5 Steps Toward a Greener Diet

Greening your diet doesn’t just mean eating more greens, it means being aware of how food arrives to your plate and all of the steps it takes to complete the food cycle. Bringing our awareness to our food sources provides us with a deeper appreciation for the planet, the people, and the animals, vegetables, fruits and whole grains that provide us with the sustained energy we need to thrive.

From seed to soil, food nourishes our bodies, minds, and communities, while giving us pause to reflect on how we care for the planet. Each meal is an opportunity to connect with our local communities and the ecological environment that supports us.

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Here are 5 steps that you can take to green your diet:

Choose plant based whole foods over packaged or processed foods: Foods that are less processed, and more natural will provide your body with the nutrients that it needs to flourish. Stick to foods that can be directly linked to the soil, and your body will thank you.
Reduce food waste: According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, Americans trash 40% of our food supply every year! See our blog article offering tips on how to reduce your food waste.
Get your hands dirty: There is no better way to increase your appreciation of good food then by growing your own. Whether it’s a small windowsill herb garden, or a raised bed, getting your hands in the soil will undoubtedly empower your eating habits.
Support your local food communities: As Michael Pollan says, “shake the hand that feeds you.” Interacting with the skilled people behind your food supply is an eyeopening experience. We highly suggest it! Furthermore, eating in sync with the seasons will increase your connection to the cycles of nature.
Turn your food scraps into compost: Your food scraps have the potential of becoming fertile soil the foundation for all good food! If you don’t have your own compost bin, try freezing your compost and bringing it to your local farmers market. Many markets have a communal compost collection day.

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Celebrate Food Day everyday with a green palate and a plate of local, seasonal foods. Check out some of our Food Day 2014 recipes from our community pumpkin potluck here in New York City, and get inspired for the upcoming fall season!

seasonal eats: six parts of the plant salad
roasted pumpkin & cauliflower pasta
pumpkin spice chocolate chip cookies


 Kelly McGlinchey and Flora McKay are director of food education and director of community and nutrition, respectively, of Butter Beans, a Queens based company that aims to improve the health and welfare of children and families through food service for school meals and snacks, food and gardening based camps, after school cooking classes, and wellness initiatives. For more information, visit butterbeanskitchen.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@butter_beans), and Instagram (ButterBeansKitchen).

 

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Empanapita

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Ingredients

  • - 2 cups canned low-sodium black beans, rinsed
  • - 2 cups frozen broccoli, corn, and pepper vegetable mix, thawed
  • - 2 cups grilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced (about 4 small breasts)
  • - ½ cup shredded low-moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • - 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, rinsed, dried, and chopped (or substitute 1 teaspoon dried coriander)
  • - 2 tablespoons scallions (green onions), rinsed and chopped (or substitute red onions)
  • - 2 (6½-inch) whole-wheat pitas
  • - 1 cup tangy salsa

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Combine beans, vegetables, chicken, cheese, and seasonings. Mix well.
  3. Cut pitas in half, and open the pockets. Divide filling evenly between the four halves (about 1 1/2 cup each).
  4. Place pitas on a nonstick baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes until the filling is hot, cheese melts, and chicken is reheated.
  5. Serve each empañapita with ¼ cup of  tangy salsa

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 1 stuffed pita half, ¼ cup Tangy Salsa

Calories: 373
Total Fat: 4 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 34 mg
Sodium: 374 mg,
Total Fiber: 14 g
Protein: 27 g
Carbohydrates: 60 g


Talitha Robinson and I are Health Educator Consultants of the Closing the Gap – Chronic Disease Program at the Florida Department of Health Franklin/Gulf Counties. Closing the Gap focuses on improving health disparities among minority populations. We provide healthy cooking demonstrations, which include the recipe’s nutritional information, food sample, and additional education focused on the importance of physical activity and health screenings. Last year, we provided cooking classes using the ‘Cooking Matters’ evidence-based curriculum to 4 African American churches in both counties. This year, we will provide the same curriculum to a Hispanic church in Franklin using an interpreter along with an additional African American church in Gulf County.  We are also assisting the 4 African American churches that participated in the Cooking Matters Classes to implement a health ministry in their churches using the ‘Body and Soul’ Curriculum.

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9 Ways to Support Your Local Food Community

Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.

Bonnie Averbuch, EcoWatch

Supporting local food systems has an array of benefits: it can strengthen local economies and communities, aid local small-scale farmers, preserve open spaces, benefit the environment and help ensure community farms will still be there tomorrow—just to name a few. Food Tank highlights 9 ideas to support local food systems.

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1. Choose restaurants that source foods locally and support workers. Eating locally doesn’t have to stop when you leave your kitchen. Many chefs source at least some, if not all, of their ingredients locally. Try Sustainable Table’s Eat Well Guide or the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United’s Diners’ Guide to Ethical Eating. Alternately, go directly to restaurant websites and online menus, or call to speak with an employee to learn which of the restaurants in your neighborhood source foods from local farmers.

2. Embrace biodiversity. Find out which foods are your region’s specialties and try those rarer varieties. Instead of factory-farmed Broad Breasted White turkeys, for instance, find a heritage breed unique to your area and discover a wonderful array of new flavors. Choosing local varieties is not only good for the local food system, but also helps preserve genetic diversity. Slow Food’s Ark of Taste can help you discover what types of foods are unique to where you live.

3. Look for local brands in stores, using resources like the Eat Well Guide. Buying locally produced items from grocery stores, sometimes in lieu of the farmers market, can ensure that local products stay on the shelves—and may lead to grocers stocking even more options. If you don’t want to offend your farmer, make sure to emphasize that you still love the farm’s products, and will continue your support by purchasing his or her wares at your neighborhood food stores.

4. Make suggestions. If your local supermarkets don’t stock locally-sourced foods, ask. Tell your friends to ask, too. Store owners want to provide customers with in-demand products, and respond well to consumer suggestions. If there is enough call for local products, owners will be more likely to bring these items into stores.

5. Plan your menus around what’s being harvested. Even if everything you buy isn’t produced in your community, you still contribute to the local food system by building seasonal foods into your recipes. In colder months, swap the heat-loving basil in pesto for a winter green like kale or beet greens. Switch the peppers, zucchini and tomatoes in your summertime pasta primavera for broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts in fall.

6. Preserve. If you live somewhere with cold winters, you may not have many local produce options for a good portion of the year. Make eating locally easier during these less bountiful months by buying up products you love while they’re in season and preserving them—picklingcanningdryingjellying and freezing are a few common methods.

7. Sign up for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to receive a share of fresh produce from a local farm, usually on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. To join, customers pay a farmer for shares at the beginning of the season. This is extremely helpful for producers, as farms incur many of the costs associated with farming before the season even begins—like buying and planting seeds, or paying workers to prepare the land. Additionally, by joining a CSA, you share in the inherent risks of the agricultural season, helping to guarantee farmers the necessary financial support each growing season.

8. Try the less popular crops that are necessary for healthy soil and a successful farm. Dan Barber, renowned chef and author, explains in the The New York Times that by “celebrating the All-Stars of the farmers market—asparagus, heirloom tomatoes, emmer wheat—farm-to-table advocates are often guilty of ignoring a whole class of humbler crops that are required to produce the most delicious food.” Rotating in the more modest beans and mustard seed creates the fertile soil required for high-demand crops. When unable to sell these less popular foods, farmers must dedicate the crops to alternative purposes, such as animal feeds, and lose profits. Talk to farmers and learn which supporting crops their land needs, then incorporate these different foods into your diet.

9. Volunteer. Many small-scale farms can use a little extra help with a variety of tasks around the property. Volunteering at a local farm can enable you to learn more about your local agriculturalist and the work they do every day, while building lasting relationships and giving back to your local food system. There are international organizations—such as Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)—that facilitate volunteering on sustainable farms, as well as social activism organizations—such as DoSomething—that provide volunteering opportunities. Alternatively, speak to the farmers at your local market to find an outfit in need of assistance.

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Why Microgreens Should Be Part of Your Daily Superfood Diet

Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch

Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.

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You may have dismissed the increasing prevalence of microgreens as some kind of trendy fad found mostly at fancy restaurants and upscale groceries that charge a lot for them. Don’t do that! They’re way more than a dainty little plate decoration or embellishment to make a salad cost more. There’s a real reason to add them to your diet—and it’s much easier than you think.

First of all, what exactly is a “microgreen”? Think of it as the teenage version of a sprout. It’s not one kind of plant, but rather, the seedling version of many different kinds, harvested when the first sets of true leaves appear or when the plant is about 1 to 3 inches tall. That’s about two to three weeks depending on how fast a particular type of plant seed germinates.

Dozens of different types of vegetables can be planted to produce microgreens, with a range of tastes—mellow, spicy, tangy, earthy, nutty, crisp. Some of the most common varieties are things you may already grow to use the full plant: basil, parsley, cilantro, radishes, salad burnet, fennel, chervil, mustard, kale, collards, beets, pac choy and cabbage. Even carrots and beets can be sown and harvested as microgreens.

Because the plant is harvested before all the food contained in the seed is used to fuel the growth of a mature plant, microgreens condense the nutritional value of their older siblings. They could contain anywhere from 4 top 40 times as much of a particular nutrient, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And many of the plants grown as microgreens are already considered superfoods, so this makes their mini-versions super-superfoods.

The researchers learned that overall microgreens tend to have higher concentrations of vitamins and carotenoids than the mature plants—many of which fall into the superfood category themselves. Because they are grown from so many types of plant seeds, what specifically they contain varies from plant to plant. Red cabbage microgreens had the greatest concentration of vitamin C—six times more than mature cabbage. It also had 40 times more vitamin E than the bigger plants. Red cabbage, garnet amaranth and green daikon radish microgreens had the highest concentrations of vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin E. Cilantro was the winner when it came to the carotenoids lutein and beta-carotene.

“In general, microgreens contained considerably higher levels of vitamins and carotenoids—about five times greater—than their mature plant counterparts, an indication that microgreens may be worth the trouble of delivering them fresh during their short lives,” said the study.

What does that mean for you? It means more of what you eat your vegetables for. Lutein, for instance, has been found to have an impact on eye health, possibly helping to stave off conditions such as macular degeneration. Beta-carotene may help protect against some cancers. And all the carotenoids are antioxidants, which play a role in maintaining and improving overall health, boosting your immune system and delaying chronic diseases of aging. If it’s good to eat your vegetables, it’s even better to eat your microgreens.

The best news? Forget the premium price per pound at those upscale stores. All it takes to grow your own is a shallow tray with some potting soil and seeds. You can find seeds intended for growing microgreens for sale at garden centers or through seed catalogs. Many sell seed mixes of complementary flavor, which also provide a mix of different nutrients. But you don’t need to buy special seeds. Anything you have on hand can produce microgreens.

Sow the seed heavily and keep lightly watered at all times. Store-bought microgreens have a very short shelf life, so growing your own and cutting them as you need them assures you’ll always have the freshest, crispest ones to enhance a salad or a sandwich or sprinkle on top a tart, a pot pie, a pizza or even a cup of soup as the finishing touch before serving. Happy eating!

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Smokin’ Broccoli

Raw broccoli? You bet. (You can also make the recipe with broccoli that’s lightly steamed and then cooled to room temperature.)

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Total time to prepare: 15 minutes

Ingredients: 
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/ 8 tsp. kosher salt
4 cups finely chopped broccoli crowns
¼ cup smoked, salted almonds, chopped
¼ cup freshly shredded parmesan

Directions: 
• In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, oil, and salt.
• Toss in the broccoli.
• Sprinkle with the almonds and cheese.

Serves 6.

Nutrition Information:
Per serving (3/4 cup)—
Calories: 120
Carbohydrates: 8 g
Total fat: 9 g
Saturated fat: 1.5 g
Sodium: 150 mg
Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 5 g


Kate Sherwood is the culinary director and executive chef for NutritionAction.com® and Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in Washington, D.C. Trained at the Culinary Institute of America, Kate has been a freelance food stylist at The Food Network, Discovery, “The Today Show,” and Martha Stewart, where she worked with many television chefs, including Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, Rachel Ray, Giada de Laurentis, and Alton Brown. Prior to joining CSPI and NutritionAction.com®, Kate worked as a researcher for Dan Barber at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, where she focused on sustainable food systems.

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Good Food Awards 2015

Food Day is once again excited to share that the Good Food Awards has announced the beginning of “Awards Season" with a call for entries July 6-31!

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The Good Food Awards invites tasty, authentic and responsible food producers from across the country to submit their beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, cider, coffee, confections, honey, oils, pickles, preserves, spirits and – new this year – pantry items (such as chutneys, salsas, sambals, vinegars and nut butters).

A blind tasting with 200 food crafters, chefs and food writers will determine which products become the 2016 Good Food Award winners. The catch: everything must be produced with a commitment to environmental and social responsibility, supporting local economies and the planet.

A short online entry form is available at goodfoodawards.org from July 6-31. The entry fee is $65, which covers the cost of sorting, storing and transporting an anticipated 1,800 entries. Or, to receive a free entry and become part of an emerging network of tasty, authentic and responsible businesses, join the Good Food Merchants Guild. The Guild distinguishes and unites mission-driven craft food businesses, and organizes the Good Food Mercantile in San Francisco and New York. To learn more, visit goodfoodmerchantsguild.org

All winners will be honored at a gala awards ceremony with food movement pioneers like Mark Bittman (last year’s keynote speaker) and Alice Waters, sell their wares at the Good Food Awards Marketplace attended by thousands, and proudly display the Good Food Awards Seal all year long. Last year’s 150 winners also received some wonderful and well deserved media attention, with coverage in 200 national outlets, including Newsweek, Saveur, Food 52, British Airways’ High Life, the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Magazine

Also of note, if this sounds like the sort of project you would like a first hand seat to view, the Good Food Awards is looking for a lucky Fall Intern to join the team. Learn all about it and apply on Good Food Jobs, here.

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Awesome Sauce

The Kids Cook Monday is a campaign that encourages parents and kids to start their weeks off right by making Monday family night. Each week, the campaign provides an easy weeknight recipe and all the tools families will need to enjoy a fun cooking and dining experience on Monday nights. To have The Family Dinner Date Newsletter delivered to your inbox each Friday, sign up here.

Make the most of seasonal summer produce with this awesome sauce, which features onions, peppers and sweet grape tomatoes. This recipe comes to us from Kids Cook Monday Ambassador Karen of Our Blessed Adventures.


 Serves 6

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Ingredients

  • - 1 onion
  • - 1 bell pepper
  • - 2 cloves garlic
  • - 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • - 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • - 1 cup shredded carrots
  • - 1 (6 oz.) bag of spinach
  • - 2 (15 oz.) cans of tomato sauce
  • - Salt and pepper to taste
  • - 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • - 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • - 1 (16 oz.) box of your favorite pasta

Directions

Together: Chop the onion, pepper and garlic and sauté together in olive oil.

Kid: Add the shredded carrots. Once tender, add the whole grape tomatoes.

Kid: Season the pot with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

Adult: Simmer until the tomatoes start bursting, then add the tomato sauce.

Together: Using an immersion blender, give the mixture a few pulses to smooth it out.

Together: Stir in heavy cream.

Together: Serve over pasta with optional basil garnish.


 Food for Thought: Do cherry and grape tomatoes taste like the sweet berries they're named after? Not really, they mostly taste like (delicious!) regular tomatoes. These little tomatoes have been bred to stay small, making them easy to pop into dishes like pasta, salads and sauces. Cherry tomatoes are usually round, while grape tomatoes are more oval-shaped, like an actual grape.

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 Cooking Tip of the Week: If chopping onions makes you cry, try refrigerating the onion for at least 30 minutes before you start chopping. Cold onions release less of the substance that irritates your eyes. 


 Videos:

How to Slice an Onion:

How to Use an Immersion Blender:


 Cook Up Conversation


Launch fun family conversations with imaginative ideas. 

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 Educate and Entertain


Download this rainbow coloring sheet about red foods!

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