Eating Greener: Tips and a Recipe from Aviva Goldfarb

Eating green is not just about consuming more spinach, peas, and lettuce.  In her latest book, SOS! The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue; Earth-Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Dinners for Busy Families, renowned meal-planning expert Aviva Goldfarb takes her signature meal planning strategies a step further by advising families on how to also reduce their personal environmental impact through smart dinner-time choices.

Here are some quick tips from the book that everyone can follow to make dinnertime greener:

Eat seasonally. Eating fruits and vegetables that are in season not only tastes better and is smarter for the pocketbook, but it eliminates the carbon emissions caused by shipping foods thousands of miles.  One of the most cost effective and environmentally friendly options is to support your local farmer’s market or Community Supported Agriculture program.

Eat organic – but only when it matters.  We know that organic produce is better for your body and the earth, but since organic products can sometimes cost 50 to 100 percent more, families need to understand when it’s most important to choose organic.  Refer to the Environmental Working Group’s list of the produce highest in pesticides.  These items are worth the extra expense of buying organic to avoid ingesting those potentially harmful chemicals.

Eat more veggies and sustainable seafood. Incorporating more non-meat proteins such as beans, tofu, and eggs into recipes and eating sustainable seafood not only helps families do their part to preserve the planet’s resources, but it also is economical and healthy.

Eliminate food waste. According to the New York Times, a family of four will throw out an average of 24 pounds of fruits and vegetables per month, or by another estimate, 15 percent of their groceries.  By planning a weekly menu, creating and sticking to a grocery list and making only one supermarket trip per week, families will greatly reduce food waste and spoilage.

Grow a garden. Even if it is only a small planter, take the time to plant a small garden.  It is a sustainable source of food, is a fun activity for all ages and will save money on produce.

Reduce supermarket trips. Aim to shop at the supermarket only once per week.  Less trips means less fuel burned, less money wasted and more precious time to enjoy with family

Buy in bulk. Buying in bulk reduces the amount of plastic packaging.  Avoid buying individual “snack packs” and package the goods instead in reusable containers. Buy meat and cheese and freeze into individual or family serving sizes.  And like many environmental strategies, buying in bulk is a great way to reduce the weekly grocery bill.

Reuse and recycle. Recycling and reusing is about more than just recycling newspapers and plastic bottles.  Keep a stock of reusable canvas or nylon bags in the car at all times.  Reuse extra plastic or paper shopping bags for other tasks.  Pack lunches in reusable containers.  Rinse and reuse or recycle aluminum foil, along with other cans, bottles and plastic containers.

Compost. Composting is one of the easiest things the average family can do to reduce their footprint and help the environment naturally.  Turning everyday organic waste (like grass clippings, raked leaves, veggie peelings, and fruit rinds) into rich soil not only reduces the amount of garbage picked up curbside by fossil fuel-operated trucks (then dumped into landfills), but also creates 100-percent natural, organic fertilizer.


Mango and Black Bean Salad

(From The Six O’Clock Scramble to the Rescue; Earth-Friendly, Kid-Pleasing Dinners for Busy Families)

Prep + Cook = 20 minutes + 20 minutes – 24 hours to chill (optional)

6 servings

Serve with sliced avocados sprinkled with fresh lime juice and lightly salted.

3/4-1 cup quick-cooking brown rice (about 2 cups prepared)
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed, or 1 ¼ cup cooked black beans
1 – 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen mango, cut in 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 sweet yellow onion, such as Vidalia, finely diced (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup scallions, green parts only, or chives, finely chopped
1 lime, juice only (2 – 3 Tbsp.)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt, or more to taste
6 large Boston or butter lettuce leaves (optional)
6 whole wheat tortillas for serving (optional)

Cook the rice according to the package directions.  Remove it from the heat immediately when it is done cooking.  (If you want to serve the Mango and Black Bean salad immediately rather than allowing it to chill for a while, put the rice in the freezer for 5 minutes to cool it.)

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the beans, mango, onions, scallions, lime juice, and cilantro.  Combine the rice with the ingredients in the large bowl, season it with the salt, and toss it gently.  Chill it for at least 10 minutes (an hour or more is ideal) and up to 24 hours.

Serve the salad on its own or wrapped in large lettuce leaves or warm tortillas, or both, topped with the sliced avocado, if desired.

Scramble flavor booster:  Stir in fresh cilantro and serve the salad with spicy salsa.

Tip:  If you don’t like raw onions, sauté the onions first until they are lightly browned.  If you have picky eaters, put some of the beans and rice aside before combining all the ingredients and let them have simple black bean and rice burritos with mango on the side.

Side dish suggestion: Peel and slice 2 – 4 avocados and sprinkle them with 1 – 4 tsp. fresh lime juice (about 1 tsp. per avocado) and 1/8 – 1/2 tsp. salt (about 1/8 tsp. per avocado) (or mash the avocados, lime juice and salt to make guacamole.)

Eating Locally For Dessert

Guest post by Jenna Huntsberger of the Modern Domestic

If you’re looking for inspiration for a holiday dessert, look no further than the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market. Pears and apples are currently in season, and make lovely pies, tarts, and sorbets.

You can also buy local eggs and milk, which you can use for ice creams, custards, and even hot chocolate. And if you don’t want to heat up your oven, serve slices of pears with a local cheese for a sophisticated finish to your holiday meal.

This recipe for poached pears with almond ice cream and shortbread uses ingredients from the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market — the pears come from Toigo Orchards in Shippensburg, PA, and the milk for the ice cream comes from Clear Spring Creamery, in Clear Spring, MD.

The recipe is a play on a classic French almond tart, which is made with a shortbread cookie crust, almond pastry cream, and poached pears. This interpretation is a little lighter than a classic tart, making it a nice and refreshing finish to a heavy holiday meal.

Poached Pears With Almond Ice Cream and Shortbread Cookies
Makes 8 servings
Adapted from Martha Stewart, The Food Network, and “Baking, From My Home to Yours,” by Dorie Greenspan

For the ice cream

Note: begin making this one day ahead – you will need to give the custard time to cool.

1 quart whole milk
1 cup + 2 tbs sugar
1 cup whole, raw almonds
8 egg yolks
2 tablespoons amaretto

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine milk and half of the sugar in a large saucepan. Heat gently over moderate heat.

Place the almonds on a sheet pan and toast in the oven, 5 to 6 minutes or until almonds are light brown. Remove from baking sheet and roughly chop.

Immediately add almonds to the milk and sugar mixture. Heat milk mixture until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes. After the mixture has steeped, reheat on low heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining sugar and egg yolks until pale – about 3 minutes. Pour a little of the hot milk into the eggs, whisking constantly, to temper the yolks. Slowly whisk the yolk mixture into the milk mixture. Cook on low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon – about 3-5 minutes. Strain into a medium bowl and discard almonds. Stir in amaretto. Place the bowl of ice cream custard over a large bowl of ice water to let cool. When the custard has reached room temperature cover and place in refrigerator to chill for at least 8 hours, or preferably overnight. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

For the shortbread
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbs cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Sift together flour, cornstarch and salt into a bowl, then whisk in cornmeal.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingers, until the sugar is moist and smells of lemons. Add the butter and vanilla and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy – around 3 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until everything is just combined. Place dough on a piece of plastic wrap and pat into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled – 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll into a rectangle approximately 4 1/2 by 5 inches; dough should be 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 1 1/2 inch squares. Place squares on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and prick with the tines of a fork, gently pushing tines through the cookie until they hit the sheet. Bake shortbread cookies for 25-30 minutes, until they are just set and light brown. Let cool.

For the pears
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons red wine or port
3 cups water
1/4 cup honey
1 piece fresh ginger (3/4 inch), peeled and cut crosswise into 6 slices
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and scraped
4 bosc pears

In a large pot bring the white wine, red wine, water, honey, ginger, and vanilla bean to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel pears and cut in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scoop out core and seeds. Remove fibrous fibrous strip from center with a paring knife, but leave stems intact. Gently lower pears into pot. If not completely covered by liquid, lay a piece of parchment paper directly on pears. Cook until a paring knife slides easily into pears, meeting slight resistance, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool in liquid 30 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer pears to a large bowl; cover with parchment paper.

Assemble dessert:
Place each pear on a serving plate. Add a scoop of ice cream and three cookies, arranging as you desire. Enjoy!