each year (and many more get sick) because animals are fed unnecessary antibiotics.

The FDA has recently restricted antibiotic use in livestock by making it illegal for farmers to use antibiotics as a means of enhancing growth (this change in policy will take effect over the next 3 years) but a major loophole still exists: farmers are not banned from giving animals antibiotics as a means of preventing disease.

Chances are, it will take many more years before the FDA effectively bans the over-use of antibiotics in our meat.  So what can we do in the mean time to keep ourselves safe?

Eat Less Meat and Poultry
The less you eat, the less unnecessary antibiotics you consume.

Buy Antibiotic-Free
Opt for antibiotic-free meat and poultry; it’s more expensive but that provides you with a great opportunity to reduce your overall meat consumption.  Buying antibiotic-free is good for your health and buying less meat, in general, is good for the environment.

Petition 

Sign a petition asking government and retailers to make changes.

What will you do to keep yourself safe?

Roasted Broccoli with Feta and Chickpeas

Guess what ranked number three on Food Network’s list of Food Trends for 2014?  “Vegetables are the New Meat”.  Number two?  “Real Food is the New Fast Food”.  Looks like it’s going to be a big year for good, old-fashioned, home-cooked, veggie goodness.  This recipe for Roasted Broccoli with Feta and Chickpeas  (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens by Erin Gleeson, creative genius behind The Forest Feast) is meat-free and ready in under 30 minutes, making it one super trendy vegetarian recipe!

Ingredients:

1 pound broccoli, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 (15 oz.) can of chickpeas
1/2 cup crumbled feta

Directions:

1. Lay your broccoli florets on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and a sprinkle them with a pinch of sea salt. Roast the broccoli for 10 to 15 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit, until the edges become slightly brown and crispy.

2. Let the broccoli cool for 5 minutes then combine it with the feta, drained chickpeas, and remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the ingredients in a large bowl and salt to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Global Hunger and the Inefficiency of Eating Meat

The world population (currently 7.1 billion people) is expected to increase by more than 35% by 2050.  The earth’s natural resources, like land to grow food on and fresh water, are not.  The current statistics on world hunger are staggering; the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that one out of every eight people is undernourished…how will we feed 9.6 billion in 2050 if we can’t feed 7.1 billion in 2014?

The problem of world hunger is incredibly complex but many sources are starting to cite excessive meat consumption as a contributing factor.  Raising animals for food is incredibly inefficient.  Animals that are raised for food require significant amounts of feed and water, yet they provide very small quantities of meat, milk, and eggs in return.  It takes up to 13 pounds of grain and 2,400 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat.  Obviously, eating plant-based foods (rather than feeding them to animals) makes more food available to humans, but it also saves water; it only takes 25 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of wheat.

There are, of course, other barriers to distributing food to those in need.  Reducing U.S. meat consumption doesn’t guarantee that hungry people will suddenly have access to more food, but continuing to consume meat at the current rate is unsustainable and it does guarantee a future increase in global hunger.

Check out these figures and decide for yourself: can you give up some meat and help slow the spread of global hunger?

water

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Pollution: It’s What’s for Dinner

Americans eat a lot of meat; according to an article in the New York Times, we represent less than one-twentieth of the world’s population and eat about one-sixth of the meat produced globally.  Do we really need to eat that much meat?  (A healthy adult who has one cup of milk and two eggs with breakfast, and a scoop of beans with lunch needs no more than 4-ounce of meat with dinner to meet their daily protein needs.)

According to USDA statistics 6.7 million cows,  1.1 million hogs, and 8.6 billion chickens were slaughtered in the United States in 2011 alone.  Understandably, farming on this scale creates a host of environmental problems  Here are three to consider:

The Impact on Air Quality
Large, industrial farms produce gasses that and are harmful to human health and that contribute to global warming.  Agriculture generates to about 8% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions each year  (not including emissions created when food is transported to supermarkets and other retailers).

Contamination of Our Water Supplies (pictured above)
The runoff from large, industrial farms (manure, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers) is contaminating water supplies, killing fish, and disrupting marine ecosystems.  And, manure often contains antibiotics and growth hormones (not something I want in my water!)

The Negative Effects on Soil Health
Manure also contains salt (which can damage soil quality and contribute to erosion) and heavy metals (which, when applied in excess, reduce soil fertility).  Large, factory farms produce and use so much manure that it becomes a serious soil pollutant.

The bad news; these are only a few of the problems that our meat-centric diet creates.  The good news; American meat consumption is starting to decline and you can help by eating less meat.  Sure, reducing meat consumption is only a small part of the solution but one person, pledging to give up as little as one 6-ounce serving of meat per day can have a huge impact.

Get 320 people to give up 6 ounces of pork per day (for example)  and you eliminate the need to raise one hog (and the 17.5 pounds of waste it produces).  Better yet, get one out of every 981 Americans (that’s less than 1% of the population) to give up 6 ounces of pork per day and you eliminate 6 million pounds of hog waste in one year.

What about you? Will you be part of the 1%?