Changing your diet can be as effective in reducing emissions of climate-changing gases as changing (or eliminating) the car you drive, installing a geothermal heating system or doing away with the clothes dryer. In fact, according to the Worldwatch Institute and the World Health Organization, our dietary choices have significantly more impact. Support for a more vegetarian way of eating also comes from former chief economist of the World Bank and Stern Review author Nicholas Stern, who will be in attendance at the UN meeting on climate change in Copenhagen from December 7 to 18. Sweden has become a leader by introducing grocery and restaurant labels that list the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the production of the foods one chooses.

Whether you go veggie one day a week or seven, you can nourish and warm yourself by making a lesser impact on the planet. The following recipes are from Raising Vegetarian Children by Jo Stepaniak and Vesanto Melina (McGraw-Hill).

Warm red cider

Makes 3 3/4 cups

This aromatic drink is welcome after an afternoon outdoors. If you prefer, replace the cinnamon sticks and whole cloves with 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a pinch of ground cloves. As cranberry cocktail is usually sweetened with sugar, you may wish to replace both juices with a sugar-free apple-cranberry-grape juice blend.

2 cups apple juice
2 cups cranberry cocktail
2 sticks cinnamon
5 whole cloves
In saucepan, combine juices, cinnamon and cloves. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Cheez-A-Roni

Makes about 8 cups

Pasta in a creamy, cheesy-tasting sauce, with or without tomatoes, is a favourite with young and old. This delicious meal is dairy-free, low in fat and high in protein, vitamins and minerals. For a wheat-free and gluten-free version, use rice or corn pasta instead of wheat macaroni. Nutritional yeast flakes are available from natural foods stores and help give a cheesy flavour. (They taste quite different from other types of yeast.) As this dish cools, or if leftovers are refrigerated, the macaroni will absorb moisture from the sauce. To make the mixture more saucy, add a little water or tomato juice when you reheat it.

2 tablespoons olive, safflower or other vegetable oil
1 very large onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups Gee Whiz Cheez (recipe below)
2 to 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Large pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
3 cups (12 ounces) dry macaroni or other tube pasta (such as penne)
Heat the oil in a very large saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add onion and sauté until tender and medium brown to give the onion a lovely caramelized taste. Adjust the heat as necessary so that the onion doesn’t burn. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Add tomatoes and stir. Then stir in the prepared Gee Whiz Spread, nutritional yeast flakes, salt, pepper and cayenne (if using) and mix well. Simmer gently, stirring often, to warm through. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well. Stir hot pasta into simmering sauce and combine gently but thoroughly. Serve.

Gee Whiz Cheez

Makes 2 cups

2 cups cooked or canned (15-ounce can) white beans, drained
1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 cup fresh, bottled or frozen lemon juice
3 tablespoons tahini or cashew butter
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon onion or garlic powder (optional)
Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until completely smooth. Note: this Cheez also may be used separately as a dip or as a spread in sandwiches.
Per cup: calories: 326; protein: 14 g; carbohydrate: 52 g; fat: 8 g; fibre: 9 g.

The following food and nutrition classics, co-authored by local dietitian Vesanto Melina, make excellent gifts: Becoming Vegetarian, Becoming Vegan, Raising Vegetarian Children, The Food Allergy Survival Guideand the Raw Food Revolution Diet. For consultations, phone            604-882-6782      . www.nutrispeak.com

 

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