3 Easy Plant-Based Recipes to Celebrate Earth Day

By: Devon Kroesche

It’s no secret that eating more plants is good for the environment. According to a study conducted at the University of Oxford, a plant-based diet is one of the most dynamic ways to reduce your carbon footprint. It reduces water and land usage, reduces greenhouse gas production, and reduces production of many other toxic pollutants.

Eating more plants can also be great for your health! Consuming plants, especially in their whole form can provide you a rich source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Most Americans do not meet the recommendations for daily servings of fruits and vegetables.

Does that mean everyone needs to become vegan to be healthy? Certainly not. In fact, eating ONLY plants can make it easy for you to miss out on some key nutrients if you are not very vigilant.

That being said, a diet with lots of variety – different types of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, eggs, dairy (if you can tolerate it), meat, poultry and fish can all contribute to a healthy lifestyle when consumed within reasonable amounts.

How can you fit more plants in your diet, meeting your recommended daily servings AND making a positive environmental impact? Try making at least half of your plate fruits or vegetables at every meal. Go meatless for dinner once or twice a week. Small changes can add up to create a big impact, both on your health and the environment. Check out some of my favorite recipes for a day of plant-based eating:

Breakfast: Scrambled Tofu Breakfast Tacos

Enjoy with a cup of coffee (or a mimosa, no judgement here)

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 block extra firm tofu, drained of water and crumbled
  • can black beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 cup sliced bell peppers
  • 1 cup sliced diced yellow onion
  • optional (but recommended): guacamole and salsa

What to Do:

  • Sauté peppers and onions in a frying pan on low heat with olive oil until tender.
  • Add tofu and taco seasoning and cook for 5-7 minutes on medium to low heat, stirring frequently. Stir in black beans for the last 2-3 minutes.
  • Place mixture on tortillas and  top with guacamole and salsa if desired. Serves two people.

Lunch: Harvest Grain Salad

Can be served warm or cold. Refreshing and quite filling as well!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup farro, dry
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 2-3 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 cup crushed walnuts
  • 2 apples, sliced and cubed into small pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, diced finely
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

What to Do:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  • Combine farro and broth in a large saucepan and cover. Bring to a simmer. Lower to low-medium heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes until farro is tender.
  • Arrange butternut squash, rosemary, and onion on a baking sheet, toss with 2 Tbsp olive oil and bake for 20 minutes, tossing halfway through.
  • Zest lemon into a small bowl. Squeeze lemon juice into same bowl. Whisk together with honey and remainder of olive oil.
  • In a large bowl, combine farro, butternut squash, onion, rosemary, dressing, and the rest of the ingredients and serve. Enjoy!

Dinner: Lentil Pasta Marinara with Vegan Sausage

Best when paired with some vino, a sunset, and good company.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 box lentil pasta of choice (I used black bean spaghetti, but was not thrilled with the consistency. Chick pea pasta seems to be the closest to regular pasta that I’ve found.)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • red bell pepper diced finely
  • 1/2 yellow onion diced finely
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes sliced in half
  • 2 vegan sausage (I use Fieldroast links, available at Giant Eagle in the refrigerated produce section)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

What to Do:

  • In a medium sized pot, bring 4-6 cups water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer.
  • In a frying pan, saute garlic, peppers and onions on medium heat with 2 Tbsp olive oil for 5 minutes. Add grape tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Add lentil pasta to hot water, cook for 5-7 minutes until al dente.
  • In a small saucepan, warm marinara sauce until simmering.
  • In a small frying pan, heat vegan sausage on all sides, turning frequently.
  • Drain pasta, serve on a plate topped with marinara, sauteed vegetables, marinara, and sliced sausage. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do! Happy Earth Day.

Devon is Case Specific Nutrition’s Social Media intern. She is a second year graduate student in the Dietitian Nutritionist Program at the University of Pittsburgh. She enjoys cooking, hiking, and petting every dog in sight.

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