Food for Thought: The Environmental Impact of Eating Meat

We’ve all heard the myriad health benefits of reducing our meat consumption, but what about the benefits to our planet? Mother Earth News published a great article succinctly summarizing the environmental impact of our monstrous American meat consumption, and I wanted to share it. It goes without saying that raising, preparing, and eating meat is deeply ingrained in our culinary identity as Americans, but aren’t American innovation and ingenuity a greater source of pride? What would be so revolutionary about an American shift to a fiscally responsible, sustainable, self-preserving plant-based diet? Wouldn’t that shift put us ahead of the curve? Food for thought.

veggie cow

Here are the facts that jumped off the page at me from the Mother Earth article:

  • Nearly all supermarket beef, chicken and pork — the three most consumed types of animal protein in this country — are produced on enormous industrial-scale farms. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines these huge farms as “agricultural enterprises where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. [Such operations] congregate animals, feed, manure and urine, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing in pastures, fields or on rangeland.”
  • On these factory farms, animals eat commodity crops — primarily corn and soybeans — that are subsidized by taxpayers via the Farm Bill. Half of all North American cropland — about 149 million acres — produces animal feed from genetically modified (GM) crops designed to resist weedkillers such as Roundup. These crops have spawned an epidemic of herbicide-resistant “superweeds.” In 2012, superweeds infested 61 million acres of farmland growing GM crops. The result: An increase in herbicide use rather than a reduction, as well as “stacking” of genetically modified traits in seeds to allow cocktails of potent herbicides to be used on crops.
  • Beef cattle are given anabolic steroids as well as estrogen, androgen and progestin — commonly called “growth hormones” — to make them put on weight more quickly. Although the European Union banned the use of these hormones in 1988, they’re still commonplace in the United States. “Measurable levels of…growth-promoting hormones are found at slaughter in the muscle, fat, liver, kidneys and other organ meats,” says the Organic Consumers Association in a position paper. “Every beef-eating American for over 50 years has been exposed to these hormones on a regular basis.” Pigs, too, are fed growth hormones. The use of growth hormones in poultry, however, has been illegal in the United States since the 1950s.
  • Animal feed includes low-level (sometimes called “sub-therapeutic”) doses of antibiotics to promote growth and offset unsanitary, overcrowded conditions. About 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are administered to livestock, a figure acknowledged by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010. These drugs pass through manure and leach into the soil and groundwater, ultimately polluting neighboring rivers and streams.

My decisions as a consumer are weighing more heavily on me as I become aware of their rippling consequences (I think this is called “maturing” in some cultures. hmm). I love the occasional taste of meat and am by no means scolding…. but this is shocking stuff. If you’re considering reducing how much meat your family eats but you’re not sure how to approach the change (most of us are programmed to cook with meat), try introducing meatless Mondays or Mark Bittman’ wonderful flexitarian approach: VB6. Vegan before 6pm!

What are your thoughts on the effects of excessive meat consumption across our country?

You can read the entire article, Try a Flexitarian Diet for Better Health and a Better Food Budget, here.

Earthrise

Earthrise. I LOVE ya and I want to take care OF ya!

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Baguettes! (v)

At the top of the rustic, earthy, lovely food to eat and make list- baguettes!

bags crispy

On the yeasty, satisfying, work with your hands list- baguettes!

bag and butter

Put on your berets and Breton striped shirts– let’s make baguettes!

THREE BEAUTIFUL BAGUETTES

Adapated from Food52

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flourbag ingreds
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 /2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • You will also need parchment paper, two kitchen towels, a rimmed baking sheet, a pair of scissors, and a cast iron or other oven-safe skillet

Directions:

This recipe is very simple. If you can knead dough (you can, the ability is buried in your genetic code) or have a stand mixer to knead dough for you, you can make these beautiful baguettes. There’s a lot of waiting involved as the dough rises; hands-on time is minimal. Baking these lovely parcels of dough is a rewarding, foolproof venture. Let’s get to it.

Faisons baguettes!

Faisons baguettes!

In a large bowl or your stand mixer’s bowl, whisk the hot water into the yeast. Let it sit for ten minutes, until foamy.

bag yeast water

When ten minutes has passed, mix the flour into the yeast and water with a fork, until a shaggy dough forms. I did this in four pour of flour for even mixing. Let this sit for 20  to allow the flour to hydrate. You’re getting the hang of this waiting stuff by now, aren’t you? Good. There’s more to come.

bag dough shaggy

After 20 minutes, add the kosher salt. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer and knead with the hook attachment for 4-5 minutes on speed 2, until the dough has climbed up the hook and is smooth and elastic. Alternatively, knead the old-fashioned way: turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes with the heels of your hands. “A good knead is better than an hour of psychotherapy, and it’s free.” There’s your motivation. Exorcise the demons.

bag dough salted

When your dough is smooth and shiny and elastic, oil a large glass bowl with the half tablespoon of canola. Pat the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl; cover with plastic wrap and let rise in an oven or microwave until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.

smooooth.

smooooth.

Once doubled, remove the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape it into a 6×8 inch rectangle, then fold the long sides into the middle, followed by the short sides. Basically, double fold it into a little bundle. Pop the bundle back into the oiled bowl and let double again, another 45 minutes or so. I hope you have a good book to read, what with all of this sitting around, sheesh. Consider this AbeBooks list of food memoirs if you don’t. Just looking at the covers makes me hunger for a memoir marathon… I’ll need a rainy Sunday, a cozy blanket, and a LOT of supplemental food.

bag dough folded

Now we get to play with the dough! Turn the lovely bundle onto a very lightly floured surface and pinch off into three equally sized sections of dough. Roll and pinch the rounds into 14-inch logs; these will be the base shapes for your loaves.

bag dough three

Grab your rimmed baking sheet and flip it over. Arrange a piece of parchment paper 3 inches wider than the sheet and fold two pleats into it. Lightly flour the pleated parchment paper.

bag pleated parchment

Put the loaves in the spaces you’ve created on the parchment paper and pull them close together- we’re using the pleated paper to allow the loaves to rise up, not out. Roll the two kitchen towels up and place them on either side of the three loaves. Let the loaves rise until doubled. LAST TIME, I promise.

bag dough towels final

Place the cast iron skillet on the very bottom rack of your oven. Arrange a rack right above that and preheat the oven to a blazing hot 475. To make the baguettes look like baguettes, cut slices into the tops of the dough at 30 degree angles with your scissors (add that to your baking bag of tricks!). Very pretty. Flatten out the parchment paper and pop the baking sheet, still inverted, into the oven. Immediately add the 1/2 cup of ice cubes to the cast iron skillet and close the oven door. The ice cubes will sizzle away and release steam, producing a crisp crust. Bake for 20 minutes, until a deep brown. Let cool and serve! They will be crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Slather with butter and kick back. Bon appétit.

bags complete cooling

 



Brian’s Sunday Soup (v, gf)

The introduction to this glorious soup should start with an introduction to my uncle Brian and aunt Liz. They are runners, scientists, urban farmers, yogis, cat whisperers, and cooks. They’ve been known to move to China and Korea to teach English. They work tirelessly to restore the creek by their home* to health. They’ve collected water in rain barrels decades longer than your ironically bearded neighbor has, and they do things like compost and march for clean energy because everyone should do those things. On top of all this, they find time to fearlessly reinvent their careers and go see St. Vincent at the 9:30 Club. They’re that cool.

brians soup

So now you know a bit about the brilliantly kaleidoscopic lives that inhabit the sunny kitchen full of great conversation where my uncle Brian threw together this soup the last time we visited. The soup is as healthy and vibrant as Liz and he. “Oh, it’s just got a little of everything in it,” Brian humbly explained as Dave and I poured bowls of the stuff into our gaping faces. If we could have done keg stands over the stockpot, we would have. My sweet mama had come up that weekend to visit and she loved the soup- so did my 20-month-old curly-topped nephew! It’s a crowd-pleaser.

deftly showcasing his spoon-handling skills and Mardi Gras beads

the neph’ showcasing wicked awesome curls, spoon-handling skills, and Mardi Gras beads

I emailed Brian asking how to make the soup soon after and he gave me a true cook’s recipe- ingredients, ideas, tips, no measurements. The mark of a cook at home in his kitchen. I’ve included some of these notes. Behold, Brian’s Sunday Soup.

ingreds

BRIAN’S SUNDAY SOUP

Adapted from Brian Parr

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of mixed beans, soaked overnight
  • eeoo (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Spice mix (edit according to your tastes): 1/2- 1 tsp coriander, 1/2-1 tsp curry powder, 1/2 tsp-1 tsp red pepper flakes, 1/2- 1 tsp turmericrosemary is nice if you have a bush, cumin (but only a little as you know how it overpowers everything else)
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 1 russet potato, diced
  • sweet corn (sometimes)
  • 5-6 carrots, peeled and chopped into coins
  • 5-6 stalks celery, chopped, greens chopped and reserved
  • 1/3 cup brown lentils
  • 1/3 cup medium pearl barley (leave out if you’re avoiding gluten)
  • 2-3 quarts low sodium vegetable stock, or 2-3 quarts water and 1 1/2 tbsp low sodium vegetable base
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, optional
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • a little bit of the vinegary juice form a jar of hot pepper rings adds a nice little bite!
  • red cabbage, sliced into confetti for garnish
  • mustard greens, sliced into confetti for garnish (super important and make all the difference. Plus, they are easy to grow and have a long season)
  • your favorite hot sauce for serving

Directions:

One day ahead, or before you leave for work: SOAK YOUR BEANS. Place them in a bowl or pot, cover with water to a depth of 2 inches above the beans, and let soak for 8 hours or overnight. I put my bowl of beans and water in the microwave to cat-proof while I was at work. Okay, now fast-forward, cooking show-style to: perfectly soaked beans! Rinse and drain them twice. Chop your veggies on your pretty wooden cutting board, which you should care for with food-grade mineral oil, did you know?

onions chopped final

This soup is a very manly soup (if soups can be manly), as the recipe came from Brian and Dave made it at our house. Man Soup: for men, by men. In a large stockpot, have yo’ man heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Saute onion in eeoo in the pot, Get them to the browning stage on medium to low heat and then throw in the garlic at the end. Move the onion to the sides of the pot, create a space in the middle, and add spices to ‘dry cook.’ This gets really aromatic, sometimes to the point of burning eyes and coughing, achh, ohh, ahh, hack, hack….  As they cook on medium heat, be careful not to burn- they are quite potent!!

spices

When your spice blend is fragrant and toasty, add the beans, russet potato, sweet potato, corn, carrots, lentils, tomatoes, and barley (you read that right- don’t add the celery!). Cover with enough water or stock to come a few inches above the veggies and beans and add vegetable base, if using. Stir the soup, raise the heat to medium-high and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2- 2 hours on low, until the beans are tender.

soup

When the beans are tender, stir in the chopped celery. Give it a taste and add black pepper. Salt, if needed. Dip up a few bowls and top with the gorgeous, ribbony mix of red cabbage, celery greens, and mustard greens, the last of which give the soup a leafy, horseradish-like bite. You’ll be glad you did! Pass some hot sauce around. And go thank you uncle and aunt for being your uncle and aunt. It’s probably long overdue.

lovely greens and purples

lovely greens and purples

Thank you, Brian and Liz, for the hospitality and the memorable meal.

*



Heidi Swanson’s Broccoli Gribiche and My Coconut Kitchen Giveaway Winner! (veg, gf)

First things first: thank you to everyone who entered last week’s giveaway. I really enjoyed your responses- what healthy, creative people you are! To impartially choose a winner, I used the super-technical method of writing names on slips of paper and having a coworker choose one before lunch. All documented on high-quality iPhone video.

Rrrrrrroll ’em!

Congratulations Diana, winner of the My Coconut Kitchen coconut butter sampler pack! I hope you enjoy the sumptuous spreads as much as I do- let us all know how you use them.  Thank you to My Coconut Kitchen for the prize- be sure to check out Angie’s delicious inventory!

congrats

This week, I was looking for a meatless recipe with simple, clean flavors  that would fill me up, create leftovers, and be relatively simple to prepare. I was short on time and motivation and long on hunger, so who did I turn to? Heidi Swanson, author of Super Natural Every Day, a wonderful cookbook given to me by a wonderful aunt. My last Heidi Swanson post brought us another delicious meatless dinner- white beans with cabbage. Heidi’s broccoli gribiche recipe is listed in Super Natural Every Day under “lunch” and would be a showstopper at a picnic or potluck. I know it was a big hit at my one-woman potluck. Here it is! Broccoli gribiche.

gribiche done

BROCCOLI GRIBICHE

Adapted from Heidi Swanson

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs fingerling potatoes
  • 1 large head broccoli, florets chopped into bite-sized pieces and some stem chopped
  • 2 tbsp + 1/4 cup olive oil (healthy fat!)
  • kosher salt
  • 4 hardboiled eggs, 1 cooked yolk set aside
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp capers, chopped
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1 tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried chives

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and arrange two racks in the middle and top of the oven. Wash the potatoes and chop any potatoes larger than your thumb in half. Do not chop your thumb in half, only thumb-sized potatoes. Toss the potatoes and any thumb bits with one tablespoon of the olive oil and a large pinch of kosher salt in a large bowl; turn the potatoes out into a single layer on a baking sheet and roast on the middle oven rack for the first 15 of 30 minutes. Set the bowl aside.

While the potatoes cook, hard boil your eggs. You can find a foolproof allez! gourmet hard-boiling method here if you need it- super, super easy. While the eggs cook, wash and chop your broccoli and toss with another tablespoon of olive oil and another pinch of salt in the large bowl. Once the potatoes have cooked 15 minutes, stir the potatoes, turn the broccoli out onto a separate baking sheet and place the broccoli on the top rack of the oven, roasting the potatoes and broccoli another 15 minutes. You can set both baking sheets aside when the roasted veggies are done.

potatoes and broccoli

Back to the eggs: let your hardboiled eggs cool in ice water for speedy cooling and to prevent rings around the yolks. Peel one, remove its yolk, and mash that yolk in the trusty, large bowl you used for the potatoes and broccoli. I’m saving you dirty dishes here. My husband would be proud. Verrry sloooowly whisk the 1/4 cup olive oil into the mashed egg yolk, emulsifying the mixture. It will be a lovely, velvety, glossy yellow.

dressing emulsify

a!g action shot! bam! pow!

Whisk in the mustard and then the vinegar. Add the shallots, capers, and herbs, mixing the gribiche well. Chop the remaining 3 1/2 eggs and gently fold them into the mixture.

dressing shallots

Now for the fun part- combine the potatoes and broccoli in an an even larger bowl and add the dressing, gently tossing everything to coat. Serve. This stuff is seriously delicious, reheats very well, and can be served cold or at room temp. The flavors of the dressing were even better the next day, having had some time to mix and mingle overnight. Cheeky devils. I paired mine with Trader Joe’s new cruciferous crunch mix, braised in olive oil with a bit of red wine vinegar. Enjoy!

dinnah is served

dinnah is served

Harkening back to March of last year, here’s an allez! gourmet recipe for a classic Spanish potato salad, Ensaladilla Rusa.


Fat, Carbs, the American Diet… and a GIVEAWAY!!

A few weeks ago, I posted about the nutritional philosophies of my beloved Michael Pollan, journalist and food activist extraordinaire. Pollan believes that the American diet has been seriously skewed over the last 50 years, coinciding with the boom of the food, fast food, junk food, and nutrition industries- a theory I agree with. He’s also the author of my favorite food quote: “Eat food. Not too much, Mostly plants.” Perfect summary! As an interesting part of his belief in a diet comprised of simple, minimally processed, whole foods, Pollan, along with many others in the food community, suggests that the fat-free craze of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s and the subsequent elimination of fat from our diets contributed to the current American obesity epidemic.

Wait, what? Fat-free diets made us fat?

mind: BLOWN

mind: BLOWN

You betcha. In the 1970’s, as heart disease rates crept upward,  Americans were so desperate for a quick fix that we bought into new and shaky nutrition guidelines telling us that all dietary fawas bad. We stripped it from our diets, following the guidelines and replacing fat with sugar and carbs. And not just any carbs- highly refined, nutritionally void, calorie-dense carbs. But what if we’d replaced the fat with complex carbs!, you may argue, whole grains and fiber and brown rice and glycogen stores and all that!, you may say. Exactly. As NPR’s Allison Aubrey pointed out in her piece about the fat-free craze, “…the kinds of carbs the authors of the [nutrition] guidelines had in mind were whole grains, fruits and vegetables. But this message was lost in translation. What did Americans hear? Fat is bad; carbs are good.” Enter the food industry, cleverly sweeping in to replace fat with tasty, “guilt-free,” high sugar, highly processed, and, most importantly, highly profitable alternatives.

Think sugary, fat-free cookies and muffins.

Think WOW! chips made with Olestra and their hilariously horrifying warning labels.

wow1

Think fat-free salad dressing: remove all fat, replace with sugar and corn syrup. Check out the ingredient list of Kraft’s Fat Free Italian:

Ingredients: WATER, VINEGAR, SUGAR, CORN SYRUP, SALT, PARMESAN CHEESE* (PART-SKIM MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, ENZYMES), CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF GARLIC, ONION JUICE, WHEY, PHOSPHORIC ACID, XANTHAN GUM, YEAST EXTRACT, SPICE, RED BELL PEPPERS*, LEMON JUICE CONCENTRATE, GARLIC*, BUTTERMILK*, CARAMEL COLOR, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, ENZYMES, OLEORESIN PAPRIKA, POTASSIUM SORBATE AND CALCIUM DISODIUM EDTA (TO PROTECT FRESHNESS). *DRIED. CONTAINS: MILK.

How are sugar, corn syrup, and preservatives better for the body than good old olive oil and vinegar? Simply put, they’re not. The sky-high obesity and diabetes rates that followed the food industry-benefitting industrialized diet have shown us just that. Super-sized portions, added sugars at every turn, and carby convenience foods to pander to our too-busy lifestyles blew us up and pulled us away from cooking the way our grandmothers did, which we realize now wasn’t such a bad way to cook.

FAT CHANCE:


One particularly vocal advocate of the benefits of fat and the detriments of sugar is triathlete Sami Inkinen. Inkinen, founder of Trulia, is a freak of nature athlete and computer-brain from some far-off Nordic land where the clean air, snow-capped mountains, and crystal clear streams produce people like him all the time. He’s so convinced that fat consumption is essential to building a healthy human body (and that sugar is toxic) that this June, he and his wife are rowing- unsupported -the 2400 miles from San Francisco to Hawaii, consuming mostly protein and fat to prove their point. This is a triathlete, mind you- a person you might think would preach a high-carb diet for energy, but no. He maintains a no added sugar diet and a moderate carbohydrate intake. Inkinen’s way of approaching carbs and fighting sugar may seem extreme, but it’s definitely interesting; his stellar triathlon performance certainly doesn’t betray his nutrition principles. You can follow and donate to the Fat Chance Row’s noble fight against sugar at FatChanceRow.org.

So, what now, masters Pollan and Inkinen? Here we are in 2014- overweight, over-medicated, cutting sugar and reintroducing simple, whole foods to our diets. And learning (with trepidation) how to reintroduce healthy fats to our diets. Nuts, coconut and coconut oil, olive oil, olives, fish if you eat it, organic dairy if you eat it, avocado, flax, chia, seeds, and so many more sources await a healthier you. Run from sugar. Embrace healthy fats for a healthy weight and a happy, healthy body.

Now let’s have some fun with a giveaway!

coconut kitchen logo

Cute logo, huh? I think so, too. My Coconut Kitchen is a Lake St. Louis-based company that specializes in luscious coconut butters chock full of the healthy fat and amino acids your body needs for healthy cell building and repair. Owner, athlete, and coconut whisperer Angie Carl expertly whips toasted, unsweetened coconut and natural flavors into versatile spreads. Her wide flavor selection ranges from classic toasty coconut to cherry-almond. And it gets better- check out the coconut butter’s impressive nutritional information.

sampler

I ordered my first 3-pack last week and brought it to my in-laws’ house. Sharing in itself was a deserted island-style gamble, as we all love to eat… I made it home with one jar. The five of us slathered the delicious spreads onto fruit and crackers and mixed it into coffee, tea, groats, and yogurt. To be honest, I ate more than a bit straight off the spoon. More honesty: I regret nothing. My Coconut Kitchen has a whole slew of ideas for how else to use the butters:

  • In smoothies, protein shakes and oatmeal
  • Spread on banana, apple or zucchini bread
  • On top of yogurt, cottage cheese, cereal or granola
  • Warmed up and used as a dip for fruit, cookies, or drizzled over bacon
  • Spread on pancakes, French toast, crepes or a peanut butter sandwich
  • Drizzled over ice cream or frozen yogurt
  • Mixed with red hot sauce and served with chicken, shrimp of veggies
  • In one of their tasty recipes < check out this amazing, chef-created list!
  • Straight off of the spoon! < Lauren tested and approved 

I want to try them all! I’m especially excited to add some to our favorite sweet potato and red lentil soup the next time I make it. Coconut butter enthusiasts out of the area can order the entire range of My Coconut Kitchen products online, and St. Louis area locals can find Angie’s coconut butters at Local Harvest, Freddie’s Market, O’Fallon Nutrition, Emerge Fitness Training, and at a variety of farmer’s markets and local events each month.

For today’s post, Angie has graciously provided allez! gourmet with a 3-pack sampler of 8-oz jars for our first giveaway! Thanks, Angie! To enter to win the sampler, which includes roasty toasty coconut, cherry on top, and Cooper loves chocolate, follow allez! gourmet and leave a comment in the section below. Tell me how YOU incorporate healthy fats into YOUR diet! One winner will be selected at random Wednesday (4/9) at 11:30 am CST and announced on next week’s Thursday entry (4/10). 

As always, thanks for reading- and good luck!   


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i am mclovin

Bloglovin’? Your name is Bloglovin’?

Hey, folks! You can now follow allez! gourmet on Bloglovin’. What is Bloglovin’, you may ask? Bloglovin’s the hip and happenin’ site that allows you to follow all of your favorite blogs in one place and discover new ones. Groovy, as the kids say.

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-Lauren