Each year on April 22, almost 200 countries around the globe celebrate Earth Day. This day is set aside to honor the environment and to find ways to protect and clean up our planet. Some will spend time in their garden. Others will plant a tree or will commit to cutting down on single use plastics. We are all driving much less which has improved air quality (due of course to the current stay-at- home mandate designed to help control the spread of corona virus).
Bring the Earth Day celebration into the kitchen by preparing a plant- based meal that also happens to be delicious! A recent study published in the journal Nature found that not only do plant focused eating patterns add years to our life, but they also prevent a great deal of damage to the environment. In other words, eat MORE vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains, and eat LESS meat to help not only ourselves but also the planet we call home. AND as an added perk, plant based meals are a great way to save money!
Try making this filling chickpea stew:
A plant- based meal that is rich is protein, fiber and creamy goodness
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions (or one very large onion), chopped into bite sized pieces
3 cloves of garlic, crushed (or 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder)
1 ½ tablespoons of red or green curry paste (OR may use 1 ½ teaspoons curry powder)
15.5-ounce can coconut milk (UNSWEETENED)
1 ½ cans of chickpeas, well drained (There are many ways to use the leftover chickpeas!)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
One large chopped tomato OR one 15 ½ ounce can of chopped tomatoes (including the juice)
Few springs of fresh basil (snipped) OR 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
Juice from one lime
2 handfuls of fresh greens (spinach, kale, collard greens, etc.); cut into bite sized pieces
Cooked whole grain of choice (quinoa, bulgur, brown rice, etc.)
Cook the onions in olive oil over low to medium heat for around 5 minutes. Stir often.
Add garlic and continue cooking and stirring for one minute.
Add curry paste and coconut milk, stirring until dissolved.
Stir in the chickpeas, soy sauce, maple syrup, tomatoes, basil and lime juice. Cover and gently simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the cut greens. Mix well and continue to simmer until greens are tender but not overcooked (~ 5 minutes).
Taste and add a bit of salt if needed.
Serve over quinoa, bulgur, brown rice or any other whole grain.
Written by Jenny Favret, MS, RD, LDN
Nutritionist, Duke Pediatrics Healthy Lifestyles Program