We only have this one world, and trying to keep it in tip-top shape should be something everyone strives for. Much of – but not all by any means – of the carbon dioxide blasted by humans into the atmosphere and rapidly worsening climate change is created through the consumption of animal products and exotic and foreign products that need to travel long distances to get to us.
So, the first thing to note when looking for eco-friendly recipes is: Buy local.
I recently moved out of a big city, and I am so glad that I can buy from local farmers that come to the weekly market. Not everyone has the chance to do this, but even if you don't, you should still definitely check where your vegetables and food items come from. Speaking of vegetables, here are a few mouthwatering ways to consume them:
Zoodles – great, green and gluten-free
These were all the rage a few years back, and I am absolutely in love with them. Zucchinis are grown pretty much everywhere, and considering that pasta is a dish everyone loves, this option is also a great way to make kids eat more vegetables.
All you need are a few zucchinis and a way to cut them into long spaghetti-like shapes. There is a range of tools to do this. First, you have spiralizers: the hand-cranked kind, those that look like a giant pencil sharpener or the ones that come as an attachment to your Kitchenaid or other similar tools. The cheapest option is the hand spiralizer, which I was able to grab from a dollar store for only TL 5 (75 cents). Another way to get longish pieces is to use a mandolin slicer, but be careful, they are sharp and may cut your fingers.
Once you run the zucchinis through your spiralizer, you can prepare them in a variety of ways:
Just like you wouldn’t cook a cucumber, you don’t need to cook zucchinis either. Just add whatever extras and spices you like – I prefer a crumbly, salty cheese – then give it a good mix and enjoy.
This is my favorite way of making them because I am a sucker for a barrage of sauces. Just toss them into a pan for two minutes with a bit of oil and add them to your sauce. You can also skip the oil and directly toss them into the sauce of your choice, cooking for a minute or two together so that the zucchinis can absorb the flavors.
I'm not really a fan of the microwave, but it is indeed one way to cook zucchinis. Microwave your zoodles for a minute, and if they still seem too tough, just give them another 20-30 seconds until they soften.
You can make zoodles the same way you make your pasta. But, instead of 10 minutes of cooking, you only need about one or two minutes. Then drain the zoodles and serve.
The great thing about these kinds of pasta is that you can make them ahead of time and toss them into the fridge for a day or two to use them up later. Just make sure to put some paper towels to absorb any excess moisture.
Mashed root veggies – Why only potatoes?!
The second option for an eco-friendly recipe seemed like a no-brainer when I first discovered it. You might not have enough potatoes to make some mash, so why not add other roots to them?
Pick any kind of root vegetables – sweet potatoes, carrots or yams – whichever one you have lying around. First, peel them and boil them in salty water until they soften. Once you drain the water, smash them in a bowl and add a dash of milk (or a plant-based substitute to reduce your use of animal products) and give it a good mix until you get some chunky, mashed goodness.
Depending on the ratio of your veggies, the flavor can be borderline sweetish, so feel free to add additional flavors. I love some sauteed onions that I can toss in at the end. Adding a few tablespoons of oil will help make the mash smoother. Considering the many spices we have on hand, you might want to consider rosemary or nutmeg as well. I like adding a bit of garlic powder, too. But the most important spice you will need is salt. Make sure to taste the mashed roots after each addition to see how it turns out and then enjoy.