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Eat less meat for Earth Day

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Are you composting, recycling, upcycling, and using reusable bags each time you shop your local farmers’ market? Good. Whew. Now, it’s time to enjoy the Earth Day festivities while knowing you’re leaving the Earth better than you got it. Of course, not all of us can save the planet every single day, but there are plenty of manageable steps you can adopt with very little effort (see above). Small changes can actually tilt the scale quite a bit—both literally and figuratively.

Going meatless one day a week, for instance, reduces your carbon footprint immensely and helps conserve precious resources like water and fossil fuel (plus, there’s tons of science out there that links diets higher in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains with lower instance of heart disease, obesity, and cancer). But what to serve for your next #meatlessMonday? Get creative. Swap breakfast sausage for a piping hot bowl of oatmeal topped with cinnamon and sliced apple, trade a traditional turkey burger for an equally satisfying black bean-and-mushroom version, or fill up with a zesty bowl of stir-fried veggies topped with fried egg in lieu of beef Bolognese.

One super satisfying way I’ve learned to consume more veggies on a consistent basis? Serving up a weekly curry-inspired dish that incorporates any leftover veggies loitering around my fridge. Note: This recipe also has the added benefit of spring cleaning your ice box. You’ll sweep out the crisper drawer while spicing up your dinner and saving the world. I’d like to see Captain Planet do that.

Leftover veggie coconut curry

Get the biggest pot you have and crank up the stovetop. Sautee a whole chopped onion in half a stick of butter, allowing the onion to caramelize. Once browned, add as much garlic as you can handle and stir until the aromatics drive you wild. Next, turn down the heat and stir in your curry powder (I get mine in bulk, but you can also make your own if you have all the spices). Start out with about a tablespoon of the curry powder and mix well into the onion and butter, careful not to let it sit too long (it can actually burn, which is not delicious). Note: You can always add more curry powder later, but you cannot un-add it! Next, sploosh in a large can of diced tomatoes with their juices, allowing the mixture to reduce at a simmer for about 10 minutes. Now, add about 2 cups of veggie stock and bring the mix to a rapid boil. This is prime time for throwing in chopped leftover veggies with some heft to them like broccoli, cauliflower, and potato.

Put the lid on for about eight minutes, allowing the veggies to soften (if you use potato, chop into tiny chunks so they boil quicker). Simmer till all veggies are al dente. If the flavor needs some tang, squirt in a little ketchup and more curry powder. Finish with frozen peas or leftover corn kernels (this cooks pretty much the moment it hits the pot). Take the whole shebang off the heat and pour in half a can of coconut cream (or milk), whisking until the curry has a creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper and serve over rice with a dollop of whole fat Greek yogurt on top.

Hayley Thomas Cain eats all her veggies. She can be reached at hthomas@newtimesslo.com.

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