Happy Earth Day!

Feed Your Soul With Planet-Friendly Dishes

by Kirsten Harrington


Earth Day is April 22, so why not take time to celebrate Mother Nature by trying some fun, new recipes? From green smoothies to tempting yet healthy desserts, there are plenty of ways to please your taste buds and the planet.

Veggie Lovers

Incorporating more vegetarian or vegan recipes into your diet is a sure way to reduce your carbon footprint. Try going meatless one or two days a week or using smaller portions of meat to flavor your meals. Buying local seasonal products will add a flavor-boost to meals and leave less of an impact on the planet. Experiment with beans, legumes and soy-based meat substitutes, or try a new vegetarian-friendly restaurant in your neighborhood. Incorporating fresh herbs, roasted or grilled vegetables, and high-quality flavorful oils into your cooking is a great way to enhance recipes without meat.

Fun for Kids

Children love any excuse to celebrate, so why not have an Earth Day dinner party or prepare a special after-school snack together? Set up a do-it-yourself salad bar with mixed greens and let children top off their creations with cubes of cheese, sliced meat, sugar snap peas, baby carrots and corn, dried cranberries and nuts, sprouts, mandarin oranges and crunchy roasted edamame or granola. Assemble some “trees” using broccoli florets and pretzel tree trunks, or create veggie “flowers” with sliced cucumbers, carrots or radish “petals” and celery “stems.” Making ants on a log (celery sticks topped with peanut butter and raisins) or simple trail mix are easy ways to celebrate, too.


You can celebrate Earth Day at the 12th annual Central Florida Earth Day. The event will be held on the east side of downtown Orlando’s Lake Eola Park, located at 512 E. Washington St., on April 22 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The free family- and dog-friendly festival, presented by Vegetarians of Central Florida, includes children’s activities, guest speakers, vendor exhibits, arts and crafts, live entertainment and more. Local vegan and vegetarian restaurants will be on hand selling everything from earth-friendly sloppy Joes to spring rolls. The alcohol- and smoke-free event is a great opportunity to learn more about vegan and/or vegetarian lifestyles and enjoy free samples. For a detailed schedule, visit www.cfearthday.org or visit Central Florida Earth Day’s Facebook page.


Go Green!

Filled with fiber, vitamins and other nutrients, adding greens like Swiss chard, collard and mustard greens, and other leafy greens to your diet is an easy way to celebrate the bounty of the season and add a boost to your health. “Green” can easily be added to pasta dishes and salads, quickly stir-fried with olive oil and garlic, or added to smoothies. Use Earth Day as an excuse to try a new vegetable. Who knows? You might find a new family favorite.

The following are a couple of recipes to get you inspired:

Chocolate Coconut Clusters are planet-friendly treats.

Chocolate Coconut Clusters

Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 cup coconut flakes, unsweetened

1/4 cup old fashioned oat

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Melt coconut oil in medium sauce pan over low heat. Remove from heat and whisk in cocoa powder, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Stir in coconut flakes and oats until well-combined. Place mixture in medium bowl and place in freezer for 10 minutes. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scoop golf-ball-sized clusters onto parchment and shape into balls. Freeze to solidify — about 30 minutes. Place in airtight container and enjoy frozen or store in fridge. Will keep for seven days in fridge; up to three months in freezer.

Parsley, Spinach & Ginger Smoothie

This invigorating blend is a great way to start the day.

Ingredients:

1 small handful parsley, large stems removed

1 quarter-sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 cups baby spinach leaves

1 ripe banana

1/2 cup orange juice

1/4 cup frozen blueberries

2-4 ice cubes

Directions:

Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth. Add water if mixture is too thick. Add 2-4 ice cubes, and blend again if desired. 💓

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