When the Heat Is On, Think About Light, Meatless Meals

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By Milly Dawson
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Expert Author Milly Dawson

Have you read about all the records for scorching temperatures that are being broken during this summer of 2012? Well, they are. With summer’s heat on full blast, it’s a great time to plan some light meals for yourself and/or your family. If you develop the habit of eating meatless meals regularly, you’ll be protecting the health of many important things:

— Your wallet: Means based around plant proteins, like beans, can cost much less than meat meals.

— Your waistline: Plant-based meals tend to be low in fat. And the fat they do include is the good kind rather than that streaky white stuff that makes steak juicy and gives us heart attacks.

— Our country: If all of us ate better and were leaner the cost of our healthcare would nosedive.

— Our planet: Industrial type agriculture also generates great amounts of truly toxic wastes in the form of excrement. Big problem: The Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t regulate chicken-, pig- and cow wastes. They are just dumped in nature to devastating effect.

A professor at the Johns Hopkins’ School of Public Health, Bob Lawrence, reports that poultry farming poses a dire threat to the Chesapeake Bay. This is just one example of a huge, growing problem. He and his colleagues have been spreading the idea of Meatless Mondays widely. Lots of smart companies, universities, school districts and other organizations are now promoting Meatless Mondays.

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Maybe someday the EPA will have some say in the matter but in the meantime each of us can do our part by cutting back on meat and poultry meals.

Industrial animal agriculture also adds to global warming. I’ll write more about that in future articles.

Plant based meals can be so delicious. Try some recipes at the bean-makers’ websites. Progresso and Goya have great ones. One of my faves at one of those sites (I forget which one) is Tuscan White Bean Soup.

Eating meatless meals works all year long, by the way. While there are lots of yummy vegetarian options for summer, you also can make hearty, warming plant-based meals for spring, fall and winter too. Furthermore, these meals can also help save you time as a cook. A great big pot of lentil soup can serve as the basis for delicious meals for several days in a row. So can vegetarian lasagna.

Here’s one of my favorite sides for a light salad. I call it Sweet Potato Sun Dollars. It’s supersimple roasted sweet potatoes and it’s so yummy it almost does double duty as a side dish that is so naturally sweet you feel like you’ve had dessert.

1. Peel as many sweet potatoes as you need for your diners.

2. Slice them roughly ½ inch thick. Thinner slices cook faster; thicker ones take a bit longer. Play around.

3. Spread them out in a single layer on an oiled baking pan.

4. Lightly oil the tops of the potatoes slices.

5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

6. Option: Add a light dusting of a spice like cinnamon, allspice or nutmeg. Coriander could be nice too.

7. Cook them at about 400 degrees until they are tender. (No need to preheat the oven – save some energy and some money). Flip them over to serve. The bottoms ought to be nicely glazed and brown around the edges.

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These are so that you have to good watch out. You will want to start snacking on them before you serve the meal.

Bon appetit! Smaklig maltid! Ibuen provecho! And have a happy, healthy summer.
When you enjoy scrumptious meatless meals, you probably won’t be thinking about the fact that you’re helping with many pressing public health issues by your culinary choices. But you will be. Here are some good effects of your choice to eat plant based meals often:

Vegetarian meals reduce our use of precious resources, including water and fossil fuels. They help you shrink your carbon footprint.
They help to reduce pollution that is generated by confined feeding animal operations (CAFOs) that are common on most of today’s industrial farms.
Eating meatless meals makes the world a kinder place by reducing suffering among animals. The pressing public health issues of our day involve not only human health but also animal health. Far more than most people realize, human well-being depends upon the health of animals.

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