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Meatless meals are good for the planet — Try these tasty recipes on Earth Day

Going meatless doesn't mean going flavorless. Give these recipes a try this Earth Day

Falafel
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Do you love meat? You’re not alone. Whether it’s a delicious steak or sizzling, crispy bacon, there’s plenty to love about meat. Unfortunately, studies have shown eating less meat could help mitigate climate change, which puts most of us in a conundrum. Meat is delicious, but we really like the environment, too. While there are alternatives — studies have also shown that by 2040, a majority of meat that we eat will either be vegan or lab-grown — you don’t have to go full-on vegan to help ease the strain.

If you love meat too much to give it up completely, even just adopting a vegetarian diet one day a week (or one meal of the day) can help. (As a bonus, it’s also beneficial to give your gut a break from the hard stuff.) And what better day to start your new routine than Earth Day? Here’s a full day’s menu to get you started. Your stomach — and the planet — will thank you.

Lemon ricotta pancakes
Foodie With Family/Facebook

Breakfast: Lemon ricotta pancakes

Don’t be intimidated by the name: these are super simple to make and fantastically delicious. Plus, they seriously impress guests. This recipe comes directly from The Food Lab, a cookbook by J. Kenji Lόpez-Alt that absolutely everyone should own.

Granted, there are eggs in the pancakes, but they’re technically pre-meat, right?

Serving size: Makes 12 pancakes, serving 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk
  • 1 cup of fresh ricotta (drained for 30 minutes)
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (melted and slightly cooled)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons of grated lemon zest (1 lemon)
  • Vegetable oil (for cooking)
  • 1 cup of basic dry pancake mix (see below)

Basic dry pancake mix: Makes about 2 cups

  • 10 ounces (2 cups) of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar

Method:

  1. Whisk together the buttermilk, ricotta, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Add the pancake mix and lemon zest and whisk until no more dry flour remains (the mixture should remain lumpy — be careful not to overmix).
  2. Heat 1/2 teaspoon of oil in a 12-inch heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Reduce the heat to medium and wipe out the skillet with a paper towel. Use a 1/4 cup dry measure to scoop four pancakes into the pan and cook on the first side until bubbles start to appear on top and the bottoms are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook until the second side is golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Serve the pancakes immediately, or keep warm on a wire rack set on a baking sheet in a warm oven while you cook the remaining batches. Serve with maple syrup.
Martha Steward falafel
Kitchen In Fashion/Facebook

Lunch: Falafel pitas

This easy and hearty recipe comes to us courtesy of Martha Stewart. Now, Martha makes you work for it, but it’s worth it: this lunch is fried! Don’t worry, we’ve left off the instructions for making your own wax paper wrappers and how to tie the string in a nice bow.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups of cooked dried chickpeas or one 15.5-ounce can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup of chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons of sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup of canola oil

Method:

  1. Place half the chickpeas in a food processor and pulse a few times until chopped, transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Place the remaining chickpeas in a food processor with garlic, onion, herbs, spices, baking soda, salt, and lemon juice. Pulse to a thick, chunky paste for about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl with chopped chickpeas.
  3. Add egg and sesame seeds to bowl and stir to combine. Cover and chill the batter in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, drop heaping tablespoons of the batter into the skillet and gently press the batter into two round patties. Cook, turning once, until deep golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes total. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  5. Serve falafel with pita bread, sliced tomatoes and red onion, romaine leaves, and store-bought tahini dressing.
Tofu chili
Connoisseurus Veg/Facebook

Dinner: Meatless tofu chili

Don’t run away from the word tofu! You will be surprised how well it can match the consistency of meat in chili, and it beautifully absorbs the flavors. Whole Foods, oddly enough, has a particularly good recipe, but obviously, you can get the ingredients from any grocery store.

Serving Size: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14-ounce) package of extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 2 cups of fresh or frozen corn
  • 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth (or water)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14-ounce) can of diced tomatoes, with their liquid
  • 1 (14-ounce) can of tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Arrange tofu on a large plate lined with 3 or 4 paper towels and top with more paper towels. Press firmly to release as much water as possible from the tofu. Discard paper towels, crumble tofu, and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add pepper, onion, jalapeño, and corn and cook for 5 minutes. Add broth, beans, crumbled tofu, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, and salt or tamari and stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered or partially covered, stirring occasionally, until thickened and flavors have melded — about 45 minutes. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.

Sit back, crack a beer, and congratulate yourself on an earth-friendly day of good eats and plan the triple-decker bacon cheeseburger you can have tomorrow. Just make sure it’s healthier, happier grass-fed beef.

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Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
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